Six Swiss ways to keep cool

August 3, 2013, 1 Comment

Aare swimming

It’s the hottest summer since 2003 so how do the Swiss escape the heat? They can’t spend the day by the sea and air-conditioning isn’t the norm. Here are six ways the Swiss like to keep cool, starting with a swim in a river or lake. In Bern a dip in the Aare is as much part of summer as slapping on the sun cream, while Basel has the Rhine and the other big cities their lakes. Pretty much any bit of open water is waiting to be jumped into.

Segantini Hut

2. Go up for a walk in the mountains. The Swiss like nothing better than hiking in the Alps and not just for the views: the higher you go, the cooler it is, even if this year the zero degree mark is over 4500m up.


3. Eat ice cream. Switzerland has the best gelato north of the Alps, and sometimes better than anything you can find in Italy. Gelateria di Berna is my favourite, with two outposts in the capital: Länggasse and Marzili.

Aletsch surface

4. Stand on a glacier for some natural aircon. The breeze coming off the ice is cold enough to warrant wearing a jacket. Even walking alongside the Aletsch glacier, shown here and above, is a refreshing experience.

Paddlesteamer on Lake Lucerne

5. Take a boat out on a lake, preferably a Belle Epoque paddle-steamer. There’s nothing more cooling than sitting on the shady wooden decks with the wind coming off the water and the scenery slipping past.


6. Sleep in the cellar. Every Swiss building has one, usually with the communal laundry and bike rooms but also doubling up as a nuclear bomb shelter. It’s usually the coolest – and safest – place to be.

One Comment on "Six Swiss ways to keep cool"

  1. Patrick Monday August 12th, 2013 at 02:39 AM · Reply

    The paddle steamer shown in your picture number 5 is, if I’m not completely mistaken, one of the few in Switzerland which *isn’t* Belle Epoque – there’s only one ship on Lake Lucerne where the air intakes (the thing is called “Windhutze” in German 🙂 ) have this shape, it’s the “Stadt Luzern” of 1928. The “Stadt Luzern” is the last paddle-steamer ever built for a Swiss lake and has a rather interesting history: ordered in Germany because Escher Wyss and Sulzer were too costly, came with a weak engine which promptly broke and was replaced by a unique Sulzer engine of a design not seen on any other Swiss steamer (three cylinder uniflow steam engine with a particular lubrication system that necessitates covers to protect spectators from the oil – unlike the typical Swiss paddlewheeler steam engine which is completely open). Well, maybe interesting, maybe not? 😉

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