Skip to content

7 Best Boat Rides in Switzerland

Last Updated on March 14, 2024 by Darla Uhl

Switzerland, despite lacking a coastline, is home to some of Europe’s most stunning lakes and the Rhine River. One of the top ways to enjoy this scenic country is by boat. In this article, we’ll talk about the best boat rides you can experience in Switzerland.

Image of Ouchy, Lausanne by TouringSwitzerland.com

Boat rides in Switzerland are fantastic because they offer both relaxation and breathtaking views of the mountains, charming lakeside villages, and towns. To cut to the chase, the top boat rides include those on Lake Geneva, Lake Lucerne, Lake Thun, and Lake Brienz. Additionally, I highly recommend checking out the ship ride from Schaffhausen to Rhine Falls, as well as the Big Lock Cruise from Basel to Rheinfelden.

Below are some of the best boat rides in Switzerland.


7 Best Boat Rides in Switzerland

Image of Lake Geneva from Vevey by TouringSwitzerland.com

Lake Geneva, located on the border of Switzerland and France, is a crescent-shaped lake formed from the Rhône River. At its eastern end, the Rhone flows into the lake between Villeneuve and Le Bouveret. It empties into Geneva in the west.  On the southern shore of Lake Geneva are the Chablais Alps. To the west, you will see the Jura Vaudois, and to the east Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut. It offers breathtaking views of the Alps and the surrounding vineyards.

One of the most popular cruises on Lake Geneva is the 2-hour cruise from Lausanne to Vevey (GetYourGuide, CGN), admiring the breathtaking scenery of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Lavaux vineyards and the stunning vistas of the French and Swiss Alps, while enjoying the option to indulge in local wines.

If you would like to learn more about the best places to visit on Lake Geneva, check out 8 Best Places on Lake Geneva.


Image of Steamboat Uri, Lake Lucerne by TouringSwitzerland.com

Lake Lucerne is one of the most picturesque lakes in Switzerland, surrounded by mountains and dotted with charming towns. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Lake Lucerne is by taking a boat ride on one of the historic steamers.

The five historic paddle steamboats are:

  1. Steamboat Uri – its maiden voyage in 1901, it is the oldest in the fleet, considered a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  2. Steamboat Unterwalden – maiden voyage in 1902, the only one capable of sailing under the low Acheregg bridge
  3. Steamboat Schiller – built in 1906 and is one of the most beloved steamboats in Switzerland
  4. Steamboat Gallia – the fastest lake steamer in Europe, built in 1913 by Escher Wyss in Zurich
  5. Steamboat Stadt Luzern – built in 1928, the largest steamboat on Lake Lucerne
Image of Park Hotel Vitznau from the Boat (Lake Lucerne) by TouringSwitzerland.com

You’ve got plenty of historic steamers and routes to pick from, conveniently located near the train station for easy access. Here’s a tip: pair your boat ride with a trip to one of the mountain viewpoints.

I recommend heading to Vitznau by boat and then checking out Rigi. You may also consider visiting Pilatus or Stoos after your both ride —they’re also both great choices!

If you would like to learn more about the best places to visit on Lake Lucerne, check out 10 Best Places on Lake Lucerne.


Image of Lake Thun by TouringSwitzerland.com

Lake Thun is a glacial lake located in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland near Interlaken and Thun. One of the best things to do on Lake Thun is to hop on a steamboat ride. You can cruise with the Blüemlisalp, which runs from Thun to Interlaken West and back, offering a nostalgic journey lasting about 2 hours. On the ride, you’ll soak in breathtaking views of castles and mountains.

The Lake Thun area is filled with loads of other beautiful sights to explore as well. If you would like to learn more about the best things to do on Lake Thun, you can check out 8 Best Things to Do in Lake Thun, Switzerland.


Image of the boat on Lake Brienz by TouringSwitzerland.com


You’ll find another enchanting cruise option on the scenic Lake Brienz, spanning 14 kilometers in length and 3 kilometers in width. The Lötschberg paddle steamer cruises twice a day during the summer months. The steamboat goes from Interlaken East up the Aare to where the lake begins. The ship then heads to Bönigen, Ringgenberg, Iseltwald, Giessbach, and Brienz. There is also an evening tour in July and August.

For an enjoyable day, consider taking a leisurely stroll along the delightful lakeside path from Iseltwald to the breathtaking Giessbach Falls. Adding a boat ride on the mesmerizing blue-green expanse of Lake Brienz guarantees a flawless outing.


Image of the Boats around Rhine Falls by TouringSwitzerland.com

You can catch a boat from Schaffhausen to Rhine Falls. Head to the Schaffhausen Ferry Terminal near the Schaffhausen-Feuerthalen Bridge. Then, take the Rhyfall Express boat from the Schifflände Ferry Terminal to reach Rhine Falls.

Here is a map to illustrate where you have to go:

From the Schifflände Ferry Terminal, you can ride the boat to Rhine Falls with the Rhyfall Express. The Rhyfall Express boat makes several stops starting from Schifflände: Münster, Herrenacker, Flurlingen, and Rhyality, before finally arriving at Rhine Falls.

You can check out Rhyfall Express for more details: https://rhyfall-express.ch/.


Image of a Lock Cruise Model from Hafenmuseum Basel by TouringSwitzerland.com

If you’re looking for a special river cruise, why not give a lock cruise a try? You can experience the Big Lock Trip starting from Basel’s center and reaching Rheinfelden in just 2.5 hours twice a week (Thursdays and Saturdays). Enjoy picturesque views of both Swiss and German landscapes along the Rhine, passing by charming villages and towns. Don’t miss the highlight: passing through the two locks at Birsfelden and Augst along the way.

You can purchase tickets for the lock cruise on https://bpg.ch.


Image of Lake Biel by TouringSwitzerland.com

The Three Lakes Cruise is a scenic boat trip that takes passengers on a journey across three beautiful lakes: Lake Biel, Lake Neuchâtel, and Lake Murten. Departing from the picturesque town of Biel/Bienne or Murten, located in the bilingual region of Switzerland, this cruise offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes and charming lakeside towns.

During the cruise, passengers can relax on the deck and enjoy panoramic vistas of the shimmering waters and lush greenery that dot the shoreline. The boat glides smoothly across the three tranquil lakes, providing a peaceful and serene atmosphere for travelers to unwind and take in the natural beauty of the region.

Image of Murten Old Town by TouringSwitzerland.com

For the best experience, begin your cruise in Biel and make a stop to explore the charming walled town of Murten along the way.


Practical Information for Boating in Switzerland

Image of Rhine Falls by TouringSwitzerland.com

You can buy boat tickets directly from the shipping company. If you can get a pass or ticket ahead of time, it’s a good idea. This way, you won’t have to wait in line, especially during busy times.

Below are the shipping companies:

If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you can travel on most boat rides as much as you want.

Final Thoughts: 7 Best Boat Rides in Switzerland

Switzerland has amazing boat rides on lakes like Geneva, Lucerne, Thun, and Brienz, plus a unique trip from Basel to Rheinfelden. These boat rides offer fantastic experiences in Switzerland’s stunning scenery. You can buy tickets directly from the companies or use a Swiss Travel Pass for unlimited rides.

In case you have done all of the boat rides above, you might also want to consider cruises on other lakes like Lake Constance, Lake Zurich, Lake Lugano, and Lake Como, or try renting a private boat on Lake Walen.

Related Posts

+ posts

Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.