Europe > Switzerland

Lake Neuchatel: The Largest Lake Entirely in Switzerland

lakeLake Neuchatel
countrySwitzerland
surface area211 km2
maximum depth152 m
average depth19 m
lake typeNatural freshwater lake
length38 km
width8 km
catchment area2,466 km2
altitude422 m
volume4 km3
inflowsThielle, Arnon, Areuse, Seyon, Canal de la Sauge, Mentue
outflowsCanal of Thielle
shore length97 km
settlementsNeuchâtel, Grandson, Yverdon, Estavayer-le-Lac
residence time792 days
trophic stateOligotrophic
average discharge58 m3 / sec.

Lake Neuchatel Information and Facts

Lake Neuchatel is the largest lake entirely in Switzerland, located mainly in the canton with the same name, and also shared by Vaud, Fribbourg and Bern. It is the 59th largest lake in Europe.

Geographic Facts

Lake Neuchâtel is primarily located in Romandy. Plenty of settlements are located on the lake, including Grandson, Concise, Auvernier and Colombier in the northwest, and Yvonand, Cheyres, Forel and Chevroux on the southeast. The township of Neuchatel is the largest settlement on the lakeshore, constructed in yellow Jurassic limestone, located on the northwest.

The lake’s northwestern shore is the most densely settled, bordered by slopes covered in vineyards. La Tene can be found on its northern shore, an area famous for prehistoric finds of the Iron Age.

Hydrology

The lakes Neuchatel, Biel and Morat, connected to each other through canals, are survivors of a former glacial lake at the base of the Jura Mountains, on the lower Aare Valley. Lake Neuchatel was once home to the now extinct species of deepwater trout, called Salvelinus Neocomensis.

Lake Neuchâtel’s drainage area is approximately 2,670 km2 and it culminates at Le Chasseron, at a height of 1607 meters. The lake has many inflows, such as the Orbe, Arnon, Areuse, Seyon and Mentue rivers, as well as the canal de la Sauge. Its main outflow is the canal of Thielle, which drains into Biel-Benne amd is part of a regulatory system for the many lakes and rivers of the Seeland Region.

Tourism and Recreation

The region attracts its tourists mainly because of its lovely landscape, historic towns, medieval centers and outdoor recreational activities. The many charming settlements around Lake Neuchatel are connected to each other by regular boat services, the majority of them even having restaurants on board.

Yverdon-les-Bains, located on the west, is a famous spa and wellness-oriented town, with an attractive old town area. Estavayer, lying on the southeastern bank of the lake is famous for its old medieval buildings, offering a wide range of water sports activities and a curiosity: a frog museum.

There are plenty of hiking and cycling routes along the shoreline, with the National “Mittelland” Cycling Route 5 passing along the southeastern shore of Lake Neuchatel. Champ Pittet National Conservatory Center offers an insight into the abundance and diversity of nature in the reed-covered lakeshore. The “La Grande Caricaie” is the largest marshland in the country, boasting a unique bird paradise 40 kilometers south of the lake.

Summer’s favored outdoor sports activities are swimming on the lake’s many beaches, sailing, surfing and rowing. The latter two are most popular on the northwestern part of the lake. A number of cruise ships offer insightful day tours towards the prime tourist attractions of the area. There is also an abundance of accommodation on the coast of Lake Neuchatel, ranging from campsites to luxury hotels.

Lake Neuchatel Fish Species

Brook trout
Pike
Brown trout
Trout
Lake trout
Whitefish
Perch