The park next to the cathedral is a great place at dusk, when people gather here to see the sunset behind the Kirchenfeld Bridge high above the Aare river. The park is on its own little terrace above the river so views also include the pretty riverside quarter called Matte and across to the other side. Apart from being in the shadow of the cathedral, and full of benches to sit on for that sunset or just a bit of people watching, the park has a couple of table tennis tables so if you pack a couple of rackets and balls, you will definitely find someone to play with here. If not, just watch everyone young and old, who do.
Fondest memory: Our daughter watched a couple of people playing table tennis for so long that in the end they took pity on her and let her have a go against one of them. This was definitely one of the highlights of her entire trip since she loves being active and social.
The Aare River surrounds the city of Bern on 3 sides which during the main construction of the city during the 12th to 15th centuries provided the city with a natural defense system.
During the summer months the residents take a plunge in the river and let the swift currents guide them down the river. I've seen some video footage of this and grabbing onto a pole like object near some exit point looked like it took some agility to do.
The picture shown here was taken from the Kirchenfeldbrucke Bridge which crosses over from the old part of the city toward the Albert Einstein Museum.
Make sure that you don't get so caught up in the maze of shopping streets, that you don't get to the river. Postgasse, Gerechtigkeitsgasse, and Junkerngasse all meet at the Nydeggbruecke.
Lovely view--have your camera ready!
Fondest memory: Swimming in the River Aare. Not far from the youth hostel there are public baths where you can suit up and hit the river. The river is a gorgeous blue fed from the Alps with smooth rocks on the bottom. The current is wicked and you must be a good swimmer to go in. The current is so powerful that it sort of pushes you down the river vertically. It was like a giant jacuzzi. Felt great and truly refreshing on a hot day. Great way to wash those t-shirts that you've been wearing for a few days too many. If you can see those bars hanging in the middle of the river in the photo, they are for water-skiers to practice, it is one strong current!!