Lake Thun, Bern, Switzerland

Lake Locations:

Switzerland - Bern -

Also known as:  Thunersee

Lying just north of the Alps in Switzerland’s Bern Region, Lake Thun is a favorite destination among holiday-makers. Reflecting the majestic Alpine peaks of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, the lake is locally known as Thunersee. The area offers the best of varied Swiss terrain and provides an infinite variety of activities for the holiday-minded visitor. The well-known international flavor of Interlaken extends to the many historic and sports-themed activities and destinations around the lakefront. Four languages are spoken here: German, French, Romansh and Italian, making this a desirable destination for visitors from all over Europe. Interlaken, meaning ‘between the lakes’, sits on the narrow strip of land separating Lake Thun from Lake Brienz. The lakes were originally one huge glacial lake known historically as the Wendelsee. The Aare River brings water from melting glaciers in the Alps to Lake Brienz, out through a short channel and into Lake Thun. The Aare River then flows out of Lake Thun northwest through Bern and on to Lake Biel.

Lake Thun is very deep, with little shallow area. Averaging over 440 ft in depth, the cold glacial lake offers swimming along several warmer shallow public beach areas and is extremely popular for water sports such as water skiing, sailing, windsurfing, wake-boarding, diving and fishing. Wind conditions are excellent for sailing, drawing sailors from all over the world to enjoy the lake’s ten-mile length. Beginners can learn to sail at a water ski and wakeboard school in the village of Gunten. Boats can be rented at several places along the shore. The lake still supports a few commercial fishermen, but mostly sport fishermen enjoy angling for grayling, burbot, pike, European perch, lake trout, brook trout and brown trout. Stocking takes place regularly. Restaurants along the shore often feature fresh-caught fish from Lake Thun.

One of the favorite ways to see the expansive lake is via commercial lake steamer. These cruise ships not only provide transportation between major towns on the lake, but offer themed concert cruises, dinner cruises and excursions of several days with accommodations. Many resorts, hotels and hostels along the shore provide lodgings as do private vacation rentals such as guest houses, chalets and holiday apartments in and around Spiez, Faulensee, Thun, Hilterfingen, Merlingen and many smaller communities. Several camp grounds along the shoreline offer more rustic vacation options. The spectacular scenery across the water makes Lake Thun a favorite for photographers and artists. Outfitters provide gear and planned excursions for bicycling, mountain biking, mountaineering, rock climbing, paragliding, bungee jumping, kayaking, canyoning, glacier hiking, heli-skiing, sledding, ice climbing and snowshoe trekking. Lake Thun is a favorite home-base for Alpine skiing, and ski chalets are usually available here year round. The new sport of aqua-biking is very popular as are horseback riding and hiking the many trails. For those looking for indoor activities, there are many all-night clubs, a casino and a variety of arts and music-related venues to keep everyone happy. The Weissenau Nature Reserve provides feeding and breeding places for numerous bird species along the lakeshore. Weissenau is also an important transit area and hibernation and molting site for native species.

Favorite sightseeing venues around Lake Thun include the medieval Thun Castle, built in the late 12th century. Its tower now houses Thun’s History Museum with an excellent exhibit of life in the area over the centuries. Schloss Schadau, in Schadau Park, is home to the Swiss Gastronomy Museum and a restaurant with lake views. Several other castles and ancient fortifications exist along the shore. Other favorite sightseeing stops are the Tin Figure Museum and the Open Air Museum near Ballenberg. Mystery Park, designed by Erich von Daniken, was closed for some time but is now open again. Here the explorer can investigate such mysteries as outer space, the Nazca Lines, the Maya, megalithic stonework, the Orient and the ancient Indian Epics. Other museums include the Heritage and Wine-making Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Swiss Army Museum in Thun.

Mountain railway excursions take visitors to dizzying heights to panoramic views of the Alps and Lake Thun below. And one must not miss St. Beatus Caves that lie high above Lake Thun (open from April-October). Switzerland’s only cave museum, the cavern is a spectacular maze of stalactites, stalagmites, lakes and waterfalls over 9800 feet deep. Saint Beatus, an English monk, lived here until his death in the 2nd century. The area of what is now the city of Thun has been inhabited since the Neolithic age. The name of the city derives from the Celtic term Dunum, meaning “fortified city”. The lake thus derives its name from the town.

Travel around the Lake Thun area is easy due to Switzerland’s excellent passenger rail system. Bern is only a half hour away by train. The 400,000 inhabitants of Bern count on the Aare River for their drinking water, so Swiss authorities are understandably concerned with water quality on the entire Aare River system. Because the area around Lake Thun has had severe flooding problems in the past, a diversion tunnel was recently completed to divert excess water from the Aare near Interlaken where small water control dams could not handle excess spring run-off. The Aare River is dammed for hydroelectric power generation in several places both above and below Lake Thun, so water levels are controlled by a variety of locations not on the lake itself. It appears that a legal water level has not yet been set but is still under discussion.

The visitor to Lake Thun will easily find holiday rentals to their liking. Due to the spectacular scenery, it would be difficult to find vacation rentals without a view of either the Alps or Lake Thun; many have both. Available real estate can be found locally for the visitor who decides they must stay. They’ll be in good company as many a famed 19th century author and artist came here to write or paint. One could easily spend several weeks at Lake Thun and find new adventures every day. So, plan a visit to beautiful Lake Thun. It will become your favorite holiday destination!

Things to do at Lake Thun

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Ice Climbing
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • Museum
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Lake Thun

  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Burbot
  • Grayling
  • Lake Trout
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Trout

Lake Thun Photo Gallery

  • Lakes and Mountains........the perfect setting for a scenery => Switzerland

  • Lake Thun, Switzerland

Lake Thun Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 11,935 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,831 feet

Average Depth: 446 feet

Maximum Depth: 712 feet

Water Volume: 5,269,636 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 684 days

Drainage Area: 965 sq. miles

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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