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: Bristen, Kanton Uri, CH Trail: 1.4 km to lake
Car: 1hr15 from ZH Difficulty: easy
Train/Bus: 1hr45 from ZH Theme: swimming
Open: about May through Oct Website: www.lsb-golzern.ch

Getting There

First you drive toward the Gotthard tunnel, get off the freeway at Amsteg and drive up a steep, windy (but short) one-lane road to Bristen (put this in your GPS).

Drive all the way through town until you reach a large parking lot next to the roaring river (shown below). The cable car base station is here. The schedule says it only runs every half-hour 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

Then the easy 25 walk into the valley as shown below. It’s only 1.5km and took us about 25 minutes with little kids walking on their own.

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 mintues throwing rocks in the river before heading home.

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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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