West Lake is famous for its "10 Scenes of the West Lake" and the "10 New Scenes", but sometimes these places are not easy to spot. I recommend forgetting about them, and strolling around the lake, on the islands and on the promenade next to the lake, and enjoying the sights. There are boards with information in English and Chinese. Most of the time , this information will be enough to understand the history of the places.
In the picture you can see part of the Zigzag Bridge on Lesser Yingzhou Isle. On this island you should not miss the Xianguang Temple, The Xianfang Platform, the Huajia Pavilion and the Yubei Pavilion.
The history of West Lake is linked to two poets, Bai Juyi and Su Shi. The poet Bai Juyi was elected governor of Hangzhou in the Tang Dynasty (8th century). He ordered the construction of a dam in order to control the water level, and bring water to the fields in the area, which at that time were affected by severe droughts. He also ordered the construction of the Bai Causeway, and planted peach trees around the lake.
At the time of the Song Dynasty, 11th century, the poet Su Shi was elected governor. At that time the West Lake could not bring its waters to the fields anymore because the weeds in the lake had grown out of control, and were blocking the water canals. He ordered the removal of the mud, and with it he constructed the second causeway, later named Su Causeway. The Su Causeway, two miles long, has six bridges, the "Spring Dawn" is the most famous of them.