Bern is considered one of Europe's most beautiful cities and it is listed in the world's top ten cities for the best quality of life. The Old City, with its ancient streets lined with well preserved medieval buildings, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Direct flights are available from London City airport, and from other UK airports with a stopover in London. A cheap flight can be found using our flight comparison website which compares hundreds of airlines for you across the market. The Old City was built between the 12th and 15th centuries. It has barely changed since medieval times and it is home to many outstanding historic buildings. Among these, the Berner Munster, a 15th century gothic cathedral, is one of the best known. It is noted for its Gothic statues, original stained glass windows and its 100 metre (328 foot) bell tower, from which there is an excellent view of the city and the snowy peaks of the distant Bernese Alps. Also popular with visitors is the Zytglogge - a 13th century clock tower with moving clockwork figures that musically announce the time. You can take a short tour to view its internal workings. Another feature of this area is the multitude of fountains - many of them adorned with beautifully painted Renaissance statues - which once provided the city's drinking water. Bern has a number of interesting museums. It was here that Einstein developed his theory of Special Relativity - said to have been partly inspired by the Zytglogge - and you can find out more about his life at the Einstein Museum. Other museums are dedicated to natural history, alpine mountaineering and the history of the city. Gurten Hill, just south of the city, is a fine viewpoint and is well worth a visit. A funicular railway takes you to the summit, which has a restaurant, a park and lots of walking trails.
SkyWork, Helvetica and Darwin airlines offer flights to this regional airport, and a cheap flight can easily be found using our flight comparison tool. It is worth investigating a flight from Southend as prices are often very reasonable. Frequent buses connect the airport to the city centre, these journeys take as little as half an hour. There is also the 'Winter Bus', which takes you directly to the resorts of Interlaken and Grindelwald. Bern is well served by public transport. Its public transport system is well-known for its punctuality. A Bernmobil day card gives you unlimited journeys all day on all forms of transport. Another good way to see the city is to hire a bike. For a deposit of 20 Swiss Francs (about £13.70), you can rent one for free for the first four hours; it costs 1 Swiss Franc (about 70p) for each hour thereafter. While Bern has many attractions of its own, it is also an excellent starting point for exploring the Bernese Oberland, a scenically spectacular area of the Alps, featuring well-known peaks such as the Eiger and the Jungfrau.