Picture of the Week: Wild Swimming in Bern Switzerland


Wild River Swimming in Bern Switzerland

It’s hard to imagine now, but at one time river and lake swimming were encouraged throughout Britain.

Before the current era of NO SWIMMING signs, wild swimming was very much the thing to do each summer.

Those that chose not to swim enjoyed watching the spectacle of fun freedom and adventure as it unfolded in the waters all over the UK. Later the lido era drew huge crowds of spectators as swimmers, divers and beauty contestants pulled in crowds from traditional bathing places.


The sunbathing era  changed the focus of swimming and eventually put pay to the chilly lido, especially when bargain holidays to Spain came within reach of the working man.

Throughout Britain, outdoor swimming has been discouraged since the 70’s, yet by contrast throughout Europe, America and Australia attitudes are have remained liberal and supportive.


These pictures might just tempt you to take a trip to Burn this summer to see and experience for yourself what life is like for swimmers who have remained free.

Read the history of Wild Swimming



The following information is provided by: Tourist Information Bahnhofplatz 10a | CH-3011 Bern | T +41 (0)31 328 12 12 | F +41 (0)31 328 12 77 | info@bern.com | Bern.com

Swimming in the Aare – Information

Dear Guests,

Summer in Bern is a wonderful season of the year. The arcades provide shade for visitors strolling through the city. And when the weather becomes too hot in the old town, swimming in one of the Bern municipal pools or in the Aare beckons.

In summer, the River Aare is very popular. Many Bern residents enjoy a refreshing swim in the river. The Aare is a beautiful, but untamed river which must be treated with the respect it deserves.

To avoid getting into any kind of difficulty when swimming in the Aare, please observe the following rules:

Only good swimmers venture out into open water (rivers or lakes) and swimming aids do not provide 100% safety.

Never go swimming on a full or entirely empty stomach – wait for two hours after eating a rich meal.

On no account drink alcohol or consume drugs.

Never jump into the water when you are very hot – your body needs time to adjust.

Never jump into turbid or unfamiliar waters – especially not head first!

Small children must not be allowed in or near the river without supervision.

Make sure to comply with the local notice boards. You will find them in all the bathing pools in the River Aare in Bern.

Never swim on your own.

So if you wish to swim in the Aare, you will do well to start at the Marzilibad (admission free of charge) and leave your personal effects at the bath (lock up all valuables). The river reach at Marzili is a good place to get to know the Aare for the first time. Many landing stages and steps down to the Aare make for easy access to the cool water. Here you may also take the opportunity to swim for a few metres to familiarize yourself with the river.

If you then wish to spend a little more time in the Aare, just follow the Aare path up to the Schönausteg, a good point of access to the river. If you prefer, you can also walk as far as the Eichholz camp site where you will find another ideal access to the river.

You can then swim down the Aare back to the Marzili pool where you may leave the water by one of the landing stages identified by a red handrail. Marzilibad is the final point at which swimmers can leave the River Aare. Please comply with the warning notices!

If you are not sure where and how to get in to the River, just ask a local Bern resident. We will all be happy to help you.

Have fun and enjoy your stay in the Swiss capital!

Best regards,

Michael P. Keller

Head Tourist Information, Bern Tourism

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Take a trip back in time! Discover just how many official ASA recommended outdoor swimming facility's were available to a nation keen to take the plunge back in 1912...

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