Switzerland is known for its mountains, skiing, adventure sports and hiking. Although diving in Switzerland may not seem like an obvious choice, with its many lakes and rivers Switzerland does have some worthwhile diving opportunities. Lake Zurich and Lake Geneva are especially popular for lake diving. These lakes are large and deep, with steep walls dropping down to hundreds of meters, making them perfect sites for wall diving. Lake Zurich’s shores are lined with shore dive sites, accessible from one of the towns surrounding the lake. In the deep waters of Lake Geneva, advanced divers can find the Hirondelle wreck, starting at 43 meters or dive one of the walls the lake has to offer.
River diving is not as popular as Lake diving in Switzerland, but it does offer some unique possibilities. South of the Alps and bordering Italy, the area Ticino might have the best river diving in Europe. The Verasca river has spectacular visibility and interesting river scenery. It is recommended to consult with a local dive center before diving Switzerland’s rivers, since some rivers can turn hazardous due to streams.
When diving Switzerland, water temperatures range between 3 degrees Celsius in winter and 20 degrees in summer. Diving Switzerland in winter requires a dry suit. During summers, a thicker wetsuit, between 5 and 7 mm, is sufficient. Visibility ranges from around 3 meters in some lake and rivers, to almost 30 meters in Verasca.
Switzerland is easily accessible from other European and international cities by flying to Zürich or Geneva. Other areas, like Ticino, have smaller airports that have connections to other Swiss airports. The train system in Switzerland is very efficient and connects to many European destinations. Roads are good, and a rental car is an easy way to get around to Switzerland’s dive sites around lakes and rivers. Three different languages are spoken in Switzerland (French, Italian, and German) depending on the area. For English speakers, it can be a challenge to find information online about diving in Switzerland.
Ticino, situated in the south of Switzerland, is a place of great natural beauty, and home to some of Switzerland’s most spectacular dive sites. Filled with lakes and rivers, this part of Italy boasts an exquisite selection of freshwater diving. Verzasca is one of Europe’s top river diving sites, with crystal clear waters and impressive landscape. Maggia river is another great river dive, full of freshwater fish. The river merges into Lago Maggiore, a beautiful mountain lake that houses wrecks and steep walls, which make excellent dive sites.
Most of the diving in Switzerland probably happens in Lake Zurich. The lake is approximately 40 km long and 3 km wide and shore is lined with dive spots. Many of the dive sites are wall dives, with depths of up to 30 or 40 meters. However, some lake dives here are shallow and allow for diver training and night diving. The town of Herrliberg, on the east shore of the lake, has several good dive sites with facilities. ‘Kleiner Parkplatz' is a dive site offering both a shallower and deeper option than its sister dive site ‘Grosser Parkplatz’, and is named after the smaller number of parking spaces. The spectacular dive site Matterhorn, takes divers to a large underwater rock, starting at 25 meters deep. When visibility is good, it is said to resemble the famous mountain Matterhorn.
Deep down in lake Geneva, between 43 and 67 meters, lies the wreck of the Hirondelle. This 1855 passenger cruiser sunk after hitting a rock in 1862, and now makes an interesting deep dive for experienced and tech divers. The mountains around Geneva continue underwater and wall dives are plentiful in the lake. Chateau de Chillon is an excellent Lake Geneva dive spot that has 4 walls for all level divers. La Falaise Bikini, close to Fenalet at the other side of the lake, is another wall that descends to 200 meters deep.
South of the Alps, Ticino borders Italy and is almost entirely Italian speaking. For excellent diving in Switzerland, Ticino is easy to reach by airplane, car or train. The airport of Lugano-Agno has daily flights to Rome, Geneva and Zurich. Milan airport is only an hour away by car. The train system in Switzerland is very efficient and has good connections to other European cities. Bellinzona train station in Ticino is directly connected to Basel, Zurich, Lucerne and Milan. Maggiore Diving is a well-recommended dive center that organizes diving in Lago Maggiore, Verasca river and other local river and lake dive sites. The dive center is located in Cannobia in Italy, at the shores of Lago Maggiore but offers dives in Switzerland.
Located in the north of Switzerland and close to Germany, Zurich is situated in the German speaking part of Switzerland. Zürichsee (Lake Zürich) is literally located right next to Zurich and offers good lake diving opportunities. Several towns in the area give access to diving the lake. Situated in Torgen, at the shore of Lake Zürich, Dive Academy GmbH is a professional PADI dive center that offers courses and fun dives in the lake. Zürich International Airport has good connections to other European and International cities. Train connections between Zurich and other European cities are fast and comfortable.
Geneva is another Swiss city situated at a lake and sports several good dive sites. Since Geneva borders France, most people and organizations will have French as a first language. ADN diving is a 5 star PADI dive center in Geneva. This center has been here for over 15 years and besides dive courses, can help divers with rental gear, information and organized dives in lake Geneva. The city has good international connections by air, with the airport only 20 minutes from the city center. The Geneva train station is well situated on the European rail network, and trains are fast, clean and reliable.
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