The Swiss city with its Unesco-protected old town joined destinations including the UK’s Norwich, the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo and picturesque Plovdiv in Bulgaria.
Writing about Switzerland’s de facto capital, CNN said people often skipped Bern “en route to a summer vacation or winter ski trip in Zurich or Geneva”.
But the media giant said Bern – sometimes referred to as the city of fountains – was “worthy of a few extra days of your trip” to Switzerland.
The report made special mention of Bern’s summer tradition of swimming and rafting on the Aare River, while also noting cultural options like the Museum of Fine Arts and a hike to the top of Bern ‘home mountain’, the Gurten.
Summer in Bern as all about the River Aare. Image: Bern Tourism
Lovers of Switzerland won’t be surprised to see Bern on the CNN list. Apart from its stunning location on a bend in the Aare River and the obvious draw of its extensive medieval old town, the Swiss capital is also within striking distance of some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps in the form of the Bernese Oberland.
Bern tourism on the rise
But people in the know will also be aware that Bern is not quite as tourist free as CNN suggests.
While the city does not receive nearly as many tourists as Zurich and Geneva, it did register a record 478,000 stays by international guests in its hotels in 2018, up from 422,000 a year earlier.
Authorities in Bern are now taking a cautious approach to this growth in tourism and have moved away from targeting pure growth in numbers, hoping instead to attract individual tourists planning to stay in the city rather than groups of day trippers.
The current focus is on balancing the needs of industry, residents and tourists, according to Bern tourism authorities who are concerned about the dangers of 'overtourism'.
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