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Urban Surf Guide for Landlocked Surfers in Europe

Whoever said you must fly to the highly sought-after Portuguese, French, or Spanish surf havens for fantastic European surf experiences must have been a terrible liar. Epic and memorable surf holidays in Europe aren’t exclusive to the highly sought-after surfing destinations in Europe anymore.

Urban surfing is the new norm and it’s sweeping across Europe’s cities like a tornado. For urbanite adrenaline junkies, who couldn’t have found a better excuse to leave their cozy apartments, the thrill of catching artificial waves at home is too irresistible to ignore. It is trendy, perfect for Insta-worthy shots, way cooler, more exciting, less trodden by many.

This new fun phenomenon is fueled by such innovative creations as city peelers, lakeside lumps, and man-made swells. And much like typical surfing, urban surfing in Europe is adrenaline-pumping. Artificial waves, created on specially designed surfaces, using cutting-edge technologies, all for those who wouldn’t prefer to surf the conventional waves.

And it is a welcome relief for landlocked surfers in Europe who wouldn’t have to journey for miles to surf the best waves. Munich is already becoming an unlikely surfing Mecca, slowly rivaling the traditional European surf favorites.

Surf at the best beach-less destination in Europe

Some of the best river surfing waves can be experienced in Germany’s Munich’s Isar River, where surfing diehards nowadays refer to as the Mecca of river surfing. Swiss surfers only have to visit Obere Schleuse in Thun for a dose of nature surfing, while Salzburg’s Almkanal is small but magical. And if you are looking for classic artificial waves in Europe, you only have to go to Austria or Bratislava.

Let’s take a look at why these five spots are such fantastic urban surf spots today.

1. Munich’s Eisbach

It’s crazy that this Bavarian city, now one of the world’s more unlikely surfing capitals, is the de facto urban surfing Mecca. It’s even more absurd that surfing, a practice popularized by intrepid wetsuit-wearing adventurers, started in the 70s, but remained illegal until 2010.

This little small branching off downtown Munich’s Isar River offers some of the finest rapid surfing experiences for the city’s surfing community. It has around 1,000 active surfers who love taking on the river’s erratic waves, mostly one inconsistent one at a time.

Surf in urban surf mecca Munich

Surfing in the Eisbach never inspires the thrill and experience that popular global surf destinations guarantee. The water is cold and shallow and the river can be dangerous to inexperienced surfers, or those who don’t know how to surf in a river.

The Eisbach usually has a strong current without any affixed exit points. Furthermore, it’s often a preserve for professional and experienced surfers who can better handle the risks the waters pose. But, as far as the wave type of this watery entertainment goes, it is possible to catch a wave that’s one meter high.

2. Thun, Switzerland

River Surfing in the middle of Thun could sound bizarre until you arrive at Obere Schleuse in Thun and see the amount of fun water lovers derive in the fast-flowing waters of the river. Here, experienced surfers arrive fully set with their surfboards, eager to surf right at the heart of the town.

The greatest attraction isn’t the picturesque churches, centuries’ old bridges, and castles that the river slices its way through. Neither is the idyllic stretch of turquoise water rushing down from the medieval town up north to the woodlands down south and the lush gardens that give the town its beautiful look.

Surf the fast-flowing waters in Thun (©Peter Schad/Unsplash)

What draws many to Thun are the rapid surfing waters gushing down through the bridge to create swirls that surfers delight most surfing in. River Aare is popular because it offers two types of river surf waves – Hydraulic Jumps and Sheet Flows.

3. Almkanal, Salzburg

Yes, it is now possible to meet professional surfers, catch a wave, and have endless fun in the water in landlocked Austria. The country’s fourth-largest city is an absolute gift that every surfer would die to visit, especially given just how beautiful it feels playing in one of the world’s narrowest wave rides.

A 10-foot, 3-meter wide wave may sound too good to be true. But, that is exactly what you get surfing at the oldest canal system in Central Europe. Ask any Salzburg river surfer and you will be amazed at just how thrilling it feels catching the waves as they run endlessly.

You can experience a 10-foot and 3-meter wide wave at Almkanal in Salzburg (©Balthasar Staehli/Unsplash)

This surfers’ paradise is found right at the heart of the beautiful Gneiss section of Salzburg. And surfing is an all-year-round affair, even though summer is when the entire section swells with fun-lovers. The best part of it all is how this urban surf spot is friendly to both the inexperienced and the seasoned surfers.

4. The Riverwave, Austria

There’s no better way to experience the charming waters of Europe’s biggest artificial river wave than surfing on it. And that’s precisely what The Riverwave gained its fame amongst the country’s massive urban surfing population and many of those who fly in for a slice of the thrill.

A 5-minute drive from the Rosenhof, this little destination has it all. Rapid surfing waves, which can be adjusted to different sizes, perfect weather for an all-year-round surfing experience, and the freedom that newbies and pros enjoy.

One of the coolest things about surfing in The Riverwave definitely has to be the sheer size of a wave one can encounter. A massive 10-meter wide, 1.5-meter high surfable wave that any lover of beach-less surf spots would delight in, served just right. And there’s also a beautiful viewing area complete with drinks shops and fast food stalls.

5. Cunovo Wave, Bratislava

You will never know how awesome it feels surfing at truly classic artificial waves in Europe unless you try the Areál Divoká Voda. Designing and constructing this wonder took two engineers – an Austrian and Slovakian – an incredible two years.

It is an expertly built wave, cool and inviting with an almost invisible look, yet pretty adjustable to agree to different levels and offer varying levels of speeds and steepness. It is pretty easy to catch a 5’8” wave, paddleboard on it, and have fun right at the country’s greatest urban surf spot.

This surf destination is conveniently located at Čunovo Surfova Vlna, Bratislava, and has severally played host to high-octane championships. The river is surfable almost every day and even though the entire place is artificial, dangers are always inherent. 

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