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The 12 Most Beautiful Lakes In Switzerland

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Switzerland is a popular tourist spot, welcoming around four million travelers yearly. Boasting lively cities, top-tier skiing, world-class hiking, and some of the world’s best cheese, you will never regret visiting this charming and beautiful country.

One major selling point of the country is that it is dotted with countless pristine lakes. Often enjoying the dramatic backdrop of towering mountains, the lakes of Switzerland provide a wonderful mix of peaceful retreats and alpine adventure.

There are a ton of ways to enjoy the country’s alpine lanes. Opportunities for hiking through underground caves, gliding high in the sky for a bird’s eye view, or enjoying water sports like scuba diving, sailing, and water skiing mean that there’s no excuse for a boring day on a Swiss lake.

But not every lake trip needs to be so fast paced! There are also top-tier spa resorts and fantastic cruises to hop on for a quieter approach to enjoying the beauty of the lakes.

In this article, we’ll talk about 12 of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. All you have to do is pick which ones make the list for your next Swiss adventure.

1. Lake Geneva

Jet D'eau on Lake Geneva in Switzerland
Peter Stein / Adobe Stock

Let’s kick off our list with the beautiful Lake Geneva, which straddles the border between Switzerland and France. Lake Geneva offers plenty of opportunities to take a boat trip to enjoy top-tier views of the mighty Swiss Alps and other landmarks sprinkled around the lake’s shoreline.

Nature lovers will enjoy starting the day with morning bird-watching excursions to spot the local wildlife that calls the lake home. Or, if historical landmarks are more up your alley, you could always go to the French side of the lake and visit the medieval city and preserved castle of Yvoire.

There are endless selling points to visiting the largest lake in Switzerland. For those who love a tipple, one of Switzerland’s most extensive vineyards, Lavaux, sits on the northern shores of Lake Geneva. Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a fine bottle of Swiss wine with idyllic views of the lake.

See Related: Best Hidden Gems in Switzerland

2. Lake Lucerne

Aerial view of Lake Lucerne.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Lake Lucerne is the fourth-largest lake in Switzerland. It is named after Lucerne City, which lies on its western shores. Make the trip to central Switzerland to a picturesque lake, providing visitors with an equal blend of culture and adventure.

One of the top activities at the most beautiful Lake Lucerne is taking a gondola ride to visit Mt. Pilatus. Mt. Pilatus stands about 2,128 meters above sea level, offering incredible views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

If heights aren’t your thing, Lucerne features unmissable historical beauty. Sites like Lucerne Castle and Chapel Bridge feature some impressive medieval architecture.

Opt for a leisurely cruise around the lake to start your day. Then, make time to step onto land and explore before heading back to your beautiful Lake Lucerne Lake Lucerne hotel.

3. Lake Lugano

Drone photo of Lake Lugano
makasana photo / Adobe Stock

You’ll find Lake Lugano straddling southern Switzerland and northern Italy. An ideal mix of Swiss and Italian influence, the area has a charming Mediterranean feel.

Any visit will leave you relaxed and content with fond memories to take home. Take it easy and cruise the beautiful blue waters of the lake to visit quaint villages with charming winding streets and awe-inspiring scenic beauty.

Lugano is also a lovely, quiet escape that still has plenty to keep you entertained for a few days. Shop, eat great local food, and take after-dinner evening strolls lakeside to enjoy the gentle sound of one of Switzerland’s most beautiful lakes washing into shore.

Moreover, consider a day trip if you are treating yourself to a holiday in nearby Milan. You could fit Switzerland onto your vacation itinerary and pop over to Lugano for the day.

It only takes about an hour to drive from Milan to Lugano, making it easy. If you would rather forgo an organized tour, rent a car and explore the area on a self-guided excursion.

4. Lake Constance

Lake Constance boat trip
Präsenzwerk am See / Adobe Stock

Lake Constance is the third largest lake in Central Europe and is an absolute paradise for those looking for outdoor adventure. Also known as Lake Bodensee in German, it stretches 273km of shoreline bordering Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Enjoy numerous forms of water sports out on the water, like stand-up paddleboarding, wakeboarding, and water skiing. Or, explore the lake’s shoreline by foot.

Pack comfortable walking shoes to hike around gentle footpaths surrounding the lake’s edges. Oh, and don’t forget to make frequent stops at local towns for tasty treats en route!

This unique lake offers up an activity you’ll have trouble finding elsewhere. A worthwhile experience you need to pop on your radar for a top-tier visit to Lake Constance is taking a cable car up Säntis Mountain. Here, you can experience the rare opportunity to see six countries at once: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France, and Italy.

See Related: Best Lakes in Germany to Visit

5. Lake Maggiore

View to Locarno city and Lago Maggiore
Eva Bocek / Adobe Stock

You will find Lake Maggiore in southern Switzerland. The lake sits in the Italian-speaking part of the country and meanders into Italy’s Piedmont and Lombardy northern regions.

Locarno features some brilliant lakeside resorts to use as your base for exploring this fantastic lake. Make Hotel Lago Maggiore your base and stay a mere stone’s throw away from the city center.

Enjoy breakfast on your private balcony with incredible mountain and lake views. Once your morning coffee has you hyped for the day, rent a bicycle from the hotel to explore the lake’s waters.

A top activity to do when visiting Lake Maggiore is to take a ride on the Lake Maggiore Express. It’s a boat cruise and train combo adventure that starts in Locarno and takes you through Centovalli onto Domodossola in Italy.

The excursion continues onto Stresa and returns to Locarno. It will take you through many dramatic valleys, including the unmissable Maggia Valley.

6. Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz
Phuong / Adobe Stock

Lake Brienz is a brilliant base for exploring the wider holiday region of Interlaken. Often referred to as a turquoise gem of Switzerland, the lake enjoys its beautiful color because of the tiny sediment particles that wash into it from the nearby glacial waters of Aare and Lütschine.

The lake lies less than an hour’s drive and only around 1.5 hours on the train from the capital city of Bern and the popular city of Lucerne. So, it can make for a wonderful break from the city bustle.

Or stay somewhere like Hotel Wildbach Brienz for stunning lakeside views from your private balcony for a true escape. There is no shortage of incredible accommodations around Interlaken.

Lake Brienz is a perfect match for those looking for an active adventure! Test your nerve and see the lake from the skies as you soar overhead on a tandem paragliding experience. Or, if you have a need for speed, board a scenic jet boat ride and enjoy the beauty of the lake in record time.

7. Lake Thun

Lake Thun, Switzerland
ake1150 / Adobe Stock

With its inviting shimmering blue waters, Lake Thun is one of Switzerland’s top ten largest lakes. This lake is just next door to the previously listed Lake Brienz, so it’s easy to fit both into a short trip to Switzerland.

There’s plenty to explore around Lake Thun, including the stalactites and stalagmites of the Beatus Caves. So far, 14km of the caves have been explored, and 1km of that is open to tourists.

As an avid geology nerd, I recommend visiting the caves, as they’re one of the largest in the country. Enjoy an underground world featuring gorges, chambers, streams, and waterfalls.

If you want something more low-key and relaxing, make the most of one of Switzerland’s major selling points: cheese! Live a lavish life and enjoy an intimate sunset cruise on the lake while indulging in local wine and cheese. Learn more about the lake and watch the sun set into the surrounding mountains.

8. Lake Zurich

Stunning aerial sunset view of Lake Zurich with hills and scattered boats, zurich aerial view
Aerial view of Lake Zurich (Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers)

The banana-shaped Lake Zurich stretches for 29km, with the city of Zurich at its northern shoreline. Book yourself into a room at AMERON Zürich Bellerive au Lac overlooking the lake.

I’ve used it as a base for exploring this exciting city, but there are tons of great places you can choose from. Make space in your itinerary for the Opera House and charming old town as interesting interludes from enjoying the beauty of the lake.

Zurich is home to the world-famous and delicious Lindt chocolate. So, one of the best local activities is to combine a lake cruise and sightseeing adventure with a visit to the Lindt Home of Chocolate. Here, you can enjoy unlimited chocolate tasting!

For the nature-loving traveler, the Island of Lützelau is a nature reserve in the southern section of Lake Zurich. To get to the island, take a train or taxi from Zurich to Rapperswil for about 30 minutes.

Then, hop on a private boat trip or water taxi from Rapperswil harbor. Part of the island is perfect for viewing rare animal species, and the other provides the ideal spot for swimming.

9. Lake Walen

Lake Walen, Switzerland
Luis / Adobe Stock

Lake Walen (Walensee) is one of the best lakes in Switzerland for keen hikers. The lake’s northern shoreline is ideal for this pastime.

Many great hiking trails and picturesque villages are dotted around for idyllic pit stops. Pack your best hiking boots and prepare an outdoor escape you’ll remember into your golden years.

You can’t go wrong with heading towards Quinten. Considered the most beautiful lakeside village in the area, Quinten enjoys a mild climate with a peaceful atmosphere.

Take the 45-minute ferry from Weesen to explore the village. Then, after you’re done, take the one-hour hike up to Seerenbach Falls, an undeniable highlight of Lake Walen not to be missed.

The area also provides the chance to dive below the water and enjoy a spot of scuba diving in its crystal clear waters. Just prepare yourself for a particularly chilly dip!

Moreover, as scuba diving is generally considered an extreme sport, make sure your travel insurance has you covered. You can often buy an activities add-on if not automatically covered, for peace of mind, just in case.

10. Lake Oeschinen

Oeschinen Lake, Switzerland
eyetronic / Adobe Stock

Often noted as one of the best, if not the best, mountain lakes in Switzerland, Lake Oeschinen is only a small lake but is mighty. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a top destination for winter getaways.

The lake freezes over in the winter and is safe to walk on. This brings a prime opportunity to take part in some local ice fishing. Then, enjoy an adrenaline rush and whizz downhill back to your hotel, with or without your catch of the day.

There’s also brilliant skiing in the area for newbies and families especially. The local ski school at Kandersteg caters to all ages and levels, or you can enjoy a range of blue and red-level slopes solo.

Of course, the lake is beautiful in the summer, too! Fishing is a popular pastime here in the warmer months, just as much as in the winter.

There’s also the exhilarating alpine coaster (closed during winter & during times of heavy rainfall). It’s a quick ride of 750 meters, but with a drop of 150 meters at an accelerated pace, it will indeed become a highlight of your visit.

11. Lake Blausee

Blausea Lake, Switzerland
Pavel / Adobe Stock

Visiting this beautiful alpine lake will leave you mesmerized by stunning scenery and crystal-clear water. A German-Swiss name, Blausee translates to “blue lake,” and such an impressive aesthetic is due to the underground springs that pour into it.

Lake Blausee can be found in Blausee Nature Park, Kander Valley, Bernese Oberland, in the highest part of the state of Bern. There are many activities to enjoy near Blausee Nature Park to make the most of the glorious outdoors.

Stroll out on woodland walks or visit an alpaca and llama center in the summer months. There’s also the option to hop onto a glass bottom boat on the lake to see what creatures lurk beneath.

The lake is actually only a ten-minute drive from the previously mentioned Lake Oeschinen. So, make Bernerhof Swiss Quality Hotel in Kandersteg your base for both.

It enjoys idyllic views of the surrounding mountain peaks and is in a prime position for visiting Lake Blausee and Oeschinen. Enjoy the hotel’s top-tier spa facilities and rest tired legs after exploring the numerous hiking trails both lakes offer.

See Related: Best Mountains in Switzerland

12. Lake Riffelsee

Lake Riffelsee, Switzerland
Camille / Adobe Stock

Want to find yourself face-to-face with the legendary and iconic landmark of Switzerland, the Matterhorn? Well, to make it happen, head to the alpine lake of Lake Riffelsee.

Getting to Lake Rifflesee is easy. Simply ride the Gornegrat railway from Zermatt for the 30-minute journey to Rotenboden Station. It’s only a short walk from the station of about ten minutes to one of Switzerland’s most iconic lakes.

This famous lake sits in a conservation area, so camping is not allowed. But hotels like Riffelhaus 1853 can get you incredibly close! Use the hotel as your base for exploring the lake, then enjoy evening views of the Matterhorn from the outdoor hot tub.

For an extra perk, visit in the winter months to enjoy the hotel’s ski-to-door location. The nearest ski lift is only 200 yards away!


Can you swim in Switzerland’s lakes?

You can most certainly swim in the majority of lakes in Switzerland! Many of the lakes are absolute havens for watersports like kayaking, sailing, and waterskiing. So, you know the swimming is going to be good, too.

But note that natural lakes are fed by glacial water, so they can be very cold. It’s best to pack a wetsuit if you plan on going for a dip unless cold water immersion is your thing!

Not all lakes are accessible for swimming. It’s worth checking up on the rules and regulations of the lake you’ll be visiting. You will not be allowed to swim in any nature reserve, and parts of the southern shores of Lake Geneva are off-limits due to strong currents and high traffic.

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