Switzerland is nicknamed the "Water Castle of Europe" for a reason. Even a quick glance at the satellite image gives an idea that there is a lot of water lying, flowing, circulating, melting, freezing and splashing around in this country.
In total, there are more than 1,500 lakes in Switzerland, which means that mathematically speaking, you are never more than 16 km away from a lake. No matter where you are in Switzerland. A large part of these lakes is connected with rivers, streams and canals, which reach a total length of approx. 61'000 km
This corresponds to a length of almost 1.5 times the circumference of the earth. But it goes even further.
Switzerland hosts about 6% of the European freshwater reserves. This may seem a modest figure at first glance. But when you consider that Switzerland makes up just 0.4% of Europe's land mass, this 6% suddenly takes on a whole new meaning
Of course, Switzerland also repeatedly struggles with water shortages, especially during hot and dry summer periods. And due to the melting of glaciers, important water reservoirs are subject to a continuous shrinking process. But generally speaking, Switzerland is in a very comfortable position in terms of water technology
Apart from the drinking water supply, these numerous water resources also offer a high quality of stay for people from all over the world. In this article, I therefore focus more on the tourist aspect of our lakes, rivers and waterfalls and less on the canals, hydroelectric power plants and underground streams.
I hope you agree with this 😉
As mentioned earlier, you never have to spend a lot of time looking for a lake in Switzerland. And the chances of that body of water back there in the distance being a mirage and you suffering from hallucinations during your strenuous hike are minimal.
Of course, I can't list all 1,500 lakes here, but I'll briefly go over ten important candidates that you'll become familiar with after your arrival in Switzerland at the latest
Lake Geneva, in French "Lac Léman", is the largest Swiss lake. Admittedly, this is only half the truth, as it is 60% Swiss and 40% French. The total area of the lake is 580 km², which makes it the largest and most water-rich inland lake in Europe
The climate in the Lake Geneva region is very mild, creating ideal conditions for viticulture. North of the lake, therefore, one vineyard follows another, with the terraces in Lavaux being a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The shipping company CGN provides access to numerous towns and villages along the shore. Starting with the Jet d'Eau in Geneva, a 140 m high fountain in the lake, and ending with the Château de Chillon, a medieval castle near Montreux. By the way, the same places are also connected with bicycle and hiking trails, which makes Lake Geneva a perfect destination.
Lake Constance has an area of 473 km² and also bears the name "Swabian Sea". In terms of area, it is the second largest lake in Switzerland, although this is not quite true either. Like Lake Geneva, it sticks out over two national borders. We share Lake Constance with our neighbors Austria and Germany, with about a third of the lake "belonging" to us
With a multitude of biking and hiking trails, lakeside promenades and beach resorts, Lake Constance is easily accessible, making it a popular destination for lazy people as well as sports enthusiasts
In addition, various shipping companies operate on Lake Constance - on the one hand within Switzerland, but also to Germany and Austria. The fastest and most direct connection across the lake is by ferry between Romanshorn and Friedrichshafen.
In total, there are 16 islands in Lake Constance, with the German town of Lindau, the flower island of Mainau, and the island of Reichenau among the best known.
Finally, we come to the largest lake that lies entirely on Swiss soil. Lake Neuchâtel has an area of 218 km² and, like Lake Geneva, is located in French-speaking Switzerland. Together with its neighbors, Lake Biel and Lake Murten, Lake Neuchâtel forms the Three Lakes Region
Another excursion paradise for everyone. By bike, on foot, by boat or by public transport, the cities of Neuchâtel, Yverdon-les-Bains and Estavayer-le-Lac - but also various villages in between - are easily accessible.
Hardly any other lake in Switzerland has such a peculiar shape as Lake Lucerne. Its area is equal to 133 km², which is just 23% of Lake Geneva. Its perimeter, however, is 75% of Lake Geneva, which definitely speaks for a winding lake. Now if that was too much math for you and you can't imagine what I'm talking about, just compare the two lakes below on the map.
From a tourist point of view, Lake Lucerne is one of the big players. On the one hand, the city of Lucerne, which is extremely popular with visitors, is located directly on the lake and on the other hand, you will find Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi as well as the Stanserhorn in the immediate vicinity of Lake Lucerne
Not to be ignored are the numerous paddle steamers and passenger ships, which include a section of the Gotthard Panorama Express Route. Lake Lucerne is an ideal area to combine hiking, funicular rides, cultural visits and boat trips in one region.
Commercial finished 🙂
By the way, if you don't know the Tellpass yet - a passport dedicated to this beautiful region - I recommend this article about Swiss tourist passports.
You can probably guess where Lake Zurich is located. It is very easy to locate and if you make a trip to Zurich, sooner or later your way will surely lead you to the very densely built shore of this lake.
The fifth largest lake in Switzerland with 88 km² has an elongated, narrow shape and reminds a bit of a banana. Lake Zurich is divided into the Obersee and the Untersee. These two sections are separated by the dam between Rapperswil and Pfäffikon, with two passages for ships.
There are four islands on Lake Zurich and passenger ships operate year-round between Schmerikon and Zurich. In total, there are over 30 moorings, including the island of Ufnau.
Since the agglomeration of Zurich is the largest metropolitan area in Switzerland, you won't necessarily find the peace and quiet at Lake Zurich that you sometimes wish for. Admittedly, most lakes in Switzerland act like magnets and are very well visited, especially on nice weekends and in summer. But my personal feeling is that it is a bit more extreme at Lake Zurich than elsewhere
Nevertheless, the shore, where publicly accessible, invites you to linger and a cozy picnic at Bellevue in Zurich is definitely something you should not miss.
Lake Thun is one of those lakes that know how to present their photogenic spots. Its charm is largely due to its advantageous location - surrounded by mountains. The almost 50 km² lake is sandwiched on both sides between majestic mountains, green alpine meadows and idyllic villages, with Thun on one side and Interlaken on the other.
Incidentally, Lake Thun is one of the two reasons why Interlaken is called "Interlaken", meaning "between the lakes". You'll get to know the second reason right away.
If I had to choose a boat trip on a Swiss lake, Lake Thun would undoubtedly make it into my top 3. The trip between Thun and Interlaken takes about two hours and is definitely worth the trip. Various villages along the way invite you to linger and even if you do the whole trip in one piece, you certainly won't get bored of being amazed and taking pictures.
The southern shore of Lake Thun is more easily accessible than the northern one. The hiking and biking trails run closer to the lake on the southern shore, while the northern shore is obstructed by the lake road
Apart from the usual water sports such as water skiing, wakeboarding or jet boat rides, sailing on Lake Thun is very popular. On a nice summer day, you can often see countless sailing students cruising around in their boats, which reminds me every time of a disoriented duck family
Lake Brienz is the cold, turquoise cousin of Lake Thun. It is fed by the fresh water of the Aare and the surrounding mountains even before Lake Thun and is therefore noticeably colder. So should you decide to take a swim in the cleanest lake in Switzerland, the goosebumps potential in this 30 km² body of water is considerable
Simply put; it's pretty cold even in summer
Moreover, it is the second reason for the naming of Interlaken, the town between the two lakes, which is extremely popular especially with international guests.
You can also linger on Lake Brienz on a boat trip that takes about 1.25 hours between Interlaken and Brienz. A highlight along the way is a stop at the pier of the Grandhotel Giessbach. If time allows you to make a short detour to the hotel, I can highly recommend it
The view of Lake Brienz from the terrace is magnificent, to say the least
If the price of the funicular ride from the pier to the hotel puts you off, there's a hiking trail you can take to reach Giessbach and the Giessbach Falls beyond
There's no shortage of water activities here, either. From canoeing to jet boating to rowing, there is a wide range of activities available to you.
Finally, we take a detour to the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Only one fifth of Lake Maggiore is on Swiss soil and the lake is 212 km² in total. Although it is mainly on Italian soil, it is a strong magnet for the inhabitants of Ticino, but also for visitors from all over Switzerland.
In particular, the towns of Locarno and Ascona offer a high quality of stay and attract people in droves. Since Ticino has a much milder climate than the rest of Switzerland, Lake Maggiore is a pleasant swimming destination even in early summer.
The Brissago Islands - two heavily wooded natural paradises in Lake Maggiore - can be reached by boat from Porto Ronco. Or with some stamina and strong legs even by pedalo.
According to an agreement, Italy is responsible for passenger navigation on Lake Maggiore. On the whole lake there are ships of the company Navigazione del Lago Maggiore
The list of Swiss lakes could be continued here at will, but this would clearly go beyond the scope of this article. If you are interested in additional information on other lakes, I recommend the lists on the Schweizersee Website
But we are not quite done with the lakes yet. After all, these were only the easily accessible, large and well-known lakes with partly densely populated shores. As an alpine country, Switzerland also has a considerable number of mountain lakes to offer, which we will look at in the next step
Again, not all over 1,000 of them, but a handful is already in there.
I won't even try to rank the Swiss mountain lakes according to their beauty, their "must-see" importance or their popularity. If it was already almost an impossibility to explain the diversity of public transport in Switzerland, then this would be a completely different caliber.
Therefore, below I list a few mountain lakes that I personally like a lot and that will show you what you can potentially expect in terms of fascinating and breathtaking waters during your hikes in the Swiss Alps.
What makes this mirror-smooth mountain lake above Zermatt in the Valais so special only becomes visible when the clouds disappear and the Matterhorn behind it is reflected in its full size in the small, inconspicuous body of water. Seen from the "wrong" side, the Riffelsee looks rather deserted and lonely. But in the overall picture with the probably most famous mountain in Switzerland in the backdrop, it makes a captivating impression.
A great advantage of the Riffelsee is that it is located in the immediate vicinity of the Rotenboden railroad station of the Gornergratbahn. Moreover, hiking trails lead from various directions to this small mountain lake.
An easy hike that can be tackled without much high mountain experience is the trail from the station "Rotenboden" to the Riffelsee and on to the Gornergratbahn station "Riffelberg".
If you have ever drunk a "Quöllfrisch Bier", you should already be familiar with Seealpsee. He landed the job of modeling this popular Appenzeller beer throughout Switzerland and has been gracing its label for years. Should you hear about this lake for the first time today, here comes a short introduction to my "house lake"
As an Appenzeller, there is hardly a mountain lake that I have visited more often than Seealpsee.
As one of the three mountain lakes in the Alpstein mountains of eastern Switzerland, it is the one that is most easily accessible. With some muscle strength in the thighs and a one-hour walk, you can easily make the hike from Wasserauen to Seealpsee. Seealpsee gained a significant boost in popularity when the nearby Äscher mountain restaurant appeared on Ashton Kutcher's Instagram profile and the cover of National Geographic.
Since Seealpsee is visible from Äscher and is on the way from Wasserauen to Ebenalp, it is simply overcrowded, especially in summer and on sunny weekends. To put it mildly
But its attraction does not come by chance. The crystal-clear water, in which you can easily see the bottom and watch the trout going about their daily lives, is a feast for the eyes, and when the surrounding mountains are reflected on the surface of the water, you may well forget about life around you for quite some time.
For a cooling down after the exhausting ascent, the Seealpsee is always there.
My favorite place for a photo, which incidentally is also enthroned on the Quöllfrisch bottle, is the shore at the Bruderklausenkappele near the Forelle restaurant.
Two mountain ranges away from Seealpsee lies the elongated, slightly pinched Fälensee, which at first glance looks like a Norwegian fjord. At one end is the mountain restaurant Bollenwees, while at the other end is the idyllic, simple and authentic Fälenalp with its goats, pigs and cows
What I love about Fälensee is its remoteness. Since its visit requires a bit more muscle power than the Seealpsee, it is usually a bit less frequented. Moreover, with its steeply sloping shores, it is not as inviting to swim and linger as its lower-lying colleague, which keeps the crowds at a lower level
In terms of photogenicity, however, it is in no way inferior to the Seealpsee. Depending on the weather constellation, the Fälensee sometimes resembles a Scottish loch and it is worth taking a hike in this direction even if the sky is not bright blue.
You can find overnight accommodations in the immediate vicinity of the lake on the one hand in Bollenwees - with good infrastructure and a certain degree of comfort - and on the other hand in Fälenalp. If you have always wanted to sleep in a stable above the cows and do without warm water and a "normal" toilet, you are in the right place here
If there's one place where you don't expect to find a crystal-clear mountain lake, it's along the Albula Pass road. I certainly felt that way when I rode my bike from Engadin over the Albula to Bergün. The Lai da Palpuogna, as it is called in Rhaeto-Romanic, is located above Preda in the canton of Grisons.
It is located right next to the pass road on the way from German-speaking Switzerland to the Engadine and is therefore a very popular stopover for all vacationers who are on their way to the summer vacations. But also all curve-addicted cyclists and motorcyclists who make a trip over the Albula Pass will find here an ideal place for a break.
Lai da Palpuogna is also easily accessible by train via Preda station and a subsequent walk along the road.
Unfortunately, you are not allowed to swim in this blue-green natural paradise, as it is used as a reservoir by the Bergün power plant. However, it is perfectly suitable for a leisurely picnic, a few charming photos and a short walk through the larch forest.
Let's stay for a moment in the canton of Grisons and its small, turquoise-blue mountain lakes. Lake Cauma is not far from the Rhine Gorge, also known as the "Swiss Grand Canyon". The lake is surrounded by a fir forest and even has a small rocky island in the middle. You can walk around it in about an hour.
Lake Cauma is an extremely popular bathing lake, which attracts numerous bathers in the summer months, not only because of its Caribbean-like water. Although it lies almost 1,000 meters above sea level, the water is between 19 and 24 degrees warm in summer, which is quite warm for a mountain lake at this altitude.
Between June and September the lido is open, for which an entrance fee of 12.- CHF is charged
For this rather high price you can use the changing rooms, showers, toilets, the raft in the lake and the children's playground.
However, Lake Cauma is not alone in this region with its beauty, attraction and clear water
Not far from Lake Cauma is half the size of Lake Cresta. This candidate is also an extremely popular destination for swimmers, bikers, hikers, picnickers and photographers
In summer, Lake Cresta is accessible via the natural swimming pool, which charges an entrance fee of CHF 7. Included in this price is the use of showers, changing rooms, toilets and various catering facilities
Since Lake Cauma and Lake Cresta are so close to each other, it makes sense to combine the two mountain lakes in one hike.
Very popular is the Four Lakes Hike, a circular hike starting and ending in Flims, which includes a stop at both lakes.
Time for a trip to the canton of Bern. Or rather, to the fascinating and ice-cold Lake Oeschinen.
With an area of over 1 km², Lake Oeschinen is one of the largest and most photographed mountain lakes in Switzerland. Surrounded on all sides by mountains and Alps, it is a hot destination especially in summer.
Since 2007 Lake Oeschinen is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Swiss Alps Jungfrau Aletsch". In winter, the water surface partially freezes over completely, which even allows ice skating on the lake
Lake Oeschinen is fed by surrounding glaciers and mountain streams, which makes it an extremely refreshing swimming experience even in high summer. So if you're in desperate need of cooling down after your hike, this temperature shock will seal your sweat glands right back up
The shore of the Oeschinensee is very steeply sloping and depending on the water level better or less walkable. You can't walk all the way around the lake, but there is a nice walk I can recommend. Follow the north shore as far as you can and try to reach the waterfalls at the end of the lake. There you usually have more peace and quiet than on the front shore, where the two restaurants are located and it can sometimes get very crowded.
Since even the most embellished prose poems can't come close to describing how beautiful Lake Oeschinen is, I'll turn the floor over to a selection of my vacation photos from Lockdown Summer 2020.
You can reach the lake either on foot or by gondola from Kandersteg.
If you're looking for a little more excitement in addition to a photo marathon, you can have a blast on the toboggan run.
Another lake with remarkable notoriety is Blue Lake. As the name suggests, this lake is known for its clear, deep blue water. It is located in the same region as Lake Oeschinen, but is in no way comparable to it.
First of all, it is much smaller - only about 100 m long - and trumps with one feature in particular
As an exceptionally popular photo subject, the blue lake makes it onto countless calendar pictures, postcards and Instagram posts. This is not least because of the idyllic surroundings and the deep blue water, where you can even see the fish in great detail. The glass-bottom boat is another highlight that very few people want to miss.
However, if you are looking for a secluded, quiet place and want to enjoy the mountain air all to yourself, you are at the wrong address at Blausee. It is easily accessible by car in Kandergrund not far from the main road and is visited daily by several tour buses.
In addition, you have to pay between 8.- CHF and 10.- CHF entrance fee for the small nature park to which the Blausee belongs. This fact is rather untypical for Swiss conditions and the whole infrastructure, which of course you can't see on the beautiful photos, can have a deterrent effect
However, if you are in the area and want to take a walk along the forest paths around Blausee, it is definitely worth a visit. Just don't expect a mountain lake that you can only reach with hiking boots and combine with a day hike in the Alps.
Ah, Lake Lauenen. A classic that achieved its high degree of fame through a schmaltzy song by the Swiss band "Span". By the way, you can find the lyrics to this song on a plaque on the shore of the lake
Melancholy is preprogrammed in this case.
Right next to the actual Lake Lauenen is the small Lake Lauenen, which is separated from its big brother by a few meters of marshy land
Lake Lauenen is on average one meter deep, is located in a marshland near Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland and warms up very quickly due to its shallow depth. Swimming is possible here. The best way to do this is to use the boardwalk so you don't get stuck in the swamp before you even reach the water.
You can walk around the lake in about an hour, and there are several hiking trails that pass by this pretty body of water. During the summer months you can take the Postauto from Gstaad.
Or you can come with your own car and park it in one of the paid parking lots during your excursion.
The list of Swiss mountain lakes is also far from exhaustive, which is why I refer you once again to the Schweizersee Website for further lists and information. Finally, it is high time that we dedicate ourselves to some important Swiss rivers.
Not surprisingly, the rivers in Switzerland are also numerous. After all, all the lakes have to be connected somehow. The following enumeration concentrates on the longest and thus best known rivers, although the list is not complete here either
The Swiss River website offers you more Swiss rivers with detailed descriptions, should you be a little river fanatic. Otherwise, we start here with the river that covers the most kilometers within the country's borders.
With a total length of over 1,200 km, the Rhine is the tenth longest river in Europe. Of this, 392 km are in Switzerland. The Rhine has its headwaters in the canton of Graubünden, although Lake Toma is often referred to as its source
From there it embarks on a journey through the Rhine Valley of St. Gallen, crosses Lake Constance, plunges down the cliffs of the Rhine Falls, and continues its course toward Schaffhausen before finally meandering along the national border with Germany and leaving Switzerland in Basel for its final destination, the North Sea.
Interesting places to visit along the Rhine are several
On the one hand, there is the impressive Rhine Gorge, also known as the "Swiss Grand Canyon," which lies not far from the two mountain lakes of Crestasee and Caumasee. This impressive gorge is 14 km long and the rock walls rise up to 350 m into the air. You can experience the Rhine Gorge either on foot, by bike or bicycle or by rafting boat.
A second highlight that the Rhine passes between Lake Toma and Basel is the Rhine Falls, which I will discuss in more detail in the next part.
Also to be mentioned here is the boat trip between Stein am Rhein and Schaffhausen. This idyllic trip takes place daily from May to September and connects two beautiful, historic towns. The trip takes a little more than an hour and can be supplemented to a round trip back to the starting point.
A favorite pastime of Mr. and Mrs. Swiss is the leisurely "going with the flow", also known as "Böötle". You grab an inflatable watercraft such as a unicorn, a rubber boat, a flamingo or an air mattress, go into a river and let yourself drift down with the mass.
This activity is possible on pretty much any river and in the Rhine there are various places suitable for this. Really famous for its "Böötle" escapades, however, is another river..
There is probably no river that attracts more people - respectively inflatable flamingos and unicorns - than the Aare between Thun and Bern. You can find detailed descriptions in this article, which was published in our Swiss Activities Blog.
But always nice one after the other.
The Aare is with a length of 314 km the longest river completely lying in Switzerland. Its source is at the Unteraar glacier in the Grimsel region, which lies on the border between the cantons of Bern and Valais. It then makes its way through the Aare Gorge, flows through Lake Brienz and, after a short stretch in Interlaken, spends a moment in Lake Thun before flowing on to Bern
From Bern, the Aare flows to Lake Biel, pays a visit to Solothurn - the most beautiful baroque city in Switzerland - and finally passes through the city of Aarau before finally flowing into the Rhine at Koblenz.
What a journey
To list all the places worth seeing along the way would once again go beyond the scope of this article. And since it's actually very beautiful everywhere along the Aare, it doesn't even matter much where you pay it a visit.
But very impressive is the Aareschlucht, which is located behind Meiringen. This 1.4 km long and up to 200 m deep gorge is accessible by a wooden footbridge and can be visited in a half-day trip from Interlaken or Brienz. For example, in combination with a boat trip on Lake Brienz and a short detour at the Giessbach Falls?
Between Solothurn and Biel, passenger ships travel on the Aare three times a day between May and October. A trip that will certainly not be boring with the crossing of a lock at Port before Biel and a visit to the stork station in Altreu.
The Rhone is the most important river in western Switzerland and has its origin in the Gotthard massif in the canton of Valais. Over a length of 264 km, it meanders through the Rhone Valley in Valais before flowing into Lake Geneva at Les Grangettes - a nature reserve near the Château de Chillon
In Geneva, it leaves the lake again and continues its journey through Switzerland before flowing off after a short stretch to France in the direction of the Mediterranean.
Unfortunately, no boat trips can be taken on this river. At least not in Switzerland. There are several river cruises on the Rhone, but they all take place in France. Then perhaps rather comfortably on a rubber boat drift with the current, or?
The fourth longest river in Switzerland is the Reuss. With a length of 166 km between the Gotthard massif and the Aare in the canton of Aargau, the Reuss also lies entirely on Swiss soil.
Compared to other rivers, such as the Rhine or the Aare, the Reuss takes a rather direct route from its source to the north
After a short detour in Flüelen - the transfer point of the Gotthard Panorama Express - it flows into Lake Lucerne, which it leaves again in Lucerne. It then passes under the famous Chapel Bridge, pays a visit to the pretty Aargau town of Bremgarten and makes its way to the so-called moated castle, the point in the canton of Aargau where the Aare and the Reuss flow into the Rhine.
You already guessed it. On the Reuss, too, the "Böötle" is a common pastime. Best suited is the 24 km long section between Bremgarten and Gebensdorf. However, there are additional stretches that are explained to you in more detail here.
Unfortunately, there are no scheduled boats on the Reuss. So you have no choice but to explore this river by bike, on foot, by unicorn or armed with a bathing suit.
Just as the Aare is responsible for the naming of the canton of Aargau, the canton of Thurgau owes its name to the Thur. It has its origin at the Säntis, the highest mountain of the Alpstein range. During its 135 km long journey it first flows through Toggenburg, makes a curve around the small town of Wil and passes in the canton of Thurgau several alluvial forests, cultivated landscapes with fruit and wine growing and pretty villages with their traditional and typical timber-framed buildings
After Frauenfeld, the capital of the canton of Thurgau, it is another 25 km before the Thur flows into the Rhine in the Zürcher Weinland. Thus, the Thur is the third river in our enumeration that lies 100% in Switzerland.
The flat banks with partly long stone and sand banks are very popular for swimming trips. Thanks to the many fireplaces, it also always attracts hungry mouths that prepare their sausage or snake bread over the fire and spend several hours on the Thur.
On its last stretch to the mouth of the Rhine, the Thur is a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts, who travel with inflatable boats and canoes. But also by bike or on foot the beautiful area around the river can be explored perfectly
There is even the Thurweg, which follows the course of the river from Wildhaus to the mouth into the Rhine. So if you want to explore the Thur in more depth and have a few days at your disposal, you might be interested in this hike
There is another canton that owes its name to a body of water. The warm and sunny south of Switzerland is called "Ticino", or in Italian "Ticino", because of the 248 km long river
The Ticino has its origin in the Gotthard massif at an altitude of 2,545 meters above sea level and then flows for 91 km through Switzerland before leaving the country in Lake Maggiore. The Ticino has its final destination about 40 km south of Milan, where it flows into the Po
On its journey from the Alps to Lake Maggiore, the Ticino passes by various sights. On the one hand, there is the Romanesque church of San Nicolao in Giornico, and on the other, the three castles of Bellinzona, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After Bellinzona, the Ticino flows through the fertile Magadino plain. Here the river is particularly calm and is perfect for a leisurely "Böötle" tour
Finally, inflatable unicorns and flamingos are also among the native animals in the canton of Ticino.
There are countless hiking trails along the Ticino. On the one hand, the Ticino connecting path to the Way of St. James runs above the river. But also directly on the Ticino you will find various hiking and biking trails.
In the Magadino plain, these are much flatter, while further up you can expect steeper sections.
Since we are already in Ticino, we will stay here for the moment
In terms of length, the Maggia with its 58 km is quite a bit less impressive than some of the other candidates on this list. But since most Swiss children have plunged death-defyingly from the high stone cliffs into the ice-cold Maggia one or the other time during their summer vacations and have shown off their daredevil stunts at school afterwards - present ones included - it has to be mentioned here.
The canton of Ticino is a very popular vacation destination for the Swiss population, so it is hardly surprising that the beautiful, turquoise-blue and crystal-clear river is more than well visited during the summer months
Adventurers as well as lazy people will find exactly what they are looking for in the Maggia Valley. The rock formations warmed by the sun are perfect to spread out your beach towel and spend a day reading, picnicking and resting
At the same time, you can swim in the Maggia in many places, although a little caution won't hurt. I wouldn't recommend you to jump into the river at the rapid places or in the middle of many stones. Leave these sections to the rafters and canoeists and look for a quieter place
By the way, you can hike on the Maggia longer than you have time. The hiking trails are numerous and photo opportunities will be countless.
To be on the safe side, I have to add something here. The Maggia rises in the mountains and covers quite a lot of altitude over a comparatively short distance. This means that when it rains in the Alps, a lot of water can accumulate very quickly and rush down into the valley
Tragically, it happens again and again that people are near the Maggia or even in the river when the water suddenly increases in mass and speed within a very short time. Therefore, I advise you to take a look at the weather forecast to be on the safe side before you head towards the Maggia. Even if the sky in Ticino is bright blue and you don't see a cloud in the sky, it can rain in the Alps.
For the time being, the last river I will introduce to you today is the Inn. It is over 500 km long, of which only the first 105 km are in Switzerland. The headwaters of the Inn are in the Upper Engadine and before it flows through the Engadine towards Austria and Germany, it crosses several lakes. The three best known are the Silsersee, the Silvaplanersee and the St. Moritzersee.
For adrenaline junkies, there are also various opportunities for river rafting and canoeing. For the less adventurous, its shores are perfect for building stone towers, picnicking, hiking and cycling. By the way, the Way of St. James also passes by here, which you can follow for a few kilometers.
Due to the high altitude of the Engadine, the area tends to be colder than the rest of Switzerland, which is why the Inn cannot boast warm bathing water.
Not even in summer.
And thus we would have completed the round of introductions of some important and well-known Swiss rivers. Now let's move on to the next topic: the falling rivers - also known as "waterfalls".
With its many steeply sloping rock faces and countless mountain streams, Switzerland is predestined for a multitude of waterfalls. If your hike in the Alps takes you to a stream, chances are that sooner or later you will come into contact with a waterfall.
To see a spectacular waterfall, however, it is not even mandatory to go to higher altitudes. Even in the flat, lower lying midlands you can find various waterfalls. One of them has even made it to the top of the largest waterfalls in Europe.
The Rhine, which you have already met, has two superlatives to offer. Not only is it the longest river in Switzerland, it is also home to the largest waterfall in Europe
The Rhine Falls has a width of 150 m and is 23 m deep. In summer, it transports a full 600,000 liters of water per second, which is the equivalent of over 3,300 bathtubs. Not bad for a waterfall that suddenly emerges from an innocent and calmly drifting river, right?
The Rhine Falls are world famous and tourists from all over the world flock to Neuhausen year in, year out to get a closer look at the thundering waters. Access to the Rhine Falls on the north bank is free of charge, while a visit to the south bank with Schloss Laufen costs CHF 5
It is also possible to experience the waterfall in close proximity on a boat. However, do not expect to survive this round trip in dry condition.
A large number of well-known and often visited waterfalls are located in the canton of Bern
The Trümmelbach Falls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, which is not called the "Valley of 72 Waterfalls" for nothing, is one of them. These are the only glacier waterfalls in the world that are accessible underground. They are accessible through galleries, tunnels, various paths and platforms
Most of the access takes place underground, i.e. in the rock. Due to the humidity of the glacier stream, it is sometimes very slippery on the paths and even in summer it gets rather cold in certain places. I therefore recommend that you leave your flip-flops in the valley for this visit and also take a warm sweater with you
Thus, you can safely enjoy the other tourists who are struggling up the wet paths freezing with their unsuitable footwear.
To visit the Trümmelbach Falls you need a ticket, which you can buy at the entrance for 12 CHF. Access is not possible all year round and depends on weather conditions. The season usually lasts from April to November. However, this can vary, so it is best to check the exact opening hours before your visit
Otherwise, dress warmly, keep your camera handy and listen to the roar of the impressive Trümmelbach Falls.
Chances are you've seen the Staubbachfall before. It graces the cover of the Lonely Planet travel guide to Switzerland and is part of the typical photo that pretty much every tourist takes in Lauterbrunnen
However, its attraction has not just been around since yesterday. Goethe supposedly found inspiration for his work "Gesang der Geister über den Wassern" in the waterfall. Its name, by the way, comes from the fact that its water partially "atomizes" in all directions in the summer winds
With a drop of almost 300 m, the Staubbach Falls is the third highest waterfall in Switzerland. It is accessible via a gallery, which is open from May to October. You can reach it via a path that starts at the foot of the waterfall. You can also observe the Staubbach Falls during the gondola ride from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp.
Another natural spectacle in the Lauterbrunnen Valley is the Mürrenbach Falls. It is located more or less opposite the Trümmelbach Falls and, at 417 m, is the highest single waterfall in Switzerland. It is well visible during a gondola ride from Lengwald to Mürren or from the Lauterbrunnen valley
The foot of the waterfall can also be reached on foot and there are various hikes that lead past the Mürrenbach Falls.
You can find a possible route here.
No entrance fee and accessible all year round are the beautiful Giessbach Falls on Lake Brienz. In 14 steps, you plunge down the rock face for a total length of over 500 m, ending just behind the majestic Grandhotel Giessbach.
You will be amazed at how close you get to the roaring water. A short walk from the Giessbach Hotel, the hiking trail passes directly behind the waterfall, giving you an impressive view of the Grandhotel and the Brienzersee landscape beyond
Here, too, you definitely won't stay dry. Especially if you are so fascinated by the impressive soundscape that you don't want to come out from behind the wet curtain right away
Everything has its price 😉
The best way to reach Giessbach Falls is to take a boat from Interlaken or Brienz. Afterwards, a hiking trail leads from the lakeside up to the falls. It is also possible to take the funicular up to the Grandhotel and walk the short distance
In addition, there are various hikes that lead past the Giessbach Falls, such as the one from Iseltwalt: along the lake and finally up to the Giessbach Falls.
At the very back of the Simmental, which is also in the Bernese Oberland, the Simmen Falls make their way down into the valley. They get their cold and clear mountain water from the glaciers above. The area is therefore more suitable as a place to linger, take photos and admire than to take a bath.
The Simmen Falls are accessible all year round and there is no entrance fee. Moreover, they are easily accessible by post bus via the bus stop "Simmenfälle".
It may seem unfair, but this waterfall is also found in the canton of Bern. To be precise, in the Haslital, not far from the Aareschlucht..
You may have already made the acquaintance with the Reichenbachfall. This is where Sir Arthur Conan Dolye had his character Sherlock Holmes fake his death during the fight with Jim Moriarty
Due to this tragic and nerve-wracking movie scene, the Reichenbach Falls immediately gained the world fame it still enjoys today. If you are a die-hard Sherlock fan, a visit to the Haslital is practically a must.
You can get to the Reichnbach Falls either by train or on foot. Since the waterfall has hardly any water in winter, a visit is rather recommended during the operating times of the railroad - between May and October.
Finally, we leave the Bernese Oberland, which is spoiled by waterfalls, and head for other parts of Switzerland for the last two candidates.
Ticino is also rich in waterfalls, with a particularly spectacular one located in Foroglio in the upper Maggia Valley. The waterfall at Foroglio reaches a height of around 110 m and is extremely photogenic, not least because of its proximity to the cute stone houses of this mountain village
However, this corner of Switzerland is not easy to reach. Between April and December there are five daily post bus connections from Locarno via Bignasco to Fornoglio, which requires some planning. In this case, you are certainly better off with a car to get to what feels like the furthest corner of Ticino
Last but not least, we come to a waterfall with a somewhat more special name - the Berglistübler. It is located in the rear Glarnertal, a true water castle. Due to the countless steep rock faces, streams can always be seen cascading down the mountains.
One of these is the Berglistüber, which is only a five-minute walk from the former Bergli restaurant on the Klausenpass road. Or rather "falls". It can be reached either by car or by post bus, whereby you have to get off at the stop "Linthal, Bergli"
This waterfall is rather a welcome stopover on the way over the Klausen pass than an actual excursion destination. However, a hiking trail leads from Linthal past the Berglistüber. However, it can happen that the footpath to the waterfall is closed due to logging.
The best way to find out in advance if the waterfall is accessible is to check the trail map below
If you would consider yourself a waterfall junkie, I can recommend this website for further information and listings of additional Swiss waterfalls
Otherwise, you now know the most important waters of Switzerland, which leaves only a short digression into the world of Swiss fountains. Because Swiss waters are not only ideal for nature, sports and photography enthusiasts, but also offer something for your thirsty throat.
Something I always appreciate anew after every trip abroad back in Switzerland is the endless availability of drinking water. Whether at the train station, in the city, in a small village somewhere in the middle of nowhere or on a hike - the next fountain with drinking water is rarely far away
There is even an interactive map where a variety of drinking water sources can be found. Of course, not every well is listed, but you get a rough overview of the Swiss well landscape
In general, if you don't find a sign with "no drinking water" at fountains in Switzerland, you may assume that you can fill up your water bottle with it
A little more caution is required in mountainous areas, however, where the water can sometimes be contaminated by the surrounding animal pastures. If you want to be sure that you won't catch anything, it's best to fill your bottle at an alpine hut and not directly in the middle of a cow pasture.
In many cities, the fountains, some of which are pompous and adorned with statues, are really celebrated and publicized on various websites. Lucerne, for example, has created a fountain guide including an interactive map, and Zurich makes no secret of its more than 1,200 fountains
So you see, Switzerland lives up to its reputation as the water castle of Europe. If you discover a body of water on your trip that I haven't mentioned here, I'd love for you to share your achievement with us in the comments
Otherwise, I wish you a lot of fun with the many Swiss waters.