The most beautiful boat trips in Switzerland: 14 tips for special boat trips on Swiss lakes and rivers

Switzerland boasts no fewer than 1,500 lakes and a network of rivers spanning 61,000 kilometers. It’s not surprising, then, that in recent years, we’ve embarked on a few boat trips in Switzerland.

And one thing I can tell you upfront: As diverse as Swiss waters are, so too are the boat trips on this list. From breakfast cruises on the Rhine to raclette gatherings on Lake Hallwil.

Here’s the list of what I consider to be the 14 most beautiful boat trips in Switzerland:

Breakfast cruise on Lake Brienz: the cruise with the “Captain’s Breakfast”

The most important meal of the day is undoubtedly breakfast. That sentiment is taken to heart on the cruise from Brienz to Interlaken. In the summer, the regular ship departing from the harbor at 10:40 a.m. serves the “Captain’s Breakfast.”

With a duration of 70 minutes, you not only have time to enjoy croissants, whole-grain bread, butter, honey, ham, and cheese, but also the breathtaking mountain scenery surrounding Lake Brienz.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: The mountain scenery and the radiant turquoise blue of Lake Brienz are awe-inspiring—whether it’s sunny or rainy, whether during breakfast or another trip.

What you need to know: Breakfast costs CHF 19, excluding the ticket price for the boat trip (2nd class regular, without Half Fare Card: CHF 32). The breakfast ship on Lake Brienz operates daily from April to the end of October from Interlaken Ost, and from May 26 to September 18 from Brienz. You can find the schedule and detailed information on the BLS website.

The most beautiful urban boat trip with brunch in Switzerland – a trip on the “Rhystärn”

Enjoying the Basel skyline and its architectural highlights in comfort? This is particularly enjoyable on the modern and light-filled ship “Rhystärn.” In the summer, the passenger ship hosts the “RHYBrunch” between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The ship docks hourly at the Basel Schifflände, allowing passengers to embark and disembark. In addition to the ambiance, the brunch stands out with its focus on local products and the delicacies served on tiers

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: For me, the trip on the “Rhystärn” is THE urban boat trip in Switzerland. Not only can you discover the city from a different (and very cozy) perspective, but you can also combine it all with a delicious brunch!

What you need to know: The “RHYBrunch” is available from April to early November. The brunch including the round trip costs CHF 59 for adults and CHF 27 for children aged 6 and above. You can find all the current information here.

The boat trip with the most extensive brunch – three hours on Lake Zug

You can also enjoy brunch on Lake Zug. And how! In the midst of the magnificent Central Swiss mountain scenery, a three-act brunch is served on this course cruise

During the journey along the Rigi to Arth, Act 1 offers various breads, cereals, a cheese and meat platter, and a fruit basket. Act 2 follows on the return journey: hot dishes like potato rosti or scrambled eggs. Finally, Act 3 includes the dessert buffet.

Nothing stands in the way of a three-hour culinary delight on Lake Zug.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: Enjoyment is paramount. Not only can you enjoy the mountain scenery, but also a truly diverse buffet.

What you need to know: Reservations are worthwhile as the ship is rather small. The cost is CHF 93.10 for adults for brunch including the round trip and CHF 46.90 for children aged 6 and above. Swiss Travel Pass and Half Fare Card are valid and deducted from the round trip price. So, the brunch with Swiss Travel Pass costs only CHF 53.50. All details are available on the Zugersee Schifffahrt website.

Brunching on the MobiCat – glimpsing the future of boating included

All good things come in threes – and the rule certainly applies to brunch boat trips as well. The third brunch cruise takes us to Lake Biel. Here, the MobiCat, a ship powered 100% by solar energy, sets sail for the Lake Biel round trip including brunch on Sundays. While the fine buffet may be slightly smaller than on Lake Zug or the “Rhystärn,” the view and especially the technology of the MobiCat are fascinating. Throughout the journey, you can take a look at the technical data. Without the rumble of the diesel engine, you practically feel like you’re gliding over Lake Biel.

And don’t worry: thanks to its large battery, the MobiCat also glides over Lake Biel on cloudy days.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: Even though the MobiCat has been around since 2001, you still feel like you’re glimpsing into the future of boating. The combination of technology, fine buffet, and the dreamlike setting around Lake Biel deserves a spot on the list of Switzerland’s most beautiful boat trips.

What you need to know: The summer brunch on the MobiCat is available between June and early October. Departure is from Biel Harbor. Adults pay CHF 74 for brunch including the round trip, and children aged 6 and above pay CHF 36. All details and registration on the Bielersee Schifffahrt website.

Boat trips on Lake Lugano – perfect for combining with a hike

Boat trips can be well combined with extensive day trips. Take Lake Lugano, for example, where two circular routes around the lake operate. But the boat trip alone seemed a bit too “comfortable” for me.

So here’s my tip: from Lugano, head up to Monte San Salvatore (on foot or by train), and then hike down to Morcote.

In Morcote, you can still catch the circular route on the boat. Another tip: Instead of heading directly back to Lugano, take the boat trip to Porto Ceresio – this way, you’ll have the best view of the charming Morcote.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: Lake Lugano offers a variety of opportunities to combine a hike with a boat tour.

What you need to know: The scheduled boat trips on Lake Lugano are free with the Swiss Travel Pass. A trip from Morcote to Lugano (direct) costs CHF 23, or CHF 11.50 with the Half Fare Card. For more information, visit the Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano website.

The most beautiful boat trip combining river and lake: a diverse journey on Lake Untersee

Boat trips on the river and on the lake – that’s also possible combined. The Swiss Shipping Company Untersee and Rhein (URh) offers a passenger ship that sails from Schaffhausen to Kreuzlingen/Konstanz.

On this journey, you have various options: stay onboard and enjoy the postcard-perfect scenery, hop from town to town, or try the “Ship & Fish” package.

We opted for the latter: This package combines a day trip on the ship with a delicious fish meal at a restaurant of your choice.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: The combination of beautiful views of the shores of Lake Constance, the possibility of stopping at various towns, and the “Ship & Fish” package – hardly any other boat trip can offer that.

What you need to know: The ships on the Rhine and Lake Untersee operate from April to October, but only daily from June onwards. A full-day ticket without discounts costs CHF 49.50. The “Ship & Fish” package is available for a flat rate of CHF 69 (CHF 35 with Swiss Travel Pass) and can be redeemed daily depending on the opening hours of the restaurant partners. Note: Reservations at the restaurants are mandatory! Find all further details on the Swiss Shipping Company Untersee and Rhein (URh) website.

Perfect for autumn days: a boat trip on Lake Walen

Is boat trip season only in summer? Far from it! Autumn days on the boat have their own charm – for example, on Lake Walen. The region around Lake Walen is one of my favorite destinations for a quick autumn excursion from Zurich.

Also because there are plenty of autumn hiking options here that can be combined with a relaxing boat trip. One such option is the themed hiking trail “the Linthwerk.” This trail leads from Näfels-Mollis to Weesen and introduces you to the history of the nearly 200-year-old Linth canal.

In Weesen, the boat awaits to take you either leisurely to the car-free village of Quinten or across the lake to Walenstadt.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: As the title suggests, a boat trip on Lake Walen is particularly enjoyable on a beautiful autumn day – also because of the magnificent fjord-like panorama.

What you need to know: Ships operate on Lake Walen all year round for the Murg-Au-Quinten-Murg route. The Weesen to Walenstadt route operates from April to the end of October. Unfortunately, the Swiss Travel Pass and Half Fare Card are not valid here. Day tickets are available for CHF 29, and the Weesen to Walenstadt route costs CHF 18.40 for adults. Here is the timetable for the Walensee boat service.

Escape the city hustle with a boat trip on Lake Greifensee

When you hear boat trip and Zurich, you probably think of Lake Zurich first. But just a 15-minute bus ride from Zurich, you can navigate another lake: Lake Greifensee. While Lake Zurich is almost entirely “built around,” Lake Greifensee offers views mostly into the “green.”

Here, the MS Stadt Uster circles Lake Greifensee. In addition to the “green” views, there are several local drops to discover on the journey. The Greifensee Shipping Cooperative also regularly offers culinary cruises and adventure cruises.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: On Lake Greifensee, you can escape the hustle and bustle of Zurich and experience a boat trip in what feels like a different world.

What you need to know: The MS Stadt Uster operates Wednesday to Sunday from mid-April to mid-October. Depending on the course, it docks in Fällanden, Greifensee, Uster, Mönchaltorf, and Mauer. The round trip costs CHF 26 without the Swiss Travel Pass and Half Fare Card – both of which are valid. Tickets can only be purchased and paid for on board the ship. You can find all other details on the Greifensee Shipping Cooperative website.

Boat trips on Lake Maggiore: Early morning to the Brissago Islands

The boat trip to the Brissago Islands is no longer a hidden gem. On the contrary, the popularity of the island can be quite daunting. However, with clever planning, there’s nothing to fear.

It’s worth setting off early in the morning towards the Brissago Islands. From Ascona, two boats head to the Brissago Islands. One route goes directly, while the other goes via Porto Ronco to the islands. Make sure to buy your ticket at the ticket office at the Ascona harbor to avoid queuing on the island.

On the island, you’ll enjoy a roughly two-hour guided tour through the botanical garden. If you’re not done exploring, you can extend your trip, like we did, by taking the boat to Locarno afterwards.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: Boat tours on Lake Maggiore can be seamlessly combined with excursions, such as the visit to the Brissago Islands described above, allowing for fantastic day trips.

What you need to know: Swiss Travel Pass and Half Fare Card are valid for the scheduled boat trips on Lake Maggiore. In addition to single rides, you can also purchase a day ticket for CHF 37 or CHF 18.50 (with Half Fare Card). The entrance fee for the Brissago Islands is CHF 7 for adults, and children under 16 enter for free. The islands are open daily between April and October. Find more details on the Ascona and Locarno website.

The insider tip for an after-work drink: The Short Lake Cruise on Lake Zurich
There are many places in Zurich for an after-work drink: Café des Amis, El Lokal, Kleine Freiheit, and many more. But the alternative that few have on their radar: the Short Lake Cruise on Lake Zurich. This small lake tour departs from Bürkliplatz to Thalwil/Erlenbach and back, offering a menu with popular dishes at fair prices.

It’s especially worth it as the evenings get shorter. The last ride departs at 7:00 p.m., greeting you with a splendid evening atmosphere including a sunset.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: You can expect a true alternative to the “classic” after-work beer, which is simultaneously very relaxing.

What you need to know: The season on Lake Zurich runs from early April to late October. ZVV zone tickets apply for boat trips. Swiss Travel Pass and Half Fare Card are valid.

Cooling off with scenic views: evening boat trips on Lake Constance

You can enjoy an after-work drink and sunset on a boat trip not only on Lake Zurich but also (perhaps even better) on Lake Constance. In July and August, the MS St. Gallen offers a “Fyrobigfahrt” from Romanshorn, including a drink of your choice. Additionally, various delicious snacks are offered for an additional charge.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: It’s the perfect boat trip for hot summer days. The ride promises not only refreshment but also scenic views over Lake Constance.

Good to know: You can also unwind on regular evening trips between Rorschach and Romanshorn.

The boat trip with the most beautiful sunsets on Lake Thun
Breathtaking panorama, delicious dishes, refreshment, and from August onwards, magnificent sunsets – you can experience all of this on the evening boat trip from Interlaken to Spiez and Thun.

My tip or rather, tips: Plan the boat trip from August onwards. Then you can truly enjoy the sunset on the ship. And if you want to indulge in à la carte dishes or something from the “hot stone” during the colorful evening atmosphere, make sure to reserve a table in advance.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: On the one hand, the combination of culinary delights, panorama, and sunset; on the other hand, because the evening trip can be perfectly combined with a day trip or even the breakfast cruise (see above) on Lake Brienz.

What you need to know: The sunset cruise on Lake Thun is a regular scheduled service. It operates from May 26 to October 23. The “hot stone” option is available from Monday to Saturday on the course departing from Interlaken at 6:10 p.m. Find all details on the BLS website.

The atypical boat trip with culinary diversity on Lake Hallwil
In a list containing words like “most beautiful” and “Switzerland,” words like “fondue” or “raclette” must not be missing. This also applies to the list of the most beautiful boat trips in Switzerland.

And if you’re expecting suggestions like Lake Zurich or Lake Lucerne, you’re mistaken. Because my tip for a raclette get-together on a boat leads to Lake Hallwil.

The local shipping company offers various culinary themed cruises: from the Pasta Boat to the Sushi Ship, and from Fondue to Raclette. What already sounds great is rounded off by a truly magnificent panorama.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: It’s an atypical boat trip on an atypical lake. Atypical also because the range of themed cruises is really diverse, and the cruises take place all year round.

What you need to know: You can find out when each themed cruise takes place in this overview by the Lake Hallwil Shipping Company AG. The evening cruises depart at 7:00 p.m. and last around three hours. The cost for our raclette get-together was CHF 37, and for children, it’s CHF 18.50 (excluding drinks). Tables must be reserved no later than 11:00 a.m. the day before. This can also be done online.

The romantic boat trip on Lake Lucerne

This list would hardly be complete without a boat trip on one of Switzerland’s most beautiful lakes, Lake Lucerne.

Here too, there are various “special ships” or themed cruises, such as the Fajita Ship or a sunset cruise. But the highlight is probably the Candlelight Steamer.

The steamship, built in 1901, provides a perfect setting for a romantic candlelight dinner. The journey begins with an aperitif before the ship sets sail. During the cruise, a delicious 3-course menu featuring local products is served. The ship leisurely sails for three hours from Lucerne via Vitznau to Beckenried and back to Lucerne.

What makes this Swiss boat trip special: The combination of culinary delights, the beautifully restored steamship, and the views of Lake Lucerne truly create a romantic atmosphere.

What you need to know: The Candlelight Steamer operates from July to November. Departure is at 8:00 p.m., with boarding starting 30 minutes earlier. The package, including the evening cruise on the steamship, aperitif, and 3-course menu, costs 159 CHF per person. Reservations are required, which can be made until 3:00 p.m. on the day of departure. For more information and the current menu, visit the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company website.

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