The Aare river meanders 50 kilometres through the countryside between Bern and Biel. We cover this third stage of our journey on bikes. Except for a few stretches, this route takes us along country roads and hence it is very suitable for families riding together.
After the Aare river has swung its way around the Swiss capital in a graceful arc, it leaves the urban environment and continues on toward Seeland. We get onto our bikes at the Bern main station and turn into the Länggassstrasse – this is the most direct way to escape the city bustle and to get to the Bremgarten forest. For this first part, if you have small children with you, you can catch the bus that takes you to the Felsenau stop.
At the entrance of the forest you will come across the first red signpost with the number 8. These "Cyling in Switzerland" signs will accurately show you the way for the next 47 km until you get to Nidau.
Gotthelf idyll and amazing peace and quiet
After passing through the Bremgarten forest we arrive at "our" river – and after that the route takes us along little roads that almost continuously follow the water. The first thing that strikes us is the amazing peace and quiet. No traffic noise here, but just the sound of leaves rustling in the wind and the birds chirping in the trees. Occasionally we meet another biker, a small hiking group or a farmer sitting on his tractor – but apart from that, we get the impression that time has stood still on this route through the meadows, forests and idyllic little hamlets.
The Aare river suddenly widens when we are about half an hour out of Bern – for we have now reached Lake Wohlen. Here we can take our first break, hire a rowing boat, take a dip in the lake or enjoy a coffee and cake at the Gasthof Kreuz. We recommend that you stop for something to eat and drink here as after this there are fewer opportunities to purchase refreshments along the route.
Sweat and speed
After Lake Wohlen the terrain rises in elevation. Now we spend the next hour perspiring and changing gears, and understand why this type of countryside is known as a "folding landscape". It goes up (sometimes fairly steeply but luckily only for a short way), and down and then up again. If you need a break along the way, you can stop at the end of the village of Wickacker, sit on the viewing seat and recharge your batteries as you admire the view of the Aare river and the imposing Mühleberg hydroelectric plant.
Just before we reach Aarberg the terrain flattens out again. And it stays like that until we reach Hagneck, where the Aare river flows into Lake Biel. Along this section, we are riding beside the eight-kilometre long Hagneck Canal, which was created in 1887 as an almost straight arrow (with a single arc) right through the Seeland. Here we can really go at speed – all the while enjoying the views of the water.
Cocktail in Biel
If, all along the way, you have been hoping to enjoy a serving of "fresh fish" at an idyllic restaurant by the water, we recommend that you be patient until you reach your destination. On the southern shores of Lake Biel there are settlements consisting of family homes that alternate with wildlife preserves. There are very few "cosy little restaurants" by the lake and the few that are there are very busy. But you will be rewarded when you reach your destination: The Restaurant La Péniche, housed in a beautiful timber building at the boat harbour at Nidau, serves wonderful crunchy pike-perch fillets. After that, you would do well to "move on" a few metres further along the Biel "Strandboden". Here you can order a mojito at the Beachtown bar, relax in a deck chair, and watch the Aare river flowing by, which, not far from here, flows out of Lake Biel and on toward Solothurn.
Arrival by public transport: Outward journey by train to Bern and return journey from Biel train station.