Mt Eiger, Mt Jungfrau and Mt Monch, Murren, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland (Robert Harding/Digital Vision)

Old Town of Bern (iStockphoto)

Bern, Switzerland in winter (iStockphoto)


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What to do in Bern

The residents of Bern, Switzerland’s capital, have proud adoration for bears. The city’s flag features a bear, and one local legend tells that the city was named by a Duke who killed his first bear nearby. While that could be a tall tale, it’s a fact that bears have called the city home since at least 1513, when a bear was kept in the fortress moat to symbolize strength after a victorious battle. Today the honorable furry citizens live in the swanky BearPark along the River Aare. Admission is free, and it’s open year-round. Venture from here into Bern’s Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site where beautiful parks dot the landscape and cobblestone streets lead to centuries-old arcades. Perched above BearPark is Rosengarten, a rose garden and accompanying restaurant that offers the best views of Old City and the river.