Switzerland’s capital city, the fourth most populous in the country, has attracted tourists for centuries. It’s famous not only for the amazing medieval architecture of the old town surrounded by the River Aare, but also for the surrounding countryside, so beautiful you'll want to yodel. Most people speak German as their first language, with Italian or French being the mother tongue of most others. English is widely spoken too, and the majority of cinemas screen Hollywood films in original English, with German subtitles.
Many people visit from other European cities by way of the excellent train service. Swiss Federal Railways has frequent trains from Geneva, Zurich, Basel, and other cities. A rail pass is a shockingly affordable way to get around, even in first class.
Walking is the best way to see Bern. If you are headed to far-flung sights, there’s an good network of buses and trams. Welcome to Bern has information in many languages on how to get around on the city's transit system.
Currency and Money
The Swiss Franc (CHF) is the local currency for Switzerland (and neighboring Liechtenstein). Many businesses also accept euros, but don’t count on it. Using local bank ATMs usually gives better rates than currency exchanges found in airports and around train stations. Check with your home bank before departure, in case they have a tie-in with local banks, to save on withdrawal fees.
Media & Resources
For party dates and other local updates see Gay Bern entertainment magazine, published by the HAB services and advocates group; also with cultural events, readings, theater, dinners, discos, concerts and more. Swissgay/Berne is another web resource, in French and English. Mannschaft Magazin is a locally-based monthly glossy for gay men, covering Bern, Basil, Zurich and the world, in German, with an online reader.
MySwitzerland.com, an official Swiss Tourism website, has gay page along with lots of general information for visitors.
Berner Fasnacht, the pre-Lenten carnival, dates from medieval times, but was banned during the 16th century. Only recently restored it's a big affair spanning three days, with parades, food and festivities.
Major gay events include: GAYWEST, the early August all-day queer street party at Bundesplatz, with big after-parties going all night at the clubs; and Queersicht, Bern's annual LGBT film festival, in early November. Pink Cross is a community rights advocacy organization.
Bern is the perfect place to begin a hiking trip through the famed Bernese Oberlands. If you want to hook up with other outdoorsy types, head to the website of Gay and Lesbian Sport Bern.
For bars, clubs, baths, restaurants and hotel listings, with locations and web links, see our map & listings tab.
Belmondo (Aarbergergasse 35, upstairs), Thursday through Saturday mixed "all welcome" bar, coffeehouse and dance club near train station (above long covered promenade). Was gay bar Samurai for 22 years.
Blue Cat (Gerechtigkeitsgasse 75) downtown cafe/bar/bistro, long a gay favorite in Bern.
Cinématte (Wasserwerkgasse 7) gay-friendly fine restaurant and tapas bar with small arthouse cinema, Swiss, Austrian, German and other wines, interior garden.
Comeback Bar (Rathausgasse 42), gay cellar cocktail bar, open nightly from 6pm, bears, snacks and games, intimate Saturday night dance floor.
Du Théatre Club (Hotelgasse 10), dressy lounge club, bar and restaurant, occasional gay parties, hip hop, R'nB and urban dance music on Saturdays.
Pery's Bar Aux Petits Fours (Kramgasse 67), small gay cruise and conversation cellar bar, nookie room in the back, snack foods, international mix, mostly men.
Aqualis (Brunnmattstrasse 21) sauna open daily to 11pm, large steamroom, power showers, overnight rooms, cubicles with videos, sling room, large-screen cinema, bar; Fetish events, sneaker nights, baked or underwear nights.
Studio 43 (Monbijoustrasse 123), bathhouse and bar, open daily 2-11pm, except Saturday until 12:30am.
Sun Deck (Längasstrasse 65, rear), fragrant dark grotto, secret nooks, bio-sauna, jacuzzi, videos, TV room. Maze bed for group activity, workout area, bar, mini-restaurant, nude sunning on roof deck, tanning bed.
Loveland (Gerechtigkeitsgasse 39), center of the historic town, sex shop, video DVD sales and rentals, leather, video cabins, active cruising during the day.
Belle Epoque Boutique Hotel (Gerechtigkeitsgasse 18), central 500-year-old Old Town building near Aare River, 14 distinctly furnished rooms, Art Nouveau works, TV and safe. Le Chariot Restaurant Swiss/International cuisine and fine wines; large breakfast buffet, afternoon tea and cakes. Old-world style, elegant bar for cocktails, wine, and cigars.
Berne Youth Hostel (Weihergasse 4), bargain rate prices, 177 beds, double occupancy rooms and dorms with 4 to 6 rooms each, open all-year, breakfast included, lunch and dinner optional, fireplace, games, garden terrace, washing machine, internet access.
Hotel Allegro (Kornhausstrasse 3), modern business hotel, 171 rooms, suites and penthouse, fitness center, cigar lounge bar; Grand Casino, and Liquid Club free admissions; business center, secure parking, free biking.
Hotel La Pergola (Belpstrasse 43), modern tourist and business hotel, 55 comfortable singles and doubles with showers, TV/radios, WiF access, buffet breakfast, parking. Special: 3 nights for the price of 2 bargain weekend rates. Pets welcome.
The National Bern (Hirschengraben 24), grand old building, distinctive hotel rooms, breakfast buffets, Wi-Fi, spa and hamman sauna, 3 nights for 2 weekend special rates; fine dining Restaurant National, concert hall events, Latin-style nightclub entertainment.