The Ultimate Aare Rafting Guide

Equipment and food

What items absolutely must be on the packing list for your Aare rafting tour? And what extra gadgets are sure to impress your fellow rafters (and the occasional mermaid)? Our Aare rafting checklist ensures that you remember everything – from the pump to the boom box.

Equipment

«Mega Chill» - literally!

Real rafters are always well prepared for their tour. They know how to pack lightly – so the raft doesn’t capsize – but they also ensure they have everything they need for the journey. We’ve prepared a list of the most essential items to take along, as well as a few cool gadgets that can prove useful.

The must-haves

  • Raft (see chapter 2, Planning and preparation)
  • Swimwear
  • Sunscreen (waterproof, with a high SPF)
  • Hat or cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Dry bag (also known as an Aare bag)
  • Towel
  • Rafting gear (paddles and ideally your own pump)
  • Drinks (and no, not just alcohol)

Nice to have

  • Light jacket/hoodie (for when it gets cooler in the evening)
  • Trash bag (Mother Nature and your fellow Aare-goers will thank you)
  • Life jacket
  • Wetsuit (can be rented for an extra CHF 10 when tubing on the Aare, for those who are cold-natured and on cold days)
  • Flip-flops
  • Food and beverages (see the section on food)
  • Lighter and kindling (e.g. old newspapers or firelighter cubes) for the perfect BBQ
  • Emergency kit for yourself and your raft
    • Pocket knife
    • PVC tape
    • Adhesive bandages
    • After-sun lotion

Pimp your raft

  • Splash-proof boom boxes
    Perfect for the party raft. Available options include the UE Boom, one of the JBL models or the Libratone One Click.

  • Waterproof camera or GoPro
    For capturing the best moments. Available in shops such as Foto Video Zumstein on Casinoplatz (Casino Square).

  • Waterproof smartphone case
    We discovered a good one at Galaxus.

  • Air mattress, inflatable avocado, or perhaps a flamingo?
    Besides the more traditional rafts, you’ll see some rather unusual creations on the Aare. They’re available to purchase at shops like Fizzen.

  • A cooler for keeping your drinks nice and cold
    Intex’s “Mega Chill” rafting accessory is available at Sportxx.

Food

How about a picnic?

Spending a whole day on the Aare makes you hungry. Depending on your mood (and on how loudly your stomach is growling), you can take a break along the tour, have a bite in the boat, or wait and take a little more time to eat at the end of the trip.

Where are the best grilling spots along the Aare? What might a typical local pack in their rafting lunch bag? Where can you buy last-minute provisions on the way to the river? And what ice cream parlor offers “Switzerland’s best ice cream” at the end of the tour? Our food tips will make sure that grill masters, gourmands and those with a sweet tooth know everything they need for the day.

It's BBQ-Time!

The thought alone is enough to make our mouths water!

The many “smoke signals” along the Aare leave no doubt: for many Bernese, grilling is the icing on the cake of the rafting tour. Whether along the riverbank, on one of the countless little islands, or at the end of the tour by the river pool at Eichholz – the aroma of sizzling sausages is part of the true Bernese rafting experience. We’ll let you in on the best grilling spots hiding around the bends of the river, and we’ll make sure your shopping list is complete for the perfect Bernese BBQ.

Please think of the environment: keep an eye out for nature conservation areas (marked by signs along the route), take your trash with you (a trash bag is on the Aare rafting tour packing list!) and leave picnic spots as you would wish to find them. Mother Nature and your fellow Aare-goers will thank you!

  • Fun Fact

    During the peak season, there is a bar on the small islands right after Parkbad Münsingen.The ultimate vacation feeling!

  • Tipp

    Remember to leave the grill site as you would wish to find it.

BBQ shopping list

When you’re rafting down the Aare, you need something that’s easy to transport and eat. But if you’re planning to grill by the river pool at Eichholz at the end of the tour, you can plan for a more comprehensive BBQ. This shopping list will ensure you don’t forget anything. 👇

  • Shopping list ahoy!

    Meat from a Bernese butcher

    • Bratwurst
    • Cervelat sausages
    • Bacon skewers
    • Poultry

    Vegetables from the market on Bundesplatz (Parliament Square)

    • Corn on the cob
    • Bell peppers
    • Stuffed mushrooms

    Miscellaneous

    • Cheese for grilling
    • Bread
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Other seasonings for grilling

    Sweets

    • Marshmallows

    Salads

    • Potato salad
    • Mixed greens or tossed salad
    • Carrot salad
    • Pasta salad

    Don’t forget a pocket knife, lighter and kindling (e.g. newspapers or ideally firelighter cubes).

Bring your own food

Homemade always tastes best!

Will you be feeding a mob of hungry rafters and prefer not to grill? An inexpensive and easy option is to take along lunch bags. You can take your time to prepare and carefully pack them the night before, and then surprise your crew the next day on the raft with whatever you pull out of your hat (well, ideally out of the cooler – after all, Aare rafters are fully equipped). Here are a few ideas that are sure to go over well:

  • Dried fruit
  • Berries
  • Nuts or trail mix
  • Apples (Vitamin C, here we come!)
  • Wraps or sandwiches
  • Pasta salad
  • Apple chips

Bernese-style lunch bag

How about a delicious Mandelbärli (almond bear)?

Are you tired of the same old picnic standbys and ubiquitous trail mix? Here are some typical Bernese specialties that would be the perfect fit in an Aare rafting lunch bag:

  • Bernese Mandelbärli (almond bears) from Beck Glatz
    Besides the classic vanilla-flavored version, there are now a number of different flavors available, including chocolate, lemon, chestnut and Irish cream.

  • Ovomaltine cookies
    The iconic brand was founded in the Old Town of Bern in 1865. And the Swiss Ovomaltine slogan certainly also applies to Aare rafting: “With Ovomaltine you may not be able to do it better, but you’ll be able to do it longer.”

  • A nice crusty loaf of “Houdäge”
    Available at the Reinhard bakery at Bern main station. Enjoy it with some savory cheese from the Chäshütte or Chäsbueb, both in the Old Town near the Zytglogge (Clock Tower).

  • A cool and refreshing Bernese Müntschi
    In the beloved Bernese dialect, “Müntschi” means “kiss” and is one of the most popular local beers in the city. Cheers!

  • Bernese hazelnut gingerbread
    This quintessential local specialty is available at places such as Confiserie Eichenberger at Bern main station.

  • Bern’s own water
    Simply take your water bottle and fill it at one of the city’s 100 fountains – all of which dispense high-quality drinking water.
  • Tipp

    Don’t take anything along that will create too much waste or that can melt. Apart from enjoying their Ovomaltine cookies, chocoholics will simply have to wait until the end of the tour (at the Marzili pool), where they can then treat themselves to “Switzerland’s best ice cream” at Gelateria di Berna.

  • Fun Fact

    Concerned about maintaining your summer body? No need to worry about that in Bern! You’ll burn around 500 calories on the two- to three-hour Aare rafting tour. This can easily compensate for ten chicken nuggets from McDonald’s, a bag of chips or a helping of fries.

Last-minute food

Running a wee bit late?

Going on a spontaneous outing but no time to pack food? You can buy chips, salad and other snacks at Bern main station (Migros and Coop open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.) or at Thun main station (Coop open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.). Be sure to stock up there, as it may be difficult to find a kiosk or grocery store afterwards.

But if you have forgotten something, you can take an emergency trip to the Volg, located five minutes’ walk away from Uttigen station (open Monday–Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. / Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. / closed Sundays).

  • Fact

    Did you know? Just like with driving, the blood alcohol limit for Aare rafting is 0.05%. If you start paddling with too much alcohol in your system, you risk losing your license. Safety first! And who needs alcohol anyway when enjoying the intoxicating beauty of the Aare?

Vitamin C, here we come!

Feast on the way home

Stomach growling after all that paddling? Burgers, gourmet meals and “Switzerland’s best ice cream” await hungry sailors at the end of their Aare rafting tour. We’ll tell you where.

Chapter Overview