Summer Excursions That Make a Splash

As residents of Switzerland, we have opportunities to enjoy some of the best outdoor sports conditions in the world. This place is world class, no doubt. There is something for everyone, whether you are into the extreme or just the recreational side. When it comes to summertime fun, water is an essential ingredient and Switzerland does not disappoint.

Switzerland’s abundant supply of fresh water is so clear and clean that you can drink it while you’re swimming in a lake. And if you are out for a run, whether in the city or the countryside, you will find thousands of fountains to quench your thirst.

On the bigger lakes in Switzerland, sports like wakeboarding, waterskiing, and sailing are available. In the rivers, you have kayaking and rafting. If action sports like these are not your thing, you will always find a Strandbad (beach) on a nearby lake just to relax and cool off.

One of the things I have enjoyed doing is getting out to some of the smaller and lesser known places. In the Zurich area, it is common to visit your local Strandbad on the Zurisee, but it is worth checking out some of the nice little lakes that lie just a short drive away. In my neck of the woods, there are places like the Hüttnersee and the Sihlsee that have very nice Strandbads. They are sometimes quieter with fewer crowds and the absence of nearby train and road noise.

Calm rivers also offer great places to hike, bike and stop to cool off the feet. The Sihl is a great option near Zurich. The water is shallow in most spots and doesn’t move very fast. It’s a perfect place to have a family picnic. Many easy-to-access spots will be busy on nice days, so look for more remote access points that are further away from the bigger villages, for example, the restaurants Sihlmatt and Schützenmatt. These restaurants can be reached by bike from Schönenberg.

If you are a bit more adventurous and would like to try something really special, take a day trip into the Alps to find a lake at higher altitude. The Golzernsee, for example, is a place where you can swim in crystal-clear water with beautiful mountain peaks surrounding you. It is an adventure getting there, with a small cable car and a beautiful hike. You can pack your lunch and picnic there or simply visit the nearby restaurant.

For a weekend getaway from Zurich, head south to the Italian border. Here you will find yet another variation on the water theme. One of our favorite spots is Menaggio. From there, you can access Bellagio and Varenna with the ferryboats. These are beautiful lakeside villages, surrounded by mountains and all the benefits of being in Italy!

Another option near the Swiss-Italian border is a resort called Parco San Marco. It is an all-suite resort with wellness/spa amenities along with many family-friendly sporting activities. This is the perfect place for those seeking a luxurious getaway for the weekend.

For those who want to “rough it” and enjoy nature in a wilder way, go camping. It took me a while to find suitable places for simple, rustic tent camping, as it is just not a big thing in Switzerland. However, such places do exist, and again, options can be found in the central and southern parts of the country. On the Klöntalersee, there are two campgrounds that have great camping options for those who want to pop a tent and enjoy quiet time in nature.

As stated before, Switzerland offers world-class opportunities to enjoy nature. Switzerland pairs the rawness of the great outdoors with luxurious amenities. It is a perfect balance that guarantees something for the whole family to enjoy.

The next time you are looking for a summer getaway, whether for the afternoon, day, or weekend, remember all of the options that exist due to Switzerland’s magnificent abundance of water. It’s as easy as pulling out a map, searching for the blue, and setting out with the spirit of adventure.

By Brian Wilson

Brian is the father of three children. He teaches golf and coordinates a Zurich Dads group in his spare time. Email:

Illustration by Lara Friedrich

Lara has been a freelance illustrator for Mothering Matters since early 2013. She is in her second year of university where she’s currently working as an assistant in a research project in pedagogy. Lara is also an assistant translator from German to English for various fiction books, as well as being a demo singer for the songwriter Kate Northrop.

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