Tired? Overnight stays along the Aare
Why not plan an overnight stay directly on the river so that you and your crew can get the most out of the Aare? Turn it into a multi-day adventure! Choose from cozy campgrounds, a modern youth hostel or even an unconventional pop-up hotel – the Aare offers something for everyone.
Marzili Youth Hostel
Wake up to a direct view of the Aare. This is possible thanks to the youth hostel. It was reopened in spring 2018 following a year of renovations. The hostel features a modernized old building, a new building, light-filled rooms and large windows looking onto the river. Sleepy rafters can choose from single rooms up to six-person rooms. An inviting garden with chess, mill games and ping-pong tables lets you mingle with international guests. And for Aare rafters, the location can’t be beat. The turquoise Aare is flowing just a few steps away, the popular Marzili pool is just around the corner, and the legendary Gelateria di Berna, with its tempting ice cream creations, is also within walking distance. With a location directly under the Parliament Building, the hostel is also perfectly located for you and your crew to visit the Old Town. Why not head over and experience true Bernese leisure with a coffee break under the arcades?
It doesn’t get any closer to the Aare than this. Just unzip your tent in the morning, poke your head out, and there it is, in all its glittering glory: the Aare, flowing directly by the Eichholz campgrounds. The experience rivals camping on the Adriatic in Italy or Croatia. Here, too, the beach and the water provide welcome refreshment on hot summer days. And even though the campgrounds are in the middle of a recreational area, it is just a few minutes’ walk or tram ride from the city. Eichholz is “the place to be” in summertime anyway. Here you can find all manner of sun-seekers, slackliners, footballers, grill masters, Aare rafters and swimmers making their way back to the Marzili pool. Adults pay CHF 12.00 for use of the campsite, including taxes and a Bern Ticket that allows free use of public transportation in the 100/101 Libero zones. You can also rent a tent for CHF 8.00. And for those who prefer a bed to an air mattress, there are also rooms that you can reserve.
Landhaus Hotel close to the Bear Pit
History fans will be well served at the Landhaus Hotel. Located at Bern’s Altenberg between the Aare and the BearPark, this hotel was one of the first buildings constructed on the east side of the river. If you like special, unconventional locales, you will love staying in this protected historical building, which is over 100 years old. Each of the ten rooms (ranging from single to multi-bed occupancy) is individually furnished, with no room like the other. The renovated rooms offer a home away from home, not only for Aare rafters, but also for globetrotters, families, artists, businesspeople, backpackers, individualists, and even groups and school classes. The Aare flows directly next to the hotel. Our tip: Walk across the Untertorbrücke (Untertor bridge), the oldest bridge in Bern, to the Matte district and enjoy the special village atmosphere in this former harbor and artisan district. The Matte Distillery at Mühlenplatz, which produces dry gin and absinthe, is also worth stopping by for a nightcap.
Pop-up hotel Zollhaus
There are four small houses on Nydeggbrücke (Nydegg bridge) that have quite a history. Until the mid-19th century, they functioned as customs buildings, where traders and merchants had to pay taxes on the wares they wanted to sell in Bern. After several months of renovation, the small customs house at the east end of the bridge directly by the BearPark re-opened in June 2018 as the Zollhaus pop-up hotel. The result is a true gem of a hotel in an exclusive location. The Zollhaus hotel offers a one-of-a-kind view: Bern’s Old Town on one side and the bear family in the BearPark on the other. It was conceived as a duplex suite for two, but up to four people can stay there. Amenities include a small kitchen stocked with local products such as Adriano’s coffee and Tom’s Tonic Water, a living room with a grand view of the Old Town and the river, two generously sized bathrooms, a bedroom, a small TV nook and a terrace overlooking the BearPark. It is a protected historical building with stylish design – no detail was overlooked – and charmingly furnished rooms. The best part is in the morning: for breakfast, a crate with regional products is delivered directly to the hotel for you to enjoy while admiring the Aare and the residents of the BearPark.
TCS Camping, Bern-Eymatt
The TCS campgrounds at Bern-Eymatt – located between Bern, Wohlen, Bremgartenwald, the Aare and the Lake Wohlen recreation area – are perfect for nature lovers and athletes. Here you’re in the middle of nature but also just a few minutes away from the capital of Switzerland, thanks to a direct bus connection. Stand-up paddling, bike tours, boat trips, or simply rest and relaxation at the campsite – all your needs are met here. Glamping, or glamorous camping, can also be done here. Wheelchair-accessible bungalows and campers can be rented if you need something a bit more luxurious after your Aare rafting tour. Our favorite is the “pod,” a cute wooden house similar in shape to an igloo. It can house up to three people and even has its own terrace. A perfect camping weekend with friends and a warm, relaxed summer evening with red wine – all the elements are here!
Experiences along the Aare
We can’t predict the future, but there is one thing we’re sure of: you’re bound to fall in love with the Aare on your rafting tour and will want to stay another day! Here are our tips for newfound fans of the Aare:
Who needs the sea when you’ve got the Aare? Don’t be surprised if you come across a surfer complete with a wetsuit and surfboard under their arm in Bern’s alleyways: Bern is not just a city with a relaxed lifestyle but is also a hotspot for river surfers. The cool, deep-blue, clean water of the Aare river, which winds its way into the city from the Bernese Alps, offers optimum refreshment on hot summer days. In the summer, allowing yourself to float downriver in the cool water is one of the most unforgettable highlights of a stay in the Swiss capital.
Stand Up Paddling
Experience this trendy Hawaiian sport on the Aare river – stand-up paddling is a fun idea for hot summer days. Even beginners will soon be up and enjoying the majestic feeling of seeing the Aare from a brand new perspective. Just pick up a board, paddle and life jacket in Uttigen and after a brief introduction you will be standing up on the board like a pro, and soon trying out your first little tricks and mastering little rapids.
When the sun comes out, hundreds of Bern locals head to the Aare river for a swim or river rafting while the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site old town looks down on them from high above. The Marzili is perhaps the most famous pool in the capital, right on the Aare with beautiful views of the Parliament Building. Swimmers can swim lengths in the pool. There is also a children’s pool, a section for women only, and a diving pool. However, most Bernese locals like walking from the Marzili to Eichholz, from where they can drift back down the Aare into the Marzili.
It is important to treat the Aare with respect and find out more about the dangers before you swim. Swimming in the Aare is only recommended for experienced swimmers. The SLRG provides vital, potentially lifesaving information for anyone wanting to enjoy themselves on the Aare river.
Discover the city
Where can you find freshly brewed beer and “Switzerland’s best ice cream”? Where can you do your morning sun salutations with a 360° panoramic view of the rooftops of Bern? And who or what is Peter Flamingo, anyway? Here we’ll share 15 summer tips you won’t find in every travel guide. If you prefer classic sightseeing stops like the Zytglogge (Clock Tower) or the Einstein House, we also have recommendations for seeing Bern in 24, Bern in 48 or Bern in 72 hours.
Indeed, the capital city has a lot of culinary delights to offer hungry rafters who are here for the weekend. It doesn’t matter if you’re a grill master, a gourmand or someone with simpler tastes: the medieval streets of Bern and the banks of the Aare will provide for all of your dining needs. Read on for our insider tips and favorite locales.
Feel like doing more than Aare rafting? In the mood for parties, movies or sports? Here is a selection of unique summer events in Bern to ensure you and your crew don’t get bored after the rafting journey.
For cinema lovers: Marzili Movie
You’ll recognize it by the smell of fresh popcorn: On five evenings every July, there is an open-air cinema at the Marzili pool. Each year focuses on a different country, with movies and refreshments corresponding to the specific theme. Whether it’s Ireland, Spain or Australia, the program features both popular and lesser-known movies from near and far. The location is rather exclusive: The screen is directly by the Aare, with the silhouettes of the Parliament Building and Bern Minster adorning the night sky behind it. You can either rent a lounge chair or bring your own seating solution. Then just lean back and relax – the movie is starting!
For curious spectators: Bern’s Schifferstechen tournament
On June 30, 2018, Bern’s first-ever Schifferstechen – a type of medieval tournament on the Aare – will take place. Prominent local personalities duke it out with strong men from traditional guilds, water navigation clubs and the general public. The battle involves two longboats floating alongside one another. Competitors then try to knock their opponents into the water using a lance. Whoever stays standing is the winner! The Matte district, directly next to the Marzili pool, will host a huge folk festival on this day with food and drinks, a traditional amusement park, flatboat rides and much, much more.
For music fans: Gurtenfestival
This legendary festival on the Gurten mountain (July 11–14, 2018) is sure to offer a one-of-a-kind lineup, a great atmosphere and a fantastic panoramic view. The journey alone distinguishes the venue from all other festivals. Bern’s local mountain is reached via the Gurtenbahn funicular. Those who are more athletic can also walk up the mountain in about 45 minutes. Popular Swiss acts will grace the forest-framed stage alongside countless bands from all over the world. Fun fact: Both the Gurtenfestival and the Eichholz river pool are accessible from the same tram stop (Gurtenbahn). No wonder it’s common to meet famous musicians in the Aare. When German rapper Marteria took a dip in the Aare in 2017, the video went viral.
WATCH MARTERIA’S VIDEO
If you feel like celebrating: Swiss National Day (August 1)
Bern really knows how to celebrate the Swiss national holiday (August 1)! There’s so much to experience, including the city brunch on Münsterplatz (Minster Square), “open house” events at various institutions, a children’s program on the Minster terrace, tours of the Zytglogge (Clock Tower) and Bern Minster, concerts and the official festivities on Münsterplatz, the legendary fireworks display on the Gurten, and a sea of lights on Bundesplatz (Parliament Square). Insider’s tip: A vintage bus tour through the UNESCO World Heritage city is a one-of-a-kind experience!
For families: Bern’s “Hallo Velo!” bike festival
Bikes will be in the spotlight in Bern, the Aare valley and the Gürbe valley on August 5, 2018. The cities of Münsingen and Bern will be blocking off traffic along the cycling route for the “Hallo Velo!” cycling festival. A diverse festival program will be offered along the main 40-kilometer route. You can try your hand at bike ball or bike orienteering, learn about bicycles in workshops with mechanics, and try out new kinds of bikes. Entry is free – just join the main route from anywhere or directly from home. Ride along and enjoy an unforgettable day on – and about – bikes!
For a lively experience: Buskers Street Music Festival in Bern
Colorful, creative, whimsical and poetic. From August 9 to 11, 2018, around 150 artists from around the world will transform Bern’s lower Old Town into a lively open-air summer festival. The rich variety of music, dance, drama, comedy, puppetry and acrobatics draws around 80,000 people to the capital city each year. The range of music is highly diverse, including genres such as electronic afro-soul, psychedelic Celtic folk, soul flamenco in the local dialect, and indie rock. The festival is free of charge. Of course, street musicians welcome donations from the audience.