Golzernsee: Lake Hike and Swimming

Golzernsee is a small, pretty alpine lake, in the mountains near the entrance to the Gotthard tunnel, where you can swim, hike, or just take in the view. After a short cable car, the path to the lake is smooth, wide and stroller-friendly. There are a couple restaurants before you reach the lake, with excellent views of the valley, lake, and surrounding mountains. There are several grill pits next to the lake if you prefer to picnic. The lake has several shallow areas where children can wade in and splash around. It’s a lovely, easy day out with the kids. But if you prefer, there are plenty of hikes in the area if you want more of a challenge. We had a great day here and hope to go back soon.

Location:   Central Switzerland, Uri
Address: Talweg 37 6475 Silenen
Car: 1hr20 from Zurich
Parking: 46°45’59.2″N 8°42’41.7″E
Train: 1hr45 from Zurich HB to Golzern, Talstation Seihbahn
Adult return with Half-fare CHF 35.60
Trail: 1.4 km each way to lake
Condition: wide smooth dirt path, suitable for strollers
Skill: easy
Services: restaurants, swimming, changing rooms & WC at lake
Cost 2017: Cable car return Adult CHF 14, Child CHF 5
SBB Half-fare and Junior cards not accepted
Open: May thru mid October,
every 15-20 mins about 9:00 to 17:00
More info: www.lsb-golzern.ch


This hiking area is accessible with a small cable car from Bristen. At the top, its an easy 1.5 km on a smooth dirt path to the lake. It took us about 25 minutes with little kids walking on their own. You’ll pass through a little village with restaurants. The lake itself has a swimming area with changing rooms and WC. There are lots of other more challenging hikes in this area described on their website.

Getting There

By car: Drive toward the Gotthard tunnel, get off the freeway at Amsteg and drive up a steep, winding (mercifully short) one-lane road to Bristen. Drive through town until you reach a large parking lot next to the roaring river (shown below). The cable car base station is here.

By train: Take a train to Erstfeld, then a bus to Amsteg, Post, then a bus to Golzern, Talstation Seihbahn. The bus drops at the cable car station.

Tickets & Opening Times

Cable car tickets are quite affordable, round trip CHF 14 Adult, CHF 5 Child. SBB Half-fare cards and Junior cards are not accepted.

The schedule says it only runs every half-hour from about 6:00 to 20:00, and that it’s closed for lunch. But the day we were there, it was so busy that it ran constantly all-day.

Trail Details

Here we are on the trail to the lake.

We went on Swiss National Day (Aug 1), so it was a little crowded:

Along the trail, there were a couple stands selling crystals. Our kids bought some to add to their treasure chests at home.

Here’s another view of the beautiful valley before reaching the lake.

We ate at Restaurant Golzernsee, which was exactly what you might expect from a Swiss mountain restaurant, no more, no less. The view, of course, was fantastic. They did have child plates with hot dogs or schnitzel.

And finally, the lake. Here the small “beach” which starts out very shallow, so your tots can wade around before it gets too deep. Before you walk down to the water, there is a public bathroom where you can change into your swimsuit.

We walked to the far side of the lake, where it was a little less crowded.

Here’s the “beach” on the other side of the lake.

I have an irrational fear of swimming in lakes (it’s dark and scary!) but the water was so wonderfully clear and refreshing that I was quickly won over. All the kids in our party had a great time splashing around in the shallow part and venturing out a little farther with floaties. I and my friend’s 9 year old swam out into the lake, where there was a big rock we could stand on. We both thought this was pretty cool.

My husband found a big rock that we could jump off. The tots stayed by the shore and caught tadpoles.

Here are the kiddies searching the reeds for tadpoles and other treasures.

This is another view of the path, leading us back to the cable car.

Back at the bottom of the cable, we spent a few minutes throwing rocks in the river before heading home.

I hope you like it. Want to see some other Swiss lakes?

Don’t forget to Pin this for later…

You can swim, hike or just take in the gorgeous view at this cosy alpine lake in Central Switzerland.

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One comment

  1. What a gem! We did this hike today (with a 10 month old and small dog) and really enjoyed it. We were nearly fooled by the smaller (unstaffed, coin operated (!)) cable car about 2 km before the intended one, but saved that particular adventure for another day. A really nice hike that's an easy drive from Zurich. Quick warning – don't ignore the sign as you enter the windy road up the mountain telling you not to enter between certain times (e.g., 10 – 10:10, 11 – 11:10) on certain days. A car behind us “jumped the queue” of waiting cars and then had to reverse quite a way when the Post Bus came barreling down (as the sign warned). Thanks for the great tip!

    – Kelly

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