15 Steamboats Invite You to a Magical Journey on 8 Swiss Lakes

Switzerland is not only the land of mountains, but also the land of lakes. There are some dreams that return to the imagination of every generation, without losing their magic: who is completely immune to the interest in a superb steamboat, whose blades plunge into the waves of an idyllic blue lake? How lucky to be able to spend your holidays in Switzerland: on eight Swiss lakes, in fact, 16 luxurious Belle Epoque steamboats, restored to no expense spared, are available for exciting pleasure trips. The heart will not beat faster only for children! The largest is the Lake Lucerne fleet, consisting of 5 19th-century steamboats, followed closely by the 4 splendid steamboats of Lake Geneva. Rare pieces are the "Lötschberg" on Lake Brienz and the "Blümlisalp" on Lake Thun. Full steam ahead also on Lake Zurich, while the "Greif", the oldest and smallest steamboat in Switzerland, leaves its romantic trail on the Greifensee.

Lake Lucerne: A wonderful experience

 A cruise on Lake Lucerne on a steamboat on a sunny summer day is undoubtedly a wonderful experience. But the trip in the warmth of a summer night and the cruise before Christmas that will make you discover the sea of lights of Lucerne are equally unforgettable. Perhaps you prefer the mystical atmosphere that reigns on the lake covered in autumn fog or even when the boat dances lightly on the waves on the Urnersee for the föhn. Crossing in the beneficial warmth of the lounge admiring the snow-covered winter landscape is pure relaxation.

With the largest shipping company in Switzerland, you can access the most important tourist destinations and ski resorts in the region, such as the Rigi, Mount Pilatus, the Bürgenstock or the Klewenalp. Numerous scheduled or special cruises also offer outings dedicated to music and cuisine. The wide variety of on-board culinary specialties doubles the pleasure of a cruise.
A cruise can be perfectly combined with a hike, for example on the "Route suisse", a thematic trail on the history of the country. There are various cycle paths and rollerblading paths, as well as numerous bathing and relaxation areas along the lake. Not to be missed: an excursion to Lucerne, with its numerous attractions, its shops, the Swiss Transport Museum with the IMAX cinema, the Glacier Garden or even the picturesque alleys of the historic center.  

The lake owes its name to the four historic "cantons" (literally forest cantons), the three original cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden and the canton of Lucerne, which border Lake Lucerne. In 1291, the Rütli oath laid the milestone for the Swiss Confederation. Once an important traffic axis, the lake was also the only trade route to the Gotthard Pass until 1863.
This route is still used today by the Guillaume Tell Express: the journey starts in Lucerne with a cruise to Flüelen, then continues in the 1st class panoramic carriages to Ticino on the famous Gotthard railway line.

Lake Geneva: a Sea of Superlatives

Lake Geneva is a "sea" of superlatives: very mild climate, largest and most water-bearing inland lake in Central Europe. Large water, "Lem an", this is how the Celts called Lake Geneva, which is still called Lac Léman in French today. And it really is big. Scheduled boats, historic paddle steamers and small ferries ply its 582 square kilometers of surface. Navigation on Lake Geneva also boasts records. The Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le Lac Léman (CGN) operates eight paddle steamers, the largest European fleet of this type.

Scheduled boats connect the numerous villages and towns to each other, small ferries (called "mouette") quickly transport passengers from one shore to the other.
Those who love to travel in comfort book a gastronomic trip or a cruise that touches on tourist attractions such as the "Jet d'eau", the fountain with the 140-meter high jet of water, illuminated in the evening, the symbol of the city of Geneva.
Those who stroll around the castle or on the lakefront of Montreux will sooner or later succumb to the temptation of a "cruise" on the "Haut Lac" between Vevey, Montreux, Chillon, Villeneuve and Le Bouveret.

Lake Brienz: A Scenic Journey through the Heart of the Swiss Alps

Scheduled boats have been sailing on Lake Brienz since 1839. The fleet currently consists of five boats, including the "Lötscherg", a 1914 steamboat that has been magnificently restored. During the summer season, in addition to regular services, a wide selection of special cruises is offered: for example, the fondue boat, the breakfast boat, the Alpine brunch, the Halal BBQ Cruise, the special "Der Fisch ist los" (fishing in progress) trip, the evening trips on the Lötschberg steamboat, or the Swiss BBQ Cruise, particularly appreciated by foreign guests who want to taste the typical specialties of Swiss cuisine.

The scheduled boats also serve the resorts that line the lake, such as the fashionable resort of Interlaken on the western shore, to the delightful town of Brienz. From Brienz, Switzerland's oldest steam cogwheel railway, the Brienz-Rothorn Railway, takes you to the top of the Brienz Rothorn (2350 m). From there, you will have a magnificent panoramic view of the lakes below and the Alps. In addition, the Brienz Rothorn is the starting point for numerous discovery hikes, especially along the ridge to the Brünig Pass.

The Giessbach Falls can also be the subject of a boat trip on Lake Brienz. The tumultuous waters descend in several successive jumps over more than 500 meters before plunging into the lake. Right next to it stands the Grandhotel Giessbach, a historic hotel very similar to a fairytale castle. The oldest funicular in Europe takes you from the Giessbach landing stage directly to the hotel and the imposing falls. The hike along the south shore of Lake Brienz, from Bönigen to Giessbach via Iseltwald, is also very popular.

Lake Thun: A Cruise between Discovery and Relaxation

A cruise on Lake Thun combines the charm of discovery with relaxation. Enjoying a delicious meal, a glass of wine, or sunbathing on the deck, let your gaze wander and admire the scenery: the romantic villages that line the shore, the splendid historic castles, and the peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.

The comfortable boats and the unmissable "Blümlisalp", a magnificently restored steamboat, carry passengers from Thun to Interlaken all year round. In addition to the attractive catering options and the various special gourmet cruises, the larger boats also have some nice surprises in store for children: a play cabin or a dedicated corner with games and drawing.

A cruise is the ideal way to discover the different facets of the Lake Thun region. For example, from the Beatushöhlen-Sundlauenen landing stage, a beautiful hiking trail leads you to the impressive karst caves with their stalactites, stalagmites, and waterfalls.

The picturesque town of Spiez, with its castle and Romanesque church, is located on the opposite shore. There are also other castles and museums to visit in Thun and on the part of the shore called the "Bernese Oberland Riviera" for its mild climate: in Oberhofen and Hilterfingen, Hünegg Castle. The musicals presented at the Thun Festival are another must-see on the shores of the lake.

Lake Zurich: A Journey through History and Culture

Once essentially a means of communication and transport, the lake is now a popular tourist destination and its shores are lined with highly sought-after residential areas. The gentle lapping of the waves, the tranquility, relaxation, and a good meal: it is during a cruise that you will best discover the Lake Zurich region. Most of the lakeside resorts are served by scheduled boats all year round. The two historic paddle steamers are undoubtedly the public's favorites.

On the north shore of the lake stretches the famous "Goldküste" (Gold Coast) from Zollikon to Feldmeilen. This sun-drenched region is known for its low tax rates and high property prices, making it the part of the shore where you can admire the most beautiful houses and villas of the wealthy classes.

Rapperswil, the rose city, is located at the eastern end of the lake. More than 15,000 rose bushes of 600 different varieties bloom in the public gardens. The lakeside promenade with its Mediterranean charm, the picturesque old town, and the medieval castle make the port city a popular destination.

These are just a few of the many highlights that await you on a cruise on the Swiss lakes. With their stunning scenery, charming villages, and rich history, the Swiss lakes offer an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

Please note:

  • The exact schedule of boat services on the Swiss lakes may vary depending on the time of year.
  • Advance reservations are recommended, especially during peak season.