Floating To Work On A River Is A Viable Commute In Switzerland

Rush hour who?


Rachael Funnell


Rachael Funnell

Digital Content Producer

Rachael is a writer and digital content producer at IFLScience with a Zoology degree from the University of Southampton, UK, and a nose for novelty animal stories.

Digital Content Producer

float river to work

In Bern (pictured) and Basel, residents have a laid-back alternative to driving to work in the summer.

Image credit: Ton Zijlstra via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

How do you get to work? Walk? Bus? Train? River? It might sound obscure, but that last one is a legit route of travel for people in the city of Basel, Switzerland. Here, the Rhine river has become a famous swimming spot and one that some people even use as a mode of transportation, floating along with their belongings stashed in waterproof bags.

“In summer, the Kleinbasel banks of the Rhine are the place to be!” says This Is Basel. “You can put your clothes in a 'Wickelfisch' swim bag and simply float down on the gentle current through the picturesque Old Town.”


To get from point A to point B, people in Basel don’t simply dive in with their clothes on, but instead pack their belongings into a Wickelfisch that will keep everything dry until they’ve reached their destination. This has made the Wickelfisch a popular accessory in Basel, where it can be found on sale in lots of shops.

Strong swimmers are encouraged to enjoy the stretch between the Wettsteinbrücke and Johanniterbrücke bridges and let the current do the work. Given rivers are typically one-directional (though they do sometimes run backwards) you’re looking at a return journey on foot, but drifting down a river to work is an undeniably dreamy way to start the day.

The Rhine has long been an artery of industrial transport, facilitating trade in Switzerland’s history, and it remains one of the most important in the world. According to Britannica, it has the largest collection of old and famous cities on its banks, including Germany’s city of Worms. First-time swimmers in the Rhine can join a guided float every Tuesday in July, and the easiest point of entry is at Schaffhauserrheinweg 93, just below Museum Tinguely.

Basel isn’t alone in using the river for recreation and the occasional commute, reports Business Insider. There are also swimmers in Bern – Switzerland’s capital city – who have utilized the Aare River as a means of transport, floating along with waterproof bags.


"I only had like 30 seconds walking from my office to the river," Evelyn Schneider-Reyes, a local resident, told Le News. "I had an 'Aare Bag', where I put all my clothes, my smartphone, wallet and shoes. I put on my bathing suit and swam home."

Considering that emissions data has found more traditional routes of commute like planes, trains, and automobiles to be the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, perhaps it’s time more of us got creative with our journeys to the office. That said, make sure you check for pythons and alligators first.


  • tag
  • environment,

  • cities,

  • commuters,

  • switzerland,

  • river,

  • transport,

  • urban living,

  • weird and wonderful