15 Best Lakes in Switzerland

Switzerland is not a large country – it is only 41,285 square kilometers – but it is known for its beauty due to its diverse geography. It is located inland between the Alps and the Jura Mountains, with the Swiss Plateau sandwiched in between. Switzerland also happens to be home to more than 1,500 lakes and has 6% of Europe’s total freshwater reserves.

Four major rivers flow through the country – the Rhine, the Inn, the Ticino and the Rhone – along with many lakes. Most are located high in the mountains, shared with neighboring countries, and happen to be one of the largest lakes in all of Western Europe. There are also many lakes located only in Switzerland. Many of the lakes are spectacular, with their mountain backdrops and stunningly clear blue waters. Here is our list of the 15 best lakes in Switzerland.

1. Lake Geneva; Vaud, Geneva and Valais

lake geneva

Lake Geneva, one of the largest lakes in Western Europe, lies along the Rhone and is shared with neighboring France. Still, more crescent lakes are located in Switzerland, although the two countries essentially share the lake for annual yacht races and boating events.

Lake Geneva is not only known for its size – it’s the largest lake in the country – but also for its jaw-dropping beauty. Located at 372 meters above sea level, it is completely surrounded by peaks and offers views of the Grand Combin and Mont Blanc.

The northern shoreline of the lake is dotted with castles and villages, which look especially beautiful when connected to towns on the lake by one of the Lake Geneva General Navigation boats. It’s also a great place to go boating, sailing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, wakeboarding and even scuba diving.

2. Lake Lucerne; Uri, Schwyz, Niederwalden and Lucerne

Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne literally means “Lake of the Four Forest Settlements” as it is spread across the four cantons of Switzerland. The irregular shape of the lake makes it appear as if it is located in four distinct valleys, although the 113.6-square-kilometer lake is located in the Royce Valley.

This is a truly spectacular lake, completely surrounded by mountains, with unobstructed views of snow-capped peaks. Nevertheless, despite the lake’s elevation of 434 meters, the climate is mild.

All visitors must cruise around the lake on a historic paddle steamer or saloon motorboat, enjoying views along the lake and historic neighborhoods. It is also highly recommended to take a walk around the Swiss Trail – an arm around the lake.

3. Lake Constance; Thurgau, St. Gallen and Schaffhausen

Lake Constance, Switzerland

Located between Switzerland, Germany and Austria, in the northern foothills of the Alps along the Rhine, Lake Constance is actually three bodies of water connected by rivers. With an area of ​​536 square kilometers, it is the third largest lake in Central Europe.

Lake Constance has 273 kilometers of coastline, of which 72 kilometers are in Switzerland. It’s a magical place with countless walking and cycling trails, especially along the 260-kilometer-long Lake Constance Ring Route (Bodensee Rundwanderweg).

About 70 million people visit the lake every year to enjoy the natural flora and fauna that surrounds it, as well as its many recreational activities. Swimming, sailing, fishing and diving are available in the warmer months and skiing in the winter.

4. Lake Thun; Bern

Lake Thun

Lake Thun is located in the Bernese Oberland region at an altitude of 558 meters. The alpine lake was formed during the last ice age between 115,000 and 11,700 years ago.

The lake is known for its clear blue water, which reflects its mountainous backdrop. Its coastline is home to picturesque towns, walking trails and a variety of accommodation options.

Windsurfing and sailing are particularly popular here, although many visitors come to Lake Thun for canoeing or an unforgettable cruise around the 48.3-square-kilometer lake. Some of these scenic cruises even offer wonderful gourmet dinners that can be enjoyed while watching a beautiful sunset.

5. Lake Zurich; Zurich, St. Gallen and Schwyz

Lake Zurich

Located in the capital city with easy access to Lake Zurich, a must for anyone visiting Switzerland. The banana-shaped lake is surrounded by the lbis, Zimmerberg and Pfannenstiel mountains and the bustling city of Zurich.

The 88.66-square-kilometer lake is shared by three cantons, but is mostly located within Zurich. Nonetheless, all three states surrounding the lake have picturesque towns and villages, including the medieval town of Rapperswil and the village of Au.

The lake’s northern coastline between Zollikon and Feldmeilen is famous for its magnificent houses and villas and its sunny beaches. There are also plenty of places to swim around the shores of the lake, but if there’s anything you shouldn’t miss, it’s a ride on a historic paddle steamer.

6. Lake Maggiore; Ticino

lake maggiore

The 212.5-square-kilometer Lake Maggiore is the largest lake in southern Switzerland, located on the southern edge of the Alps and shared by Switzerland and Italy. Although the Swiss side is home to the Brissago Islands, most of the lake is actually in Italy.

The Brissago Islands are one of the lake’s biggest attractions, thanks to the famous botanical gardens (Parco botanico del Canton Ticino). The lake is also surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks, making it a truly spectacular place.

Lake Maggiore is a romantic getaway with stunning scenery, mild climate, accommodation options and excellent restaurants. In addition, the Lake Maggiore Express is highly recommended for tours of the lake and its surroundings.

7. Lake Erchinen; Bern

Lake Erchinen, Switzerland

Located in the Bernese Oberland region of Bern, Lake Erchinen is a breathtaking 1,578 meters above sea level. It’s a small lake, but it’s really a picturesque lake, nestled between the steep cliffs of Blüemlisalp.

The lake is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Beach, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s not hard to see why. The cable car from Kandersteg to Oeschinen offers the best view of the stunning lake from a height.

Take a 25-minute hike to Lake Ershine, passing waterfalls, melting glaciers, and alpine meadows that are as majestic as the lake itself. Get to the lake and enjoy the magnificent view.

8. Lake Brienz; Bern

Lake Brienz, Switzerland

Lake Brienz is located in the Berns Alps at an altitude of 564 meters. The lake is famous for its views of the high Faulhorn and Schwarzhoren, which rise more than 2,000 meters above the picturesque lake.

The lake is named after the town of Brienz on its northern coastline, while the resort town of Interlaken is located on the southern side of the lake. Famous for its magnificent colors and surrounding peaks, waterfalls and cliffs, Lake Brienz is one of the most romantic holiday destinations in Switzerland.

There is a hop-on, hop-off boat that crosses the 28.9-square-kilometer lake, docking at each village. There are also refurbished ships offering cruises around the beautiful lake, some of which offer BBQ cruises, breakfast cruises, and fondue cruises.

9. Lake Neuchâtel; Neuchâtel, Vaud, Fribourg and Bern

Lake Neuchatel

Lake Neuchâtel is the largest lake entirely in Switzerland. Much of the lake is located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, which also happens to be surrounded by mountain peaks.

On the north side of the 218.3 km² lake, with the Jura Mountains as a backdrop, it is lined with vineyards and hilly landscapes. The lake’s southern shoreline is home to the Everglades, a bird lover’s paradise.

Charming villages are scattered around the lake, and boats sail from one village to another. National “Central” cycle path 5 is located on the southeastern shore of Lake Neuchâtel.

10. Lance; Bern

Brause, Switzerland

Although Blaus is small, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Bernese Oberland region. Blausee literally means blue lake, and its majestic colors attract many people.

The lake is surrounded by the Blausee Nature Park with picnic areas, restaurants, small museums and romantic walks. It even has a spa, an organic trout farm and a lovely 3 star hotel.

Blausse is located in the Kander Valley at an altitude of 887 meters. It can be reached by bus or train, but of course you can also drive there.

11. Valencia; St Gallen and Glarus

Valencia, Switzerland

Lake Wallen, also known as Lake Wallen, is one of the largest lakes in the country and is located at the western end of the Swiss resort area known as Heidiland. On the south side of the lake are towns and villages, while the Churfirsten mountains are on the north side.

Walensee has stunning views overlooking its Mürtschenstock massif, although Todi is the largest mountain around the lake. The road along the southern shoreline of the lake is the only access and is very scenic.

The historic hamlet of Quinten, the only settlement on the north side of the lake, happens to be completely car-free and can be reached by boat or on foot. The sports resort of Flumserberg, just a few minutes from Lake Waren, offers skiing in winter and hiking, cycling and mountaineering in summer.

12. Bachalpsee; Bern

Bachalp Lake

Often overlooked by many, Bachalp Lake is absolutely stunning, with Schreckhorn as the backdrop. This is the highest peak in the Bernese Oberland and the northernmost mountain in all of Europe, at over 4,000 meters above sea level.

The lake itself is 2,265 meters above sea level and can only be reached on foot. The trail to Bachalp Lake starts at the first stop and takes about an hour to reach.

The hike to the lake is easy and offers stunning views of snow-capped mountains, streams and hills. Once there, you can sit on a bench and enjoy the stunning views of Lake Bachalp and its surroundings.

13. Lac de Joux; Vaud

Lac de Joux, Switzerland

This is the largest lake in Switzerland, at over 1,000 meters above sea level and 1,004 meters above sea level. Lac de Joux is located in the Vallée de Joux in the Jura Mountains.

Little Lake is a paradise for outdoor lovers who want to enjoy the lake and its surroundings. Windsurfing, yachting, water skiing, wake surfing and boating are available on the lake, while hiking biking and mountain biking are popular land activities.

Small boats sail around the lake on summer weekends, taking visitors on an unforgettable journey. In winter, Lac de Joux freezes and turns into a giant ice rink.

14. Lake Biel; Bern

Lake Biel, Switzerland

Lake Biel is located in western Switzerland, in the Jura Mountains at an altitude of 429 meters. The 39.3-square-kilometer lake is named after the city of Biel at its northern end.

Chasseral Regional Park is located on the lake’s northern shoreline and features vineyards, pastures, and woods. It is highly recommended that you take a stroll along the vineyard road from Biel to La Neuveville.

In addition to the wake trails, there is a bike trail around the lake and a rollerblading trail. A boat cruise on Lake Biel is a great way to enjoy the breathtaking views of the mountains, villages and vineyards surrounding the lake.

15. Schwarzsee; Fribourg

Schwarzsee, Switzerland

Schwarzsee is also known as Lac Noir or Black Lake because of its dark appearance caused by the shadows of the former Alps in East Freiburg. In fact, this small lake is completely surrounded by mountain peaks.

The lake is a popular destination due to the nearby alpine valleys, glaciers and resorts. Many families come here for skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding.

Lake Schwarz is also a summer destination, offering swimming, boating, fishing and hiking. In addition to a four-kilometer trail around the lake, there is a 200-kilometer network of trails around the lake.

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