The Longest Rivers In Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland on the Rhine River.
Basel, Switzerland on the Rhine River.

Despite its relatively diminutive size of 15,940 square miles, the central European country of Switzerland is home to an array of rivers, lakes, and mountain ranges. Water makes up a total of just over four percent of the nation’s total surface area. Although this landlocked nation is well known for its picturesque Alps and mountainous terrain Switzerland is also home to numerous rivers. The longest of these natural waterways are the Rhine, Aare, Rhone, Reuss, Linth and Limmat, Saane, and Thur.

7. Thor River - 125 km

Located in the north eastern portion of Switzerland the Thor River flows for a distance of 125 km or 77.7 miles. Originating in the Säntis mountain the Thor travels into the Toggenburg region and through the town of Wil before reaching the city of Frauenfeld in the canton of Thurgau. The Thor then converges with the Rhine River and proceeds south into the neighboring country of France.

6. Saane/La Sarine River - 128 km

The Saane/La Sarine River runs a length of 128 km or 79.5 miles. It is another tributary of the Aare River. The course of this Swiss river includes a number of damns as well as reservoirs. These reservoirs are used to store water and often take the form of artificial or natural lakes.

5. Linth River and Limmat River - 140 km

As a tributary of the Aare River, the Linth River rises in the mountainous village of Linthal, eventually making its way 50 km or 31 miles into Lake Zurich’s Obersee section. This historic river plays an important part in the lives of the people who live in close proximity to it. Most importantly the waterway served as the impetus behind the region's textile industry. In more recent times the Linth continues to play an important role in the energy produced at the Linth–Limmern power stations.

The Limmat River begins near the Swiss city of Zurich. It runs for a distance of 35 km or 22 miles in a north eastern direction before eventually meeting up with the Aare River. Like the Linith River the Limmat is an important waterway due to its primary use in the production of hydro electric power.

4. Reuss River - 158 km

Switzerland’s Reuss River is located in the central portion of the European country. At a length of 158 km or 98 miles, this river begins in the nation’s Gotthard region where it then proceeds through Lake Lucerne, past the town of Bremgarten, and then finally converges with the larger Aare River. The route of the Reuss River is particularly popular with canoe enthusiasts.

3. Rhône River - 264 km

The Rhône River runs a distance of 264 km or 164 miles ending south in the Mediterranean Sea. From its origin in the Rhône Glacier of the eastern Alps this river rises before flowing through Lake Geneva and then continuing in a south eastern direction through the country of France.

2. Aare (or Aar) River - 295 km

The Aare (or Aar) River is the second longest river flowing through Switzerland and the longest waterway situated entirely within the country. Estimated to run a length of 295 km or 183 miles, the Aare is a tributary of the Rhine River. The Aare River is particularly popular with locals as well as tourists because of the picturesque way in which it surrounds the historic old city of Berne; an area which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The refreshing water of the river serves as the perfect place for people to escape the heat of summer and enjoy recreational activities such as swimming and rafting.

1. Rhine River - 375 km

At a length of 375 km (233 miles) the Rhine River is the longest river in Switzerland. It begins in the south eastern portion of the Alps in a region known as the Canton of Grisons. From here the mighty European river weaves its way north through the nations of Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, and finally ending in the Netherlands where it empties into the North Sea. In Switzerland the only population center which sits on the Rhine is Basel which is the nation’s third largest city.

The Longest Rivers In Switzerland

1Rhine375 km
2Aare (or Aar)295 km
3Rhône264 km
4Reuss158 km
5Linth and Limmat together140 km
6Saane/La Sarine128 km
7Thur125 km

More in Environment