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Living in Bern
A comprehensive guide about living well in Bern
Situated on the river Aare, the capital of Switzerland is a popular destination for tourists and as the location of the three levels of government (city, cantonal and federal parliaments). Bern is known for its high quality of living, excellent educational institutions and healthcare facilities, making Bern a great choice for expats. Read more in our guide!
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Life in Bern
From its picturesque old town area dotted with colorful fountains, to the world-renowned rose garden and surrounding mountains, Bern is beautiful from every angle.
Culture and Leisure
Bern has much to offer culture seekers. Its long, rich history — the city was founded in 1191 — can be traced walking through the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which sits alongside the river Aare. Famous sights include mile-upon-mile of arcaded walkways and the centuries-old ornate clock tower. The old town is dominated by the dramatic cathedral and its tower, which offers incredible views of the city, the Gurten Mountain and the Bernese Alps.
Popular attractions further out of town include the Botanical Garden, the Bear Park, and the Paul Klee center, an eye-catching building home to the largest collection of works by the artist, plus visiting exhibitions by contemporary artists.
Outdoor activities are extremely popular in Bern. Running alongside the Aare or swimming in the river are common leisure pursuits. Winter sports are a major part of the lifestyle in Bern, such as skiing, ‘snowshoeing’ (walking along marked trails wearing special shoes) and sledging. The 1,200 meter long toboggan run on the nearby mountain of Gurten is a favorite with local families.
Transportation in Bern
Bern’s small international airport Bern-Belp has direct flights to and from several European cities, including Munich, Paris, London and Barcelona. The city is part of the Swiss Federal Railway network, with regular rail connections to Geneva, Zurich, Basel and Lucerne.
Bern’s size and efficient transportation system make it an easy place to get around. The compact city center can be explored on foot, there are regular trams and buses run by BernMobil, and the S-Bahn rail system travels to the surrounding suburbs.
Bernrollt is a scheme that offers free bike hire in the city. Bikes for children and adults, scooters and skateboards can all be rented from central locations, free for the first four hours, on presentation of ID and a small deposit.
Education in Bern
Children in the Bern school system can attend kindergarten for one year, followed by nine years of compulsory education: six years of primary school and three years of lower secondary school. After this, they can continue with schooling or do an apprenticeship.
The University of Bern, founded in the 1800s, has more than 10,000 students. The city is also home to the smaller University of Applied Sciences and University of Teacher Education.
The careers advice department of the Canton of Bern, situated on Bremgartenstrasse, offers advice about vocational training, further education and courses of study, including information for expats.
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