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Eight great swimming spots to escape the Swiss summer heat

Weekend weather is forecast to top 30 degrees in several parts of Switzerland. Where can you go for a dip to beat the heat?

Eight great swimming spots to escape the Swiss summer heat
The Bettmersee alpine lake in the canton of Valais. Photo: Swiss Tourism

Switzerland’s stunning lakes and rivers are a perfect escape from scorching temperatures.

From urban swimming in downtown Geneva, Zurich or Bern, to sandy coves and dramatic Alpine lakes, there is something for swimmers (and sunbathers) of all stripes.

Here is a short list of some of the country’s best swimming locations.

Lake Cauma (Graubünden)

This diminutive lake with turquoise waters near Flims in the canton of Graubünden is paradise. Nearby Lake Cresta is also truly beautiful. The magical walk between the two lakes will take you around an hour and is well worth the effort.

Greifensee (Zurich)

Easy to reach by public transport from Zurich, this beautiful lake is a nature reserve and the swimming is magnificent. Parking is limited so make the most of the trains and buses. From the Nänikon-Greifensee train station it's just a few minutes down to the waterfront.

The Greifensee is a nature lover's paradise. Photo: Swiss Tourism

Verzasca Valley (Ticino)

North of lovely Locarno in Ticino, the Verzasca Valley has something for everyone. There are rapids and family-friendly swimming holes aplenty while there is even an extreme bungee jump. Unmissable. But be warned: this area can get very busy.

Drei Weieren, St Gallen

A swim at the Drei Weieren, or Three Pools, above St Gallen is like a journey back in time. The small pools and their Art Nouveau bath houses are a delight, while the surrounding neighbourhood is also filled with gorgeous architecture.

A unique swimming experience just minutes from downtown St Gallen. Photo: Swiss Tourism

Yvonand (Vaud)

Sandy beaches, secluded bays and cool, clear water: the area around Yvonand on Lake Neuchâtel in canton Vaud is about as close as you can get to a seaside feeling in Switzerland. Perfect for people who are seriously missing that coastal feeling.

Get a taste of the seaside in Yvonand. Photo: Swiss Tourism


The Marzili Pool (Bern)

This venue is a true classic and no visit to the Swiss capital in summer would be complete without a trip here. There is a kid’s pool and a lap pool for serious swimmers but for many people the highlight is drifting down the Aare from Eichholz to the Marzili. A word of caution: the trip down the river is for stronger swimmers only.

Bettmersee (Valais)

For the hardy and adventurous there is nothing like swimming in an Alpine lake. At around 2,000 metres above sea level, the waters of the Bettmersee are on the invigorating side. If taking the plunge is too much, there are also boating and pedalo options during the summer months.

The Bettmersee is located in the Aletsch Arena area. Photo: Swiss Tourism

Baby Plage (Geneva)

Lake Geneva is full of beaches and lakeside pools, with the iconic Bains des Paquis the best-known swimming spot. For families, however, the chilled-out Baby-Plage near the La Grange Park is a great place to while away those hot summer afternoons.

Read also: Ten stunning Swiss lakes to visit this summer

A version of this article originally appeared in The Local in July 2018.

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How to keep safe when swimming in Switzerland’s lakes and rivers

Switzerland is blessed with a huge variety of lakes and rivers that are perfect for bathing in. But with a number of fatal incidents already hitting the news this summer, we look at the best way to swim in safety.

How to keep safe when swimming in Switzerland's lakes and rivers
File photo: Depositphotos
Following the tragic death of Swiss footballer Florijana Ismaili in Lake Como, Italy, and the deaths of two men in separate incidents this week – one in Wohlen lake in canton Bern, and another in Hallwil lake in Aargau – it’s only too clear how quickly a swim in the great outdoors can go wrong. 
The Swiss Lifesaving Society (SLRG) is one of the bodies in Switzerland working to prevent swimming accidents. According to them, there are a few simple rules which should be followed to help keep you safe in the water. 
Supervise children
Swimming with little ones? Only allow children near water if they are supervised – and always keep them within arm’s reach.
Avoid alcohol
Never go into the water if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You should also avoid swimming if you have a full stomach, or indeed a very empty stomach. 
Go slow
Never jump into the water if you’re feeling overheated. As much as you’re desperate to cool down, get in slowly to allow your body time to adjust to the water and avoid cold water shock, a potentially fatal condition. 
Avoid the unknown
Don’t dive into cloudy water or in an area of the lake that you don’t know. It might not be deep enough, or there may be obstacles or other hidden dangers.
Leave the airbed on shore
If you’re heading into deep water, don’t use an airbed or swimming aid, since they offer little protection and might give you a false sense of security. 
Swim with a friend
You may consider yourself a strong swimmer, but it’s best to never swim long distances alone. Even the best swimmers can experience a moment of weakness. 
Keep an eye on the weather
Don’t ever swim in a storm, and leave the water immediately if you see one approaching. Many Swiss lakes have a warning system of flashing lights to indicate that you should get off the water straight away.
Stick to designated areas
Don’t go swimming in areas of a lake where there are boats, ferries or other vehicles – it’s best to stick to the designated swimming areas.
If you stick to the rules and use common sense, there's no reason why you can't enjoy the wonderful array of places to swim in Switzerland this summer, whether it be a drift down the Aare river, a dip in Lake Geneva or a swim off the rocks in the beautiful Verzasca valley.