From crystal rivers to opal lakes, Switzerland offers some of the best wild swimming in Europe. For his book, Wild Swim Switzerland, Steffan Daniel sought out 99 of them.
Here are nine Swiss rivers and lakes the author particularly loves for wild swimming:
The Marzili public bath in Bern
Floating down the Aare is one of summer's many highlights in the Swiss capital – for visitors and locals alike. One of the best spots to do this is near the Marzilibad below the Swiss parliament building. This is where people gather to meet friends and cool down in the green (and chilly) waters of the River Aare.
The Pointe du Grain shore at Lake Neuchâtel
Sitting at the Pointe du Grain shore will make you feel like being in Thailand. The white pebbles and hanging branches create a gorgeous spot to walk out into the lake. A floating deck invites you to swim beyond the shallows, only to take a nap in the sun afterwards. In the distance, the low Jura hills form a swooping silhouette in the water, making this a lovely place to spend those long summer evenings.
The Diegten Waterfall in Basel-Landschaft
Wander into the woods between Diegten and Eptingen and you will be greeted by a coliseum of rock. A popular rock climbing spot, its vertical cliffs are an impressive surprise in the middle of the forest. From the center of the wall a stream trickles over the edge and drops twenty meters to the pebbly forest floor below, creating a natural cold shower.
The annual Lake Zurich crossing
Once a year, a mass of eager swimmers take to the waters of Lake Zurich for the 1.5 km lake crossing. The Seeüberquerung lake crossing event is primarily a social swim and not a competition. (It is recommended for strong swimmers only.) In the distance, you will see the silhouette of Zürich with its church towers and the Quai bridge.
Those wanting to take a plunge in Zürich are well served as there are a number of public lake and river baths to pick from.
The Thur Bridge in Lütisburg near St. Gallen
The 131 km long River Thur snakes through northeastern Switzerland, eventually joining forces with the Rhine. Along its winding journey, it dodges cute villages and towns, sidesteps farmland, and ducks under countless historical bridges.
Adjacent to the village of Lütisburg, adorned with red and white flowers, an old wooden bridge stands guard over the river – a great natural swimming spot to unwind.
The three lakes at Alpstein in Appenzell Innerrhoden
The Alpstein mountain range in canton Appenzell boasts some of Switzerland’s most spectacular views. With rolling green hills, triangular peaks jutting out diagonally, and prize-winning cows, this area has it all. The region's highest peak, Mt. Säntis, stands proud at 2502 meters above sea and is home to three gorgeous lakes for wild swimming.
Lake Cauma in Flims
From the ski slopes above, the glistening Lake Cauma cannot be missed in the forested landscape. With its spectacular blues and turquoises, it truly lives up to its nickname, "The pearl of Flims"! And here is a bonus tip: While Lake Cauma charges an admission, Lag Tuleritg is another option just half a kilometer away. It is a much smaller forest lake which is great for swimming.
Lake Silvaplana near St. Moritz
The Upper Engadine region is one of the adventure meccas of Switzerland. It is possible to climb a 3k peak in the morning and later visit Lake Silvaplana to kitesurf the famous Maloja thermal winds. People come from far away to spend weeks camping, swimming, windsurfing and mountain biking among the rocky peaks. And Lake Silvaplana offers everything the heart of a wild swimmer desires.
Lavertezzo in the Versasca Valley
Curving its way through the Ticino mountains above Lago Maggiore is the Versasca river, the filming location of James Bond’s huge getaway bungee jump at the Contra dam in "Goldeneye". Keep moving up the valley from here and you will encounter many bathing spots featuring vibrant blue waters.
The most well-known (and busiest at the height of summer) is at Lavertezzo, where the romantic, stony, arched bridge Ponte Dei Salti sets a picturesque scene for a plunge to be remembered.
About the Wild Swim Switzerland Book
Available for 34.90 francs from Bergli Books, this new publication includes beautiful descriptions in three languages: English, German and French. For most of the 99 Swiss rivers, lakes and ponds, there are maps on how to access them.
As for me, this publication is a true keeper as it contains lots of practical information when it comes to enjoying the best wild swimming spots in Switzerland.
For more water adventures in Switzerland, check out MyGirlfriendGuide!