Fun things to do by the river Aare in Bern, Switzerland

When we were moving from Lausanne to Bern we told ourself how much we would miss the lake Geneva. People were telling us that we would have a magnific river Aare. Puh, a river! That is nothing compare to the lake Léman. Now after a little over a year living in Bern, the river Aare is so much more than just a river.

Yes, we do miss having a lake around the corner but we are quite surprise how much less we miss “our lake” for each time we are by the river. We are enchanted by its beauty and we have discovered so much cool things to do on the river and along the river around Bern.

  Float like the locals

If you are not at all familiar with the way how the locals in Bern swim I suggest you to come for a visit on a hot summer day. It is a fun thing to experience but if you don’t dare to join in, it is still a unique thing to see.

The first time we experienced Bern’s way to cool down, we quite didn’t understand what was going on. Hundreds of people were in swimming suit and bare feet, marching at the same direction.

Where are they going?

The photo here under was taken on a Wednesday at 1pm. Three hours later the path was filled with hundreds of people in swimsuit.

We understood later that the people are walking upstream as far as they can and then jump into the river and just let themself float away.

There are stairs to pull yourself up all along the river so if you missed on there will be another!

A lunch break with the colleagues?

Some brave (or crazy) would first throw their waterproof bag in the river and then themself after. But before jumping, they have to make sure that no one is floating underneath.

 Photo: Here

Photo: Here

Photo: Here

Float like a king

Juliet, myself and Ying. 

If you prefer, you can use something to float on. The most common thing people are floating on are plastic boat, stand-up paddle and a swim ring. And now all over the river, pink unicorns and flamingos.

Photo: Here

The river Aare is so long so you can choose from where to start and where to end but you will need to know well the way because some parts has a dam build on ect.

We did once from Thun to Bern. It takes about 3 hours but you can stop along the way wherever and whenever you want. There are beautiful places to make a break and to bring out the sausages to grill.

Floating like a local is not totally out of danger. Please be careful when jumping into the river. Have fun but stay safe!

Swimming pools by the Aare 

If you are not a fan of jumping into the river or have small kids there are swimming pools by the river.

To these three swimming pools you can walk or bicycle from the center of Bern. It is a stroller friendly path along the river with a lot of shades.

Marzili baden

This free-swimming area is just right by the center of Bern. It is big, kids friendly and has everything you need.

For more information click Here

Photo: Here

 Lorraine bad

Not very far from northern part of Bern city lays this free-swimming pools. It is small but has a restaurant, toilets, dressing rooms and a paddling pool and a playground.

For more information click Here (only in german)

 Aarebad Muri 

This swimming pool is the furthest away from the city center. It is our favorite because they have fun water slides for the kids and a great playground.

For more information click Here

Photo: Here

The Dählhölzli park (Zoo)

The Zoo of Bern is not far from the city center and is a very lovely walk along the river. There are animals outside where you can watch for free.

For more information click Here

Photo: Here

Learn how to wakeboarding without using a boat

For free you can attach a rope on a tree, hop on a wakeboard and jump into the river. Simple as that! Or is it?

Photo: Here

Visit the bears of Bern

If you come to Bern you shouldn’t miss the brown bears in the city by the river. After all they all the symbol of Bern.

Photo: Here

 Picnic and BBQ

What I love about a river is that you can find cozy places to chill without sharing it with too much people.


Just across of the Zoo, also next to Eicholz park lays this camping next to river not far from the city.

Photo: Here


Bicycle is a great way to discover the river. Not both side of the river is bike friendly. If you come from Bern city, bike upstream on the right side (same side as Marzili bad) and you can bike very far on that road. At least all the way to Münsingen baden!

We would love to one day bike for several days and camp by the river. Or at least bike as far as possible and take the train back.

Restaurant by the river

There are many restaurants by the river but Schwellenmätteli has to be the most unique one because the restaurant is build on a dam. We have not try it yet though so I can’t say if the food are any good but the surrounding is lovely.

For more information click Here

Photo: Here

The river taxi

Incase you need to change the side of the river for some reason and the next bridge is to faraway, there is a river taxi that will bring you to the other side for 2chf. The taxi is next to the restaurant Fähribeizli.

Have you guys swim like the locals here in Bern? Please tell me all about it!

Family Earth Trek


  1. I love the colour of the water and the fact that the pool is free. However how busy is this place? I honestly do not think I have ever seen a river with so many people in it!

  2. I missed Bern when I was in Swiz.. My original plan was Basel & Bern. But somehow I decided to spend the whole time in Basel. Gotta head to Swiz again for Bern, Interlaken & more. This floating & cooking concept was there in Basel too. There’s a bag called Wickelfisch which was rented out there to use as a floater cum bag when u swim!

  3. How romantic it is to eat by the river! Floating on the river Aare would be a refreshing thing to do in the summer! I would definitely bring my flamingo 🙂

  4. It looks as though you missed nothing at all on that beautiful river! That place looks absolutely packed, how does it get so popular, do you think it is overcrowded? Seeing brown bears while cruising down river is a totally unique and special experience.

  5. It looks as though you missed nothing at all on that beautiful river! That place looks absolutely packed, how does it get so popular, do you think it is overcrowded? Seeing brown bears while cruising down river is a totally unique and special experience.

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