Top Places To Party In The Swiss Capitol City
A drink in the platz, dinner at a cool cafe, meeting up with friends at a bar and dancing deep into the night.
It’s basic Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, where the nightlife scene centers around cafes and bars along historic cobblestone streets and even in underground cellars that have been around practically since the city was founded in the 1100s.
When it comes time to “burn, baby, burn” for nightlife in Bern, here’s where to find the hottest places in town.
BERN PRE-PARTY: BEFORE THE BARS
The beauty of Bern’s nightlife it its simplicity, for many bars and clubs are located within a couple of minutes of one another. The entire Old City can be walked in about 90 minutes. Round-trip. At night, the primary areas of partying interest make it even more compact.
Going out isn’t supposed to be this simple. There’s supposed to be some trickery involved, like figuring out where the rabbit went in a magic show. In Bern, it can be as easy as ordering an espresso after dinner. Head to Kornhausebrucke (what passes for Main Street in Bern) near the Clock Tower and just observe the places into which the many people are strolling.
The Barenplatz, outdoor tables by cafes with old-time regulars playing large-sized chess pieces, is Bern’s hangout. On nice days and evenings, this personifies the city’s “slow down” personality. With active bars and clubs just steps away, what’s the hurry?
Much of the Old Town activity is centered around the Clock Tower. If you go out at 9 p.m., it will be difficult to find anyone in the bars. They don’t pick up until around 10:30 and start to get busy at 11:30. People go to the pubs/cafes to start the night, then move onto the clubs or the other cafes that have dance-type music.
There are no cover charges in any of the pubs/cafes described below, and the general dress of the people is stylish casual. Most beers are between 5-6 Swiss francs, so it is not expensive to party in Bern.
For tourists, it is important to note that many of the people in this area are locals and some speak very little English, so conversation can be difficult. But far from impossible, of course.
As far as events that will swell the bar activity, Bern has a huge party each year for Carnival. There are also music and jazz festivals throughout the year. For all Bern events, click here,
BERN’S BEST BARS & CAFES
While one doesn’t exactly have to be Einstein to find the city’s fun spots (the scientist lived here and his house is a tourist attraction) it does help to know where to start and where to finish.
After work – or perhaps even during, as it’s a popular place for lunch – locals may be at Tosca having a drink or two. Tosca is in the middle of “Markthalle,” the Bern Market Hall next to the train station, which has some 20 bars, restaurants and shops.
But the real “Bern burn” (our term, not theirs) begins later, and for many its all starts at the Pery Bar. Next to the Kornhaus building, it is a pub with club-style music. It’s crowded and active and goes strong until about midnight. People are in their small groups having fun with each other, so it’s not the prime place for newcomers to crank up the conversation.
The best spot for showcasing those speaking skills in Bern is Lorenzini. It is well lighted and has light music in the background, so it is easy to start a chat around the bar. It is the place where one drink can easily turn into several. This is what PubClub.com describes as an “anchor bar,” and that is to say that is easy to get comfortable and “toss out the anchor” as one does on a sailboat when they find a good place to stay for a while.
The bar at one of the finer restaurants in Bern, Kornhaus Keller, is very nice. It has comfortable chairs and couches, the area wraps around the entire upstairs of the restaurant and is an excellent meeting place for friends. Because of the setup, it’s a bit difficult to socialize with others, however.
Leigh-Sinn is a bit quieter, a small bar with an upstairs lounge. There is no smoking in the upstairs lounge which is quite nice for us non-smokers to need to get away from the cigarettes, a welcome relieve from the few non-smokers out in Bern.
Quasimodo is a fun café that plays that cool Euro music, not quite club style but hip that sometimes makes you want to dance. It’s a bit more refined than the Pery Bar. It’s a very good place on Rathausgasse.
A funky find is Kreissacl. It’s round the corner from the Pyrenees Café and just past the stairs that go down by the river. It has a bit of a punk rock hangout look to it that initially.
But a few moments in the place tells you it’s really quite harmless and even friendly to the stranger. There are two levels, the main bar upstairs and a downstairs lounge in kind of a cave that resembles a wine cellar.
This is not a wild and crazy place, but one to perhaps have a drink at the end of the evening when you want a bit quieter place but are not yet ready to call it a night. Don’t be surprised to see people lounging, nearly passed out, on the stairs gong up to the lofts. It’s not only for locals, either, as many of the local tourist guides have listed the place.
IL Delfino (Amthausasse & Theaterplaz) is small but inch for inch it’s the most energetic place in Old Town Bern. University students come here and really have a great time. They sing along to the songs with such energy, it’s audible on the streets outside. Inside, EVERYONE is smiling and laughing. Walk in and you’ll be tempted to say, “now this is a party!” It is a karaoke bar, which means people get to laugh at their friends or strangers singing.
Liquid, by the train station, is one of the largest nightclubs in all of Europe. Still, it manages to get very crowded. This is “the” dance club in Bern, with three levels, two dance floors and a lounge.
Next door to Lorenzini is a very popular dance club Du Theater. It’s a bit of a scene but also somewhat of a “casual” club at the same time. Quite often, there’s a line by midnight.
Just a few doors down from Quasimodo, Lesa Amis it is one of those tiny downstairs clubs below street level. It’s small and smoky with a very talented DJ and a young (mid-20s) crowd cutting loose on the small dance floor Perhaps its main attraction are the $5 beers. That price is unbelievable in a club-type atmosphere.
It’s not in Old Town, but Wankdorf Club is worth the short journey. This lounge and club has very elegant decor and a fun dance crowd. It’s located by the soccer stadium and ice arena, and while popular any weekend, it’s especially lively during international hockey tournaments, which are frequent in Bern. Take bus 20 or 28 from Old Town.