Newly Swissed Online Magazine

Swiss Winter Wonders: Walking on Frozen Lake Zürich

Walking on Frozen Lake Zurich - Seegfoerni 1963

First off, let me give you some background information on Lake Zürich: It has an extension of 90 km², a maximum length of 40 km, a width of 2 km and depth of 143 m, being placed at 406 m above sea level.

Incredible as it may sound, this 3900 km³ mass of water can actually freeze over! The records show that since 1233, the lake has been frozen 26 times, the last time taking place in 1963.

Especially long lasting was the Seegfrörni of 1891, which lasted from January 21 until March 1 ("Seegfrörni" is Swiss German for "lake freeze"). Can you imagine!? That year on February 15, about 6000 people walked on the frozen waters of the lake, which reached a thickness of 27 cm/10.5 in.

Walking on Frozen Lake Zurich - Seegfoerni 1963

The night of February 18, 1961, the lake was light up with Chinese lanterns and bonfires to commemorate the magic event.

During the most recent lake freeze in 1963, the city of Zürich even organized a fair which lasted for 30 days!

Walking on Frozen Lake Zurich - Seegfoerni 1963(Picture copyright by Daniel Sieber)

And the most incredible discovery recorded during these cold periods was a 57 cm thick piece of ice with a frozen fish inside! Did you know temperatures need to remain below -10 C for more than 40 days in a row so that this phenomenon can occur? That's cold!

Walking on Frozen Lake Zurich - Seegfoerni 1963(All other pictures copyright by Peter Märki)

If you find any more pictures or you know someone who experienced a lake freeze, please let us know!


A travel obsessed, positive thinking day dreamer from Spain who tries to gather as many experiences and memories as possible in Switzerland.


  • I lived in Zurich, Switzerland for 3 years (1961-1963) and experienced the lake freeze in early 1963, and walked on the frozen lake, as many others did!

    • Dear Linda,
      Thank you very much for sharing your experience! We went ice-skating this past weekend, but on a much smaller lake. It is hard to imagine how incredible it must have been to skate all the way across Lake Zürich!

  • the first winter of my life was the winter that lake froze (1962-63). my late mother had stories to recall of us promenading there

      • I was seven when we were living in Zug in 1962/3. I have some movie footage of my brother and I on the lake as well as an elegant lady pushing a pram on skates. I have very fond memories as lake Zug also froze.

  • I went with the school excursion from Rudolfstetten to see and witness the frozen lake. I certainly do not miss the cold anymore.

Download our e-book: 77 Facts about Switzerland