This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Bern.
Bern receives very mixed reviews from its visitors; some find it intriguingly charming while others are put off by the overall grayishness of the old town (resulting from the gray stone used as a building material there). Whether the coloring appeals, it doesn't change anything about Bern being a very well-kept, historic town in a pristine location in a deep valley along a winding river. It is the capital of Switzerland, albeit not the biggest city in the country (that would be Zurich) and has more of a small-town flair than a cosmopolitan touch.
It is for the historical lovers and all the outdoor people, as the hinterland is fantastic for hiking, biking, and mountaineering with some of the best mountain climbing routes in spitting distance. In town itself there is decent shopping, good food, and some cultural institutions and events, but not much in terms of nightlife. Add the "capital"-factor to the already-high price level in Switzerland and Bern becomes a rather expensive place. The heraldic animal of Bern is the bear and -- to the dismay of animal rights activists -- they keep some in a ditch close to the river. Please do not climb down to the bears. They look cute from above but when up close they might well be the end of you -- which has sadly happened before to tourists trying to cuddle them!
Getting to and from town is possible by train and some long distance buses. The frequency is not quite as high as in other parts of Switzerland, so checking ahead is well worth it.
Hostels in Bern are few and far between, but those that exist are quite central and of very good standard. With a bit of enthusiasm, the Bern hostel of your choice is reached on foot from the major drop-off points. Otherwise, there is a notable network of city buses helping out. Those buses might become more important when you wish to leave the hostel zone (inner city) as the surrounding terrain is pretty hilly.
Written by local enthusiast for Bern hostelsgagalichen