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DISCOVER SWITZERLAND

Five beautiful Swiss villages located near Alpine lakes

During torrid summer days, why not come and cool off in one of these five alpine lakes? Set against a unique mountain backdrop, they are ideal for a trip out of the city no matter where you are in Switzerland.

Switzerland's Gänglesee. When the weather gets warmer, Swiss lakes are a perfect place to cool down. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages
Switzerland's Gänglesee. When the weather gets warmer, Swiss lakes are a perfect place to cool down. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

There will be no shortage of picnic areas, nooks and crannies for barbecuing with friends and hiking trails in the vicinity for discovering these idyllic areas.

The following map shows the five lakes’ locations across Switzerland. 

The lakes are close to five villages which are members of the association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse” (The most beautiful Villages in Switzerland), which aims to protect and promote villages that have a distinct architectural, landscape and historical beauty.

1. Lai da Palpuogna: Bergün (Gr)

Bergün is a charming village in Canton Graubünden set like a gem in Switzerland’s largest nature park, Parc Ela.

Its unique location between the Engadin and the Albula Pass has shaped the history, culture and architecture of the village.

Bergün. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Bergün. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Testimony to this are the typical Engadin houses decorated with the ‘sgraffito’ technique, the Kurhaus hotel that takes us back in time to the Belle Epoque and its Romanesque church, which houses an astonishing frescoed wooden ceiling.

And it is precisely on the Albula pass that we find the idyllic Lai da Palpuogna with its crystal-clear waters and a larch forest reflected in its changing colours. In a well-known Swiss television programme, this lake was voted the most beautiful place in Switzerland. 

Lai Palpuogna  Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Lai Palpuogna. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Starting point: Preda (train station) : 1 Km / 120 m difference in altitude / 20 minutes walk

2. Lag da Breil: Breil Brigels (Gr)

In the Surselva region, in the heart of the canton of Graubünden, we drive up the main road to Breil/Brigels.

This beautiful alpine village is a jigsaw puzzle of sumptuous wooden chalets and little churches, one more beautiful than the other, such as the church of St. Sievi, which stands in a panoramic position and is visible from everywhere.

Breil Brigels. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Breil Brigels. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Here we are at the gateway to the Val Frisal, a fascinating side valley ideal for summer hiking.

Just a stone’s throw from the village centre, we find the Lag da Breil, a turquoise-coloured freshwater lake that invites tourists to relax on its shores.

There is a large car park, a mini-golf course, ski lifts and a playground right next to the lake… in short, all kinds of activities for everyone!

Lag da Breil  Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Lag da Breil. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Starting point: Breil/Brigels (Church) : 900 M / 33 m difference in altitude / 10 minutes walk

3. Lago Saoseo: Poschiavo (Gr)

Poschiavo is a little Rome of the Alps, with its bell towers and opulent towers and an array of museums and state-of-the-art cultural spaces.

Poschiavo Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Poschiavo. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

This small town in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland has always been a key crossroads between Switzerland and Italy, and even today, the famous little red Bernina train links the two nations, travelling through glaciers, forests and wild mountains.

From the locality of Sfarzù, just a few minutes from Poschiavo, it is possible to walk or take the post bus up to Lake Saoseo. This Alpine lake is a concentration of unique beauty and is set like a jewel in a dense larch forest.

From here, with a little more effort, you can also reach the Lagh da Val Viola, a little larger in size but equally magnificent.

Lago Saoseo  Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Lago Saoseo. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Starting point: Sfarzù (bus stop) : 5.5 km / 420 m difference in altitude / 1h30 minutes walk

4. Rotelschsee: Simplon Dorf (Vs)

The Simplon Pass has always been a key commercial junction for trade between northern and southern Europe, connecting Brig in Switzerland with Domodossola in Italy.

First Baron Stockalper, and then Napoleon Bonaparte, were able to create a road linking the two cities, and halfway along, the village of Simplon Dorf benefited. This ancient Italian-looking village contains an amazing square crowned by iconic buildings such as its museum.

Simplon Dorf Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Simplon Dorf. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

And it is precisely at the highest point of the Simplon Pass, at an altitude of around 2000m, that some very picturesque natural lakes have been created.

These include the Rotelschee lake, located just a few minutes behind the hospice, and the Hopschusee lake near the alpine pasture of the same name. 

Rotelschsee Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Rotelschsee. Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Starting point: Simplon Pass (Hospiz) : 700 m / 50 m difference in altitude / 10 minutes walk

5. Gänglesee: Triesenberg

The Principality of Liechtenstein shares not only language and currency with Switzerland, but also many traditions and peculiarities.

For example, the village of Triesenberg boasts a Walser past and even today, a different dialect is spoken here than in all the municipalities of the small country.

Triesenberg Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Triesenberg Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Since 2019, this village has been included in the Swiss network of ‘The most beautiful Villages in Switzerland. 

Gänglesee Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

Gänglesee Picture: Christian Guerra/Swiss Villages

All these excursions, and many more feature in the Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse free to download app available in English for iOS and Android. 

To reach these magnificent freshwater lakes and much more, why not check out from ‘The most beautiful Villages in Switzerland‘?

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DISCOVER SWITZERLAND

The five most beautiful Swiss villages to discover by boat

Switzerland has beautiful villages and lakes which makes it a perfect country to discover and admire by boat. Here are five towns worth exploring from the water fronts.

The five most beautiful Swiss villages to discover by boat

Switzerland has 6 percent of Europe’s freshwater reserves, and to confirm this you only have to look at the huge number of lakes dotting the Confederation.

Each of these lakes possesses a unique flair, and to discover them to the fullest we recommend a boat tour, starting from these 5 beautiful villages, all members of the “The Most Beautiful Villages in Switzerland” network.

1. Gersau – Lake Lucerne (SZ)

In the heart of Switzerland we find Lake Vierwaldstättersee, commonly called Lake Lucerne. Here, in a gentle green patch of land, lies the hamlet of Gersau. In ancient times this municipality was a tiny independent state, remaining the world’s smallest republic until 1817, when it was annexed to Canton Schwyz. This region enjoys a Mediterranean micro climate, so it is not surprising to find a rich vegetation of exotic flowers and plants.

Gersau swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

From Gersau it is possible to take an unforgettable boat tour on Lake Lucerne to other neighboring villages such as Beckenried and Kehrsiten or directly to the city of Lucerne.

Gersau swiss village

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

2. Saint Saphorin – Lake Geneva (VD)

In the Lavaux region, one of Switzerland’s UNESCO sites, the charming old village of Saint-Saphorin can be found among the vineyards. A few houses gather compactly around the church of Saint Symphorien, which gave its name to the village, which was once called Glerula. The square in the old town invites tourists for a stop, perhaps to enjoy an excellent fish dish and sip a glass of local wine.

saint saphorin lake Geneva Swiss villages
(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

Saint-Saphorin overlooks Lake Geneva, the largest lake in all of Europe that bathes the Swiss and French coasts. From here it is possible to reach the cities of Vevey and Cully by boat and even go as far as Lausanne.

saint saphorin lake Geneva Swiss villages
(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

3. Ascona – Lake Maggiore (TI)

Ascona is one of the most popular and well-known destinations in Switzerland, thanks to its mild climate and Mediterranean atmosphere. The lakefront is full of restaurants and bars where to enjoy an aperitif, while in the old town center we find many boutiques, stores but also museums and exhibition centers of some importance.

Going up the hill we then reach Monte Verità: a fascinating place that once served as a meeting place for those who followed an alternative life away from the hectic daily routine.

ascona lake maggiore Swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

From Ascona it is possible to take beautiful boat tours on Lake Maggiore to nearby destinations such as S. Nazzaro in the Gambarogno or to the Brissago Islands, which are home to the only island botanical garden in all of Switzerland.

ascona lake maggiore swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

4. Erlach – Lake Biel (BE)

Erlach is a unique village overlooking Lake Biel. In the upper part of the town we find the old castle, which now houses a museum and school, and beautiful houses that gradually descend to the shores of the lake, creating a picture-postcard view. All around, the vineyard takes center stage, and there is no shortage of several wine cellars where wine tasting can take place.

Erlach lake Biel swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

Lake Biel possesses a strip of land that stretches from Erlach for several kilometers to the island of St. Peter (now in fact turned into a peninsula), which was home for some time to the well-known philosopher Rousseau. From Erlach it is possible to reach by boat the beautiful villages of Le Landeron and La Neuveville, both members of the same network of “The Most Beautiful Villages in Switzerland”.

erlach lake Biel swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

5. Grandson – Lake Neuchâtel (VD)

On the romantic Lake Neuchâtel, it is impossible not to notice from afar the small town of Grandson. Of great note are its colorful houses and the old St. Baptist Church, a national historic monument. Walking through the narrow lanes we will find ourselves in many small squares and nooks that are decorated and well-kept and all with jaw-dropping views of the lake. Grandson’s star is its immense 11th-century castle, which houses an outstanding collection of arms and armor.

grandson lake Neuchatel swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

Lake Neuchâtel is an ideal summer destination for cooling off in its clear waters. In Grandson, for example, there is certainly no shortage of lidos and green areas to relax. On board the boat you can take part in tours and discover the secrets of the lake’s preserved shores.

grandson lake neuchatel swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

You can find out more about these 5 villages and many others by downloading the official “Beaux Villages” app for iOS and Android.

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