Beware: when the water levels are low, treacherous currents can develop. You can find the river bathing rules of the Schweizerische Lebensrettungs-Gesellschaft (Swiss Lifesaving Association SLRG) here.
The Serene Oasis: “Chräbsebächli Elfenau
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, we highly recommend the insider’s tip “Chräbsebächli” (literally “crab brook”) in the Elfenau neighbourhood. The surroundings are idyllic and serene – perfect for anyone wanting to escape the hustle and bustle at the different Aare hotspots. It’s easiest to get there by bicycle, or you can take bus no. 19 in the direction of Elfenau, get off at “Manuelstrasse” and go the rest on foot. And if all the sunbathing makes you thirsty, you can take a short walk toward Muri and stop by the Fähribeitzli bistro to enjoy a refreshing drink on its terrace, accompanied by the sounds of the Aare river and a view of the Elfenau’s enchanting floodplain landscape.
The Rural Escape: Lake Wohlen
Standing on the bank of Lake Wohlen today, you’d never think that just 100 years ago it didn’t even exist. Originally established to produce electricity (its initial name was "Lake Electro"), this reservoir now harmoniously blends into the landscape. It is as a popular recreation area near the city, ideal for cycling, hiking, and outdoor barbecues. Lake Wohlen has a number of spots suited for a refreshing dip, for example at the head of the lake near Wohleibrücke bridge. You can also rent a folding kayak or a SUP and go exploring on the lake. And when you return tired and hungry, the charming "Bogen 17” kiosk can provide you with tasty regional delicacies.
The Bathtub: Lake Burgäschi
This place has pretty much everything your heart could desire in the summertime: an enchanted nature reserve, a well-kept lido, a boat rental with rowing boats ... If you want to earn the refreshing swim, you can walk around the lake first, which takes about half an hour – although it might take longer, as the lakeside path is also a learning trail thanks to the informative panels along the way. Fishing is allowed, licenses can be purchased at the Volg store in Aeschi. If you’re successful, you can prepare your catch (European perch, pike, whitefish) at one of the barbecuing pits. If the fish gods are not on your side, you can grab a snack at the lido’s kiosk or the restaurant. Since the lake is so small, you can often go for a dip as early as May without getting cold!
The Unexpected Gem: Wangen an der Aare
Many drive past Wangen an der Aare on the A1 highway without paying attention to the small town, but it has a lot to offer – and we’re not just referring to its historic centre. Wangen is also a lovely, easy-to-reach, quite underrated place for swimming. The best spot for Aare fans to enter the river is at the little island. Relax and let yourself drift down to the famous wooden bridge, where a small, grassy sunbathing area awaits with a practical entry/exit point with wide steps. And don’t forget to round off a hot summer day in Wangen with a refreshing drink and tasty supper at the wonderful Aarebar.
The Playground: The Emme River in Hasle
In Hasle-Rüegsau, you can be in town and still surrounded by nature – an ideal place for unwinding. Start at the wooden bridge in Hasle and discover the endless pretty spots up and down the river that invite you to linger, have a picnic, and go for a dip. The Emme flows very slowly here and is nice and shallow – perfect for families with small children. There’s also a large playground (with toilets) right by the bridge where kids can run around and let off steam if it’s too cold to go in the water. And if you feel like going for a walk: the path to Burgdorf along both sides of the river is flat and wonderfully idyllic.
The Idyll: The Emme River in Lützelflüh
If you’re looking for the epitome of rural Switzerland, you should go to the Emmental – to Lützelflüh, to be exact, where the hills seem softer, the farms statelier, and the grass greener. On hot summer days, the stony Emme is the perfect place to cool off, for example after a relaxed hike along its banks. There are plenty of bathing spots, an especially nice one that also has a well-kept barbecuing pit nearby is located by the Gohlhausbrücke bridge, an old, covered wooden bridge.
The Picturesque Public Pool: the Gürbebadi in Mühlethurnen
The Gürbebadi public pool in Mühlethurnen is probably one of Switzerland’s smallest river pools. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in rural charm. The old changing rooms, the covered BBQ area (which you can reserve in advance), the different playground equipment, and the shady spots are absolutely lovely. And there’s also a ping-pong table and a beach volleyball court! A few short steps take you down from the meadow to the river Gürbe. The deeper part is ideal for swimming, the shallow area above the little waterfall perfect as a kiddie pool. Parking spots are limited, so we recommend going by bicycle or taking the train to Thurnen and then walking the last five minutes. Admission is free. Don’t forget to bring snacks!
The Diamond in the Rough: Schwarzwasser
There’s a beautiful bathing paradise by the Schwarzwasserbrücke bridge on the border between the cantons of Fribourg and Bern, where the rivers Schwarzwasser and Sense come together. If you like untouched landscapes, this is the place for you. The river winds its way through sandstone formations and is deep and wild in some places, tranquil and smooth in others – there is something for every taste. And if you get hungry from all the swimming, just go to the nearest of the many fire pits and have a nice barbecue. From Schwarzwasserbrücke station (the train from Bern crosses an impressive bridge as it arrives, so make sure you look out the window), it is only a short walk down to the river. Thörishaus station is about five kilometres away.
The History Lesson: The Saane-Sense-Spitz in Laupen
The Saane-Sense-Spitz in the heart of the quaint historical town of Laupen (ever heard of the Battle of Laupen?) is perfect for an urban river bathing experience. Whether you’re there for a refreshing swim, creative cairn stacking, a laid-back barbecue or simply a few lazy hours in the sun: thanks to the burbling of the river and the beautiful view of the green surroundings, you’ll instantly feel like you’re on holiday. If you want to get in some culture afterwards, you can climb the hill to visit the imposing Laupen Castle and enjoy the wonderful view of the canton of Fribourg, and then end the day with drinks on picturesque Kreuzplatz square.