Built around a hairpin turn in the river Aaar, this medieval city has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. Bern is cosmopolitan and one which boasts the longest covered arcades in Europe. Thousands of shops line these arcades including cellars (originally wine cellars) that now house businesses offering everything from flowers to clothing to a puppet theater.

If cities have a heart and soul, Bern’s has to be the famous Zytglogge (clock tower). This marvel of 16th century engineering has crowds queing up each hour to watch the show on the face of the Astronomical Clock, including a crowing rooster and whirling figures to mark the time. This clock has been in continuous operation since its original construction in 1530.

Next to the clock tower, the Bear Park is another attraction that is a must-see. The bear is the symbol of the city and this newer incarnation of what was essentially just a pit in the ground is built along a terraced hillside. The park just celebrated its 500 year anniversary since its founding in 1513. Four brown bears roam and play while tourists (including me) snap pictures and video clips.