scenic lake cruises in switzerland
an introduction by Anna Timbrook
With more than 1,500 lakes throughout the country, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to scenic lake cruises in Switzerland. Whether you want to admire fabulous untouched nature or discover a big city’s landmarks and attractions from the water, you’ll find a couple of appropriate lake cruises right here!
Also, with the Swiss Travel Pass, you can do all these cruises for free! From the massive Lake Geneva to the mesmerizing Lake Thun, here are all the best and most scenic lake cruises in Switzerland!
Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland, so naturally, it offers the most options when it comes to scenic cruises. Some of the cruises even allow you to embark in Switzerland and disembark in France, giving you the opportunity to discover two countries on a single lake cruise. Most cruise boats that operate on this lake are Belle Époque paddle steamers and being on such a boat just elevates the entire cruise experience.
Cities along Lake Geneva include Lausanne, Montreux, Nyon, Geneva, and many smaller towns. Some of the prettiest scenery along Lake Geneva is between Lausanne and Montreux. Passengers can observe the vast Lavaux Vineyards on the northern lakeshore, all
the while admiring the majestic Alps in the backdrop. The boats also stop at smaller villages along the shore, allowing passengers to experience all the best spots Lake Geneva offers.
The mesmerizing town of Interlaken is nestled between two lakes – Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Both offer some of the most scenic lake cruises in Switzerland, with fabulous nature everywhere you look. Lake Thun is the bigger of the two lakes, as well as the largest lake in the entire Bernese Oberland region. Some of the largest towns on the lakeshore are Interlaken, Thun, Spiez, and Hilterfingen, each with its own fascinating attractions awaiting to be discovered.
It’s possible to cruise from Interlaken to Thun, and vice versa. The two-hour cruise is likely the best way to explore the lake and all of its beautiful attractions since you get to see the most landmarks during this cruise.
Castles, vineyards, tall mountain peaks, and forests are just some of the most popular sights of Lake Thun cruises. The vast lake is also popular for culinary cruises, with numerous passengers embarking upon the Fondue and Fajita boats to discover the mesmerizing scenery with a side of a delicious meal.
Situated in Central Switzerland, Lake Lucerne is one of the most panoramic lakes in this part of the country. Many different boat cruises are available on this 38-kilometer lake, ranging from quick, one-hour excursions to five-hour round trips that cross the entire lake.
Quick panoramic cruises are most popular with passengers who are just passing through Lucerne. They offer a glimpse of the lake’s dramatic rocky slopes and charming coves with majestic Mt. Pilatus in the background. Passengers who wish to discover more of Lake
Lucerne’s astonishing nature should choose one of the longer boat excursions, which traverse the vast lake's different corners.
Cruises on Lake Zurich are a great way of discovering the city’s most famous attractions from a different perspective. They’re also perfect for discovering the natural attractions of Central Switzerland, particularly for passengers who choose one of the longer cruises on this fabulous lake.
A round trip cruise from Zurich to Rapperswil is one of the most popular ways of discovering the lake. The boats traverse nearly the entire length of Lake Zurich, for a truly unforgettable experience. Admire the lakeside promenades, see the charming City of Roses (Rapperswil), and experience the spectacular Uetliberg mountain from the water – these are just a few highlights of the scenic round trip cruise.
Lake Zurich is also a popular destination for many other kinds of boat excursions. Whether you’re trying to travel from one lakeside city to another, or you just want to enjoy some fondue while admiring the rolling landscapes, Lake Zurich will not disappoint.
Situated east of the city of Interlaken, Lake Brienz is one of the prettiest and most famous lakes in the Bernese Oberland region. It’s often overshadowed by the larger Lake Thun, but this smaller lake has just as many wonderful sights to offer to passengers who decide to cruise its waters.
Interlaken is the best-known town situated on the lake, but a cruise on Lake Brienz allows you to discover the many scenic villages that lie on its shores. See the small streams that flow into the lake, discover the impressive Giessbach waterfall, and witness the stunning landscape of the region. The most popular cruises on Lake Brienz traverse from Interlaken to Brienz, for quick but incredibly scenic trips on the turquoise waters.
Lake Lugano is situated in southern Switzerland, right on the border with Italy. The mesmerizing lake is shared between the two countries, and many of the cruises on the lake allow you to discover the breath taking nature of both Italy and Switzerland.
The lake is surrounded by beautiful green mountains, for spectacular panoramic vistas no matter where you look. The biggest city on the lake is Lugano, and it’s the most popular starting point for lake cruises. Embark upon a boat and head to one of the many picturesque villages along the lakeshore to discover their narrow cobblestone streets, old houses, and fascinating landmarks.
It’s possible to return to Lugano by train, and you can also just catch a different boat back into town.
Lake Neuchatel is situated in the French-speaking Swiss region of Romandy. It is mainly situated in the Neuchatel Canton, but parts of the lake also stretch into the Bern, Fribourg, and Vaud cantons. This is the largest lake that lies entirely in Switzerland, so you can imagine just how popular cruises on Lake Neuchatel are.
This lake is also one of the lakes that are traversed on the famous Three Lakes Cruise. The other two are Lake Biel and Lake Murten. Both are connected to Lake Neuchatel by water but have a much smaller water surface. The Three Lakes Cruise is one of the most popular scenic cruises in this part of the country, and a great way to discover the spectacular landscapes of Romandy.
Anna was born to travel the world having studied languages all her life. Although she has travelled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on Expert World Travel.