Views of the Swiss Alps and Lago Maggiore from an airplane window

It’s always a pleasure to fly over the European Alps on a clear day. The views of snow-capped mountains, jagged peaks, speckled valleys and lakes are absolutely breathtaking. On a recent morning flight from Amsterdam to Milan Malpensa, I had the most amazing view out the plane window. Swiss Alps and: Lake Maggiore, the famous lake shared by Switzerland and Italy. I love taking pictures of the scenery and checking out places on Google Maps. This time, when I pointed out the locations, I made a surprising discovery.

airplane window view swiss alps
The Swiss Alps south of Zurich.

Flying over the Swiss Alps is always an amazing experience on a clear day. My advice is to get a window seat (on both sides of the plane) to enjoy the views. I sat in Row A on this flight to Milan Malpensa. On approach to Milan, the plane flew over the Swiss cantons of Zurich, Schwyz, Uri, Graubünden and Ticino before entering Italian airspace above Lago Maggiore.

It was the beginning of October, so the valleys were still green and the higher ground still had snow. These airplane window views of the Swiss Alps were simply phenomenal.

Aerial view of the Swiss Alps
A view of Oberart in the Swiss canton of Switzerland.

The source of the Rhine River

When I started editing my photos from that flight and checking the locations on Google Maps, I made a surprising discovery. I had unknowingly photographed the source of the Rhine River in the canton of Graubünden. The second longest river in western/central Europe after the Danube, the Rhine catchment lies in the Graubünden mountains. From here it flows through the Rhine Valley, then north into Germany before reaching the North Sea in the Rhine Delta of the Netherlands. From my airplane window, I saw different sources of the Rhine besides the Rhine Valley.

The Graubünden source of the Rhine
The Graubünden mountains are the catchment areas of the Rhine River. Various tributaries flow into the Rhine valley (middle of photo) and continue north. Below is the zig-zag of the Oberalps pass.
aerial view Kurnera dam lake Switzerland
Take a closer look at the two sources of the Rhine: Lai da Curnera (or Lake Curnera), the lake behind the dam. Lai da Nalps (another dam lake) can also be seen on the other side of the mountain.

Aerial view of Lago Maggiore

The plane soon passed the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino and the famous Lago Maggiore came into view. I immediately recognized it as Lago Maggiore because of its size and serpentine appearance, and the towns of Locarno and Ascona on the peninsula at the northern end of the lake. The views of the lake and mountain ranges with the morning mist hanging in the valleys were absolutely magical.

Morning fog in the Alps
The Alps in the morning mist.
aerial view Locarno Ascona
The Alps in the fog. In the foreground is the northern end of Lago Maggiore, with the Maggia River flowing into it. On the right side of the river is the city of Ascona, and on the left is Locarno (both in Switzerland).
airplane window view of lago maggiore
Aerial view of Lago Maggiore.
aerial view lago maggiore
A bend in the lake, with the town of Luino (Italy) on the right.
Airplane view of Lago Maggiore
The last view of Lago Maggiore before the final approach to Milan. The city in the upper right corner is Lugano, Switzerland, on the shores of Lago di Lugano.

It’s been a while since my last visit to Switzerland and these views reminded me how stunning this country is. I think it’s time for a comeback.

Read other Velvet Escape posts in the Plane Views series:

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