Anybody want to cool off? Bern locals know there’s only one way to do it: Jump in the Aare! After all, a summer day in the capital wouldn’t be perfect without a plunge in their favorite river. We’ll tell you what you need to plan for and where floating down the Aare is a particularly rewarding experience.
It’s important to have a healthy amount of respect for the Aare and inform yourself about the possible risks beforehand. Swimming in the Aare is recommended for experienced swimmers only. The Swiss Lifesaving Society SLRG and the City of Bern provide (vitally) important tips for everyone who spends time in and on the Aare.
Bern locals and their Aare – it’s a very special love story. Want to trade your business suit for a bikini or swim trunks on your lunch break? How about a jump into the refreshing water right after work? Nobody would bat an eye in Bern. It’s even rumored that swimsuits used to be hung out to dry on the balcony of the Swiss Parliament Building on a regular basis. Jumping in the Aare is a must-do Bern experience for visitors who know how to swim. If you really want to get to know the city, you should head to – or rather into – the Aare.
How It’s Done
You can start your float down the Aare from one of Bern’s riverside swimming pools or any spot you choose along the Aare. Put your swimsuit on, pack your clothes and valuables in a waterproof dry bag and then jump in the Aare at the spot you choose (entry and exit points are marked with a red pole or with steps for helpful for climbing in and out). Be careful, though. River swimmers should definitely allow their body to adjust to the water’s somewhat cool temperature before starting their float by wetting themselves first.
Then, Aare fans can let themselves drift along, literally, since floating down the river is when you can truly leave all of your worries behind. Surrounded by nature yet in the middle of the capital city, urban swimmers are carried effortlessly down the river – with the impressive UNESCO-recognized Old Town as a backdrop.
It’s important to have a healthy amount of respect for the Aare and inform yourself about the possible risks beforehand. Swimming in the Aare is recommended for experienced swimmers only. The Swiss Lifesaving Society SLRG and the city of Bern provide (vitally) important tips for everyone who spends time in and on the Aare.
Bern locals are happy to assist with uncertainties and questions about entry and exit points as well as tips for an unforgettable float down the Aare.
The floodplains along the Aare river are particularly sensitive ecosystems. As a result, almost the entire river landscape between Thun and Bern is protected. We ask all those who stay around or on the Aare river to respect nature, not to leave any rubbish or disturb the animals unnecessarily.
Our Favorite Routes
The classic, the leisurely and the long route: The Aare offers something to suit every swimmer’s mood. These are our three favorite routes.
#1 The Classic Route: From Eichholz to Marzili
This is where “everybody” in Bern meets up on hot summer days. In what looks like a mass exodus from the city, hundreds of locals walk approximately two kilometers upriver from the Marzili riverside pool to Camping Eichholz. They pass by the “Dampfere” (Dampfzentrale cultural center and restaurant), watch the sporty types playing beach volleyball under the Monbijou Bridge, and wave to the distant pelicans at the Dählhölzli Zoo. The crowd begins to thin somewhat, since a number of swimmers prefer to jump into the Aare at the Schönausteg (pedestrian bridge). However, if you march a good kilometer further you’ll reach the gravel beach at Camping Eichholz. It’s time to enter the refreshingly cool Aare hesitant step by hesitant step and then leap in all at once with a shriek. Now is when the extra walking distance pays off, since you can enjoy the Aare for a few extra, sublime minutes. The view of the Parliament Building is always breathtaking as it sits enthroned above the Aare. It doesn’t get much lovelier!
#2 The Leisurely Route: From the Altenbergsteg to the Lorraine Pool
Somewhat further downriver, directly under the Kornhaus Bridge lies the Altenbergsteg pedestrian bridge. Since the current is not as strong here, this section of the river is especially suited to newcomers and those who like to take it easy. You can enjoy the trip while floating on your back and watching the clouds drift by. The natural calm around you makes this section particularly relaxing – and gives you the feel that you are far removed from the city’s hustle and bustle. On the right slope of the Aare, the Botanical Garden extends all the way down the riverbank, while the Blutturm (Blood Tower) on the left evokes grisly associations. This guard tower from the 15th century is actually referred to in literature as the Witches’ Tower as well, although both names may be based more in myth than reality. However, none of that really matters today, since you’re now floating beneath the Lorraine Bridge and waving to the train passengers crossing the Aare high above on the railway bridge and casting longing eyes down at the cool heads below. When graffiti-covered concrete walls appear on the right side, it’s your last chance to get out of the water. You’ve arrived at the Lorraine pool, Bern’s second riverside swimming pool, and a meeting place for families and lovers of leisure.
#3 The Long Route: Bremgarten Loop
The Bremgarten Loop is definitely an insider tip, but you’ll need stamina and warm water temperatures for this 20-minute swim in the Aare. Nevertheless, the time spent in the river is priceless and will seem everlasting. So let yourself drift down the Aare, through the lush, green forest, while you listen to the whistling of the birds. This is how you get there: you can ride your bike or take bus No. 21 to the Fährstrasse stop, after which you follow the Felsenau bridge up until the right-hand bend. Here, you’ll have to cross the road and then take a hairpin turn to the left to walk towards the Aare. Then you pass underneath the Felsenau bridge and make your way about 200 m upstream until you reach the entrance of the Aare tunnel. This is when you change your clothes, quickly walk through the tunnel in your bathing suit and finally jump into the Aare, to enjoy a glorious 20 minutes in this natural paradise. After your swim, you’ll be back at the starting point where you can put on dry clothes. Our tip for afterwards: take the ferry to the Enge peninsula and treat yourself to a delicious snack in the cosy Zehendermätteli restaurant.
|Freibad Lorraine||21 69.8 °|
|Freibad Marzili||25 77 °|
|Freibad Weyermannshaus||21 69.8 °|
|Freibad Wyler||24 75.2 °|
You might also like
Small Talk Ahoy! 13 Fun Facts and Tales About the Aare RiverHow do the fish get into the Lorraine pool, and how many bridges cross the Aare river? Why do the Bernese walk at a certain pace and who sings the Aare song? Here are 13 facts about our favorite river so you will be brimming with insider knowledge on your next trip to the Aare.Small Talk Ahoy! 13 Fun Facts and Tales About the Aare RiverMore
Stories of the AareFrom a popular double bassist who balances out the hectic life of a musician by also working as a ferryman to a young school teacher who makes his own surfboards for the Aare river. In a series of enthralling video portraits, five Bernese locals share their personal story of the Aare river.Stories of the AareMore