When it comes to lakes, Switzerland has an unbelievable variety of bathing lakes, mountain lakes, reservoirs and underground lakes.
Most of these Swiss lakes include a large number of excursion destinations that you absolutely have to put on your to-do list for your holiday in Switzerland.
You have the choice between idyllic mountain lakes with an Alpine backdrop and inland waterways with excellent infrastructure. Everyone is guaranteed unforgettable days, whether alone, as a couple or with the whole family.
Here is a list of the 20 best lakes in Switzerland.
1. Lake Geneva – One of the largest inland lakes in Central Europe
Lake Geneva is one of the best-known and largest lakes in Switzerland and stretches in a crescent shape from Geneva eastwards to Montreux. The northern shore of Lake Geneva (aka Lac Léman) is on the Swiss side, while the southern shore belongs to France.
Small idyllic villages, enchanting towns and sun-kissed wine-growing regions are scattered around the lake. On the shore you will find numerous opportunities for swimming and water sports enthusiasts will also get their money’s worth.
In order to be able to fully enjoy the vastness of Lake Geneva, a motorboat tour is well worth it. Chillon Castle near Montreux, located directly on the lake shore, is the most visited historical building in Switzerland and is a very popular excursion destination in combination with a boat trip on this lake.
Lake Geneva is not only a popular bathing spot, but is also good for diving. The wreck of a sunken paddle steamer can be seen 40 to 60 meters under the water. Last but not least, you can also do beautiful bike tours along the shore and through the vineyards.
2. Lake Neuchâtel – Holidays by the water
Lake Neuchâtel in the canton of Neuchâtel is also known as the sea of Switzerland. Because the sandy beaches of Yvonand are sometimes considered the most beautiful in Switzerland.
A little further in the direction of Yverdon-les-Bains, you will find small bays for swimming near Cheseaux-Noréaz. Around the lake there are charming villages, with boats going from one village to another. The “Mittelland” national route runs along the southeastern shore of Lake Neuchâtel.
This area is also ideal for bike tours. The trail network is very well signposted. Gorgier Castle in the village of the same name is particularly worth seeing.
And last but not least, the charming city of Neuchâtel not only offers a magnificent swimming pool, but also invites you to stroll through the historic old town.
Lake Neuchâtel is the largest lake that lies entirely within Switzerland. Most of the lake is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, which is also the side of the lake that is framed by the mountain peaks.
3. Lake Lucerne – Lake of the Four Cantons
Lake Lucerne is the fourth largest lake in Switzerland and was formed around 12,000 years ago. The beautiful Swiss lake is picturesquely nestled between Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Obwalden and Nidwalden in Central Switzerland.
The water in the lake is of drinking water quality and reaches a temperature of 22°C in summer. Here you can swim, steamboat or dive, and also hike in the nearby mountains and enjoy the fantastic panorama. The Bürgenstock as well as the Rigi and Seelisberg are popular hiking destinations that are located directly on the lake.
Lake Uri as part of Lake Lucerne is particularly popular with windsurfers. In Flüelen, where the Reuss flows into the lake, you can swim in the middle of a natural reserve.
A must for all visitors is a cruise on a historic paddlewheel steamboat or motor boat around the lake to admire the sights and historic communities that lie along its shoreline. A walk along the Swiss Trail – a loop around an arm of the lake – is also recommended.
4. Lake Constance – Holidays in the lake surrounded by 3 nations
A holiday on Lake Constance promises an overwhelming wealth of activities and excursion destinations in the midst of dreamlike mountain landscapes. From relaxation to action to culture, everything is there.
Especially in the summer months, when the temperatures are mild, you can take a dip in the cool water, learn to windsurf or cycle along the Lake Constance cycle path.
In addition to bathing and fishing spots, the lake is also ideal for boat trips and a visit to one or more of the 10 islands in Lake Constance, including the beautiful Werd Islands, which belong to Switzerland.
The lake, which is fed by the Rhine, is home to numerous highlights in the area such as the local mountain Säntis, the imposing Rhine Falls or the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Abbey District of St. Gallen.
Furthermore, you should not miss the holiday resorts of Kreuzlingen, Stein am Rhein, Gottlieben or Arbon.
Although the climate around Lake Constance is generally mild, gusts of wind can be expected. For water sports enthusiasts, Lake Constance is therefore a demanding area.
5. Lake Zurich – Popular local recreation area
Located between the cantons of Zurich, St. Gallen and Schwyz is the Lake Zurich, one of the top Swiss lakes and one of the most beautiful sights in Zurich. Whether passing through or as a detour from the hustle and bustle of the city, the sun-drenched region around the lake offers you a number of attractions.
Probably no Swiss lake has as many swimming pools as Lake Zurich. Almost every lake community has its own demarcated swimming area or lido. The Mythenquai lido, the Rapperswil seaside resort, the Stadthausquai women’s baths, the Tiefenbrunnen lido and the Küsnacht lido are at the top of the list of popular places to relax by the lake.
This lake is also a Mecca for water sports enthusiasts. Whether sailing, diving, windsurfing or kite surfing, rowing or stand-up paddling, numerous water sports centers around Lake Zurich offer equipment and courses.
A tour over the wooden footbridge between Rapperswil and Pfäffikon is particularly recommended for leisurely strolls or for a family outing.
With an area of almost 88 km², Lake Zurich is one of the five largest lakes in Switzerland.
6. Lake Thun – Diversity in the Bernese Oberland
Lake Thun is located in the Bernese Oberland, embedded in a fantastic mountain scenery, and is an ideal destination for hikes along the lake shore. It is of a deep blue color, with dreamy villages and historic castles in its vicinity.
You will discover stand up paddle boards and sailing boats on the water or picturesque lidos (swimming areas) on the lake shore. If you travel to the Lake Thun holiday region, you can not only see the white peaks of the Mönch, Eiger and Jungfrau, but also enjoy breathtaking panoramas from viewpoints such as the Sigriswil panorama bridge.
You can also enjoy a trip on the historic Blümlisalp paddle steamer or dare to bravely cross the suspension bridges on the nearby panoramic hiking trail.
There are five beautiful castles in Lake Thun area that you can visit. A boat ride from Interlaken is a great way to visit these landmarks while enjoying breathtaking scenery.
In fact, Interlaken is considered the perfect starting point for a trip to the Jungfrau Region, the paradise for hikers and winter sports enthusiasts. From Interlaken you can take the train on an exciting panoramic journey to Europe’s highest train station.
Alternatively, you have the option of combining your holiday on Lake Thun with the picturesque sights of Bern.
8. Lago Maggiore – Mediterranean ambience
20% of Lake Maggiore or Langensee is on Swiss territory, whereas the majority of the popular holiday destination is in Italy. This also includes the two small Brissago Islands , which can be reached by shuttle boats from Porto Ronco. The smaller of the two islands is natural, while the larger one houses a botanical garden.
Between palm-fringed shores, bright sunshine, untouched nature and Italian flair, you can experience an incomparable holiday at any time of the year.
Anyone vacationing on Lake Maggiore should definitely visit the picturesque towns on its shore, including the romantic towns of Ascona and Locarno. A popular hike on the Sacro Monte di Ghiffa pilgrimage route is also an option.
8. Bielersee – fascinating Swiss three-lake country
Lake Biel in the canton of Bern, along with Lake Neuchâtel and Lake Murten, is one of the three large lakes in the Three Lakes Region. It has the the foothills of the Jura Mountains and the Chasseral Nature Park to the west and the city of Bern to the east.
It not only invites you to swim, but also offers hikers beautiful tours along the shore and through the vineyards.
You can start your trip in the bilingual city of Biel and explore the quaint wine villages (Neuenstadt, Erlach, Ligerz or Twann) along the lake shore or start hiking on the Plateau de Diesse and explore the mystical Twannbach Gorge.
Hikers should not miss the St. Petersinsel near Erlach. Cyclists can circle the lake on the well-signposted cycle path. The route from Biel train station is 43 kilometers long.
Finally, you have to treat yourself to the delicious wines from the wine-growing region on Lake Biel. Totally worth it!
9. Lake Zug – pure nature near Lucerne
If you are looking for perfect end to a short trip to Lucerne, it is worth visiting Lake Zug. Spread over a length of almost 14 kilometers, here you have the opportunity to enjoy the sun at over 13 lidos, especially in the summer months.
Romantic sunsets on Lake Zug are among the fascinating highlights of the region. It is also worth taking a look at the colorful streets of the city of Zug.
Lake Zug is located in Central Switzerland between the cantons of Zug, Lucerne and Schwyz. It is home to 32 species of fish and is therefore a popular fishing spot. But it is also very suitable for swimming and sailing, especially since the water quality has improved.
10. Lake Lugano – jewel in southern Switzerland
Switzerland and Italy share Lake Lugano, also known as Lago di Lugano. The shape of the lake, which is 65 percent in Switzerland, is reminiscent of two horns, which is why it is also called “The Horned One”.
The Mediterranean climate and the magnificent mountain scenery around the lake make Lago di Lugano one of the most beautiful Swiss lakes. The nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site of Monte San Giorgio is also worth a hike.
Lake Lugano is a true oasis located in the sunny canton of Ticino and offers numerous excursion options.
During your stay, you should definitely not only relax by the water, but also stroll through romantic Lugano or take a boat to tranquil Gandrigna. You should also plan hikes to the fantastic viewpoints on Monte Brè or Monte San Salvatore.
11. Lake Brienz – Turquoise water
Back in the region of the Bernese Alps, where Lake Thun and the holiday town of Interlaken are also located, there is another exciting destination in Lake Brienz .
Imagine sitting on your Stand Up Paddle and letting yourself drift across the water with imposing mountains towering all around you. That’s Lake Brienz inviting you!
Also known as Alpenrandsee, Lake Brienz is very deep and has hardly any shallow areas on the shore. The wonderful interplay of mountain panorama and green-blue lake can be admired during hikes through mountains and valleys. Boat trips on the beautiful Swiss lake are also ideal for a relaxing excursion.
Lake Brienz is one of the cleanest and most nutrient-poor lakes in Switzerland. For this reason, the fish yields when fishing are not so great. But the Brienz fish, especially the perch, are considered a real delicacy!
Some of the the hiking destinations in this area include Brienzer Rothorn, Schynige Platte, Augstmatthorn or Harder Kulm. All guarantee breathtaking panoramas!
If you are looking for a natural spectacle, the roaring Giessbach Falls is a must-see.
12. Blausee – Heavenly mountain lake
One of the most beautiful but also best-known mountain lakes in Switzerland is the Blausee in the municipality of Kandergrund in the Bernese Oberland. Its hard to describe the mytical impressions this lake has on you with its shimmering water and surrounding trees reaching right to the shore.
The clarity of the water is due to the fact that this small lake is fed from underground springs.
If you want to pay a visit to the Blausee Nature Park, you have to pay a small entrance fee of about 7€.
Swimming is not allowed in the Blausee, but you can go boating and on its shore you will always find a cozy spot for a romantic picnic in the countryside. There is a small restaurant at the lake that will spoil you with culinary delights with a view of the lake.
13. Lake Cauma – natural spectacle in Graubünden
If you are planning a holiday in the Flims Laax Falera holiday region, you can not only let off steam in one of the top Swiss ski areas in winter, but also visit Lake Cauma, one of the special highlights in the town of Flims.
The lake can only be reached on foot, by bike or with the Caumasee lift. From the town center you need about 50 minutes on foot to reach it.
Those who like it more quiet will feel at home at Lake Cauma, in the middle of an uninhabited forest area. Its crystal clear, deep blue water is simply fascinating to look at. You can also swim to the small island in the middle of the lake and enjoy the seclusion.
If you are already in this area, do not miss the opportunity to visit the wild Swiss Rhine Gorge with viewpoints such as the Il Spir viewing platform. In addition, Lake Cresta is not far, but more on that later.
14. Seealpsee – Unforgettable hiking holiday
Situated at over 1,100 meters is the spectacular Seealpsee. You can reach it after a 60-minute hike from the small town of Wasserauen.
In the middle of the Alpstein mountains, you will find not only the Seealpsee but also a perfectly developed network of hiking trails with different themed trails, mountain huts and cable cars, which offer you an unforgettable active holiday in Switzerland.
In the immediate vicinity you can get hold of Swiss cheese specialties in the Seealpkäserei or take a break at the Berggasthaus Seealpsee.
If you continue your hike to the Ebenalp you will be greeted by the beautiful and famous mountain inn Aescher-Wildkirchli, which is built directly on a rock face.
TIP: during the weekdays you will definitely encounter fewer hikers than over the weekend.
15. Oeschinensee – Journey to the high alpine mountain village of Kandersteg
About 30 minutes by car from the famous ski resort of Adelboden you will find the high alpine mountain village of Kandersteg. A true wonderland awaits you there in the winter months with the entire lake turned into a natural ice-skating ring.
This cross-country skiing paradise with a small ski area offers a special experience, especially for families.
If you are planning a holiday in the Bernese Oberland in summers, you must explore the extensive network of hiking trails around Kandersteg. And you shouldn’t miss a view of the Oeschinensee that has rightly been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The landscape around the lake is really unique. If you like, you can paddle across the lake in a rowing boat, go fishing or swim in the cool water of Oeschinensee.
It is no coincidence that the lake attracts numerous visitors who succumb to the flair of the region again and again. But you have to feel it yourself.
16. Walensee – Holidays in the “Heidi-land” region
In the east of Switzerland, not far from the border with Liechtenstein, you will find Lake Walen. As soon as you approach the shore of the lake, you can marvel at the towering Churfirsten mountain range, which creates a unique natural spectacle with Lake Walen at its bottom.
You should explore the car-free village of Quinten with your cameras ready and visit one of the wine cellars here. In addition, you shouldn’t miss the towns of Betlis and Amden with the Seerenbach Falls and the Rinquelle.
Countless hikes can be made directly from the shore on both sides of the long lake. If you still have some time, you can also explore the famous spa town of Bad Ragaz for a varied holiday.
17. Klöntalersee – Authentic natural lake
Another beautiful lake awaits you in the canton of Glarus. The Klöntalersee was created by a landslide and later became a reservoir due to earth heaping up.
Several small pebble beaches at the campsites offer space for swimming and sunbathing in the summer months.
Its imposing mountain scenery with densely wooded slopes and lush meadows are ideal for hikes in untouched nature. The reflections of the mountain peaks in the water are spectacular photo motifs.
If you are planning hikes in the area, you should start your excursions from the city of Glarnus. Or you rent a boat and sail across the lake. You will get the feeling of cruising through a fjord.
18. Riffelsee – At the Foot of Matterhorn
On the edge of the world-famous Matterhorn you will find a beautiful mountain lake called Riffelsee. If you are planning hikes or climbing tours during your holiday in the famous resort of Zermatt, your paths will cross the small lake.
With a ride to the Rotenboden mountain railway station, you can reach this waterbody in just under 10 minutes on foot. As soon as you have arrived at the Riffelsee, you will enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Matterhorn and its ambience. Definitely a perfect picnic spot!
19. Crestasee – Hidden natural spectacle
You can reach the scenic Crestasee with a hike of just under an hour from Caumasee. So if you are planning your holiday in Flims and the surrounding area, a trip to the radiant mountains is an absolute must.
But be prepared that you definitely won’t be the only vacationers with this idea. Word has gotten around about this natural bathing lake.
Accordingly, you should start your hike in the early hours of the morning or go on an excursion during the weekdays. If you want to take a dip into the waters, you have to pay an entrance fee.
20. Lake Murten – Holidays in the Jura mountains
The last lake on our list is Murtensee. This is one of the three largest lakes on the edge of the Jura mountains and lies in the immediate vicinity of the well-known destinations like Bern, Lake Neuchâtel and Lake Biel.
And now you’re probably asking yourself why you should plan another trip to Lake Murten? In Murten you can feel the medieval atmosphere up close or marvel at one of the smallest Swiss wine-growing regions on the Mont Vully hill.
In addition, the temperatures of the lake rise quickly due to its shallow depth and you don’t have to overcome much effort to swim your laps in the water. Do you still not want to go there?