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Rafting routes aare

Just as all roads lead to Rome, there are many ways to navigate the Aare. The route is all part of the Aare rafting experience, and there are many worth exploring. Here are our top three rafting routes: the classic “good time” route, the tranquil route and the sporty route.

A relaxed group sits and stands on the pebble beach of the River Aare after a boat trip. They enjoy the sun and the fresh air while the empty rubber dinghy lies beside them, witness to their latest adventure on the water. In the background, the river draws a natural border through the lush green of the riparian forest.

The Aare offers a route for all types and moods. Here are our three favorites:

  • The classic “good time” route: Thun Schwäbis to Bern

  • The tranquil route: Bern Schwellenmätteli to Felsenau/Lake Wohlen (Wohlensee)

  • The sporty alternative: Lake Wohlen (Wohlensee) to Aarberg

With a total length of 288 kilometers, the Aare is the longest river that lies completely within the borders of Switzerland. It flows from the Bernese Alps west of the Grimsel Pass and merges alongside the Reuss and the Limmat into the Rhine River near Koblenz.

The classic route

Familiar to just about every Aare rafter, it stands alone as the king of all routes. Read on for all our tips for the route from Thun Schwäbis to Bern, including how to get there and the best place to end your trip.

Thun Schwäbis/Uttigen–Bern

If you’re feeling jaunty, this classic route is for you! It’s the most well-known and popular Aare rafting route, leading from Thun Schwäbis to Bern through the legendary Uttigen rapids.

The route is around 25 kilometers long and takes three to five adventurous hours to complete. Here we’ll let you know the best grilling spots along the route, how to maneuver through the Uttigen rapids without incident, and much more. If you’ve never rafted before and want to stay on the safe side, we advise you to start your journey after the rapids in Uttigen. Read on for more information.

The starting point for the classic route is the Bellevue Restaurant in Thun Schwäbis. There you can find an automatic air pump station for CHF 2.00 per raft. During the high season, you can also make use of the converted wet vacuums.

The raft pumps are no ordinary machines. Retiree Peter Zehnder constructed them from converted wet vacs and has been running the station for over 25 years.

There is a restroom right by the launch point at Thun Schwäbis. We recommend bringing your own toilet paper.

The perfect spot for your first break is around two kilometers after Thun Schwäbis. After the first two bridges (AMP-Strasse and Aaresteg), the adjacent Zulg river empties into the right side of the Aare. This is a great place for swimming and hanging out. There’s also a small grilling area.

After five kilometers comes the adrenaline rush of this route: the legendary, infamous Uttigen rapids. More than a few rubber rafts have capsized here due to the vortex created by large rocks in the middle of the river. Here’s how to ride through the rapids without incident:

The spot will slowly start to come into view once you’ve passed the left-hand curve after the Uetendorf-Heimberg bridge. The rapids are not particularly loud, but the rafters trying to get through sure are!

Make sure the weight in the rubber raft is distributed evenly, and try to navigate through the middle of the vortex using your paddles. It is easier if you hold the boat more to the right, not lateral to the river. The less water there is, the wilder the waves are. Good luck!

By the way, at this spot you may see some people-watchers on shore who are observing the fun.

Once you have successfully navigated your way through the rapids, the next Aare rafters can be seen getting into the left side of the river at Uttigen. From here on, the route is quite peaceful, with nothing more to stress out brave rafters. This spot is a good alternative starting point on the weekends for those who would like to avoid waiting times.

Right next to the Aareschlauchboot raft rental in Uttigen there is a pump station (CHF 5 per boat).

Warning: Bridges ⚠️

The rest of the route is relatively easy to navigate. After the nerve-wracking rapids at Uttigen, the current of the Aare is rather peaceful. But there are still places where you should exercise special caution.

Around bridges, for example. There are seven bridges that you will encounter after Uttigen. Be on high alert for dangers from above and below.

Dangers from above: Watch out for falling objects – and jumping people. Plunging into the Aare is a popular pastime in summer, so make sure you signal your approach before reaching the bridge.

Dangers from below: Watch out for countercurrent created by the bridge pillars. It is best to go under the bridge straight in the middle, where vortices are rarely created. Never join rafts together! This makes them harder to maneuver and could lead to the ropes getting caught in the pillars.

What’s there to see?

Already at Uttigen, you might start feeling like you’re in a scene from The Jungle Book. The ivy climbing up the left bank of the Aare is reminiscent of the rain forest. On the other side of the river, there’s a breathtaking view of the Bernese Alps.

A few hundred meters after the Thalgut country guest house (left side) you’ll start to see the concrete river dams. Here you can soak up the sun and do a bit of grilling.

The real paradise for BBQ fans begins after the bridge between Rubigen and Belp. Small islands provide an inviting atmosphere for lounging and grilling.

Please think of the environment: keep an eye out for nature conservation areas (marked by signs along the route), take your trash with you (a trash bag is on the Aare rafting tour packing list!) and leave picnic spots as you would wish to find them. Mother Nature and your fellow Aare-goers will thank you!

Right before the end of the route, you’ll find the well-known Schönau bridge. This is a popular place for diving into the river (so watch out, sailors!). Romantics also like to hang their padlocks here.

One last highlight awaits just a few meters after Schönau bridge and right before the end of the route: the Parliament Building. Viewing it from the river still manages to set locals’ hearts aflutter.

Last stop! Please exit to the left.

For those who are new to boating on the Aare river, we recommend getting out at Eichholz campground. It is comparatively shallow there and you can stand in the water, which makes it easier for you to pull your inflatable boat on land.

The official exit for inflatable boats is located between the Marzili public pool and the Dalmazibrücke bridge.

For those who want to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of their Aare trip, the absolute final stopping point can be found after the Marzili pool, on the left side before Dalmazi bridge. You can already see the wooden wall from afar. Sail up alongside the wall so that you don’t miss the spot to get out directly afterwards. This is the last stop for all Aare rafters. There is danger beyond this point, since shortly afterward come the rapids at the Schwellenmätteli weir.

If you want to keep going, bring your raft on land and carry it past the weir, and then enter the river again at Schwellenmätteli. Read on for more on the tours that you can do from this point.

The tranquil route

If you arrive by bus, you can get off at the "Bern, Felsenau" stop. It is then a short walk to the banks of the Aare.

The beautiful tour begins in this tranquil natural landscape. The spot on the stone beach next to the footpath at Felsenau is ideal for soaking up the water. From there, the rubber boat cruises leisurely along the Aare, past forest and pebble beaches.

From now on, there are barbecue spots à gogo and many charming peninsulas. Here the canoe crew can drop anchor and take a snack break.

This tour can be extended at will. If you wish, you can continue to Wohlensee. To do this, simply follow the Aare (around 5 kilometers) and get off at the Wohleibrücke bridge, for example. There you can also hire stand-up paddles and kayaks at

The sporty alternative

Are you a dyed-in-the-wool sailor who doesn’t mind a physically demanding journey? Then the route from Lake Wohlen to Aarberg is perfect for you. This is a fun, challenging tour for even the most robust athletes. Read on to find out where to start your journey, how to get there and more.

Lake Wohlen to Aarberg

This is one of the lesser-known Aare rafting routes. Rafters will cross Lake Wohlen, sail on into the Aare, pass by the Niederried power plant and float on to Aarberg. The Lake Wohlen–Aarberg route is not for the lazy. You and your crew will need to paddle at full speed, as the Aare flows rather slowly here. Swift paddling will be necessary to propel yourself forward. Using a lake kayak would give you an advantage.

It’s not just for athletes, though. Those who appreciate tranquility will also enjoy this route. This leg of the river journey lets rafters get close to nature, enjoying the chirping of birds in concert with the rushing water, and recharging and relaxing on the banks of the reservoir (which is in a protected natural area).

If you’re seeking shade, this will already be a highlight of the tour. There is a great place for swimming on the right side just before the Mühleberg power plant. Dock your boat, roll out your picnic blanket and take a lunch break here.

After crossing the lake, you will need to go back on land just before the dam wall. Walk along the Aare for a few minutes before finding a spot to get back in the water.

The boat lift is recommended for Böötli fans who are planning a tour lasting several days and have a lot of luggage with them. Use the telephone at the disembarkation point and request the lift.

Now get ready to paddle. The current of the Aare is weak here, so you’ll have to show your sporty side. If you’re lucky, there will be a bit of tailwind. After around seven kilometers, you will reach Niederried, where you will once again need to briefly bring your boat on land.

From here, a strenuous journey through marshland awaits you. Kayakers can look forward to burning a lot of calories here. Be sure you have enough snacks! The tour then takes you past the Radelfingen sports center. After some more intense paddling, Aarberg will finally come into view.

Insider’s tip for nature lovers: Just ahead of the last curve before Aarberg there is a wonderful swimming area. For just a few francs, you can pitch a tent here and relax after a tiring journey. Kick your feet up, listen to the sounds of nature, dive in and leave your troubles behind.

By the way: Rafting route map

The Swiss Lifesaving Society (SLRG) has created Aare rafting maps with two of the three popular routes (Thun–Bern and Bern–Lake Wohlen). The maps provide an overview of where to enter the water, where to park, dangers to be aware of, where to eat and where to grill.