The city of Bern (Berne), Switzerland’s capital city, is so full of culture, scenery, history and charm, any time of year. But if you happen to be heading there near the end of November, you’re in for a real treat!
Onion Market Festival
The Onion Market (Zibelemärit) is an annual folk event that takes place the fourth Monday in November. (This year it takes place on November 25, 2013.)
Visitors start showing up at 5am (or earlier) to take in an enormous marketplace that spans between Bern’s Parliament Buildings and railway station. Farmers from the surrounding area offer up more than 50 tons of onions (the root vegetable is known for its quality in this region of Switzerland.) Onions and garlic are also artistically showcased in woven garlands and wreaths.
Vendors and nearby restaurants also serve up onion or cheese tarts, garlic bread, Glühwein (hot mulled wine), as well as other local produce, nuts and specialties. Thousands attend each year to immerse themselves in an atmosphere of mouth-watering aromas and vibrant market scenes.
Other Timely Events
Why not stay in Bern a while? From now until December 1st you can attend Rendez-Vous Bundesplatz. Each evening (except on November 24 and 25), an amazing light and sound show takes place at Bern’s Parliament Building.
Additionally Bern’s Christmas markets—Münsterplatz and Waisenhausplatz—commence on November 30 and run through most of December.
Plus, if you love exploring a place on foot, there are plenty of walking and hiking opportunities in and around Bern.
Walking Around Bern
Walking around Bern’s Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a feast for the eyes. Almost entirely surrounded by the Aare river, much of the Old Town remains authentic to its 12 to 15th century origins. You can take part in a free guided walking tour, follow an audio guide via your iPod (for a fee) or stroll at your leisure.
Walking Around the Canton of Bern
“Walking is considered an important part of getting around in the Canton of Bern,” states the Canton of Bern website. “Thus a dense network of pleasant footpaths and sidewalks is provided for pedestrians…And for those who like to stroll in the countryside, there is an array of sign-posted and often scenic hiking paths throughout the canton.”
For example, you can walk at least two stages of the Trans Swiss Trail either starting or ending at the City of Bern: Stage 9 (22km) runs between Bern and Laupen and follows the River Sense through gorgeous countryside with alpine views; Stage 10 (16km) runs between Bern and Worb and provides passage through a stunning river landscape (River Aare) and offers up views of Worb Castle.
Also, Bernese Oberland (Berner Oberland), located in the southern portion of the Canton of Bern, is one of Europe’s premiere walking/hiking destinations. The area boats hundreds of trails (from easy to challenging walks) that travel through a variety of breathtaking landscapes. Highlights include the Bernese Alps (home to the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks) and Thun and Brienz Lakes.