Swiss beach life: Sandy beaches in Switzerland with that tropical feeling you’ve been missing. Seven Likes for four Lakes – discover and enjoy Schweizer Sandstrände Caribbean Style.
Perhaps you’ve heard the joke: «What is the name of the thinnest book in the world? – Beaches in Switzerland.» The punch line is based on the fact that Switzerland is a landlocked country.
Yep – there is no such thing as a sea in Switzerland.
And therefore no sea, no beach holiday in Switzerland? No chance to frolick in the sand and splash in the water at all?
Well, it is high time to share a beautiful little secret with you: the Swiss beach scene is alive and kicking – even in the absence of an ocean!
Are there any beaches in Switzerland? Yes, there is a Swiss beach life!
Of course, the expanse of the sea is somewhat lost on the Swiss lakes. Infinity views are lacking, as one can always see to the other side of a Swiss lake, sometimes closer, sometimes a little further away.
And salt can only be found at best in the breakfast egg or in the salt shaker on your camping table. But still: there is so much to explore when it comes to beaches in Switzerland.
And yet I am here to argue that there are amazing Swiss sandy beaches, which by some measures can compete with their Caribbean counterparts.
Let’s take a look at the Swiss beach scene in a blogpost containing sound sand information across the country.
Is visiting Switzerland expensive? Yes, but these sandy beaches are free to visit
For this blogpost, I traveled around the country and looked at Switzerland’s offering of sandy beaches, talked to beach experts, sand insiders and the Helvetian beach intelligentsia.
As a result, here are my seven favorite Swiss beaches. An important selection criteria that I considered for the crazily over-heated summer months: All of these great beaches have good tree cover, so you can freely switch from powdery sand in the sun back to shade at any time.
Yes, travelling to and in Switzerland may be an expensive thing to do. The nice thing about the beach trips featured in this blogpost: All these sandy beach destinations in Switzerland are free to visit. ¡Vamos a la playa Suiza!
Beaches in Switzerland: Gäsi on Lake Walen, the cool beauty
Most Swiss (and foreign) motorists only know Lake Walen as a large expanse of water to the left of the highway when thundering into the Grisons mountains from Zurich. A small exit at the top of the lake in Weesen is, however, worthwhile for here lies, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in German-speaking Switzerland.
In terms of refreshment factor, Lake Walen usually ranks high: it is a rather cool lake, even in the height of summer the water temperature rarely shoots above 20 degrees.
Of course, the heatwave summer of 2018 pushed the water temperature up, but even when it topped out at 23 degrees, Lake Walen remained a noticeable shade cooler than Lake Zurich.
Gäsi Beach Lake Walen: good to know
How to get there: By car via the Weesen freeway exit. Attractive travel alternative: By bike from Ziegelbrücke train station, this trip takes approx. 20 minutes. Infrastructure: Camping site, nice restaurant.
Beaches in Switzerland: peninsula Au Zürichsee, charmingly hidden
Lake Zurich (Zürichsee) is a special phenomenon worldwide: Rarely does one see a lake with a coastline that is so heavily built up.
One can especially appreciate the density of the settlements at night: The chain of lights around the body of water never seems to break.
All the more surprising, then, that this lake also has a picturesque sandy beach to offer: on the Au peninsula, about 25 kilometers away from the city of Zurich.
Just a short walk from the ferry landing , you’ll come across a pretty ribbon of sand surrounded by trees. Zurich’s answer to Guadeloupe.
Sandy Beach Lake Zurich: good to know
How to get there: By boat or on foot in about an hour from Horgen. Perfect route for cycling, too. Infrastructure: The beach itself is untouched. There are picnic and barbecue facilities, and a short walk away, on the hill above, you will find a country inn to visit. Perfect for coffee and sweets.
Beaches in Switzerland: Yvonand Lake Neuchâtel at the pine forest
When one thinks about lakes in Switzerland, two usually come to mind because of their size: Lake Constance (Bodensee) and Lake Geneva (Genfersee, Lac Léman). And of course the very popular Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) because of its location in the heart of the country and its scenery with the Alps.
For beach fans, however, the triple-pack of Lake Biel (Bielersee), Lake Murten (Murtensee) and Lake Neuchâtel (Neuenburgersee, Lac de Neuchâtel) is worth a visit. In terms of sandy beaches, the latter is my favorite – especially the locations near Yverdon.
My suggestion: Yvonand. The place is blessed with a very pretty beach right next to a wooded area. «Plage des Pins» is the name of this section, which means beach of pine trees.
For me, this is one of the absolute top addresses for a sandy beach in Switzerland.
Yvonand Plage Lake Neuchatel: good to know
How to get there: By car or even by train: the beach can be reached in 15 to 20 minutes from the Yvonand train station. Infrastructure: The campsite has a restaurant, lively little beach bar available at the Plage.
Sandy beaches in Switzerland: Cheseaux-Noréaz Lake Neuchâtel, Crique-Chic
May I confess something? Okay: I saved my absolute favorite for third last: Cheseaux-Noréaz, also on Lake Neuchâtel, is an excellent Swiss outdoor bijou. In my humble opinion and review: The perfect Swiss Beach.
In addition to a large sandy beach, the so-called «criques», or the small bays, create a very special magic.
And I just like the name: «Cheseaux-Noréaz», which has a certain Club-Med-charm to it and somehow sounds not so much like the Swiss Confederation, but more like the South Seas or the French Caribbean.
Should you be in the area of Yverdon: Please visit. But make sure to be there in the early hours, before the crowds arrive.
Beach on lake Neuchatel: good to know
How to get there: Best by car. Many parking spaces are available at the campsite. Infrastructure: Simple Buvette on the beach, picnic and barbecue facilities also available.
Beaches in Switzerland: Vidy Plage, the cool beach near Lausanne at Lake Geneva
In June 2020, I fulfilled a long-held wish: I went by foot from Lausanne-Ouchy to the Vidy beach. On the one hand, because I enjoy a stroll through Lausanne very much. And on the other hand, because I have always heard a lot of good things about the Plage de Vidy.
I must say that what I have seen surpasses what I have heard. The main beach is more than 500 meters long, easily accessible from the promenade and has many shady spots. Seaside feelings, made in Switzerland!
The walk from Lausanne-Ouchy takes about half an hour and is absolutely worth it. Wooded areas, sports fields and restaurants make for a varied scene. Especially in summer, the kids of Lausanne gather along this strip, giving plenty of hustle and bustle far into the night. Ça roule – cool.
What diminishes the experience at the Plage de Vidy, however, is that apparently the authorities advise against swimming at this spot. The reason is due to too many microbes in the water. I went in anyway, and a week later I still felt okay. Nevertheless cautious people may prefer to enjoy the beach only, and let the bathing be. Or one couldenjoy the beach first and later walk to the nearby Bellerive swimming pool for a swim. It’s also on the lake and is the star of Lausanne’s public swimming pools.
Vidy Plage Lausanne: good to know
Getting there: From Lausanne station, first take the metro to Ouchy; from there, about a half-hour walk toward Morges/Geneva. Infrastructure: Toilets, showers, restaurant, store and campsite. Web info: https://www.lausanne.ch/de/vie-pratique/nature/parc-promenades/sites-de-loisirs/vidy.html
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Lovely beach on Lake Geneva: Préverenges
And here is another lovely sandy beach on in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. It stretches for hundreds of metres in the small town of Préverenges on Lake Geneva.
Besides of the main part of the beach there are other sandy parts close by.
On a nice summer day – not too hot, perpaps – it is a good idea to talk a walk from Morges towards Préverenges. It may take you 35 minutes or so, always along the shore of Lake Geneva.
The last bit will take you through a forrest. Before reaching the main part of Préverenges beach, you have the chance to spot some sandy places in this region that are not as occupied as the big beach itself.
Préverenges beach on Lake Geneva: good to know
Getting there: From Morges it’s just a short bus ride, get out at station Préverenges Village, followed by a 5 Minute’s walk. Infrastructure: Toilets, showers, refreshment bar, car park. Tours and activities: boats, canoes and kayaks for hire.
Free sandy beaches Switzerland: basic information
All these beaches do not belong to a public swimming pool. So: No entry-fee required, free access for everybody. But also: No baywatch or surveillance provided.
Expats wishing to improve their German: You can find this blogpost also in German. Please proceed and visit: Die schönsten Sandstrände der Schweiz.
Lake Murten Salavaux: The classic
In the summer of 2023, I finally manage to research one of the most famous Swiss sandy beaches and list it here: Salavaux on Lake Murten.
This ribbon of sand in the municipality of Vully-Les-Lacs stretches all the way to Avenches and is considered one of the longest natural freshwater sandy beaches in Europe.
Compared to other Swiss sandy beaches, the beach in Salavaux in the canton of Vaud is rather narrow, but very long.
This also offers advantages: protective shade is never far away from the sandy strip: just behind this beach on Lake Morat, it cools down a bit thanks to the large stand of trees.
Good to know: Be there early on weekends, vacations or public holidays. Like other Swiss beaches, this one fills up quickly – and then it can get crowded.
This is especially true for this classic place, because the sandy beach is one of the more crowded of the Swiss sandy beaches presented and rated in this Swiss sandy beaches report.
Sandy beach Salavaux Lake Murten: how to get there by public transportation
Arrival: From Bern by train to Ins and then by post bus to Salavaux Ecole station. Or: By train to Faoug and then in about an hour on foot along Lake Murten to the TCS camping. Infrastructure: Good range of restaurants and food stalls, water sports rental, large playground. Web info: Sandy beach Salavaux Lake Murten. Events: Plage Salavaux.