Visitors to Munich’s Engslicher Garten are often surprised when they stumble across one the world’s more unusual surfing spots; a rapid man-made river and wave called the Eisbachwelle. In fact, it attracts thousands of surfers every year to practice and test their skills.
With most of Germany being quite far from a coastline, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a small urban river has made itself one of the top surfing spots in the country. However, it’s not just a lack of opportunities that has made this so famous; its strong current and continuous wave also provide a challenge for experienced surfers.
And you do have to be experienced to be successful at the Eisbachwelle rapids. With the forceful current and plenty of rocks to crash on, it can be quite dangerous for amateur surfers. In previous years, local authorities have threatened to close it after accidents but after a public outcry decided to keep it open with warning signs in place.
Even the recent freezing cold weather doesn’t deter surfers and spectators from gathering and Lonely Planet spoke to to two travellers who recently filmed the spectacle. Participants often note how positive the crowds are, cheering people on as they master the wave.
Curiously, the Eisbachwelle was created entirely by accident. Concrete blocks lie underneath the water just beyond the bridge. They were placed there by engineers to slow the flow of the water down, adding to the feeling of serenity in the public park but in doing so, a rapid further down was created. Since then, local surfers have attached ropes to the bridge, forcing the water to break more cleanly and with more consistent height.