I recently had the opportunity to visit Bern, the capital of Switzerland and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a great destination for families who are interested in exploring the historic city of Bern and surrounding area including Lucerne, Interlaken and Gruyères. Before heading out to the countryside, do take some time to explore Bern as there are quite a few things to do with kids.
Clock Tower (Zytglogge)
The Clock Tower is one of the main attractions in Bern, which was built in 1530, includes an astronomical clock and dancing figurines. Get there on the hour so you can see the revolving bears, crowing golden cockerel and kicking jester put on a show. If you get an opportunity to, go inside and see the inner workings of the clock, climb the tower and enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
Within a 5 minute walk from the Old Town, you can visit the 19th Century Bear Pit, that houses several Brown Bears, the symbol of Bern. During the winter months they are less active and may have disappeared inside.
Take a Dip!
If your children are confident swimmers and your visiting in the summer, why not float down the River Aare with the Old Town Looking Down on you.
There are more than 100 fountains in Bern. However, if your children need to be reminded about their behaviour while away, you may want to take them to visit the Child Eating Ogre Fountain, he’s half-way through devouring one and 3 others look on in terror. It’s easy to find in the Town Centre. No one really knows why it was made in the first place, over 500 years ago, but has acted as a good reminder to the children of Bern to behave themselves.
The Old Town
Go for a stroll around the Old Town which has been a UNESCO Heritage Site since 1983, but watch out for the man eating drains.
Visit the second floor apartment where Einstein, his wife and son lived when he discovered the Theory of Relativity. I’ve included this as I found it very interesting and had no idea about the scandals in his personal life. However, it may not have enough to hold the attention of younger children but older children, who are familiar with Einstein, may find it interesting.
Outside of Bern
Schilthorn & Piz Gloria
Travel 2970 meters above sea level on the Schilthorn Cableway, which was featured in the 1968 James Bond film, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. On a clear day you can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of over 200 peaks from the viewing platform.
Have a spot of lunch or a coffee in Piz Gloria the revolving restaurant.
Explore the new interactive 007 Bond World, which is great for both kids and adults.
The Chocolate Show Schuh, Interlaken
If you find yourself in Interlaken, which is nestles between two lakes in the beautiful Mountain Region on Jungfrau, I would recommend a visit to the Chocolate Show where you can learn the secrets behind Swiss Chocolate, try your hand at being a chocolatier and it would be rude not to try some.
Rail Bike Ride in the Sense Valley
Ride the Rails! Travel along 4 miles of decommissioned railway from Laupen to Gümmenen on these modified bikes.
Feeding the Family
Feeding your kids really won’t be a problem as you can get almost any type of cuisine and besides the abundance of chocolate, the typical food includes Rösti (grated potatoes formed into a small flat cake and fried), Cheese Fondue, Käseschnitte (toasted cheese sandwich) and Sausages, which most kids will eat.
Getting there and Away
I flew from Southend International Airport with SkyWork Airlines to Bern. As I live in St Albans which is 20 miles directly north of London, I would typically use Gatwick, Luton or Heathrow.
However, the benefit of flying with SkyWork is that they pride themselves in 20 minute check in times and you get fast tracked through security. Normally when I use the other larger airports I have to be there 2-3 hours before take-off. The airport is easily accessible by train or car and doesn’t share air space with the larger airports so planes typically don’t get stacked, resulting in the dreaded holding pattern.
Probably the easiest way to get around Switzerland is by train, and as you would expect, the trains in Switzerland run on time.
According to several people, the train timings are so good in Switzerland that they use it to set their watches. (Not the other way around.)
The trains put ours in the UK to shame, they are modern, clean, fast and not overcrowded. It’s a very civilized an relaxing way to travel, there are a multitude of different train passes that you can purchase which allows you to travel by train, boat or bus.
I’m sure my daughter would love The Swiss Chocolate Train.
I will definitely be going back but will be taking my daughter next time.
Have you been? What would you recommend?
Disclosure – the trip was compliments of SkyWork Airlines for purposes of this review.