To the West of Bern
Perfect for Escaping the City: Lake Wohlen, an Oasis of Wellbeing
When you stand on the shores of Lake Wohlen today, it’s hard to believe that it did not even exist until 100 years ago. Originally created for electricity production (the project’s initial name was "Lake Electro"), this reservoir now blends harmoniously into the landscape and serves as a popular recreational area close to the city and is ideal for cycling, hiking or outdoor barbecues. Although not designed specifically as a swimming lake (there is no official beach), Lake Wohlen has a number of spots where you can take a refreshing dip. At the head of the lake near the Wohlei bridge is one such place. There are folding boats and SUPs available for rent so you can explore all around the lake. And when you return tired and hungry, head to the charming "Bogen 17” kiosk for tasty regional delicacies. We recommend using public transport or bicycles to get to the lake, as there are only a few parking spaces available.
Perfect for History Buffs: Saane-Sense-Spitz in Laupen
The Saane-Sense-Spitz is a peninsula in the middle of the charming and historically significant town of Laupen (haven’t you heard of the Battle of Laupen?) and perfect for urban river swimming. Dive in for a refreshing swim, build creative stone formations , enjoy a tasty BBQ with friends or just spend some lazy hours in the sunshine. With the gently rippling river and the beautiful view of the lush countryside, you will instantly feel like you’re on holiday – without having to travel far at all. And anyone who still thinks they need a dose of culture afterwards can climb the hill and visit the impressive Laupen Castle, enjoy the wonderful views of the canton of Fribourg, and end off the day with drinks and a snack at a restaurant bordering the picturesque Kreuzplatz square.
Perfect for Playing: The Emme River in Hasle
Even when you’re in the middle of the quaint village of Hasle-Rüegsau, you are still surrounded by nature, making it ideal for true relaxation. Starting from the arched wooden bridge in Hasle, there are endless pretty spots up and down the river that invite you to stop and linger, have a picnic and go swimming. The Emme flows very gently at this point and is nice and shallow – perfect for families with small children. There is also a large playground (incl. toilet facilities) right next to the bridge where kids can run around and have fun if it’s too cool to go swimming. Plus, if anyone feels like a walk, the path along both riverbanks in the direction of Burgdorf is wonderfully lush and flat – ideal for a Sunday stroll.
Perfect for Peaceful Outings: The Emme River near Lützelflüh
If you’re looking for the essence of rural Switzerland, you should head to the Emmental valley, or more precisely, to Lützelflüh. The hills here appear gentler, the farms more prosperous. It almost seems as if the grass itself grows greener than anywhere else. On a hot summer’s day, the pebble-lined banks of the Emme are the ideal place to cool off, especially after a walk along the pleasant riverside trail. There are so many swimming spots to choose from. A particularly beautiful one is right next to the old, covered Gohlhaus wooden bridge, where a well-maintained barbecue area nearby invites you to cook your own lunch. The picturesquely situated Farbschachen fire pit is another lovely spot, where swings are waiting for active children and you can dangle your feet in the cool water. The area below the weir (over-flow dam) near the swimming pool and the civil defense installation is also popular for swimming.
Perfect for Poetic Moments: The Gürbebadi in Mühlethurnen
The Gürbebadi swimming facility in Mühlethurnen is probably one of the smallest river pools in Switzerland. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in rural charm. The old changing room, the covered barbecue area (which can also be reserved), a variety of playground equipment, and shady places for relaxing are all extremely popular. And there’s even a ping-pong table and beach volleyball court for those who prefer a bit more exercise! A couple of stone steps lead down to the Gürbe. The deeper part is perfect for swimming, while the shallower area above the small waterfall is ideal for younger children to splash and play. Parking is limited, so we recommend taking the train to the Thurnen station, and from there it is about five minutes on foot to the river. Admission is free. Our tip: Don’t forget to bring snacks and drinks!
Perfect for Adventurous Souls: Schwarzwasser
An enchanting swimming paradise lies beneath the Schwarzwasser bridge on the border between the cantons of Fribourg and Bern, where the Schwarzwasser and the Sense rivers flow together. Those who prefer things a little bit wild will love this diamond in the rough. The river winds its way through sandstone formations and alternates between deeper, faster spots and very tranquil waters – so there is something to suit every taste. And if you get hungry after all that swimming, you can barbecue something quickly thanks to the many fire pits available. From the Schwarzwasserbrücke train station (the train from Bern crosses an impressive bridge as it arrives), it is only a short walk down to the river, while the Thörishaus train station is about five kilometers away. Keep in mind that a little further away from the train stations and parking lots you can always find a spot to swim even on hot summer days.
Perfect for Warm-Water Fans: Lake Burgäschi
Lake Burgäschi, which straddles the border between the cantons of Solothurn and Bern, has just about everything your heart could desire in summer: an enchanting nature reserve, a well-kept swimming beach, rowboats for rent... If you want to make the most of jumping into the refreshing water (from the 3-m tower?!), you can walk around the lake in half an hour – although it could take somewhat longer since the lakeside path is also a learning trail thanks to informative signboards. Even fishing is possible at Lake Burgäschi. Permits can be bought at the Volg supermarket in Aeschi. You can cook what you catch (perch, pike, whitefish) at one of the inviting fire pits, but if all you end up catching are stories of the one that got away, you can eat at the Badi kiosk or in the restaurant – followed, perhaps, by a romantic ride in a rowboat? Our tip: Because the lake is so small, you can often swim here on warm days as early as May without your lips turning blue!
Perfect for Island-Hoppers: Wangen an der Aare
Many of us simply drive past Wangen an der Aare on the A1 highway without giving it a thought, but the small town has a lot to offer – and by that we don’t just mean its historic town center. Wangen is also very easy to reach for swimming excursions and can be underrated by outsiders as well. The best place for Aare fans to enter the river is at the "Inseli" (small island), from they can let themselves drift down to the famous wooden bridge. A small sunbathing area awaits you with an easy-to-use entry to the water (wide steps!) And in summer you can enjoy the wonderful Aarebar, where hot days are finished off perfectly with a drink and a delectable dinner. The swimming pool facility on the island also has a lot to offer. It’s the ideal starting point for families with small children. The younger ones can use the water slide, and the grown-ups can set off on a float down the Aare. If you want to stretch your legs in a different direction, hike the 5-km “Duftweg” fragrance trail that starts in front of the Aare pool, which allows you to experience the landscape with all of your senses.
Be aware that low water levels can cause treacherous currents in the river. Click here for the swimming safety rules for the river from the Swiss Lifesaving Society (SLRG). Available in German, French and Italian.