View of Walchwil from across Lake Zug

Walchwil could almost slip by unnoticed as you drive down the winding two-lane road on the eastern shore of Lake Zug. With only a couple of restaurants and a handful of shops fronting on the highway, it seems like the kind of sleepy little spot you would hardly notice unless you had relatives living there, which we did when we visited in the late spring of 2004.

But if you turn left up the hill, you'll find yourself in a wonderful little town that is both a summer resort and a very exclusive bedroom community that the New York Times referred to as the Swiss counterpart of Scarsdale, New York or New Canaan, Connecticut.

The town itself sprawls up a steep slope away from the road. The slope is the foot of the Zugerberg, a mountain with a broad, flat peak that rises more than a thousand feet above the lake.

Meadow above Walchwil

The quite small town, the beautiful views, and the warm hospitality made for great memories. I'll never forget lying in bed in semi-darkness listening to the not quite musical clanking of the bells around the necks of the cows on the hillside.

Then taking a steaming cup of coffee to the balcony and watching as the light from the rising sun behind you first strikes the peak of Mt. Rigi across the lake, then creeps down the mountainside to tranquli Lake Zug below.

Mt. Rigi with its head in the clouds

Zug is the name of both the smallest canton (political division similar to a state) and the city which is its capital. Zug is southwest of Zurich in the German-speaking western region of Switzerland. Lake Zug extends south 14 km (9 miles) from the city of Zug. It reaches a depth of 417 meters (1368 feet), but is relatively narrow. The city of Arth sits at the south end. Walchwil is located in a sheltered bay on the eastern shore, with a beach and a marina which attract enough locals for the area to be called "Lake Zug's Riviera".

View toward Arth from Walchwil

Its situation on the steep slope of the Zugerberg means that almost every house and apartment has views to die for. Arth to the south, Mt. Rigi directly across the lake, and Immensee slightly north of Rigi are all clearly visible.

The lake with its beach, marina, and ferry dock provide watery entertainments, while the Zugerberg offers hiking trails through nature preserves and spectacular views of alpine peaks. In winter, the Zugerberg has 18 km (11 miles) of cross-country skiing trails, including a section that is lighted at night.

Walchwil is 47 km (28 miles) from Zurich and its international airport and 8 km (5 miles) from Zug. You can get there easily by train from Zurich, but a car makes it possible to see all the other attractions in the area. (One of which is Lucerne.)


Copyright 2006 Harry B. Rowe