After a few weeks forced stop and a bit out of training, we decided to start again our long walks with an easy and entirely on plan route but not less fascinating! The area surrounding Lake Hallwil, located between the cantons of Lucerne and Aargau, is absolutely fascinating and rich in points of interest not to be missed. It is also ideal for a pleasant spring or summer walk, when you can take advantage of the many bathing facilities along the path. On the way, absolutely not to be missed is a visit to the castle of Hallwyl, an ancient aristocratic residence now used as a museum and open from April to October.
We love... Lake Hallwil!
After a few weeks forced stop and a bit out of training, we decided to start again our weekend walks, choosing an easy and almost completely on plain route. We visit the area around Lake Hallwil (Hallwilersee), in the heart of Switzerland, located between the cantons of Lucerne and Aargau. This lake offers visitors romantically charming landscapes and many leisure opportunities for couples and families. Surrounded by a well-maintained hiking trail that runs almost entirely along the shore, here you will find several bathing beaches, cultural and historical attractions of undisputed charm and an efficient shipping company that, for the lazy ones, during spring and summer allows you to move from one shore to the other without any effort. Around the lake there are also many camping areas and a couple of hotels / resorts, including one with spa, perfect for those who decide to extend their stay here, perhaps combining it with a visit to the northern region of Aargau or to the southern Lake Baldegg. We visited Lake Hallwil on a weekend in mid-March, but we recommend that you plan your visit from April, when the main cultural attractions are already open to visitors and the lake’s boat company has started its season. Anyway, here’s our itinerary and some helpful tips!
Arriving by public transport
The route we propose is easily accessible by public transportation. From Lucerne station, the train “S9” leads to Boniswil, on the north coast of the lake, in about an hour. For travelers coming from Lugano we suggest to reach Lucerne and continue on the above mentioned route. Instead, from Zurich, it will be necessary to go first to Lenzburg and then change trains and continue to Boniswil. Finally, a little bit longer is the journey from Basel and Bern, which will require a couple of changes and about an hour and a quarter.
Tickets and travel options can be found through the SBB website or the SBB App, which we still recommend you use to check schedules and line operations.
Arriving by car
The route we propose is also easily accessible by car. In this case, we suggest you to reach directly Hallwyl Castle and start your route from there. However, we would like to point out that, since it is a linear route, at the end of this route you will have to take a train from Mosen to Boniswil, in order to return to the Castle and to your car. Hallwyl Castle can be reached via the highway A2 from Lucerne and Lugano, the highway A1 from Bern and Zurich, and the highway A3 from Basel, and then via secondary roads on the plain around the lake. The driving time is about 45 minutes from Zurich and Lucerne, about one hour from Bern and Basel and two hours and forty minutes from Lugano.
A paid parking area, with 180 slots, is available close to the castle.
Hike overview & map
The hike we propose is a linear route that starts in the town of Boniswil (for those arriving by train) or Hallwyl Castle (for those arriving by car) and, following the hiking trail along the lake shore, reaches the train station in Mosen, where the route ends. This is a completely flat route of about 14 km, which can be covered in about three and a half hours at a relaxed pace and with a few short breaks. The trail is well marked all along the route and you will have no difficulty following it. Moreover, along the route you will find several picnic areas, benches for relaxing and a couple of hotel-restaurants with terrace on the lake: the Seehotel & Restaurant Delphin and the Seerose Resort & Spa. For the second one, given the high number of guests, we suggest you to book in advance.
Arrival in Boniswil Train Station
We reach the train station in Boniswil on a sunny and warm day in March. From here we start our route, which first passes through a residential area and the center of the town, before plunging into the cultivated fields and canals surrounding the northern shore of Lake Hallwil.
The path is well marked from the train station and you will have no problem following it. After the urban area and the fields, you will come across the first water channels that characterize this side of the lake, more similar to a swamp. Here the Aabach River leaves the lake, where it enters further south, in Mosen. The Aabach, on its journey to the Aare, the Rhine and finally the North Sea, is the main source of water for the Hallwilersee, a lake which, like the nearby Baldeggersee, is now protected and whose health is carefully monitored by humans. In fact, in the 1980s, mainly due to intensive agriculture around the lake and the use of fertilizers, the lake had a very high level of phosphate. The accumulation of phosphates in the lakes is unfortunately a well-known problem that can really compromise the health of the lake areas. Indeed, it first causes the proliferation of algae which, once dead, settle on the lake bottom and rot, consuming all the available oxygen and depriving other living species of their vital lymph. For this reason, since 1985 the lake has been artificially supplied with oxygen during the summer months. This, together with the reduction in the use of pesticides and the control of intensive agriculture, has made it possible to significantly reduce the phosphate content of the water from 250 mg/m³ in 1975 to less than 17 mg/m³ in 2019, giving this magnificent place back its good health and helping to rebalance the ecosystem.
Continuing along the canals, in a few minutes we reach the main historical attraction of this area, Hallwyl Castle.
The Hallwyl Castle
Hallwyl Castle is certainly the most famous castle in Switzerland still surrounded by a moat. It stands on two small islands of the Aabach, along the north shore of Lake Hallwil. Open to visitors since many years, the historic building is now part of the Museum of Aargau and is accessible from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a fee of CHF 14.00 / adult. More information can be found at this link.
The castle, which dates back to the 11th century, takes its name from the noble Aargau von Hallwyl family, who lived there for many centuries. The visit allows you to discover the interior of the building, its towers and the central courtyard. Instead, the exhibition areas tell about its construction and the history of the Hallwyl family. Also not to be missed is a visit to the nearby mill, still in operation today, across the street and close to the paid parking. After visiting the museum, we suggest a break in the courtyard, where light lunches, coffee and snacks are served.
The Castle is normally closed during the winter months and open from the first of April until the end of October. On the official website you can find all the information about guided tours and how to visit and access.
From Hallwyl Castle to Seehotel & Restaurant Delphin
All around the castle you will find several picnic areas – ideal for a short break before moving on – and public toilets. From Hallwyl Castle, the path continues flat to the south, first through green meadows and then along the lake shore. Just one kilometer further on, you’ll come to the first of the many docks that enter the lake and from which the 125-year-old ferries company depart.
A few meters further along the path you will encounter a pile dwelling that looks almost like something coming out of a historical movie! The pile-dwelling sites on the shores of the alpine lakes are important archaeological assets that have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011. There are three pile-dwelling sites in the Seetal and this is one of them. Of course, the archaeological sites are not visible to visitors because they are covered by sediment or by the water of the lakes and the current building is a reconstruction of a real prehistoric pile-dwelling! For the more curious, next to it you will also find an information sign (in German).
Continuing along the path, from time to time some squirrels come to keep us company, probably in search of some food. We continue between elegant boathouses and vineyards that grow on the slope to our left. For those who want to take a bath, maybe during the summer, this part of the route is full of access ways to the water and small bathing stations. We continue straight ahead for 3 km until we reach the Seehotel & Restaurant Delphin. It is the first of the two restaurants where you can have lunch or an afternoon snack. Anyway, we brought our lunch with us, so we decide to take a slightly more isolated bench for the usual little refreshing break.
From the Seehotel & Restaurant Delphin to Mosen
From the Seehotel & Restaurant Delphin, the trail continues along the lake at first through a small park and picnic area. Here you will also find the oxygen pumping station in the lake which, as we mentioned above, serves to reduce phosphates and preserve the ecosystem. An information panel (in German) explains how it works. From here, another 1.5 km of walking and we reach the Seerose Resort & Spa. This is a rather elegant and chic hotel with spa. It offers lunch and drinks in both the indoor restaurant and the outdoor lake terrace. However, both seemed quite formal to us, which is why we decided not to stop. But since the food offerings seemed quite inviting, we’ll probably return to visit this stylish place for a spa weekend or Sunday lunch. Definitely not on a hike!
Continuing south, a couple of miles past the Seerose Resort & Spa the trail begins to move away from the lake shore. In fact, this stretch of shoreline, characterized by marshes, is a protected area because it is chosen as a breeding ground for many species of animals and birds. It is therefore very important to follow the marked path and not to leave it, in order not to disturb or compromise the fauna that populates this place.
A little further on, we decide to make a small detour from the path to reach the Aescher Badi and its snack bar, which, unfortunately, is still closed. After all, it’s only March, but the place is really nice and we recommend you have a short visit here. However, near the road, you will find a few small self-service farm stores where you can buy fresh produce, homemade jams and honey.
From Aescher Badi there are just three kilometers to reach our destination. This last stretch is probably the least interesting of the route because we are now quite far from the lake and the landscape around it is flat and monotonous. In Moser, the path crosses a campsite where a small bar allows us to buy an ice cream and drink a coffee. Immediately behind it, the Moser train station allows us to return home.
In the courtyard of Hallwyl Castle, a small bistro offers food and drinks in a charming setting. However, an entrance fee of CHF 3.00 per adult is required to enter the atrium and the bistro.
In the Castle are also often organized events and demonstrations of historical and cultural interest. From April to September the calendar is really full! At this link you can find all the events scheduled!