Switzerland is aptly called a water castle because it is home to as many as 7,000 lakes. Aside from the lakes, it also has rivers and streams, with waters flowing to various different places in Europe and ending in the seas. There are many beautiful lakes in Switzerland. In this article, we explore each of the beautiful lakes near Geneva to help you decide where to go.
The largest lakes in Switzerland are Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French), Lake Constance (Bodensee in German), Lake Neuchâtel (Lac de Neuchâtel in French, Neuenburgersee in German), Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore in Italian), and Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee in German).
Although the largest lakes in Switzerland are the most popular ones, there are some smaller ones that are as beautiful.
12 Most Beautiful Lakes Near Geneva
Choosing the most beautiful one is definitely difficult, as there are more than thousands to choose from. For the purposes of this article, we will cover the most beautiful lakes near Geneva that you can visit. These are pretty lakes that you can visit for a day trip if you are based in Geneva.
1. Lake Geneva
The city of Geneva is located on the shore of Lake Geneva. Lake Geneva is a crescent-shaped lake formed from the Rhone River and shared between Switzerland and Geneva. At its eastern end, the Rhone flows into the lake between Villeneuve and Le Bouveret. It empties into Geneva in the west. On the southern shore of Lake Geneva are the Chablais Alps, on the western side the Swiss Jura, and on the eastern side the Bernese Alps.
Lake Geneva is a wonderful destination to visit or stay in while in Geneva. The lake’s pristine waters are bordered by several beautiful beaches, providing the perfect place to relax on a warm and sunny day. As you take in the stunning scenery, you can enjoy the sight of rolling hills and forests, as well as the breathtaking Alps in the distance.
The area surrounding the lake is also dotted with picturesque towns and villages, such as Montreux, Vevey, Lausanne, and Nyon. Among the lake’s many attractions are the Lavaux Wine Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is well worth a visit.
You can easily explore the region by boat or train, taking in the sights and sounds of the lake and its environs. If you’re looking for something more relaxing, you can indulge in one of the area’s many world-class spas and wellness centers instead of taking a swim in the lake.
Whatever your interests, Lake Geneva is an exceptional destination that offers something for everyone.
If you would like to read more about Lake Geneva, you can check out our article 8 Best Places on Lake Geneva.
2. Lac de Joux
Lac de Joux, located in the Joux Valley of the Jura Mountains in Switzerland’s Vaud region, is a stunning lake that is only around 70 kilometers away from Geneva and can be reached by car in slightly more than an hour. Surrounded by mountains and alpine forests, Lac de Joux forms part of an idyllic setting in Vallee de Joux, Switzerland. The lake has an area of 8.77 km2 and is located 1,004 meters above sea level. Lac de Joux is home to the largest expanse of water in this region, providing great opportunities for outdoor activities like swimming, sailing, or windsurfing.
Lac de Joux is located in the Jura region of Switzerland, close to Geneva, and is surrounded by the mountains of Dent de Vaulion, Mont Tendre, and Mont Risoux (France). This wooded chain forms part of the larger Jura Mountains, one of Switzerland’s most prominent mountain ranges. It provides stunning views across its crystal-clear waters. This makes it an excellent destination for outdoor activities such as swimming, sailing, mountain biking, or even just taking in the views.
In winter, Lac de Joux transforms into Europe’s largest natural outdoor ice-skating rink, making it perfect for a range of winter activities. The average temperature remains below freezing point during cold winters, making it an ideal destination for ice-skating enthusiasts. Visitors can also enjoy other outdoor activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or even ice fishing.
Nature lovers flock to Lac de Joux because of its untouched beauty and abundance of wildlife. There are a number of popular spots along the lake such as villages like Le Pont and L’Abbaye, and beaches like Le Rocheray in Le Sentier. Whatever the season, Lac de Joux is a must-visit destination near Geneva that offers something for everyone.
3. Lake Neuchâtel (Lac de Neuchâtel)
Lake Neuchâtel is one of the largest lakes in Switzerland, situated near Geneva. It’s a perfect destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway. For instance, if you want to visit the nearest beach, Yverdon-les-Bains is just an hour away from Geneva, and it’s well worth the visit. The Plage d’Yverdon-les-Bains is a sandy beach with beautiful lawns, ample shade, a restaurant, and parking nearby. During summer, expect the beach to be packed with tourists, but it’s still an excellent spot for relaxation and enjoyment. In addition, you can stroll around the Parc des Rives du Lac, which is adjacent to the beach and provides excellent views of the lake.
Lake Neuchatel is dotted with several other beautiful beaches where you can swim, sunbathe or just relax by the water. Moreover, taking a boat tour of Lake Neuchâtel is a perfect way to enjoy the stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. There is a steamboat that runs on Lake Neuchâtel, which adds to the charm of the experience.
Apart from the beaches and the boat tours, there are many other places worth visiting around Lake Neuchâtel. Estavayer-le-Lac, a medieval town with a stunning castle, is a must-visit spot. Neuchâtel, another picturesque town on the lake, is known for its museums, art galleries, and watchmaking heritage. Grandson, a small village located on the lake, has a beautiful castle with a rich history, and Valangin is famous for its wine and vineyards. With so many attractions and activities, Lake Neuchâtel is an ideal destination for anyone looking for a serene and peaceful getaway.
4. Saint-Léonard Underground Lake (Lac Souterrain de St-Léonard)
If you’re looking for a unique experience within a reasonable distance from Geneva, then you should definitely check out Europe’s largest underground lake in Saint-Léonard. It is a municipality in Sierre, Valais, Switzerland, and less than 2 hours away. This underground lake, also known as Lac Souterrain de St-Léonard, is accessible through a 30-minute boat ride inside a cave. You are not allowed to swim in it.
Located beneath the vineyards of Saint-Léonard, the underground lake is situated on the left side of the Lienne and the right side of the Rhône, in an area mainly used for agriculture. The yellow and blue lights illuminating the lake create a remarkable atmosphere, making it an excellent tourist attraction in the canton of Valais.
Visiting this underground lake is a great day trip from Geneva and a unique experience compared to other lakes in the area. It’s also easily accessible by public transport, and boat rides can be booked in advance online. While it may not be a beach or a typical lake, it’s certainly worth the visit for its one-of-a-kind beauty and novelty.
If you would like to read more about Lac Souterrain de St-Léonard, you can check out this article – Europe’s Largest Underground Lake Under A Cave In St-Leonard.
5. Lake Champex (Lac de Champex)
Located in the charming village of Champex, Lac de Champex is a Swiss gem that offers visitors plenty of activities regardless of their age or group size. It is less than a two-hour drive from Geneva making it a perfect day trip for anyone looking for a smaller lake that seems like it was plucked out of a fairytale.
Nestled in the canton of Valais, the stunning Lake Champex is a true gem of the area. The crystal-clear waters of the lake reflect the surrounding mountains, creating a sight that should not be missed. The village’s nickname “Switzerland’s little Canada” is fitting due to its vast forests, lake, and traditional wooden chalets, adding to its charm and appeal.
For visitors to Lac de Champex, exploring the area’s natural beauty is a must. The magnificent Alpine lake surrounding the village is just the start. From there, visitors can embark on various hikes in the mountains and enjoy the stunning Alpine scenery that characterizes the region. If you prefer water activities, you can rent a SUP or a canoe and even take a swim in the refreshing waters.
Overall, Lac de Champex is a very pretty place, well-preserved, like a little jewel set in the center of a setting of mountains of great beauty. If you want to visit other villages, Verbier is nearby and can easily be combined with a visit to Lac de Champex. With its gorgeous lake, stunning scenery, and endless outdoor activities, it’s no wonder that the village of Champex is a popular destination for visitors to the French-speaking part of Switzerland.
6. Lake Mauvoisin (Lac de Mauvoisin)
Nestled in the Upper Valais region of Switzerland, Lake Mauvoisin is a stunning place to visit. Situated near the renowned ski resort of Verbier, this destination offers not just natural beauty but is also an engineering marvel. If you’re looking for an alternative to the Grand Dixence Dam, you can combine a visit to this stunning lake with a tour of the charming village of Verbier.
The Mauvoisin Lake and Dam form a breathtaking sight in the Swiss Alps, and it is fed by glacier meltwater from the Giétro Glacier. This 4 km long valley glacier is located in southwestern Switzerland, and the water it generates ends in Lake Mauvoisin before reaching the Dranse de Bagnes, a tributary of the Rhone.
Although built to provide water for hydroelectric power plants, the beauty of Mauvoisin Dam and Lake is undeniable. From its turquoise waters to its stunning views of Switzerland, this lake is simply spectacular.
With its stunning views and impressive structure, Lake Mauvoisin is a must-visit for anyone exploring the region near Geneva. It will take you around 2 hours by car to get there. Whether you’re a nature lover or simply appreciate beautiful engineering, this destination is sure to leave you in awe.
7. Lake Thun (Thunersee)
Lake Thun, another stunning lake located near Geneva, is only about 198 kilometers away and can be reached in just 2 hours and 22 minutes by car. It is the largest lake in the Bernese Oberland and is definitely worth a visit. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Lake Thun is by boat.
Lake Thun is an alpine lake that is 17.5 kilometers long and 3.5 kilometers wide. Passenger boats in the Jungfrau Region make the rounds on both Lake Thun and Lake Brienz from April to October. Regular service makes it possible for guests to go to some other destinations along the lake by boat instead of just by land. The boats in Lake Thun depart from behind the Interlaken West train station.
All around the lake, you can enjoy the 360-degree panorama of the surrounding meadows, mountains, and castles in the region. In case you want to stop in one of the lakeside towns, you have several options. The stops include Hünibach, Hilterfingen, Oberhofen am Thunersee, Gunten, Spiez, Beatenbucht (St. Beatus Caves), and Interlaken West.
The nostalgic Steam Boat Blümlisalp is available once a day during summer from Thun to Interlaken and back. The tour takes 90 minutes and the journey provides amazing views of Hilterfingen – the Hünegg Park with Castle Hünegg Hilterfingen, Oberhofen, and its own castle, as well as Gunten with its wonderful panorama and crystal clear waters.
If cruising isn’t your thing, there are other activities on the lake such as swimming, sailing, and windsurfing.
If you would like to read more about Lake Thun, you can check out our article 8 Best Things to Do in Lake Thun, Switzerland.
8. Lake Brienz (Brienzersee)
Located a bit further away at 220 kilometers and more than a 2-hour drive from Geneva, Lake Brienz is another beautiful lake worth visiting for its turquoise waters just north of the Alps. This stunning lake is located in Canton Bern, Switzerland. It is fed by the river Aare and the stream Giessbach, which add to its serene beauty. Despite the distance, visitors to the lake will be rewarded with a breathtaking view and a sense of calm as they take in the natural splendor of the surrounding landscape.
The village of Brienz is also well worth visiting. It is at the foot of the Brienzer Rothorn mountain and quite near the Giessbach Waterfalls. Both Brienz and Giessbach are listed under the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. The alpine village of Axalp together with Lake Hinterburg is also worth visiting.
9. Lac des Dix
Would you like to visit a beautiful lake near Geneva and one of the world’s largest dams at the same time? Take a trip to Grand Dixence Dam – it’s only around 2 hours and 23 minutes away from Geneva by car.
Lac des Dix is the second-largest lake in Valais after Lake Geneva. It is the 29th-largest lake in Switzerland. Once the rain comes, it falls into the catchment area of the lake called Lac des Dix. Lac des Dix has a surface area of 4 km².
The water from 35 glaciers in and around Valais is collected up to the ends of Zermatt Valley. From there, 75 water intakes collect the water. Beneath the mountains, 100 kilometers of tunnels funnel this water into the Grande Dixence Dam. If the water source is lower than the height of the lake, water pumping stations propel the water upwards so that it gets collected and stored in Grande Dixence.
If you would like to learn more about Grand Dixence Dam, you can read our article Grande Dixence Dam in Switzerland.
10. Lake Lauenen (Lauenensee)
Lake Lauenen is a picturesque destination that is accessible from Geneva, with a car journey taking approximately 2.5 hours. Nestled in the heart of the Swiss Alps, this stunning lake is surrounded by lush greenery and mountain peaks, providing visitors with a serene and idyllic experience. The lake is located near the village of Lauenen in the Bernese Canton of Switzerland and offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, hiking, mountain biking, and picnicking.
Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the trail that circles the lake, or for a more exhilarating experience, they can explore the Wildhornhütte SAC Alpine Hut. The ascent to the hut involves a climb of approximately 1,120 meters and usually takes around 4 to 5 hours to complete.
Lake Lauenen is a must-visit destination for those who appreciate natural beauty and tranquil surroundings. It is often referred to as a natural power spot and provides a perfect escape to unwind, relax, and recharge one’s batteries. The lake’s crystal-clear water provides an ideal location for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. Visitors can also take in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests while enjoying a leisurely hike or mountain bike ride. The Tungelschuss waterfalls are located nearby, adding to the allure of the area.
Lake Lauenen is an alpine paradise that should be on everyone’s bucket list when visiting Switzerland. Its breathtaking natural beauty, crystal-clear water, and tranquil surroundings make it a perfect destination to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and forests while enjoying the fresh mountain air and pristine waters of the lake.
Accessing Lake Lauenen is also easy from the well-known mountain resort of Gstaad. Visitors can take a bus or drive along the winding roads that lead to the village. Once in Lauenen, there is a parking area just a short 10-minute walk from the lake. Visitors can enjoy a meal or a drink at the restaurant located along the shore, which is open from the end of May until the end of October.
With its stunning natural beauty, tranquil surroundings, and variety of activities, Lake Lauenen is a perfect destination for visitors looking to unwind and recharge in the heart of the Swiss Alps.
11. Blue Lake (Blausee)
Blausee is not exactly quite near Geneva, but it is nevertheless a worthwhile day trip. From Geneva to Blausee, it would take a 216-kilometer drive all the way to the Kander Valley. But I promise it is worth it.
Blausee is an incredibly beautiful lake located in the Kander Valley. It is 887 meters above sea level, has a maximum depth of 10.1 meters, and has an area of 0.64 hectares. It is said to have been created after a landslide from Fisistock. Huge ice slabs from the Kandersteg Glacier fell into the valley, and caused a lowering of land. After the ice melted, it created Blausee.
The beautiful blue color of the lake is said to come from a combination of light reflection, trees, and sky. This picturesque Blausee Lake amidst an enchanting forest is perfect for day trips. It is located in Bernese Oberland. Unlike other lakes in Switzerland, it is relatively small and has a tranquil and serene atmosphere. As it is open all year round to guests, it can be visited during any season of the year.
If you would like to know more about Blausee, visit our article Breathtaking Blausee Lake – A Day Trip In Kandergrund.
Unlike most other lakes in Switzerland, Blausee is privately held. You will need to pay an entrance fee to come inside. But I think that it is well worth visiting. It stands out for its unique character and stunning natural beauty, making it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to find a wonderful lake in Switzerland.
12. Lake Oeschinen (Oeschinensee)
Lake Oeschinen (or Oeschinensee in German) is a mesmerizing lake located in the Bernese Oberland near Kandersteg, in the Swiss Alps. You can reach this stunning location via a comfortable cable car ride or an easy walk along a smooth dirt road. Although it takes a bit longer to visit Oeschinensee from Geneva compared to other lakes on the list, as it takes around 2 hours and 44 minutes to get there, it is definitely worth the trip. The journey itself will be full of breathtaking views of the Swiss countryside, and once you arrive, the stunning natural beauty of the lake will take your breath away.
Whether you choose to take the gondola or stroll to the lake, you’re in for a treat as it boasts one of the most stunning backdrops in all of Switzerland, with mountains rising up all around. During the summer months, visitors can take part in a variety of activities such as fishing, swimming, and sailing on the lake. Additionally, there are plenty of hiking trails that crisscross the area, making it an ideal destination for anyone who loves nature and adventure.
If you’re looking for a place to swim or fish, Oeschinensee won’t disappoint. Swimming is permitted in the lake during the summer months, although the water can be chilly due to its high altitude and glacial source. Fishing is also allowed, provided you have a valid fishing permit. But even if you’re not interested in these activities, the lake is still a must-visit destination for hikers and photographers. The hike to the viewpoint takes a bit of effort, but it will be worth it when you reach the top and get an unparalleled view of this stunning lake. It’s one of the best viewpoints in Switzerland for sure.
Whether you’re traveling by cable car or on foot, Lake Oeschinen promises an unforgettable experience like no other. Its natural beauty is truly awe-inspiring and is a popular destination for people of all ages and groups of all sizes.
Final Thoughts: 12 Most Beautiful Lakes Near Geneva
Switzerland is home to many beautiful lakes near Geneva, each with its unique features and characteristics. For those who are looking for a perfect spot to relax and unwind, or to engage in water activities such as swimming, boating, kayaking, and fishing, the Swiss lakes offer a fantastic opportunity to do so. Additionally, these lakes provide a scenic landscape that is perfect for photography, wildlife viewing, or even learning about the local ecosystem, geography, and history.
For those who want to find beautiful lakes near Geneva to enjoy, be it for relaxation, scenic beauty, water activities, photography, refreshment, or wildlife viewing, we hope that you found one of the lakes listed above that you like so that you can come and visit it. Switzerland has many beautiful lakes near Geneva to choose from, ranging from larger ones with beaches to smaller mountain lakes that you can fish in or walk around. There is even an underground lake worth visiting close to Geneva. We highly recommend visiting any of the lakes listed above, and the choice is yours to make.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.