Escape to Lake Greifensee, Switzerland Enjoying summertime

Issue: Summer 2013
Summer is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Switzerland.

The season offers so many possibilities - the lakes, the mountains and the beautiful journeys through picturesque Swiss countryside by train or car. There's so much to explore both near and far.

When I want to do something on the spur of the moment outside Zurich, one of my favourite places to while away a summer's day is right on our doorstep – Lake Greifensee. A trip to the Greifensee takes no planning and is great for a morning cappuccino at one of the lakeside cafes or restaurants, for a pleasant lunch or picnic, or an afternoon's sunbathing or a dip or in the lake or even an evening stroll. Mind you, you could quite easily spend the whole day taking in the gorgeous scenery, swimming a little, reading a book while enjoying the views over the beautiful countryside. Then in the evening you could pop into one of the cute little restaurants nearby, or light a barbeque at one of the grill areas by the water and watch the sun setting over the lake.


Lake Greifensee itself lies approximately 12km to the northeast of Zurich, separated by the Pfannenstiel. The lake is the second largest in the Canton of Zurich and is approximately 6km long and just over 1.5km wide at the widest part. It is easily accessible by train and bus, by car or even by bike. In fact, being so flat, it offers great cycling for all the family and the circuit around the lake is extremely popular not only with cyclists, but with in-line skaters, buggy pushers and walkers, and with young and old alike.

Spanning approximately 22km it can take anything from around an hour, to up to an hour-and-a-half or longer for most people to cycle round the lake, though this can be extended considerably if you stop to take photos, or for a drink or snack, or simply to marvel at the view.

You won't get bored at the Greifensee. You can hire rowing boats, visit one of the official swimming areas or Badis as they are known, for example, the fantastically named Bad Egg, or Badi Maur, or Badi Niederuster. Each has its own charm and offers either a kiosk or café, nearby parking, a stretch of grass and access to the lake. Many of the Badis offer fresh sausages, which you can buy and grill yourself on one of the barbeques provided. Niederuster has volleyball courts as well as a swimming pool. As well as these official Badis, there are plenty of areas where you can simply sit down by the side of the lake and have a paddle or swim and use one of the public grills for a barbeque.

Along the lake there are several embarcation points for the boat that makes regular crossings during the summer months, connecting the towns of Maur, Faellanden, Niederuster, Moenchaltorf and Greifensee. In addition to the regular crossings, there are also special Lunch and Evening Boat trips, some of which are themed and all of which make for a fun day or evening out. Additionally, there is the oldest steamboat in Switzerland, the "Greif ", owned by the SGG transport company, which was built in 1895 specifically for the Greifensee. It runs a select number of excursions, and the whole boat can also be hired for private functions on certain dates too.                               

The town of Greifensee is steeped in history: it dates back over five thousand years. The castle, Schloss Greifensee, dominates the little town of the same name. It was once the residence of the bailiff of the imperial city of Zurich, and the current structure was rebuilt in 1520. It is now used for weddings, functions and parties. Several times a year there are markets in the square just around the castle; with the bustle and atmosphere along the cobbled streets it's a sight to behold. So whenever you decide to visit Lake Greifensee, why not stop by at the small café right on the lake near the castle and enjoy a coffee and a Nussstängli while watching the world go by? If it's your first trip here, enjoy! I'm sure it won't be your last.                                                                       

Author: Christina Fryer

Is founder of NewInZurich workshops, together with its website:

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