Lakes and Rivers

Switzerland is the source of roughly 6% of Europe’s freshwater reserves. Lakes and rivers account for around 4% of the country’s surface area.

The River Hinterrhein near Rothenbrunnen
The Upper Rhine near Rothenbrunnen, Graubünden © FDFA, Presence Switzerland

Switzerland has around 1,500 lakes. The largest lakes are at the northern foot of the Jura (Lakes Geneva, Neuchâtel and Biel), on the Plateau (Lakes Constance and Zurich), in the Lower Alps and the Northern Alps (Lakes Thun, Brienz, Zug and Lucerne), and in the Southern Alps (Lakes Lugano and Maggiore). Added to this are the hundreds of small natural lakes and reservoirs, which can be found mostly in the Alps.

The majority of Swiss lakes were once glaciers and formed during the last ice age. Lake Geneva, which is shared by France and Switzerland, is the largest freshwater lake in central Europe. The largest lake which lies wholly on Swiss territory is the 218km2 Lake Neuchâtel.


The Rhone, Rhine and Inn all take their source in Switzerland. Their waters flow into three seas: the Mediterranean, the North Sea and the Black Sea (via the Danube). A total of 375km of the River Rhine runs through Switzerland, while the Rhone runs over 264km and the Inn 90km.

Additional information