The soaring Gothic cathedral that dominates the skyline of Switzerland’s capital city is dedicated to St Vincent, the patron saint of Bern; work began on the church in 1421 but the spire was not completed until 1893. At 84 meters (275 feet) long, it is the biggest religious building in Switzerland, designed in true Gothic style with flying buttresses, gargoyles and dramatic, highly painted carvings of the Last Judgment above the main portal.
Designed by master craftsman Matthäus Ensinger from Strasbourg, the interior is laid out as a three‐aisled basilica and is filled with light filtering through the glorious stained‐glass windows. The choir stalls are a later addition and are decorated with Renaissance carvings of religious scenes; the organ dates from the 1930s and is played in concerts throughout the year. The cathedral also has the tallest tower in Switzerland at 100 meters (330 feet); visitors can climb the 344 stone steps inside the spire to the lookout point.
Bern’s closest mountain sits some 856 m (2,804 ft) above the city’s southern suburbs and enjoys 360° views across the Bernese Alps and the Jura, across to the Jungfrau and Eiger on clear days. Accessed by the Gurtenbahn funicular railway the slopes of the mountain became parkland in 1999, and on summer weekends the residents of Bern decamp there en masse for family-friendly days out in the sharp, fresh Swiss air. Gurten’s amenities include playing fields, an observation tower, a miniature railway and play areas for kids as well as picnic spots, BBQ grills, an hotel and two panoramic restaurants; the mountain is also a springboard for signposted walks and cycle rides in the Alpine foothills.
The four-day Gurten Music Festival takes place annually in mid July and when there is a covering of snow in the winter, a toboggan run opens down to the funicular’s Grünenboden middle station, a bunny tow operates for children and cross-country trails open for Nordic skiers.
Set at a lofty 2,061 meters high, with the iconic peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau towering overhead, Kleine Scheidegg is unsurprisingly known for its jaw-dropping vistas, including a striking view of the infamous Eiger North Face. With a cluster of hotels and amenities, the scenic mountain pass makes a strategic base for hiking and skiing, with alpine resorts like Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen just below and access to a vast network of ski runs, hiking routes and rock climbing trails.
The train station at Kleine Scheidegg is also famously known as the starting point for the Jungfrau railway, undisputedly one of Switzerland’s most scenic train routes, which winds its way up Eiger and Monch mountains to the “Top of Europe” at Jungfraujoch – Europe’s highest train station.
The best known biscuit maker in Switzerland, Kambly was founded in 1910. The first Kambly bakery is recreated as part of the Kambly Experience at Trubschachen, not far from Bern and Lucerne. At the Kambly Experience, visitors learn all about fine biscuit making and have the opportunity to try more than 100 types of biscuits, including the Bretzeli, a fine, crepe-like biscuit that is one of the most popular of Kambly’s biscuits. For children over age six, a “make your own biscuit” class is available on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.
Another way to enjoy the Kambly Experience is through the Kambly e-bike tour. The 30-kilometer tour begins and ends in the town of Langnau, stopping at 14 stations along the way, including a local museum, pottery works, a mill, a dairy and the Kambly Experence. A smartphone app is available to lead the way.