Bern's number one sight, the medieval Clock Tower (Zytglogge) and West City Gate, with tram, west Switzerland.
The old city of Bern, (known as Berne in French-speaking Switzerland) is the country's diminuitive capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a very easy walking tour since the old section comprises no more than a few streets. See the Berne map.
The impressive clock pictured above, the Zytglogge, was built between 1218-1256 though the current mechanism - which, being Swiss, still works - was installed in the 16th century and not only tells the time, day, month, phase of the moon and sign of the zodiac but also puts on a moving clockwork puppet show every hour.
Free guided tours
to see the Zytglogge's clockwork action from inside the tower can be booked at the tourist office.
Berne's River Aare
with a kid floating towards the old stone Untertor bridge (1490), seen from Nydegg bridge. A popular summer swim for proficient locals is to plunge in from the 'English Garden' and be powered along to the Lorraine Swimming Pool.
The lower part of Bern's main street, Kramgasse, in August. Old, yes, but medieval? Hmm, wide streets and five storey buildings...Or is the medieval bit just the Clock and the Cathedral?
Bundesplatz, or Parliament Square. The Bundeshaus/Parliament building is on the right.
A small section of Bern's 6 kms (4 miles) of shopping arcade network, cool in summer, warm in winter.
Bern's mascot, the bear, seen everywhere but most curiously here preparing to fire a musket.
The best month to visit Bern is September when the daily average temperature is 13C (56F) with 8/30 rainy days. However, the three summer months June-August are acceptably dry with a 1/3 chance of rain while high temperatures range from 21C-23C, so strolling the shady streets and arcades is fine then. October is also usually dry but considerably cooler with a mean of 9C (47F).
All in all Berne is one of the drier, smaller cities in Switzerland with moderate temperatures so perhaps tourists should base their travel plans on other trickier Swiss destinations since Bern can be fitted into most itineraries, such as holidays in Lucerne or Vevey, trips to Zurich or jazz in Montreux.
By road Bern is around 1-2 hours to these cities on fine tho' busy motorways/autoroutes, but watch out for speed cameras, your SatNav may not warn you about them! (most of Europe yes, Switzerland, no!)