Biel/Bienne (Biel in German, Bienne in French) is the 10th largest city of Switzerland and is located on the northern edge of the canton of Berne. Famous for watchmaking, and home to Rolex, Omega and Swatch among other famous makers.
The city lies at the foot of the first mountain range of the Jura Mountains area, guarding the only practical connection to Jura in the area, and on the northeastern shores of Lake Biel (Bielersee, Lac de Bienne), sharing the eastern tip of the lake with its sister city, Nidau.
The city has more than 50,000 inhabitants and the agglomeration more than 100,000.
The international airports of Geneva, Basel and Zurich are approx. 1 hour away. The Euroairport Basel-Mulhausen is the nearest.
Biel/Bienne has train connections to nearly every city in Switzerland. Direct connection Lausanne, Geneva, Berne, Basel, Eastern Switzerland, Lake Constance and Zurich To Olten - Zürich Eastern Switzerland 30 minutes, to Berne every 20 Minutes, everywhere else they run hourly.
3 highways are connecting Biel/Bienne with the rest of Switzerland.
As Biel/Bienne is located at the end of Lake Biel, it can be reached by boat not only from other touristic lake villages, e.g. Ligerz, but also from towns on the Lake of Neuchatel, e.g. Neuchatel or the Lake of Murten, e.g. Murten
The City has a highly efficient, clean and safe public transport system. It includes trams, buses, S-Bahn (local trains) and even boats for the lake and river. Tickets must be purchased from a ticket machine before boarding or from one of the ticket selling kiosks.
It is possible to visit the main touristic sights of Biel/Bienne on foot. It's safe and not far.
- historic medieval Town (Bieler Altstadt / Vieille ville de Bienne)
- historic international Style and Bauhaus City of the 1920 (Bieler Neustadt / Nouvelle ville de Bienne)
- The Volkshaus near the main central train station. Symbol of the labour movement in the first part of the 20th century.
- Hotel Elite, opposite the Volkshaus. The Symbol for the bourgeoisie.
- The neoclassical main train station and the 1st class waiting room of 1900 (frescoes by Robert)
- The urban and busy squares: Zentralplatz und Guisanplatz
- The main churches of the German-speaking (located at the historic medieval town) and the French-speaking (located at Seevorstadt).
- District of Culture (Museum Schwab, Museum Neuhaus, Museum Pasquart)
- Watchmaking museum (Omega Museum)
- Lido at Lake Biel (Architecture: Bauhaus / International Style)
Biel/Bienne is one of the few places in Switzerland to be fully genuinely bilingual, with German as the majority language and French as the minority language, though in practice, Swiss German is the main language, with French being second. However, German is very widely spoken as it's used in lots of media and is taught in schools, even in French-speaking ones. English is also prevalent.
- Go swim in the Lake Biel (Bielersee)
- Take a look an stroll to the historic medieval town (Altstadt).
- Lake Promenade at the Strandboden.
- Do a cruise on Lake Biel.
- Go to the Taubenloch Canyon (Taubenlochschlucht) and explore the cascade.
- Pick up a bike and take a ride around the lake or the jura mountains. If you can, take a look at the wineards: you´re going to find many medieval constructions and some good restaurants serving fish from the lake and local wine.
- Drink a glass of the famous local wine (especially white wine) or local beer.
- During ice-hockey season visit a game of the EHC Biel.
- Visit the chocolate factory Camille Bloch at the City of Courtelary in the Jura mountains. (15 min from Biel/Bienne City centre)
- Visit the maschine-factory Mueum Müller. (Tu-Su 14-17:00; Adults CHF. 8.- / Students CHF. 5.-)
- August 1st is the national day of Switzerland, and watching the fireworks on a boat is a good experience.
- In winter: Take the bus to Les Près d'Orvin and go sking and snowboarding (20 min from the city center)
- In the summer, there is a music festival at the old town.
The main shopping district is in the middle of the city. The main shopping streets are the Bahnhofsstrasse and the Nidaugasse. Both car-free! For example: Buy a watch made in Biel/Bienne (ex: Omega, Swatch, Rolex, Candino and a lot more)
- Fish from the lake Biel (especially perch and luce)
- Cheese from the Jura mountains
- Vegetables from the seeland.
- Famous white, red and rose wine from the vineyards at lake Biel.
- Elite Art Deco****, 14, rue de la Gare, fax: +41 32 127 77 70, e-mail: email@example.com. 200m from the train station. Great hotel bar "Baramundo". Single room from 205CHF, double room from 297CHF (rates from February 2009).