Beat the Heat on the Aare river in Bern Switzerland

 In Europe

On a hot summer day, locals head to the Aare. The fast-flowing, 180-mile-long, Swiss river winds through villages and forests, around the Old City of Bern. Its turquoise waters are nothing short of inviting.

Whether you float in tubes and inflatable boats, brave a swim down the middle or sit along its banks, if you’re looking to refresh, the river is where it’s at.

Until the babies are grown, the walking trails are more my pace, and a nice path, which includes a grown up treat at the end, is near my backyard. You can surely find river entertainment in Bern, but I like the quieter feel of the walk in Worblaufen.

Aare River

Getting there

Take a quick trip outside the city and you’ll find a true slice of Swiss summer life without the typical hassles of tourist hotspots, like overcrowding.

Just hop on the S7 train toward Worb Dorf from track 24 in Bern’s main train station. It leaves every 15 minutes on the 15, 30, 45 and 00 of each hour. Worblaufen is the first stop. Head east to the road named Arastrasse. Take a right and head downhill to the river.

Aare River

Enjoy the view

Turn left and the trail winds past a small boat club for the long, narrow rowing boats you may see on the river. There’s also a band room where a local metal rock band practices and occasionally puts on small open air concerts.

Turn right and you’ll pass under a massive bridge. Heads up. Before you reach the forest, you will pass a water treatment plant. Have no fear. There’s no odor. Just a little industrial view before you reach the trees. You may not even notice if you keep your eyes on the river’s blue current.

Once in the forest, the trail is dirt and rock. It can be a little bumpy for strollers, particularly if you’re pushing a small umbrella style. But it’s wide and easy for walking. I’ve even seen wheelchairs pushed here.

If you’re interested in botany, you can take a look at the occasional plaques labeling trees and plants. They’re all in German, but you can snap a picture and translate later.

You’ll see plenty of sandy spots and forest floor perfect for picnics. Feel free to build a little fire or bring a travel grill. So pull up a tree stump or a sliver of beach and relax. The view is stunning, the air’s a little cooler than in the city and you’ll be hard pressed to find a tour group in this neck of the woods.

Aare River

Unwind with the kids

About a 20-30 minute walk from the bridge is a little café and playground. There’s a fence along the river near the playground so you don’t have to watch the young ones in that regard. Swings, spinning teeter-totters, rope merry-go-rounds and a plastic jungle gym will keep toddlers and younger elementary-aged kids busy.

Cool off with an ice cream treat or a beer at the Restaurant Schloss Reichenbach. Schloss means castle and the name refers to the building next to it. Schloss Reichenbach was, at one time, a castle or fortress said to have been built on the site of a Roman fort. These days it looks like it’s used for apartments and office space, but you can imagine what it once must have been like in the 1400s, when first records of the castle were documented. The gardens and fountain are still in use and the kids may get a kick out of the property’s small herd of sheep.

If you aren’t up for the walking or you’d like to head to the restaurant first, it’s accessible by public transit or car. And you can reach the woods on the other side of the river via a rudimentary row boat ferry pulled across by a cable.

Aare RiverKnow Before You Go

  • Address: Restaurant Schloss Reichenbach Schlossweg 4, 3052 Zollikofen-Reichenbach
  • Driving and public transit directions: click here
  • Hours: Monday – closed, Tues – Thurs 8:30 a.m. – 11 p.m., Fri – Sat 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 a.m. Sundays and Holidays 9 a.m.  – 11:30 p.m.
  • Parking: free
  • Food: full menu, extensive ice cream menu
  • Dress: Casual in the garden
  • Strollers: Yes. The river path is stone and dirt.
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