You would think that surfing in Switzerland is an impossible thing. Yet, this landlocked country high above sea level offers numerous ways to ride waves. From open waters to streams and artificial surf pools, Switzerland caters to bungee surfers, river surfers, and wave riders.
Here is an overview of the best spots for surfing in Switzerland:
Bern: Bungee surfing on the Aare River
Bern offers two ideal spots for bungee surfing: Altenbergsteg and Unterthorbrücke. With a bungee cord tied to a bridge or a tree, surfers would let the Aare pull them downstream. By blocking the water with their surfboard, they can extend the bungee cord to the max.
Once they reach enough tension, surfers are quite literally ejected from the water. As a result, the cord would propel them upstream for dozens of meters.
Bremgarten: River surfing on the Reuss River
Likely the most famous wave for river surfing in Switzerland is located in Bremgarten near the military grounds. Whenever the Reuss River carries just the right amount of water (1.8 - 2.6 meters), mostly between the months of May and September, surfing becomes possible.
As fast-moving water runs over a sill and meets slower H2O, a standing wave will form. Since the Reuss is a rather slow-moving river, the locals recommend using a short surfboard with a wide tail.
Lucerne: Bungee surfing at the Geissmattbrücke
Mostly during the summer months, the Reuss River in Lucerne attracts local bungee surfers. With a bungee cord attached to the three-meter tall Geissmattbrücke bridge, they would leap into the icy waters to surf the stream. The latter is where the most activity takes place, but surfers use other bridges all the way to Emmen.
Those wanting to try bungee surfing are adviced to approach one of the surfers involved in the local scene. They will be happy to talk about the risks and rewards of riding the Reuss.
Lucerne: OANA Citywave indoor wave with tropical water temperatures
Switzerland's first indoor surf wave is located inside the Mall of Switzerland. Here in Ebikon near Lucerne, it is not uncommon to see someone carrying a surfboard in public.
The OANA Citywave can be adjusted for different skill levels, ensuring that even beginners enjoy a flawless first session. Since the wave is constant and maintains its shape, it is even possible to practice simple tricks. The OANA Citywave offers tropical water temperatures, making drops into the stream a pleasure in itself.
For pros, the wave can be stirred up so they can try a 360 or backslide air reverse… Every Monday, young surfing pros practice their skills on the OANA Citywave, offering free entertainment to mall visitors.
OANA Surfing (reopens May 5, 2021)
Phone: +41 41 510 06 16
Sion: Alaïa Bay artificial wave pool
The latest spot for surfing in Switzerland is the gigantic Alaïa Bay surf center in Valais. The pool with its artificial dynamic waves is gigantic in size, measuring more than a soccer field. Thanks to its powerful Wavegarden technology, the pool can produce between 300 and 1000 waves per hour. (I love the fact that the facility itself is run by hydroelectric power!)
Possible during the day and after nightfall, surfing at Alaïa Bay is likely the most unique experience in all of Switzerland. Just think of the magnificent backdrop of the snow-capped Valais peaks. Water temperatures are between 16 and 25 degrees Celsius.
Beginner classes promise to introduce anyone to the surfing spirit. The Waikiki surfing lesson for slightly advanced levels teaches you to catch an unbroken wave, then ride the face of the wave in its entire length. In addition to the surfing pool, there is a surfboard building workshop which we are itching to visit...
Phone: +41 27 322 71 71
Thun: Wave riding on the Aare River
The Aare River is especially strong where it leaves Lake Thun. And the Mühleschleuse wooden sluice bridge in Thun creates a steady flow of whitewater. At the historic river lock, surfers in their wetsuits are a common sight. Given the glacial water temperatures, it takes a strong will and lots of experience to traverse from the river bank into the center area.
There are two waves, in fact: the one further from the bridge is optionally surfed by holding on to a line. And the wave closer to the bridge is usually only surfed during springtime. Inofficially named The Monster, this Aare River wave is known to snap apart surfboards or clip off fins…
Zurich: Urban outdoor wave at Geroldstrasse
Zurich’s hip West End caters to clubbers, shoppers, and wild swimmers. Also: surfers. Amid the urban landscape of the train tracks, the Primetower, and Frau Gerolds Garten, this outdoor wave is truly unique in Switzerland.
You could say that the Urbansurf wave pool blends aloha and architecture. There is no reservation system at Urbansurf. It’s simly first come, first surf!
Surfing map of Switzerland
Someone has kindly pinned all the locations where surfing in Switzerland is possible: