If you are a fan of stand up paddling, then you probably know that you can paddle almost anywhere there is water. From the surf beaches of Hawaii and Australia to the fjords of Norway, almost nothing is out of bounds.
If you spend any time in Switzerland, you absolutely have to take advantage of both the stunning locations and clear blue lakes that are on offer here. There are lakes in the center of most major cities, as well as close to the majority of tourist locations you might be visiting. So, no matter which places you visit on a Swiss holiday, you are sure to be able to squeeze some stand-up paddling in.
As someone who has lived and paddled here for years, I want to offer you a little insider experience. The following are some of the best places to stand up paddle in Switzerland:
Lake Zurich sits right in the heart of downtown Zürich and offers a spectacular location to not only relax and swim in during summer, but also to stand-up paddle. There are a number of places to rent boards from along the lake’s shores, including some right in the center of town, around Bade Enge. And with the Swiss Alps beckoning you from the far end of the lake, how can you not enjoy both the drinkable water and stunning views?
If you want to get away from the crowds at Lake Zürich, Greifensee is the nearest option. It is a hit among locals in the summer, thanks to the parks, walking paths along the shore, and easy access to the lake from a number of locations.
It’s not as big as Lake Zürich, it is more sheltered, and has less motorized traffic. You can also rent boards right at the lake with SUP Greifensee Maur.
Not everyone starts or ends their Swiss adventure in Zürich, so I wanted to include Lake Geneva as well. It’s the largest lake in Switzerland and spans many cities you might happen to be visiting. From Montreux and Lausanne in the north, all the way down to Geneva in the south, this lake is impressive in both size and setting, with the Swiss/French Alps sitting right across the lake.
So, no matter which way you turn, there are stunning views to accompany your paddle.
If you want to go paddle boarding off the beaten track, you might want to consider one of my favorite lakes in Switzerland. Lungernsee (“see” means lake in German) is one of two lakes on the road out of Lucerne towards Interlaken in the Alps. If you are visiting either of these places, you might well make a stop on your way.
The drive through the pass between the two towns is worth it. And so is the lake. Fed by glacial waters, it is a stunning blue color that lures you in from its shores. The best place to enter is on the south end, at the swimming area called Obersee.
Afterward, I recommend stopping at the restaurant at the north end for a bite to eat or drink – it has great service with stunning views.
Lake Lucerne is another impressive lake you must visit while in Lucerne. And at the other end of the lake is an arm called “Urnersee”. It is surrounded by sheer cliffs on one side, and Lucerne’s local mountains (Rigi and Birkenstock) on the other.
Paddleboarding on this lake is a bit of an undertaking, and I recommend making sure to have life vests if you plan to cross it. The best places to start from are Brunnen and Flüelen, but there are lots of entry points in the smaller towns along the lakeshore too.
Interlaken, if you have not read about it already, is an impressive mountain town located between two equally stunning lakes. That is actually where the name comes from: Interlaken translates to “between lakes” in English.
For me, the most impressive of the two is the Brienzersee. It has the majestic Brienzer Rothorn mountain on the north side and the foothills of the huge Gurten Mountain in the south. On top of that, the toothpaste-like blue of this glacial-fed lake is absolutely mind-blowing.
You can go stand up paddling on almost any lake in Switzerland, but there are a few that are out of bounds. So, if you find a lake not on this list, be sure to check with a local before heading out for a paddle.
Also, you are only allowed to paddle within 300m of the shore (that’s about 300 yards) without a life vest. If you plan to cross a larger lake, be sure to bring (and wear) one.
Otherwise, just keep common sense in mind – watch out for boats, ferries, and swimmers (the Swiss love to swim far and alone in their lakes in summer) and be respectful of the wildlife.
Oh, and don’t forget your waterproof camera or camera cover, because the views are insane!