Emergency measures in the wake of Covid-19:
Switzerland declared a state of emergency and put border restrictions in place. At the border with France, only Swiss citizens, or those with a Swiss residency permit or with compelling work reasons could enter. On March 16th, the Federal Council announced the closure of bars, restaurants, shops and other gathering places, with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, public transport and the postal service.
In May Switzerland began to ease some coronavirus restrictions and border crossings to and from Germany, France and Austria are due to reopen from June 15th. Bars, pubs and restaurants are reopening as long as customers are seated with goups of up to four people, or families. Shops, markets, museums and libraries could also reopen. Measures to ensure social distancing include tables two metres apart or separated by a partition. Shops, markets, museums and libraries may also reopen if they comply with precautionary measures.
Switzerland’s capital city, the fourth most populous in the country, has attracted tourists for centuries. It’s famous not only for the amazing medieval architecture of the old town surrounded by the River Aare, but also for the surrounding countryside, so beautiful you'll want to yodel. Most people speak German as their first language, with Italian or French being the mother tongue of most others. English is widely spoken too, and the majority of cinemas screen Hollywood films in original English, with German subtitles.
Many people visit from other European cities by way of the excellent train service. Swiss Federal Railways has frequent trains from Geneva, Zurich, Basel, and other cities. A rail pass is a shockingly affordable way to get around, even in first class.
Walking is the best way to see Bern. If you are headed to far-flung sights, there’s a good network of buses and trams. Stadt Bern has information in many languages on how to get around on the city's transit system.
Currency and Money
The Swiss Franc (CHF) is the local currency for Switzerland (and neighboring Liechtenstein). Many businesses also accept euros, but don’t count on it. Using local bank ATMs usually gives better rates than currency exchanges found in airports and around train stations. Check with your home bank before departure, in case they have a tie-in with local banks, to save on withdrawal fees.
Media & Resources
For party dates and other local updates see Gay Bern entertainment magazine, published by the HAB services and advocates group; also with cultural events, readings, theater, dinners, discos, concerts and more.
Mannschaft Magazin is a locally-based monthly glossy for gay men, covering Bern, Basil, Zurich and the world, in German, with an online reader.
MySwitzerland.com, an official Swiss Tourism website, has gay page along with lots of general information for visitors.
Berner Fasnacht, the pre-Lenten carnival, dates from medieval times, but was banned during the 16th century. Only recently restored, it's a big affair spanning three days, with parades, food and festivities.
Bern is the perfect place to begin a hiking trip through the famed Bernese Oberlands. If you want to hook up with other outdoorsy types, head to the website of Gay and Lesbian Sport Bern.
Reitschule, the alternative cultural center, hosts Frauenraum women's and trans' dance nights, live music, Tojo Theatre performing arts, Sous le Pont Café/ Roessli Bar, workshops, and other queer special events.
For bars, clubs, baths, restaurants and hotel listings, with locations and web links, see our map & listings tab.
5éme etage (Mühlenplatz 11), dance party and Jazz venue, Disco for Adults ages-30+ events; closed June-July.
Blue Cat (Gerechtigkeitsgasse 75), downtown cafe/bar/bistro, a longtime gay favorite in Bern.
Cinématte (Wasserwerkgasse 7) gay-friendly, riverside fine restaurant and tapas bar with small arthouse cinema, Swiss, Austrian, German and other wines, interior garden.
Comeback Bar (Rathausgasse 42), gay cellar cocktail bar, open nightly from 6pm, bears, snacks and games, intimate Saturday night dance floor.
Divino - Club Belmondo (Aarbergergasse 35, upstairs), Hip Hop/ RnB + Techno/ Deep House dance hall, Thursday-Saturday mixed "all welcome" music bar and coffeehouse near train station (above long covered promenade). Was gay bar Samurai for 22 years.
Du Théatre Club (Hotelgasse 10), dressy lounge club, bar and restaurant, occasional gay parties, hip hop, R'nB and urban dance music on Saturdays.
Kapitel (Bollwerk 41), restaurant/cafe burgers, noodles, pasta; gay-friendly nightclub with electronic sounds, local and international artists.
La Cappella (Allmendstrasse 14), cabaret and concert venue; spoken word, chamber music, vocal performers.
Le Ciel (Bollwerk 31), student and women's parties, special gay events.
Loetschberg (Zeughausgasse 16), Swiss restaurant/bar and deli, fondues; DJ electro sets, gay-friendly mix.
Lorraine (Quartiergasse 11), gay-friendly workers' co-op brasserie; lunch, dinner, full bar.
Marta (Kramgasse 8), gay-friendly bar/cafe, coffee, vegan scones and cakes, live music, wines, British beers, single malts and American bourbons; monthly William parties, in season.
Rainbow Dancer, LGBT ballroom dance group, sponsors events throughout the year, with a big New Year's Eve bash.
Aqualis (Brunnmattstrasse 21) sauna open daily to 11pm, large steamroom, power showers, overnight rooms, cubicles with videos, sling room, large-screen cinema, bar; Fetish events, sneaker nights, baked or underwear nights.
Studio 43 (Monbijoustrasse 123), bathhouse and bar, open daily 2-11pm, except Saturday until 12:30am.
Sun Deck (Längasstrasse 65, rear), fragrant dark grotto, secret nooks, bio-sauna, jacuzzi, videos, TV room. Maze bed for group activity, workout area, bar, mini-restaurant, nude sunning on roof deck, tanning bed.
Loveland (Gerechtigkeitsgasse 39), center of the historic town, sex shop, video DVD sales and rentals, leather, video cabins, active cruising during the day.
Belle Epoque Boutique Hotel (Gerechtigkeitsgasse 18), central 500-year-old Old Town building near Aare River, 14 distinctly furnished rooms, Art Nouveau works, TV and safe. Le Chariot Restaurant Swiss/International cuisine and fine wines; large breakfast buffet, afternoon tea and cakes. Old-world style, elegant bar for cocktails, wine, and cigars.
Berne Youth Hostel (Weihergasse 4), bargain rate prices, 177 beds, double occupancy rooms and dorms with 4 to 6 rooms each, open all-year, breakfast included, lunch and dinner optional, fireplace, games, garden terrace, washing machine, internet access.
Hotel Allegro (Kornhausstrasse 3), modern business hotel, 171 rooms, suites and penthouse, fitness center, cigar lounge bar; Grand Casino, and Liquid Club free admissions; business center, secure parking, free biking.
Hotel La Pergola (Belpstrasse 43), modern tourist and business hotel, 55 comfortable singles and doubles with showers, TV/radios, WiF access, buffet breakfast, parking. Special: 3 nights for the price of 2 bargain weekend rates. Pets welcome.
The National Bern (Hirschengraben 24), grand old building, distinctive hotel rooms, breakfast buffets, Wi-Fi, spa and hamman sauna, weekend special rates; fine dining Restaurant National, theatre/concert hall events, gay nightclub/ entertainment.