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The 5 most captivating lakes of Switzerland

23 April 2015

Although landlocked, Switzerland is a land famous for its lakes - official statistics put the count at 7000. Beautifully smooth water surrounded by abundantly green mountains, Switzerland's lakes offer some of the most breathtaking views in Europe. Swiss mountain railways holidays are the perfect choice for those wanting to see more than one of the countries thousands of beautiful lakes. Whether you're cruising Lake Thun by boat or soaking up your surroundings on Lake Lucerne's beaches, you'll be captivated by the splendor of Switzerland's most popular lakes. We've investigated the top five most captivating lakes of Switzerland, and in no particular order they are:

Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz is one of the most romantic places in Switzerland. It boasts beautiful untouched countryside, dense pine forests and picture-postcard villages dotted around the shore. Visitors can spend their time leisurely hopping between these pretty villages thanks to the regular passenger boat services which run between them.

Make a point of visiting the Giessbach Falls, tumbling down five-hundred metres and over fourteen stages out of the high valleys of the Faulhorn area down into Lake Brienz. This is also the site of Europe's oldest funicular railway (or cogwheel railway), which carries tourists to the nearby Grand Hotel Giessbach and a must visit for those interested in holidays by rail.

Lake Brienz is the perfect destination for culinary tourists, especially in summer. A number of regular culinary boat excursions run on Lake Brienz, these include the 'Fondue Boat', the 'Breakfast Boat' and 'Hooked on Fish', among others.

Lake Geneva (Lac Léman)

Lake Geneva is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe, on the north side of the Alps it lies on the border between Switzerland and France.

There are some amazing hiking trails among the Lavaux Terraces, vineyards that were planted centuries ago and are still tended by the same winegrowing families. Lavaux is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the winegrowers invite visitors to experience the beauty of the vineyards all year round.

While visiting Lake Geneva, be sure to take a relaxing trip on one of the vintage paddle steamers that operate on the lake. This is a glorious, leisurely way to enjoy the stunning scenery and get a little taste of history.

Lake Neuchâtel

Neuchâtel lies at the southern foot of the Jura Mountains in the southwest of Switzerland. Lake Neuchâtel is the largest lake contained wholly within the Swiss borders. The southern shore of the lake is home to Switzerland's largest marshland and beautiful bird paradise, 'La Grande Cariçaie'. This nature reserve stretches forty kilometers along the whole southern shore. This area is best enjoyed by nature lovers between May and October, when the reed-covered lakeshore is host to an abundance of wildlife.

During the summer, visitors can relax on one of Lake Neuchâtel's many beaches, or partake in the wide offering of water sports available. For those interested in the whimsical, plan a visit to the original frog museum, featuring stuffed frogs engaging in 'human' activities.

Lake Thun

This beautiful alpine lake is located in central Switzerland and is perfectly situated to cater for almost every type of holiday available. With historic castles, picturesque parks, nature reserves, wellness spas and more, the variety of Lake Thun is unrivalled.

For history lovers, a trip to the beautiful Hünegg Castle is a must. The rooms are still exactly as the original owners left them and nothing has changed since 1900 - it's as if the castles original owners could stroll back in at any minute. Built in 1862, this renaissance castle sits on the northeast shore of Lake Thun, and is one of many stunning castles dotted around the lake.

Keen hikers will enjoy the Panoramic Circular Trail around Lake Thun, but this is not one for those with a fear of heights. Two suspension bridges along the trail at Sigriswil and Leissigen provide stunning views, definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Lake Lucerne

The fourth largest in the country, this lake twists and turns stretching from the town of Lucerne up into the mountains. Due to its complicated shape Lake Lucerne lies in four different valleys, this means there's a lot to explore and a great variety of activities on offer.

In Lucerne, one of the most popular sights is the Water Tower. This octagonal tower is over 34 meters high, and 39 meters wide meaning that despite its appearance it's thicker than it's high. The tower dates back to 1300, built as part of the city wall. Throughout its history it's been used as a torture chamber, prison, treasury and an archive. It's also the most photographed monument in Switzerland, and well worth a visit.

On the far eastern shore of Lake Lucerne lies the Rütli Meadow where, according to legend, the country of Switzerland was born.

Rail holidays to Switzerland offer the perfect opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and beauty the country has to offer. Great Rail Journeys operate Swiss rail holidays during every season.