Biel/Bienne : Arrival, information and accommodation
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The train station is between the town and the lakeshore: it’s a 500m walk northeast along Bahnhofstrasse/Rue de la Gare to Zentralplatz/Place Central, heart of the modern shopping districts, from where the Old Town is the same distance again northwards. Boats dock at the Schiffländte/débarcadère, some 500m southwest of the station. The tourist office is directly opposite the station (Mon–Fri 8am–12.30pm & 1.30–6pm; May–Oct also Sat 9am–noon & 2–5pm; 032/322 75 75, www. bielnews.ch/tourism).

Far and away the best hotel – tedious business-class chains included – is the beautiful Villa Lindenegg, Lindenegg 5 in the Old Town (032/322 94 66, fax 322 95 66; b–c), a dreamy mansion built in 1831 in its own little park, bought by the city in 1985, renovated by three local women and reopened in 1996 as a bistro and hotel. All seven rooms are different, each of them fresh, light and wood-floored, the best (room 4) with a balcony over the garden. Alternatively, try Pension Ring, Ring 16 (032/322 81 08, fax 323 69 60; a), a few airy but frill-free rooms above a café on the Old Town’s central square; Bären, Nidaugasse/Rue de Nidau 22 (032/322 45 73, fax 322 91 57; b), a creaky, shabby place in the centre; or Goya, Neuengasse/Rue Neuve 6 (032/322 61 61, fax 322 74 42; b), which has slightly more going for it in terms of service and decor. Elite, Bahnhofstrasse/Rue de la Gare 14 (032/328 77 77, fax 328 77 70, www.hotelelite.ch) boasts all the creature comforts but not a whiff of anything else. Lago Lodge, Uferweg 5 (tel / fax: 032 331 37 32 / 33, http://www.lagolodge.ch ) wich is a budget Swiss Backpacker Hostel with integrated restaurant and micro brewery.

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