It’s not how most people spend their time in Munich…floating down a river, covered in 6mm of wetsuit, hood, boots, and gloves, but for surfers in this part of the world, this is part of the daily pre-work surf fix.
In the unlikeliest venue, the standing river wave in Munich, the Eisbach, has given birth to a unique and thriving surf community in the heart of landlocked Germany.
If you love the novelty of surfing and want a different surf experience, surfing the Eisbach could be your next venture. But where do you start? What’s the wave actually like? Where do you stay? And how do you get there? Here’s everything you need to know.
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What is the Munich River Wave?
The Eisbach is a standing wave located on the Eisbachwalle river in Munich. Fast-flowing water passes under a bridge before flowing over a rise in the river bed. The rise is a pile of boulders, creating a hump in the water flow.
This hump almost flows back on itself, which creates the standing wave effect–which can be ridden. Local surfers used to lower a log into the wave to make the wave face smoother; however, this is now banned due to council regulations.
However, the wave is still super fun and rideable most of the year. While many factors make the wave tick, it’s much more reliable than aligning winds, swells, and tides.
When to Surf in Munich?
You can surf in Munich at any time of year, but the state of the wave depends on water flow, which can be affected by rainfall. Sometimes the wave is more prominent and faster flowing, whereas in summer, with less water flow, the wave is smaller and weaker.
Additionally, during September, the local government treats the water further upstream, which brings the wave to a near standstill–the only time to avoid surfing the river.
Eisbach River Wave - Spot Breakdown
The wave is intimidating the first time you surf it; at least, it was for me. I surfed the river in December, so it was fricking freezing, and the water was flowing. The feeling of riding the wave is so different from surfing in the Ocean; it’s like another sport. If you’ve ridden a FlowRider before, it’s much more comparable to that than surfing in the Ocean.
On my first two attempts, I nose-dived straight after jumping in, but after a few goes, I got the hang of it and managed to find my feet–staying on the wave for a few seconds.
Eventually, I learned how to pump and move my feet to stay on the wave. I rode a performance shortboard which made things hard, so I’d recommend surfing a stumpy mal-type board or fish.
Other Munich River Waves
While the Eisbach is by far the best and most well-known surf spot in Munich, there are several standing waves across the city.
Just down from the main Eisbach wave is E2. This wave is much more forgiving and more suitable for beginners. If you prefer longboarding, this wave is fatter and mellow and easier to surf than the Eisbach. That said, getting in can be tricky.
Another smaller, cleaner alternative to the Eisbach. Laid back, friendly, and perfect for beginners, the Floblande is the perfect place to familiarise yourself with river surfing.
How to Get to the Eisbach?
From overseas, fly to Munich, then jump on a train to the city center. The Eisbach is in Munich’s English garden and is around a 30-minute walk from Munich Central Train Station. See the exact location below.
What do You Need to Surf the Eisbach?
Depending on the time of year, you’ll need a good wetsuit to surf the Eisbach. In winter, temps are close to zero both in and out of the water. However, things warm up in summer, and you can even surf in boardies. Despite this, I’d recommend a wetsuit to avoid scrapes and cuts when pulling yourself up the concrete wall to get out.
Unless you’re moving to Munich permanently, you won’t want to buy a board specifically for the river; a thin shortboard designed for ocean waves will make surfing the river tricky. I struggled using a 5’9 Mayhem sub-driver, and although I could surf the wave, a thicker, fun board would have made things easier.
Munich Surfing Etiquette
As you’d expect, things are orderly in Germany, and surfing the Eisbach is no different. Surfers queue on each side, taking turns to jump in and ride the wave. How long you ride will depend on your ability, but most fall under the 1-minute mark, sometimes lasting only seconds, in jumps the next surfer, and so on.
It’s an awesome community vibe each time I surfed the wave during winter, and I even surfed it with no one a couple of times. Don’t underestimate how tiring this can be, though!
Tips for Surfing in Munich
During summer, the Eisbach wave gets super crowded. When it’s warm, and the wave is small, it’s more accessible to more people. This means you often spend more time waiting than surfing. But during winter, it’s significantly less crowded, but things get a little chilly.
If you plan to surf the Eisbach in winter, prepare for the cold! Seriously, temps get sub-zero in Munich in winter, and you’ll need a good 6mm suit, hood, boots, and gloves if you want to surf it. The water temp is also close to freezing, and snow and ice aren’t uncommon.
Where to Stay?
Across the city, there are some great places to stay for all budgets. If you want to surf the river without digging too deep into your pockets, I’d recommend Jaeger hostel, a 2-minute walk away from Munich Central Train Station; this puts you a 30-minute walk from the Eisbach wave. (see the map below) The hostel costs around $25 per night for a dorm room and features a cool bar and breakfast buffet; close to all the shops and things you need in Munich.
Final Words on Surfing in Munich
If you love novelty and want to surf somewhere different from the usual surf trip destination, then the Munich River wave is a fantastic place to visit. A unique surf culture in the middle of the city provided a challenge and experience you’re unlikely to forget. If you’ve surfed the river before or have questions about surfing in Munich, please comment below! Yew!
Munich Surfing FAQs
The Eisbach wave is 30 minutes walk from Munich Central Train station.
Yes. Unusually, there are several standing river waves in Munich.
In winter, yes! Air and water temps hover around zero and you’ll need a 6mm wetsuit, hood, boots and gloves to surf the wave.