Lake Biel-Bienne, Bern & Neuchatel, Switzerland

Lake Locations:

Switzerland - Bern - Neuchatel -

Also known as:  Lake Biel, Bielersee, Lac de Bienne

Lake Biel-Bienne leads the parade of three lakes at the foot of the Jura Mountains region of Switzerland. Located in the Bern and Neuchatel cantons (states) of West Switzerland, Lake Biel-Bienne reflects its shared French-German history in its very name. Called by either name individually, Lake Biel or Lake Bienne, the large lake’s inhabitants usually speak both languages fluently and are well-prepared for international visitors. Known as a center of Swiss watch-making, the cities around the lake are a hub for cutting-edge technology. The region mixes the very old with the very new in a delightful mix of Swiss precision and medieval architecture. From the vineyards growing along its northern shore to the cruise ships taking tourists and residents from town to town and on to Lake Neuchatel and Lake Murten, Lake Biel-Bienne is quintessentially Switzerland.

Although Lake Biel-Bienne reaches depths of 243 feet, it is the shallowest of the three connected lakes. All three lakes are the result of melting ice left from the last glacial age, but Lake Biel-Bienne has received far more sediment from the Aare River. The shallower depth makes Lake Biel-Bienne the more productive fishery and also a warmer body of water. All types of water sports draw holiday-makers to the lake: sailing, kayaking, rowing, diving, swimming, water skiing and wind-surfing are favorite activities. Fishermen take advantage of the shallow lake margins to fish for carp, catfish, brook trout, lake trout, brown trout, pike, perch and zander. Boats and equipment can be rented in several places along the shore. Most towns have boat launch facilities, and there are several full-service marinas for launching larger boats.

Numerous resorts and holiday lodgings dot the shoreline, while those wishing to experience nature on a closer basis can avail themselves of space in a campground or caravan park. As is common in Swiss resort areas, sports of all types are well-represented, with hiking, cycling and mountain biking trails in large numbers. The City of Biel holds no less than 100 sports venues and facilities, including an ice stadium where curling takes place. Sailboat racing occurs here on a regular basis, and mountain bike racing is becoming ever more popular. Winter is nearly as busy as summer for outdoor activities, with guided night snowshoeing tours, cross-country skiing and skating. The nearby Jura Mountains provide several convenient downhill skiing locations, making the hostels and gasthaus facilities along the lake popular ski quarters.

Lake Biel-Bienne has been the site of human habitation for a very long time. Luscherz on the south shore is home to the Museum of The Crannog which portrays the typical lives of ancient peoples who lived on the shore of the lake from 4000 BC until about 800 AD. The City of Biel/Bienne’s Schwab Museum also presents exhibits of prehistoric and archeological subjects from the immediate region. Neuhaus Museum in Biel/Bienne documents the history of the industrial arts in the Lake Biel-Bienne area, along with art exhibits and objects of interest. Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau spent much time on Sankt Petersinsal (St Peters Island), a detached peninsula jutting from the western end of the lake. His former residence now houses an inn and restaurant. And the north shoreline has long been home to many vineyards; the Vintage Museum in Luscherz explores in detail the growing of wine grapes. Other settlements along the shore offer interesting historic ruins and exquisite examples of medieval architecture. Once past the gleaming modern towers of Biel/Bienne’s modern technology and communications industry, the well-preserved Old Town clings to the hillside as it has for hundreds of years. Here, residences look remarkably like they did in the 16th and 17th centuries. Biel/Bienne also contains many arts venues, music and concert halls, and plenty of nightlife to keep the visitor happy.

Deed recordings for the Nidau Castle go back as far as 1196, evidence of Lake Biel-Bienne’s importance to the area. The small city of Nidau on the northeast shoreline stood on one of the major early east-west trade routes, from the south of France and Savoy via Geneva and Lausanne, across the cantons of Aargau and Zurich, leading to the Rhine. The Nidau ports on Lake Biel and Thielle River remained of great importance until the 19th Century. The castle now serves as a water-related museum: the massive water project known as the Jura Water Correction completely changed the face of the formerly-marshy lands of the Swiss Plateau. Much of the Aare River was dredged, channeled and re-directed, beginning in the 1800s. Where the Aare had once entered Lake Biel-Bienne, a delta had formed and was often blocked by sediment, flooding the surrounding land and diverting the river. A permanent channel was dug to Lake Biel-Bienne and an outflow channel was dug near Nidau to drain water out of the area lakes. The Thielle River was channelized between Lake Biel-Bienne and Lake Neuchatel. The new channel allowed shipping to Lake Neuchatel and beyond to Lake Murten. The outflow channel of the Thielle River has a water control structure near the city of Port which controls water levels on all three lakes. These improvements in drainage opened thousands of acres to agriculture and are considered some of Switzerland’s most important water projects. The Nidau Castle Museum details this important effort to control the hydrology and the economic future of Switzerland. Improvements are continually being made to protect the environment – an effort that has paid off with the international recognition of the small town of Altreu as a European Stork City. Tours to view the storks nesting on the village rooftops are a popular excursion.

Whether for business or pleasure, a trip to Lake Biel-Bienne will provide many hours of enjoyment and pleasure. Vacation rentals such as holiday houses, chateaus, farm holiday rentals and chalets are always available. Real estate is sometimes available for purchase in the area and, as the region becomes more popular for tourism, often is quickly sold. A holiday at Lake Biel-Bienne will quickly convince the first-time visitor that Lake Biel-Bienne is worthy of elevation to ‘favorite’ status. Make Lake Biel-Bienne your home-away-from-home.

Things to do at Lake Biel-Bienne

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wind Surfing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Museum
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Lake Biel-Bienne

  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Lake Trout
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Trout
  • Zander

Lake Biel-Bienne Photo Gallery

Lake Biel-Bienne Statistics & Helpful Links

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Water Level Control: Federal Office For The Environment

Surface Area: 9,711 acres

Shoreline Length: 25 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,408 feet

Maximum Depth: 243 feet

Water Volume: 907,999 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 58 days

Drainage Area: 3,207 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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