(Un) profitable days in Swiss Röstigraben

From brewing culture to mountain sports: Bern has a lot to offer for travelers to Switzerland. Youth hostels make Röstigraben – the border between the German and French-speaking part of Switzerland – an inexpensive holiday destination.

The youth hostel of the city of Bern is located at the foot of the Bundeshaus, the Swiss seat of government and parliament. The hall-like dining room, where guests eat breakfast and dinner, gives the impression that almost four hundred years ago the building was still a warehouse. In 2018, the youth hostel was also enlarged by a new building: up to 188 beds. Guests can stay overnight in 51 double, four, six and eight-bed rooms – less than a hundred meters from the Aare, which passes through the old town.

In addition to the Bern shelter, there are six more Swiss youth hostels in the canton: in Gstaad Saanenland, Grindelwald, Interlaken, Leissigen, Brienz and Burgdorf. As a cottage, castle, or simple block building, homes are as diverse as the places they sit in. What they have in common: the concept of “budget and environment conscious travel”. The offer is especially attractive for families, says André Eisele, head of marketing and communication at Swiss Youth Hostels. For example, in Bern, prices for a family quadruple room with shower and toilet start at 64 Swiss Francs (around € 65) per person. Children up to twelve years of age receive a discount.

A trio of bears in the capital of beer

Bern has a lot to offer: there are bears that, according to legend, gave the city its name. They not only adorn the coat of arms, but also live as real specimens in the Bear Park, a complex opposite the old town that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is the legacy of the first bear at today’s Bärenplatz. 500 years ago there lived a bear that the Bernese had brought with them as spoils of war. Today, visitors to the eastern side of Aare can admire the Björk, Finn and Ursina bears from the promenade.

With around 200 breweries, Bern is also the beer capital of Switzerland. The city celebrates this with offers such as the “Lust und Vice” city tour, a beer tour every Wednesday and the Craft Beer Festival, which will take place this year on August 27. One of the many breweries is “Garage”. Christoph Häni and Matthias Kernen founded it 15 years ago in a garage in Lorraine. “At first we always brewed on Fridays as a hobby, then more and more people came to drink our beer,” says Häni. When their friends decided to open a bar, the brewery moved in 2014 to Breitenrainplatz in Bern. At the rear of the “Barbière”, Häni now brews beer, which guests can enjoy on the interior terrace.

Southeast of Bern, 50 kilometers up the Aare towards the Alps, lies Interlaken, with 6,000 inhabitants, between Lakes Thun and Brienz. Swiss Youth Hostels have also run a hostel here for ten years, right next to the Ostbahnhof. The building was initially viewed critically for its cardboard-like appearance, says operations manager Ueli Zürcher. “But that changed quickly, and today our cafe is also very popular with the locals.” The house can accommodate a total of 220 people in 60 rooms. The Interlaken Youth Hostel is also one of two with an “à la carte” restaurant in the Bernese Canton. In addition to the special of the day, guests can choose from other offers and watch the chef prepare a meal live.

Sporty for traveling in Interlaken

Sufficient food is also essential for anyone wanting to take advantage of Interlaken’s extensive outdoor offer. These can be expensive paragliding flights, bungee jumping, or guided glacier hikes. If you don’t have the guts or the budget you need, you can also explore the area on your own with hiking, biking or boating.

In addition, some viewpoints around Interlaken can be easily reached by cable car, such as the Jungfraujoch at 3,450 meters above sea level overlooking the largest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch Glacier. Opposite, on the other side of Interlaken, is the local mountain Harder Kulm, 1,322 meters high. Whether by train or on foot: those who manage to get there will be rewarded with panoramic views of both lakes and the sound of an alpine corner.


The federal city of Bern is the capital of Switzerland and takes its name from the canton in the west of the country. The official languages ​​are German and French.


Access to Bern is easy by train, for example via the Munich Euro-City-Express to Zurich and from there Intercity to Bern. The IC runs between Bern and Interlaken.

Switzerland is an expensive place. A cheaper alternative is youth hostels (see Youthhostel.ch for prices). For example, the youth hostel in Bern charges a minimum of CHF 49 per person in an 8-person room, 57 CHF in a quadruple room, 74 in a double room and 106 in a single room. Breakfast is included, dinner costs CHF 19.50, packed lunch on request.

Bern Youth Hostel: bern@youthhostel.ch or telephone: +41 31 326 11 11
JHB Interlaken: interlaken@youthhostel.ch, phone: +41 33 826 10 90.



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