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Lakes at the heart of the Alps you can reach by trainLakes at the heart of the Alps

This article is the first in a series about Europe's most beautiful lakes that can be accessed by train. We invite you to discover the lakes nestled at the heart of the Alps, from Lake Geneva to Lake Constance, not forgetting the 'Sea of Tyrol' and the breathtaking Lake Gelmer and its funicular.

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva: the Swiss pearl

Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland and stretches 74 kilometres from Geneva to Villeneuve. Start your trip along the lake in Geneva, climb up to the old town to stroll along its alleyways before walking along the shores of the lake to admire its ubiquitous Jet d'Eau fountain, and end by treating yourself to a little afternoon relaxation at the Bains des Pâquis baths from where you can spy the villas that litter the slopes and surround the lake.

In Lausanne, walk along the lake from the Quai de la Belgique to Château de Ouchy. Next, head for Vevey to admire the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces that are a UNESCO world heritage site located on the slopes of Lake Geneva with the never-ending mountains in the background.

Get there by train:
Travel to Geneva or Lausanne from Paris or Lyon on TGV Lyria trains.

Lake Constance

Lake Constance: one region, three countries

Bodensee, or Lake Constance, located on the border between Germany, Switzerland and Austria, is THE ideal destination for nature lovers and thrill-seekers. This region is characterised by its distinctive climate and the interplay between the lake and the mountains. Our picks from the activities on offer around Lake Constance include walking around the lake, visiting a UNESCO World Heritage monument, photographing the Zeppelin, marvelling at the impressive Rhine waterfalls, tasting fresh local produce at sunset, walking along one of the beaches, visiting Liechtenstein, strolling around the Mainau garden island and climbing to admire the panorama.

Get there by train:
Travel to Lake Constance from Paris or Strasbourg, changing in Germany (Offenburg, Karlsruhe or Stuttgart) or Switzerland (Basel or Zurich).

Lake Achensee

Lake Achensee: the Sea of Tyrol

Stretching 9 kilometres and straddling Tyrol and Bavaria between the Karwendel and Rofan mountains, Lake Achensee is a hit with water sports fans and holidaymakers looking to relax alike. Relax on Maurach, Pertisau or Achenkirch beaches, navigate the lake by boat or take a sailing, surfing or kitesurfing lesson, or even go white-water rafting, canyoning or swimming.

It couldn't be easier to get there: from Jenbach, take the steam train to Lake Achensee. This cog steam train, the oldest in Europe (1889), links Jenbach and Achensee at a gradient of 16%. You'll have the feeling of stepping back in time to travel!

Get there by train:
Get to Munich from Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam with ICE and TGV® trains. Then take a train to Jenbach.

Lake Gelmer

Lake Gelmer: a dizzying trail

Thrill-seekers won't be disappointed. With a gradient of 106%, the Gelmerbahn is the steepest funicular in Europe. Both there and on the way back, this breathtaking journey will take you to Lake Gelmer in the canton of Bern at an altitude of 1,850 metres.

Once you get to the top, admire the landscape of the Hautes-Alpes region and its impressive summits. Take the opportunity to hike to Gelmerhütte (about 2:30, intermediate level). From the funicular, go along the north of the lake. The ascent can be tough but the view is well worth the effort. You'll see the shining Gelmerhörner and Gelmerspitzen glaciers, and reach Gelmerhütte at 2,412 metres.

Get there by train:
Get to Meiringen by train from Interlaken Ost or Lucerne. The Gelmer funicular station can be reached by mail bus (stop: Handegg, Gelmerbahn).