A lunchtime dip or a long cool float after a long day out? That might sound like something for a beach holiday but it’s also an integral part of summer in Switzerland, despite it being a landlocked country at the heart of Europe. They may well be over 300km from the nearest stretch of coastline, but the Swiss don’t let a lack of beaches stop them from going swimming. Far from it.
With 6% of the continent’s fresh water flowing through Switzerland’s lakes and rivers, there are plenty of places for a summertime swim, with the most popular ones found in the cities. Swimming is very much an urban pleasure in Switzerland, so here’s a run-down on the best spots in Zurich and Geneva, plus one very special day-trip.
River Aare, source: Flickr/Martin Abegglen
A local's favourite
For a truly unique Swiss summer experience, hop on a train to Bern, the Swiss capital, for a dip in the River Aare. Swimming in the river is something Londoners can only dream of but for the Bernese it is a part of every summer. Not just for the views of the city but for the fun of going with the flow.
Marzili, source: www.myswitzerland.com
The Aare is relatively fast so you don’t even have to swim; just lie back on this liquid travelator. The best starting point is Marzili, the free lido beneath parliament hill (where there are also swimming pools and facilities). Leave your things here and follow the riverside path upstream before taking a deep breath and jumping in. It is perfectly safe but advisable for strong swimmers only.
Marzili, source: www.bern.com
Top tips for swimming in Switzerland
Water temperatures are usually in the low 20s centigrade, depending on the weather. But that’s perfect when the temperature outside is 35+.
Swimming season in the cities generally runs from May to September.
Many lidos have areas set aside for nude sunbathing. Look out for the FKK sign to avoid (or find) them.
Swiss cities are safe but don’t tempt fate. Leave valuables at home or rent a locker if you are at a lido.
Lifeguards are usually on duty at lidos, though mostly overseeing the official pools rather than river or lake swimming