There are gorgeous lakes all over Switzerland, many of which sit against the backdrop of stunning mountain ranges. You can take boat tours over clear blue waters, cool off with a swim in summer or simply walk around the water’s edge taking in the view. The best lakes in Switzerland can be found in many of the country’s cantons, so no matter where you’re travelling, there’s sure to be a lake nearby worth visiting.
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Best lakes in Switzerland: Lake Geneva
A crescent-shaped lake that sits on the border between France and Switzerland, Lake Geneva is probably the most well-known lake in the country. The Swiss city of Geneva sits at the southern tip of the lake, and here you can see the Jet d’Eau, the large fountain that reaches up to 140 metres and is considered to be an icon of the city. There are just over 100 beaches on the shores of Lake Geneva, and the waters are usually clean and excellent for swimming. You’ll get the most out of visiting the lake in spring and summer, but it’s still picturesque and serene when it gets too cold to plunge in.
Where to stay near Lake Geneva
Geneva is the most popular destination close to the lake’s shores, and there are plenty of accommodation options that offer beautiful lake views, such as the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva, which sits right on the shore of Lake Geneva. Near the other end of the lake, the city of Lausanne is another excellent place to stay, with hotels like Beau Rivage Palace offering gorgeous views of the lake and the Swiss Alps. There are also several campsites along the lake’s shores.
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Best lakes in Switzerland: Lake Thun
Sitting 558 metres above sea level in the Bern region, Lake Thun is an excellent lake to visit for travellers who love getting out onto the water to go windsurfing, canoeing, or sailing. The lake offers stunning, scenic views, and its shores are dotted with charming small towns and medieval castles. You can swim anywhere in the lake free of charge, and a few areas have changing facilities and water equipment hire. The best time to visit the lake is usually between spring and summer when you can make the most of the area’s outdoor activities.
Where to stay near Lake Thun
Thun is the largest town on this lake, with plenty of places for visitors to stay, such as the Congress Hotel Seepark overlooking the lake and the Deltapark Vitalresort, a wellness escape on its shores. The resort town of Interlaken is another excellent place to stay, giving visitors access to both Lake Thun and Lake Brienz on the other side. The is a gorgeous luxury hotel at the foot of the Jungfrau mountain. There are also camping sites here, though these are usually closer to the Lake Brienz side of Interlaken. The nearby town of Merligen offers a few options to stay right on the shore of Lake Thun, including the Beatus Wellness & Spa Hotel.
Best lakes in Switzerland: Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich is a beautiful lake located at the southeast end of Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich. Here, you will find scenic walking paths and regular boat tours, and there are designated areas of the lake where you are allowed to swim. Some are free, while at others you need to pay to enter and use the facilities like showers and a small restaurant or bar. Summer is generally the best time to visit Lake Zurich, as it’s the best weather for swimming. However, this is also the most expensive time to visit – staying off-season in spring and autumn can see lower prices with pleasant weather. Although it’s too cold to swim in winter, the lake doesn’t freeze over, and you can usually still take boat trips.
Where to stay near Lake Zurich
There are lots of places to stay near Lake Zurich, particularly within or close to the city of Zurich. Hotel Hirschen am See, in Meilen, is around 15min from Zurich by car and offers beautiful views overlooking the lake. Rapperswil, at the eastern end of the lake, is known for its public gardens, where more than 600 varieties of roses bloom. Rapperswil-Jona Hotel Speer is a four-star hotel just moments from the lake’s shore, whilst the very popular campsite Fischers Fritz is right on its edge and very close to Zurich.
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Best lakes in Switzerland: Oeschinen Lake
Oeschinen Lake in Bern, located 1,578 metres above sea level, is a small yet stunning body of water surrounded by the steep Bluemlisalp Cliffs. To reach the lake, take a cable car from the small town of Kandersteg or take a roughly 2-hour hike through the mountains. There is a beach along the left bank of the lake, where you can swim, and there are also rowboats available to hire. This lake is gorgeous year-round: in the warmer months, you can swim and hike in the warm sunshine, and in winter, you can walk across the frozen lake and soak in the incredible snowy atmosphere.
Where to stay near Oeschinen Lake
Kandersteg is a small town that connects directly to Oeschinen, with multiple hotels such as Alfa Soleil and Belle Epoque Hotel Victoria, very close to the cable car. If you stay at accommodation in Kandersteg, check whether they offer a discount for the cable car. Berghotel Oeschinensee is both a restaurant and a hotel, although it only offers overnight stays between mid-May and early September. Wild camping is forbidden in the Oeschinensee region, but there is an official camping site, Camping Rendez-vous, near Kandersteg.
Best lakes in Switzerland: Blausee
Nestled in the Kandertal mountains, Blausee translates to ‘Blue Lake’, and its stunning colour is why so many people flock to this small body of water. You can’t swim in this lake, but you can take a boat ride on its crystal-clear waters. Numerous walking trails and hikes take you around the lake and through the woods surrounding it. One of the lake’s unique features is its organic trout farm, where the fish are bred slowly in the mineral-rich water. The lake is gorgeous in summer but can often get very busy, so you might prefer to visit in quieter months; autumn is known to be particularly picturesque.
Where to stay in Blausee
Hotel & Spa Blausee is located right by the lake and comprises a restaurant, spa and, naturally, stunning views of Blausee. Outside of that resort, like Oeschinen Lake, Kandersteg is an excellent place to stay nearby. You can reach the lake from Kandersteg in around 8min on the Line 230 bus. Although there are no campsites in the lake’s immediate vicinity, the Camping Rendez-vous site in Kandersteg is conveniently located around 10min from the Line 230 bus stop.
Best lakes in Switzerland: Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne is nestled in the Reuss Valley and completely surrounded by snowy mountain peaks. Stretching over four of Switzerland’s cantons, the lake’s unique, irregular shape can be explored by cruises on paddle steamers and various walking trails, including the Swiss Path, which takes you on a loop around one of the lake’s four arms. There are several swimming spots along the lake and lakeside restaurants, bars and barbecue facilities. This location is best experienced in the warmer months.
Where to stay on Lake Lucerne
Stretching over four cantons means there are plenty of spots to stay on or close to Lake Lucerne’s shores. The city of Lucerne is known for its historic architecture and one of the most popular destinations. You can stay directly on the lake’s shores at Hotel Hermitage or Hotel des Balances. One of the most beautiful lodgings is Chateau Guetsch, a 19th-century castle that provides gorgeous views of the lake and city. Numerous small towns sit on the lake’s shores, such as Vitznau, connected to the city of Lucerne by boat. There are multiple camping sites close to the lake, such as TCS Camping Lucerne-Horw, also close to Lucerne.
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