Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland

Lake Locations:

Switzerland - Bern - Fribourg - Neuchatel - Vaud -

Also known as:  Lac de Neuchatel

Lake Neuchatel is the largest lake entirely within the borders of Switzerland, spanning almost 54,000 acres and reaching into four Swiss cantons (states): Neuchatel, Bern, Vaud and Fribourg. This region of Switzerland, known as Swiss Seeland, lies at the base of the Jura Mountains and includes three lakes: Lake Neuchatel, Lake Biel, and Lake Morat. Lake Neuchatel is less-visited by tourists than other, more centrally located lakes. Holiday-makers obviously don’t know what they’re missing; this oft-overlooked treasure has every amenity necessary to make for a memorable holiday.

Neuchatel is a deep lake with depths reaching to almost 500 feet, but there are many shallow areas with beaches for swimming. Water sports are popular here, including water skiing, sailing, wake-boarding, diving, rowing and kite-surfing. Several campgrounds located around the lake specialize in sports-minded holidays, with hiking, cycling, mountain biking, skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and snowshoeing joining the usual campground standards such as volleyball, tennis, golf and beach games. The Lake Neuchatel region has nearly 250 miles of trails designated to cycling and mountain biking and an additional 800 miles of signed and maintained hiking trails. Hang-gliding and parachuting hold a prominent place in the local sports scene. There are few well-maintained roads in the area, except for the main routes in and out.

Much travel here is by ship; regular passenger cruise ships ply the lake’s surface from town to town and are a delightful way to travel around the lake. The well-developed schedules allow visitors to take a cruise ship over part of their itinerary, then disembark with their bicycle and continue on their way under pedal-power. Visitors can travel the entire three-lake system by ship, going from Lake Neuchatel to Lake Biel (Bienne in French) or Lake Murton via a system of rivers and canals. Some commercial fishing still occurs on Lake Neuchatel, but the majority of angling is performed by sport fishermen attempting to hook whitefish, perch, brown trout, brook trout, lake trout, pike and other species.

The area around Lake Neuchatel is a well-known agricultural area, with vineyards in neat rows lining the foothill slopes of the Jura Mountains down to the water. Several water improvement projects beginning in the 1800s drained much of the formerly swampy plateau and allowed for an expansion of farming in the region. Now, the lake receives water from the Thielle, Arnon, Areuse, Seyon and Mentue Rivers and from the Canal de la Sauge which drains Lake Murten. Water drains from Lake Neuchatel through the Canal of Thielle into Lake Biel-Bienne where it joins the Aare River, a tributary of the Rhine.

The confluence of so many rivers no doubt added to the region’s allure among prehistoric people. Metalwork and pottery found at La Tene, at the eastern end of Lake Neuchatel, are dated to the 5th century BC and display the swirling geometric patterns that have been compared with the art of the Celts. Yverdon-les-Bains at the west end of Lake Neuchatel has a unique site featuring 45 Neolithic menhirs (megaliths) dating back to 5000 BC. Lake Neuchatel was important in both Roman and Swiss history, as evidenced by the many castles and fortresses located along its shores. Museums located at Yverdon-les-Bains and Neuchatel detail the long history of human settlement at Lake Neuchatel. Many of the castles and historic buildings also contain museums and mementos of Lake Neuchatel history and the precision watch-making trades the area is known for. Neuchatel’s Old Town in particular contains fine examples of medieval buildings and structures.

La Grande Caricaie, enclosing the majority of the south shore of the lake, is a World Heritage Nature Reserve. Over 200 bird species live in the series of eight nature reserves, either permanently or seasonally, to the delight of birdwatchers. A funicular or cable railway transports passengers up the Chaumont, the closest mountain, to heights of 3600 feet. Several other excursions are available to other destinations, such as a visit to the Vine and Wine Museum at Boudry Castle.

The towns along Lake Neuchatels’s shoreline offer every type of lodging and vacation rental for visitors. Several resorts provide rare amenities such as the hot sulphur baths at Yverdon-les-Bains, in use since Roman times. Neuchatel has a five-star hotel located on stilts in the lake itself; nearly every inch of the facility offers lovely lake and mountain views. Hotels, hostels, chalets and guest houses are plentiful. Holiday apartments in several of the towns provide an economical way to enjoy the region like a Lake Neuchatel native. Even the rare rainy day can easily be filled with adventure, exploring the many museums, castles, churches, manor houses, shops and eateries around the lake. The winter season is nearly as popular as summer, as visitors arrive to enjoy a ski holiday in either the Jura or the Bernese Alps. And for the visitor who wishes to make every day a holiday, real estate is often found in the surrounding countryside. So, take the road less traveled; explore Lake Neuchatel and experience Switzerland like a native.

Things to do at Lake Neuchatel

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Kite Surfing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Neuchatel

  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Lake Neuchatel Photo Gallery

Lake Neuchatel Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 53,943 acres

Shoreline Length: 9 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,408 feet

Average Depth: 204 feet

Maximum Depth: 499 feet

Water Volume: 11,349,985 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 8.2 years

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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