If you are looking for a refreshing and exciting way to enjoy the summer in Switzerland, you might want to try floating down the river Aare. This is a popular activity among locals and visitors alike, who love to drift along the clear and fast-flowing water, surrounded by scenic views of nature and historic towns. Aare floating, which started in Bern, is now highly popular in Basel, Thun and Interlaken too. Jump in the water and go Aare river floating with us…
What is Aare river Floating?
Aare river floating, often also named urban swimming in the Swiss cities, is simply swimming or rafting in the Aare river, which flows through several Swiss cantons and most big cities, including Bern, the capital. The river has a temperature of around 18°C in summer, which is perfect for cooling off on a hot day. The current is also strong enough to carry you downstream without much effort, but not so strong that you lose control.
You can start your float from any point along the river, depending on how long and adventurous you want your journey to be. There are many entry and exit points marked with red poles or steps, as well as bridges and public swimming pools where you can access the river. You can also choose to float solo or with a group of friends, using a waterproof dry bag to store your clothes and valuables.
Where to Float in the Aare?
The Aare river offers many different routes for floating, depending on your preferences and skills. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Bern: This is the classic route for Aare floating, where you can enjoy the stunning views of the UNESCO-recognized Old Town from below. You can start from one of the riverside swimming pools, such as Marzili or Lorraine, and float for about 20 minutes until you reach Eichholz, a park with a beach and barbecue facilities. Alternatively, you can start from Frickstrasse or Schönausteg and float for about 40 minutes until you reach Dählhölzli Zoo. This route is suitable for experienced swimmers who can handle the fast current and the traffic of other floaters. For more information, check out this guide.
- Basel: This is a more leisurely route for Aare floating, where you can admire the modern architecture and cultural landmarks of Basel from the water. You can start from Solitude Park or Dreirosenbrücke and float for about 30 minutes until you reach Tinguely Museum or Johanniterbrücke. This route is ideal for beginners or families who want a relaxing and safe experience. For more information, check out this website.
- Thun: This is a scenic route for Aare floating, where you can marvel at the majestic Alps and the medieval castle of Thun from the river. You can start from Schadau Park or Thun Lido and float right through the center of town where there is even Aare river surfing possible too. Matter of fact if you walk around the old town you will see plenty of people walking upstream in their swimshort and bikini to jump in the Aare from one of the many bridges. For more information, check out this blog post. In the city of Thun they even have regular ‘Aare urban swimming’ courses where they teach and show you how to float and swim through the city safely.
- Interlaken: This is a super nice and easy route for Aare floating, where you can witness the beauty of the lakes of Brienz and Thun from the river. You can start from the bridge next to the Harder Kulm funiculair or a bit further downstream from the Goldeysteg pedestrian bridge. You can swim & float for about 20 minutes straight into the Old town. The current is perfect in this area and you can easily get out of the water at any time. Once done you simply get out of the water, walk upstream for 1km and jump back in again for another round of summer swimming splashing fun!
How to Float Safely in the Aare?
Aare floating is a fun and exhilarating activity, but it also requires some preparation and caution. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable float:
- Check the weather and water conditions before you go. Avoid floating in rainy or stormy weather, or when the water level is too high or too low.
- Wear a swimsuit that fits well and does not restrict your movement. You can also wear water shoes or sandals to protect your feet from rocks or debris.
- Use a waterproof dry bag to store your clothes and valuables. You can also attach it to your body with a rope or strap, or use it as a flotation device.
- Wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. You can also bring some water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized.
- Respect the other floaters and swimmers. Keep a safe distance, do not splash or push, and do not block the exits or entrances.
- Do not float alone, do not float if you are not a confident swimmer, and do not float if you have any medical conditions that might affect your performance.
- Have fun and enjoy the ride!
Aare floating is a typical Swiss summer activity that you should not miss if you are in the country. It is a great way to cool off, have fun, and see the beauty of Switzerland from a different perspective. So grab your swimsuit and dry bag, and get ready to float down the Aare!
And sometimes the Aare float becomes an spotaneous river festival with tons of boats floating together….