Bathing, barbecues and buvettes are part of the culture in a city that promotes swimming in its majestic river – and it’s a chance for some great sightseeing, too
If you want to join the many swimmers who leap into the Rhine each summer you can’t do the British wade-in – arms in the air, considering whether the water is for you. You have to commit. You have to give yourself to the river and let it be your guide.
I tested out my technique – and bravado – when I visited Basel during Europe’s recent heatwave, when temperatures in the city reached 38C. Fortunately for me, the Swiss have led the way in city swimming: for decades, cities such as Basel, Berne, Zurich and Geneva have been making rivers accessible and safe for swimmers. Developments in the 1980s included building sewage treatment facilities and diverting domestic wastewater away from the river, and concrete steps were built for easier access to the water, and guidelines and maps published for swimmers.