Lake Zurich, Switzerland: Travel Tips and Photos


Let’s get one thing straight right at the start: this article and the accompanying photos are about the actual lake in Switzerland called ‘Lake Zürich’ or ‘Zürichsee’, lying to the south of the city of Zürich; it is not about the village in Lake County, Illinois, USA, confusingly called ‘Lake Zurich’ – where there is no lake!

Lake Zürich in Switzerland can be a bit of a nuisance to tourists and local Swiss alike. This is because its 40km length (25 miles) lies across the place where east-west transport links (roads, railways etc.) would otherwise be. You can travel round it by road through Zürich in the north, or across it on a bridge between Hurden and Rapperswil-Jona to the south, but between these two points there is a lot of driving, which is why there is a car ferry between Horgen and Meilen, roughly half way along the lake.

The photos below were taken on the morning of 23 August 2016, mostly while on board the paddle steamer ‘Stadt Zürich’, travelling from Zürich to Rapperswil and back. On the outward journey the route first follows the east shore, calling at Küsnacht, Erlenbach, Herrliberg and Meilen, before crossing to the west bank to visit Au, Wädenswil, Richterswil and Ufenau Island, before the terminus at Rapperswil.
Coming back the steamer calls again at Ufenau, but then travels a different route to stop at Stäfa and Männendorf on the east side, then crosses the lake to Au, Horgen, Oberrieden and Thalwil (all on the west bank), before returning to Zürich. The round trip takes a little over four hours.

The Stadt Zürich (Zürich City) is the older of only two steam paddle-driven ships still sailing Lake Zürich, having been built in 1909 by Escher Wyss specifically for the lake tourist trade. In those days there was a requirement for a large 1st Class deck area and the interior of the Saloon was decorated in Art Nouveau style. Swiss travel and tourism was obviously booming, because the Stadt Zürich was the 32nd ship in the fleet. Today, as the photos show, passengers expecting the spectacular mountain views such as you get on Lake Lucerne may be disappointed, for the Alps are far from this part of Switzerland, and the Zürich area is now over-populated and built up.

The pictures are organised by outward and return journey from Zurich to Rapperswil, and along the way what you will see in the photos is the lake being used for swimming and water sports of all kinds. In summer there are plenty of powered and sailing boats cruising the calm waters, and the numerous stops along the way are interesting. Look out on the return leg for the vineyards of Stäfa on the slopes above the village. This is where the reds Muhle Stäfner Pinot Noir, which is particularly good with beef, venison and poultry, and Muhle Stäfner Zürichsee Garanoir, are made. They also make a Riesling there, but Stäfner wines may be quite hard to find outside Switzerland. 

From Zurich to Rapperswil
Ship Zurich Ship Stadt Zurich, technical data Ship Stadt Zurich Stairs Ship Stadt Zurich Restaurant
Ship Stadt Zurich Engine Ship Zurich Zurich from ship Lake Zurich and City
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Lake Zurich, Herrliberg Lake Zurich, Switzerland Lake Zurich, Car Ferry Horgen - Meilen Lake Zurich, Sailor
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Lake Zurich, Construction Site Lake Zurich, Richterswil Lake Zurich, Richterswil Lake Zurich, Switzerland
Lake Zurich, Ship Waedenswil Lake Zurich, Overpopulation Lake Zurich, Ufenau Lake Zurich, Ufenau
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From Rapperswil to Zurich
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Oberrieden, Lake Thalwil, Lake Zurich Lake Zurich, Watersport Lake Zurich, Swiss Alps
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