The “Aareschwumm” is a pastime much loved by residents and regular visitors to Bern in summer. The river Aare begins in the Alps of the Bernese Oberland, yet the water remains very clean right until it passes through the outskirts of the city at Eichholz and begins its winding route past the city’s zoo and the elevated old town. Because of the cleanliness of the water and the lack of any sizeable lake near the city, residents and those working there often head for the river for a cooling dip at lunchtime or at the weekend.

I have yet to experience the swim for myself, though I hope to rectify that over the next few days! One can either change into swimwear at a central location like the Marzili open-air baths, and walk upstream before letting the river carry one back to the starting point, or pack one’s clothes and towel into a ubiquitous water-tight “dry bag” and carry it in the river with you. One thing’s for sure: it’s a refreshing break in the middle of a hot day, which thanks to temperatures which regularly reach into the thirties in the Swiss summer, one which is much appreciated.

Aare swimming on the BBC

Swimmer’s-eye view of the river from Schonau to Marzili

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