The Swiss capital Bern is by far not the largest city in the country. It's got a pretty historical center which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The medieval scene is dominated by long arched galleries and colorfully decorated fountains.
Bern has over 130,000 inhabitants, but the capital's entire metropolitan area including suburbs has over half a million inhabitants.
Bern is located on the so-called Swiss Plateau in the northwestern part of Switzerland. The old city center was built on a peninsula, surrounded by the Aare River. The mountains nearby the city aren't very high: the Gurten (958 m) and the Bantiger (947 m).
The city is the seat of the Swiss government and so employment is mainly generated by the civil service and companies in the service industry. Tourism also forms an important pillar of local economy. People not only visit the historical city, but also the picturesque villages in the Bernese Oberland.
The airport, Flughafen Bern-Belp, is situated just southeast of the city along the western bank of the Aare. From Bern's center the airport can be reached by rental car via the Sandrainstrasse and then the Seftigenstrasse. It can also be reached via freeway A6 which runs along the eastern bank of the Aare. The exit to Bern-Belp Airport is clearly signposted on both roads.
Bern has excellent public transport, exploited by the city bus company Bernmobil. There are several bus lines and also three streetcar and five trolley bus lines. The S-Bahn maintains connections with the suburbs and surrounding places like Biel, Thun, Fribourg and Solothurn.
It's not difficult to find your way around Bern by rental car, but parking in the city center is terrifyingly expensive, both in the street and in parking garages. A cheaper alternative forms the P + R garage Neufeld on the north side of the city, along freeway A1. From here you can travel to the city center by public transport.
Bern has a good choice of hotels, but hotel rooms in the Swiss capital aren't cheap, except for the backpacker hostel Glocke. Midrange and luxurious hotels can be found along the Zeughausgasse.
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