Surfing Munich

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Chris requested a post on surfing in Munich yesterday. He’s heard of the Eisbach, the “ice creek” canal alongside the Isar River, and its “Welle” near Haus der Kunst, in the English Garden. Lie by the banks of the Eisbach in the sun and it’s a narrow channel indeed, but jump in and it’s a wild stream (pictures). There are several waves and waterfalls you can see from the air, but the bridge at Prinzregentenstraße (red arow) is where the action is. That’s where Walter Strasser built planks into the Eisbach some 30 years ago to create a standing wave. At first the surfers used a tow rope attached to the bridge to waterboard. Then they discovered that there was no tension on the rope, and they could actually ride the wave hands-free, and Isar River surfing was born.


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Bathing is prohibited, and you immedately know why when you jump in and give yourself up to the current. It’s absolutely delicious on a hot day, and very popular no matter what the rules say. My brothers Chris and Larry once went in at New Years’, those crazy guys. As for the wave, none of the surfers have ever been seriously injured. It’s the bathers who sometimes drown.

So the debate about how to handle the surfers has gone on for years. The City of Munich long wanted to legalize surfing, but the park and the creek belong to the State of Bavaria, who refused to bear the risk. However, last year the City and the State agreed to exchange parcels of land, so that the 80 sqm around the wave recently (18 May) became City property. A documentary film, Keep Surfing (don’t miss the gorgeous trailer!), released on 20 May, reviews the history and culture of this wild heart of Munich.

Brazilian tourists explain the difference between river and ocean surfing: On a river, the wave comes from the front. And surfers talk about the “arena” that this little inland paradise creates for the surfer:

Even Jack Johnson has given it a try:

It’s not just a guy’s thing:

Gorgeous by night:

Eisbach on Wikipedia

PS: Coming to Munich this summer? Bathing in the Eisbach is actually officially allowed, and very much recommended :),  in the Eisbach section that flows through the park around the swimming pool at Maria Einsiedel, the most beautiful place to go swimming in Munich.


4 Responses

  1. brilliantly comprehensive, everything i never knew i needed to know.:-)
    Thanks – you are now officially the Blog that takes Requests!

  2. Wow – you know more than our guide did about it. I can thoroughly recommend the Eisbach and the rest of Munich too. Is there another city with more helpful people?

  3. Welcome, Tony! It is truly lovely here, especially in warm weather. We’re leaving for Potsdam (also lovely, by the way) and will sorely miss the wild and beautiful Isar.

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