The canton of Bern is the perfect example of what Switzerland offers at its best: a UNESCO World Heritage capital city with all year cultural atmosphere, a combination of turquoise blue water lakes and the most impressive peaks of the Alps. With its large, modern convention centres, the city of Bern is a preferred venue for big events.
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The Alpine areas are home to a range of delightful facilities that are perfect for hosting events and, in particular, incentive activities. Inspiring views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau in Grindelwald guarantee varied and sustainable meetings with a high experience factor.
The Zentrum Paul Klee is the perfect combination of great art and architecture as well as modern conference facilities.
Think of Switzerland and you no doubt envision the snow-capped Alps, miles of breath-taking hiking, and possibly a delicious serving of fondue. But there’s a lot more to this country – and specifically Bern – than that. Here are 13 things you probably didn’t know about Bern.
1. The Old Town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Nestled in the crook of the Aare River, lies the picturesque capital of Switzerland, Bern. A stroll through the Old Town – one of Switzerland’s most treasured UNESCO World Heritage sites – with its cobble-stoned walkways can easily lure visitors into believing that all of its glory is in the past. But if you look beyond its 16th-century fountains, Bern has a lot to offer modern event planners. See for yourself with this video:
Bern is also a city of superlatives: most beautiful flower city of Europe, birthplace of Einstein’s relativity theory, cradle of Toblerone chocolate and home to the largest Paul Klee collection in the world.
The river Aare surrounding the old town of Bern.
2. The Free Bern Ticket
Once in the capital city, event attendees are eligible for the Bern Ticket. For overnight visitors staying in a hotel, Bern provides free public transportation. The Bern Ticket may even be used from the airport with a hotel confirmation. Otherwise, guests receive the ticket when they check in and it can be used for the duration of their stay. It also includes access to the Gurten funicular, the funicular Marzilibahn, and the elevator to the Cathedral Platform. Not only is this ticket a very handy way to enjoy the city but it becomes a perk for attendees who now don’t have to worry about transportation costs once they arrive.
3. Bern is the Essence of Switzerland
Whether you are looking for an old paper mill now used as a modern event location or a futuristic glass pavilion overlooking the Swiss Capital, with Bern you’ll be right on target. Besides 40 hotels with 2,000 rooms and the country’s largest convention grounds, Bern boasts over 300 restaurants, bars and cafés and a modern convention center, all within walking distance.
4. Major Conference Centers for up to 1,500 people
Bern’s university, financial, and government affiliations mean it often hosts high-level events at its state-of-the-art meeting facilities. The city of Bern has four major conference centers, and about 40 “convention” venues, some of which can accommodate groups of up to 5,000 people. Bern also offers intimate event options for smaller groups such as board meetings and team building activities.
- Bernexpo AG. This convention center boasts a convenient location next to the Bern-Wankdorf freeway and is only a few minutes from Bern’s main station for public transportation. Its meeting rooms, lounge, and plenary hall can accommodate events of up to 800 people. The larger exhibition center with eight exhibition halls is perfect for events with up to 5,000 attendees.
- Kursaal Bern. From small, intimate board meetings to larger events of up to 1,500 people, the Kursaal Bern is known for its state-of-the-art technology and views of Old Town. Rooms are available for full and half-day meetings. This venue includes restaurants, bars, the Hotel Allegro, and the Grand Casino Bern.
The Kursaal Bern offers everything under one roof: Congress center, 4* superior hotel, casino and various restaurants and bars.
- Stade de Suisse. From friendly gatherings in a club-type atmosphere to an arena perfect for thousands of spectators, the Stade de Suisse can accommodate all types of events. It offers state-of-the-art technology and catering options. The stadium also includes interesting venue options such as an ultra-modern skybox to watch the sporting event in comfort.
- Zentrum Paul Klee. The Zentrum Paul Klee is known for its undulating architecture and boasts the latest in media and conferencing technology. The Zentrum Paul Klee is much more than just a classical congress venue though, it offers an inspirational and unforgettable cultural experience for conferencing of the highest order. It suits groups of 30-300 people. Each event held there is assigned a designated event manager and technical support person. While the architecture of the facility is unique, it is the 4,000 works of Swiss-German artist Paul Klee that set the stage for an impressive event.
Where to Stay in the Capital City:
There are approximately 2,000 hotel rooms within the inner city perimeter. The Hotel Allegro, with its 171 rooms and suites, is attached to the Kursaal Bern conference center. Also conveniently located within walking distance of the BEA BernExpo AG and the Zentrum Paul Klee is the Hotel Novotel. In addition to 112 rooms, it features several small meeting rooms and theater space for up to 70 people.
5. Bern is Easily Accessible
The canton of Bern is located in the heart of Switzerland and is an important meeting point for politics, science and economics. It has a small international airport that is 20 minutes away from the city center with train service to the city of Bern. Bern is also easily accessible from Geneva, Basel and Zurich Airport. Visitors from most major cities in Switzerland, and many of the large cities in Europe, can access Bern through regular, direct connections on the train. Switzerland has a strong highway system, making Bern accessible by car as well.
The Parliament building as a meeting point for international politics.
6. Bern Statues Are Unique
The Old Town of Bern is filled with statues and fountains but one of the most unique is the Ogre statue in Kornhausplatz. Most people do a double-take when they see it because they can’t believe what the ogre is eating.
Child Eater Fountain in Bern.
7. Einstein Lived in Bern
The capital of Switzerland is rich in history. Its Old Town section is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with charming red roofs and miles of arcades. The city has been home to many famous people, including Albert Einstein, who lived in Bern for a total of seven years at the beginning of the 20th century. It’s where he worked out his Theory of Relativity. Today the Einstein House is open to the public. It has been restored in the style of that period to reflect Einstein’s stay in Bern.
8. There’s Something Sweet About This Place
Toblerone chocolate was started here and is currently made here too. Enough said.
9. Bern Offers a Host of Add-ons
An event location is more than just the venue building. For multi-day conferences, additional activities are always a big draw. Bern offers a host of unique options and team-building activities in the nearby Emmental valley. It is not just the home of the famous Emmental cheese but also a place to experience the slower-paced, relaxed Bernese lifestyle during an inspiring team event amidst the typically hilly scenery. For free consultancy on all questions about meetings in and around the City of Bern you can contact Bern Incoming Ltd.
10. Incredible Natural Scenery in the Bernese Oberland
The Bernese Oberland is not only a great place for hikers and nature lovers but also for conferences surrounded by fascinating natural landscapes. The Swiss Alps are nearby and ideal for incentives with cultural programmes and team building activities. Gstaad and the Jungfrau Region will enchant nature lovers with various outdoor activities. The unique proximity between the city and the mountains, guarantees inspiring meetings and incentives. There are few limits and all participants can live unforgettable experiences. The charming mountain village Gstaad will enchant nature lovers with outdoor activities like river rafting, biking, hiking or visiting the Glacier 3000 with the Peak Walk.
Peak Walk: The first and only suspension bridge to connect two mountain peaks.
11. Interlaken is between two lakes
Besides the city of Bern the main place for congresses in the Bernese Oberland is Interlaken. The most popular is the Congress Centre Kursaal Interlaken. The stylish ambience in the historic halls of the Kursaal coupled with the modern auditorium make this location an attractive option for events. The rooms can be used for any type of events like a conference, gala dinner, award ceremony and so on. Within the 5,000 sqm event area there are 19 different rooms and a capacity of over 1,500 people.
Congress Centre Kursaal Interlaken surrounded by a majestic Alpine scenery.
12. Jungfraujoch is the Highest Railway Station in Europe
The Jungfraujoch is the highlight of any Swiss visit. The highest railway station in Europe is located 3,454 metres above sea level. The Ice Palace there offers entry into a frozen world in the heart of the glacier. What else goes with ice? Whisky. Visit the highest Whisky storage in Europe. Exclusive Whisky tastings can be scheduled for groups.
Whisky tasting on 3,454 m is a unique experience for all participants.
13. History and Modernity Go Hand in Hand
Swiss Historic Hotels brings together a wide range of hostelries steeped in history, from simple historic inns to luxurious hotel palaces. What they share is their unrivalled experience value. The buildings have maintained their historic authenticity and architectural significance – certified by experts – thanks to careful renovations and measures to preserve the past in line with accepted conservation practices. Here are some examples:
- Grimsel Hospiz. This 4-star hotel looks almost as if it is an extension of the Alps as its fastened out of the same materials as its surroundings – wood and stone. In winter the historic house, sunk deep in metres of snow, towers above an untouched landscape. A silent winter oasis.
The Historic Alpine Hotel Grimsel Hospiz is an exclusive venue for meetings in an intimate environment.
- Grandhotel Giessbach. From the moment you set foot in the Grandhotel Giessbach, you will find yourself in a world of unique splendour and elegant sophistication. It embodies the romance and charm of glorious bygone times. Surrounded by mountains, forests and alpine meadows, this fairytale-castle boasts a breathtaking view of the unspoiled landscapes of Lake Brienz.
The Grandhotel Giessbach is one of the best preserved hotels of its time.
- Hotel Kemmeriboden-Bad in the Emmental valley has been welcoming guests for more than 150 years and hence has a long tradition of hospitality. Famed throughout the region for its cuisine, the hotel serves creations ranging from the classic to the contemporary made only with fresh produce, most of it sourced locally.
The canton of Bern provides a beautiful backdrop for events but they also come complete with the necessities you need to host a modern conference. Easily accessible and friendly, with plenty to do, it’s a place that will offer you the practical pieces you need as an event planner, as your attendees enjoy the little-known pleasantries that make Bern unique.
Bachalp Lake: Beautiful small mountain lake in Grindelwald.