Switzerland’s capital city isn’t a financial powerhouse like Zurich or as much of an international hub as Geneva – after all, it’s only the country’s fifth largest city. But what it lacks in size and clout it makes up for in charm and character. Its stunning medieval centre sprawls for an impressive six kilometres and is perfectly preserved. The cobbled streets are lined with covered walkways – called lauben – sheltering quirky shops, independent designer boutiques, cafes and restaurants, some of them in cellars accessed through hatch doors in the ground. At the heart of it is the Zytglogge, a 12th century tower with a 600-year-old astronomical mechanical clock. Worth seeing, too, is the imposing federal parliament building, a reminder that this is the capital, after all.
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One of Bern's most beautiful assets; this old grainstore is an atmospheric place for an aperitif or a meal
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