On The Water

In a country of around 7,000 lakes, a shortcut to blending in with the locals begins with heading to the water. Although landlocked, Switzerland offers riverside beaches, glistening lakes, frozen lagoons and mile-high waterfalls. Whether you hop on a boat or strap on your skates, the water’s fine.

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t Skaters spilling out on frozen Lake St Moritz, a natural, public ice rink

Skater Secrets

Nearly everyone can skate in Switzerland, and the most beautiful place to get on the ice come winter is the lake at St Moritz. It’s easy enough to hire a pair of skates for a quick slide, or to plan a trip to watch White Turf, the jaw-dropping horse race, and polo or cricket matches that take place on the frozen surface. There’s always a fantastic atmosphere at Lac de Joux in the heart of Vaud, too. Here, in deep midwinter, the canton’s largest lake is reborn as a competitive ice-skating rink.

Top of the Lake

Paddle steamers cruise crescent-shaped Lake Geneva and Lake Lucerne daily, in season, while on Lake Maggiore speedboats ping-pong between Locarno and lakefront stunner Ascona. For wild swimming at its best, follow the scenic 90-minute hiking trail into the Santis massif to the unforgettable Seealpsee.

The Largest Waterfall

Schaffhausen, a town near the German border, provides a thrilling marriage of man-made and natural creation: the medieval, fortress-dominated old town and the nearby Rhine Falls, the largest cascade in Europe. Plummeting 23 m (75 ft), at a width of 150 m (490 ft), it is an incomparable force of nature by European standards, and beguiling enough to inspire Romantic painter J M W Turner. Another inspiring cascade can be found in the Staubbach Falls, just above Lauterbrunnen, where spectacular views await behind the water.

Did You Know?

White Turf, the horse racing event on Lake St Moritz, has been held since 1907.

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insider tip


Starting in the sun-drenched village of Nendaz, plot a course from pastures and meadows to vineyards and fruit orchards on hiking trips along the restored Bisses, a series of historic irrigation channels in Valais.

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