Fresh splashes of glacier water, happy squeals, heads bobbing up and down – even a dog or two: for first-time visitors to Bern, the River Aare is a real surprise. This is where locals love to spend hot days swimming in the river – right in the centre of the capital city. (Diccon Bewes, swissinfo.ch)
It’s the best way to cool down on a hot, sticky summer’s day, the Bernese say. Grab your swimsuit, walk up along the Aare, find a spot to get in – jump or step in carefully – and let yourself be carried away by its fresh, clean water. Half the town can be seen heading to the banks of the river, enjoying this form of “urban swimming”.
At almost 300km, the Aare is the longest river entirely within Switzerland. Its source lies in the Bernese Alps, in the Aare Glacier. On its way through Switzerland it also passes the city of Bern, where it meanders around the Old Town, a UNESCO world heritage site, defining the city centre’s natural borders.
However, the Bernese summer hobby is only for good swimmers: the Aare has a fast current and its cold water may cause cramps. Inexperienced swimmers may underestimate its power. As usual: listen to the locals! As the safety campaign puts it: “Aare you safe?”