It’s long been said that Bern took its name from the word Bär (German for bear), and so it seemed perfectly normal that the city would keep bears on display.
In fact, the city’s first bear pit was at Bärenplatz (Bear Square) in the city center, until it was relocated in 1764 due to traffic problems.
In 2009, the miserly riverside pit (only 3.5m — or a little over 11ft — deep) at what was the former gateway to the city was replaced by a fabulous 6000m-squared (65,500ft squared) hillside enclosure that allows the city’s most lovable emblems to frolic, feed and roam to their hearts’ content.
Bear (pun intended) in mind that winter is hibernation time, so don’t expect much action then, although there is a shop and information available year-round, and one of the city’s very helpful tourist information offices is nearby. Plus, one of the best places to eat and drink in the city, the Altes Tramdepot, is a stone’s throw from here.
A webcam keeps watch on the bears, should you wish to keep your distance.