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How many lakes are there in Switzerland? (7,000) How many kilometers of rivers and streams? (67,321) How many glaciers does Switzerland have? (120)

Ticino and lake with boats
Ticino and lake with boats
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

When most people travel to Switzerland, they don't think of a water vacation. Yet these statistics provided by Alex Herrmann, director of Americas for Switzerland Tourism, prove that you can plan a trip to Switzerland to enjoy lakeside hotels, cruises, spas and water sports.

Lakeside hotels

Many Switzerland hotels are located beside lakes, such as Hotel Eden Roc, which overlooks Lake Maggiore in Ascona (Ticino). The largest lake in Western Europe, Lake Geneva, is also a beautiful location for luxury hotels, including Chateau d'Ouchy in Lausanne.

According to Alex Herrmann, 100% of Swiss cities are either on lakes or rivers, making them ideal for waterside holidays. Take Lucerne, for example. Lake Lucerne's paddlewheel steamers are among the most popular Swiss cruises.

Lucerne cruise

The new Panorama Yacht has a roof that opens so you can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while having a drink on the upper deck.

Bridges in Lucerne
Bridges in Lucerne
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Panorama Yacht offers one-hour cruises of Lake Lucerne. Audio guides, available in 11 different languages, provide information about the Lucerne attractions that passengers view along the coast.

Switzerland spa

Between the villages of Weggis and Vitznau on Lake Lucerne is Rigi Kaltbad, a mineral bath and spa, which opened in 2012. To get to the spa, you take the Mount Rigi cable car halfway up the mountain.

The Mt. Rigi region has been known for its healing waters since the 16th century. As a result, the Lucerne Riviera is the location of several spas and wellness baths.

Hotel Rigi Kaltbad has a direct connection to the mineral baths, so visitors can comfortably walk there wearing bathrobes. After bathing, they can enjoy beautiful views of Lake Lucerne.

Aerial view of Bern
Aerial view of Bern
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Bern Switzerland

In the Middle Ages, Bern was built into the arms of the Aare River so the river could protect the Swiss city from invading forces.

Nowadays, the residents of Bern swim in the Aare River. The water temperature ranges from 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.

The Aare is only about two meters deep around Bern. You can even stand in places.

After packing clothing in waterproof bags, swimmers walk along the river bank, jump in and float by the parliament buildings and other Bern attractions. How long does it take to swim with the current around the Old Town of Bern? It takes about 20 minutes, a distance of three to four kilometers.

Water fountains

Bern's water comes from springs. It is so clean you can drink it from the city's water fountains. The UNESCO World Heritage city has more than 100 fountains. Eleven date back to the Middle Ages (16th century).

The water fountains run year-round, although in winter, they may have icicles. If you visit the Bern Tourist Office, you can get a free water bottle for collecting drinking water from the fountains.

Swimming in the Rhine in Basel
Swimming in the Rhine in Basel
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

River swimming

Water is also very important to Basel, Switzerland. The Rhine River plays an important role in the daily lives of residents. Besides swimming in the Rhine, Basel residents like to relax and have drinks on the river banks.

Every summer, in late August, Basel hosts a Rhine Swim. Starting at Schaffhauserrheinweg 93, participants swim with the current around the center of the city to Johanniter Bridge.


The name Interlaken means "in between lakes." The Swiss town is located between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun.

Boats in Interlaken
Boats in Interlaken
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Tourist officials claim that active vacations in Interlaken include every outdoor activity that ends with "ing," including sky diving, paragliding, canyoning, bungee jumping, kayaking and river rafting. You can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and other equipment from the Water Sports Center in Neuhaus.

Water sports in Switzerland

Alex Herrmann notes that Switzerland is not just for skiers. In fact, for overseas visitors from Canada and the USA, summer is the most popular time to visit Switzerland.

Many Swiss hiking trails follow the water. For example, the Fish Trail, which begins at Hotel du Cerf in Soubey, follows the Doub River in the Lake Geneva Region.

Badrutt's Palace sailboat at Engadin, St. Moritz
Badrutt's Palace sailboat at Engadin, St. Moritz
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Water vacations in Switzerland include canoeing, kayaking and river rafting. The Rhine River offers whitewater rafting between Sousten and Sierre, and calmer river rafting from Sierre to Sion.

Sailing is a popular water activity on Switzerland's lakes, such as Lake Thun and Lake St. Moritz. In the Engadin St. Moritz region, you can sail from Badrutt's Palace Hotel.

Swiss Passes

The easiest way to travel between Switzerland's water activities and attractions is with Rail Europe's Swiss Pass. It provides unlimited transportation on the Swiss Travel System, including boats, postal buses and trains.


Switzerland Tourism: MySwitzerland.com

More things to see & do in Switzerland:

Valais Switzerland Battle of the Queens

Lake Geneva & Matterhorn Region Wine Tours

Alphorns - Alpine Music from Switzerland

Lake Geneva and Matterhorn Attractions