The region around Zurich offers breathtaking lakes, which are perfect for cooling down, especially in summer. But also in the other seasons spring, autumn and winter it is worth visiting the lakes. Because then they offer nice opportunities for walks and hikes. In this guide we show you the 21 most beautiful lakes near Zurich, all reachable in less than an hour from the center.
Zurich is surrounded by dreamy lakes
When you hear Zurich, you understandably usually think of the biggest city of Switzerland first. But the region around Zurich has also many breathtaking lakes to offer, some of which you might have never heard of and belong to the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland.
Whether it’s for a walk to unwind or for a cooling dip in the water in the summer, the lakes in the Zurich region and neighboring cantons are truly gorgeous. We should also appreciate that the water quality in Switzerland is very good. In most other countries, you would not be able to swim at all because of the pollution.
The lakes in the canton of Zurich were formed by the retreat of the Rhine glacier. Other lakes, such as Lake Hallwil or Lake Lucerne, were under the influence of the Rheuss glacier.
In this report, I present you my 22 most beautiful lakes in the Zurich region including many insider tips, what else you can do.
1. Bichelsee – a secret lake in the canton of Zurich
Lake Bichelsee is a dreamlike swimming lake on the border between the canton of Zurich and Thurgau and an absolute insider tip. The idyll and the charm of the lake make hearts beat faster. While the entrance to the Badi (=lido) costs 5 francs, the parking lot is free. Within the Badi there is a diving board and also a raft. In addition, a rowing boat can also be rented for the ultimate experience.
Furthermore, it is possible to walk around the Bichelsee, but due to the moorland you have direct lake access only at the Badi.
The lido is open all year round, from May to September there is swimming season and you have to pay admission. The deepest part of the lake is about 7 meters deep.
2. Lake Türler – the best-known smaller lake near Zurich
The Türlersee is probably the best-known smaller lake in the canton of Zurich. Surrounded by a nature reserve, the lake can be hiked around on the one hand. This takes about an hour on the 4-kilometer-long path (2.5 miles). Again and again, you have great views of the lake. There are also two possibilities to take a swim. On the one hand at the camping & lido, where there is as well a great entrance for stand-up paddles. You can park your car in the bathing area for a fee. Admission costs CHF 5 for an adult (as of 2022).
On the other hand, there is a free entrance at the place called «Hundewiese» where there are also much fewer people. Especially on hot summer days I would recommend this place as a secret tip.
By the way, from the Türlersee you can hike up to the Albispass and further into the Sihlwald, which is considered the primeval forest of Zurich.
3. Lake Egelsee
Above Dietikon in the nature reserve is a beautiful pond called Egelsee. Although the lake is already in the canton of Aargau, the journey from Zurich is easy and relatively fast.
In the 18th century, it is said that the lake has been formed due to a landslide during an earthquake. Today it is still fed only by the water from the slope. In addition, there are around 230 different plant species to be found in the nature reserve. This is because the meadows are managed in a plant-friendly way.
Around the Egelsee there are nine fireplaces and various benches. In addition, you can also swim in the lake, where there are several entry points. There are also a limited number of parking spaces in Bergdietikon. However, these are quickly occupied, especially on weekends. Therefore it is highly recommended to take public transport (bus).
4. Lake Zurich – the biggest lake in the Zurich region
Of course, Lake Zurich as the most famous lake in the Zurich region must not be missed. With a length of 42 kilometers, it is even one of the longest lakes in Switzerland. The depth of over 130 meters is also impressive.
Lake Zurich has so many swimming opportunities, restaurants to relax and enjoy, and hikes as well.
A great hike leads from Wädenswil to Richterswil. Here you walk over fantastic wooden bridges and also have a beautiful view of the Swiss Alps. There are also some free entrances.
Also the wooden bridge in Rapperswil, which by the way is the longest wooden bridge in Switzerland, leads over the Obersee, as part of Zürichsee.
And yes, if you like hiking, there are several fantastic viewpoints over Lake Zurich. One is on the Üetliberg, which you can reach comfortably in just 10 minutes from the train station. But how about the panoramic hike from Schindellegi to Etzel?
5. Lake Pfäffikersee – perfect lake for a circular hike
Another great lake is the Lake Pfäffikersee, which is the third largest lake in the canton of Zurich. In about two hours you can walk around the lake. Large parts of the waters or marshland are under nature protection. Especially in the meadows, deer can be observed with a little luck.
You will also find a ruin on the way around. In addition, the Pfäffikersee is well-catered for eating. Under no circumstances should you miss the Juckerhof. This is an experience farm, which has its own restaurant and farm store. In addition, a pumpkin festival takes place every year in autumn.
The good news: There are several bathing places at the Pfäffikersee. Below the Juckerhof there is a free swimming area (barbecue area on the lake). For an entrance fee you also have access at the lido Auslikon or Badi Seegräben.
As in most places in the canton of Zurich, the parking spaces are quickly sold out on hot summer days. This is especially true for the Juckerhof but also for the other places.
Just as beautiful as the Pfäffikersee is the Greifensee, which is the second largest lake in the canton of Zurich. Whether you go around the lake on roller skates or take a leisurely walk, the Greifensee is definitely a highlight.
In summer it is also possible to swim in the lake at certain places. On the one hand there are free bathing places, on the other hand there are 4 official bathing establishments where you have to pay an entrance fee (lido Egg, Niederuster, Maur and Furren).
If you want to find a great fireplace for BBQ, you will find it especially between Uster and Riedikon. Click here for the informative Greifensee map, where you can also discover nature reserves, parking areas, swimming spots and much more.
For nature lovers, by the way, the Nature Reservate Silberweide is a must. On a wooden walkway you can watch birds and other animals and learn a lot about the flora and fauna on its adventure trail.
7. Lake Hüttnersee
Above Wädenswil is the insider tip Hüttnersee, which is the sixth largest lake in the canton of Zurich in terms of area. In terms of beauty, however, it is one of my favorite lakes in the Zurich region, because it is nestled in a landscape as you know it from the picture book Switzerland.
A large part of the lake is a nature reserve, but there is a swimming pool, which entrance is free of charge, so is the parking. Likewise, in summer there is a restaurant with warm cuisine from 11.30 am.
If you want to make a dreamlike hike, you can walk from the Hüttnersee over the Gottschalkenberg to the Ägerisee.
8. Husemersee – the insider tip of the Zurich region
Probably the biggest insider tip regarding lakes in the Zurich region is the Husemersee, located near Ossingen. Since the lake is not directly accessible by car, I recommend a journey by train to Ossingen. From there you can reach it in about 30 minutes.
At the Husemersee, thanks to the nature reserve, you can observe various birds and rare plant species. There is also a place with an unattended free swimming pool and a fireplace on the western shore. Since this is a recreational area, air mattresses, etc. are prohibited.
Likewise, the Husemersee can be circumnavigated in about 45 minutes and is a great destination at any time of the year, even in winter (when there is no snow).
9. Lake Nussboumer, Lake Hasen & Lake Hüttwil – Lakes in the UNESCO World Heritage Site
Not far away from the Husemersee, but already in the canton of Thurgau, there are three dreamy lakes called Nussboumer-, Hasen- and Hüttwilersee. While at the Hüttwilersee you will find a manned lido (admission 4 CHF per adult), at the Nussboumersee there is an outdoor pool including fireplaces, which by the way is also considered an absolute insider tip near Zurich.
If you want, you can combine the three lakes with a beautiful hike. Also a castle ruin called Helfenberg can be found between Hasen- and Hüttwilersee.
The lakes are also protected because many rare plants and animals live here. Incidentally, man had long settled in the region, because researchers have found relics of pile dwellings. This is also the reason why the area is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In terms of area, the fifth largest lake in the Zurich region is the Katzensee (also Chatzen- or Büsisee) and very popular among visitors due to its ideal location. Parking spaces are quickly busy, especially in summer. Makes sense too, because the bathing area in the Chatzensee is free of charge. There is also a kiosk where the hungry and thirsty can get something to eat.
Since the Katzensee is so popular, I recommend a journey by public transport. From the bus stop Mühlacker you have only 5 minutes to the lake.
Due to the sediment input, Katzensee is slowly silting up, which also includes the neighboring lake “Büsisee”. However, this also creates valuable new habitat for rare animals and plants.
The Lützelsee is located in the Zurich Oberland and is perfect for a leisurely walk around the nature reserve. The circular walk takes about 1h 15 minutes.
In summer, you can also go to the Lützelsee lakeside swimming pool, which is open to the public. Adults pay an entrance fee of CHF 4.50 (as of 2022), parking is free.
The coming lakes are all outside the canton of Zurich. Due to their proximity by public transport or car, we still count them as part of the Zurich region, as they are all reachable in less than an hour.
12. Lake Zug – only 20 minutes away from Zurich
In only 20 minutes you can reach the city of Zug by train from Zurich main station. Thanks to the good location, you are also just a few minutes away from Lake Zug, where you can take leisurely walks or find various swimming opportunities.
But Lake Zug is huge and accordingly the possibilities seem almost unlimited.
A great insider tip is certainly the hike on the peninsula near Irmensee. On weekends there are also quite a few people, but mostly these are locals. In summer, there are also various great entrances for cooling off in the lake.
If you want to see the lake from above, go either to the Zugerberg, the Rigi or the Gnipen. Also a great tip with a free swimming area is Arth.
13. Lake Lauerz – only 40 minutes from Zurich
Once the biggest landslide in Switzerland took place in the region, today you can still see relics like rocks lying around. The Lake Lauerzersee can be reached in about 40 minutes from Zurich and offers besides swimming possibilities from May to October also great opportunities for gourmets.
Because on a small island is always a restaurant open, which you can only reach by boat.
A dream hike into another world, where it looks like a jungle, goes from campsite to Goldseeli.
14. Lake Walen
Lake Walen can be reached from Zurich in just 50 minutes. As well here, the possibilities seem almost limitless. If you’re looking for a beautiful place to visit, then take a look at our guide with the 8 most beautiful places around Lake Walen.
A top hike on Lake Walen goes from Weesen to the Seerenbach Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Switzerland.
Or how about a trip to the Mediterranean Quinten? The village can only be reached by boat or by foot and fascinates with fruits like figs, kiwis and grapes.
15. Lake Aegeri
There are other lakes around Zurich, nestled in the Alpine landscape. One of them is the Ägerisee in the canton of Zug, which can be reached by public transport in less than an hour. By car, you can get there even faster, but parking spaces are very limited, especially on nice summer days.
A highlight from spring to fall is the hike along Lake Aegeri, peppered with great swimming opportunities.
There are also many entry points for stand-up paddling, which has become increasingly popular in recent years.
16. Lake Wägitalersee
Lake Wägitalersee can be reached by public transport from Zurich in just one hour. And the pearl in the Schwyz Alps is definitely a worthwhile destination. Because whether hiking, swimming, fishing or simply enjoying, the Wägitalersee is a recreational area and dreamlike lake near Zurich.
Photographers also get their money’s worth, because the landscape with the huge mountains like the Bockmattli or Brünnelistock are a dream.
Hikers can leisurely hike around the lake. The paved but very little used road is also stroller friendly. Those who are looking for a bit more of a kick and want to enjoy a beautiful view of 6 lakes in the Zurich region can reach the Bockmattlistock in about 3 hours.
17. Lake Sihlsee
Another highlight in the Zurich region is the Sihlsee. The largest reservoir in Switzerland was built in the 1930s to generate electricity for the SBB. Since many farmers lost their land, the resistance was huge. Today, the lake is a recreation area and many Zurich residents visit the Sihlsee to relax or hike.
Along the lake there are various benches, which combined with the water and the alpine panorama are a dream. There are also free and paid swimming pools, such as “Grüene Aff”. Here you also have a camping and restaurant.
In winter, the Sihlsee is usually frozen, which attracts many ice fishermen. If you are already in the region, you should not miss to visit the biggest monastery of Switzerland in Einsiedeln.
18. Lake Obersee – one of the most impressive lakes near Zurich
For me, one of the most impressive lakes near Zurich is the Obersee, Näfels. Not even Goethe could describe in a poem how fantastically beautiful the lake is embedded in the mountains.
Also impressive, especially in the morning, is the lake reflection of the imposing mountain called “Brünnelistock”. Therefore, it is worthwhile for photographers to get up early. Great is a circular hike around the Obersee, which takes about an hour.
By the way, in winter the Obersee can also be visited, but then it is frozen. Nevertheless, a round hike is popular even then. I recommend to do it a few days after the snowfall, unless you have snowshoes with you.
19. Lake Klöntalersee
A lake that can be reached in just one hour from Zurich is Lake Klöntalersee in the Glarus Alps. The steep rock faces date back to the Ice Age, when the region was still covered by huge masses of ice. The Klöntalersee was once formed by a landslide, but then an artificial dam was created for energy production. Therefore, the water level is much lower in winter.
In general, the lake is worth visiting especially between spring and autumn. From mid-November to mid-February, the lake has no sun for about three months. Since it gets really cold, it is then also frozen. In the summer months, people love to go swimming there.
20. Lake Lucerne
As one of the largest lakes in Switzerland, Lake Lucerne is a great destination from Zurich. Because in summer when the weather is good for swimming, swimming enthusiasts can cool off in the water. There are enough bathing possibilities along the shores. Furthermore, also great panoramic hikes can be made, such as from Morschach to Sisikon.
In winter, it is especially worth visiting one of the wellness hotels on the lake. Because the idyll is perfect for quiet hours and to slow down.
21. Lake Hallwil
Only one hour by train or car from Zurich is located Lake Hallwil in the canton of Aargau and Lucerne. Embedded in the moraine landscape, Lake Hallwil is a dreamlike destination for excursions in summer as well as in winter.
Although swimming is less popular in winter, hikes are also possible when there is no snow. Because Lake Hallwil is one of the few lakes in Switzerland where you can hike along the shore almost without interruption. You can also pamper yourself in the spa of the Seerose.
In summer the possibilities are even greater. In addition to hikes, there are five boats on the lake, which offer great tours. I often combine a hike with a boat trip. You can also find various lidos with and without entrance fees along the lake.