Paddle steamer on Lake Lucerne
Lucerne Region Things to Do

Lake Lucerne Cruises

July 8, 2024 Last Updated on July 8, 2024

Switzerland has about 1,500 lakes, and of all these, Lake Lucerne is one of the best known. It’s a uniquely shaped lake, fringed by forest and overlooked by mountains.

Taking a cruise on scenic Lake Lucerne is among the most popular activities for people visiting this area. Consequently, there are many Lake Lucerne boat trips to choose from. 

Though, at 38 kilometres (or 24 miles), it’s not the longest lake in Switzerland, Lake Lucerne is very distinctive, due to the four ‘arms’ and a number of twists. Surrounded by forest, it’s a very scenic place to be. It is the fourth-largest lake in Switzerland. 

It might not even cost you anything extra to take that once-in-a-lifetime boat trip on Lake Lucerne. The Lucerne lake cruise price is covered by certain Swiss public transport passes, as boat travel forms part of the overall network. 

Some mountain excursion tickets also include the Lake Lucerne cruise price, as this is part of the journey. A Lake Lucerne boat ride is even included with one of the most popular Swiss panoramic train trips. 

This guide covers all you need to know about cruising on this lake in Lucerne, Switzerland. 

Listed below are the Lake Lucerne boat tours you can choose between, including key information regarding departure points, the type of vessel, cruise duration, where to book, and more about what to expect on board.

From a free Lake Lucerne boat ride with your Swiss Travel Pass or a Lake Lucerne panoramic sightseeing cruise to a one hour catamaran lake cruise in Lucerne or a Lake Lucerne dinner cruise, here is all you should know before booking the best Lake Lucerne cruise for you.

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Paddle steamer on Lake Lucerne

About Lake Lucerne cruises 

Where is Lake Lucerne?

Lake Lucerne is named after the city Lucerne – locally known as Luzern. The city borders the lake to the west. This is the biggest lake in central Switzerland.

It’s bordered by four cantons – Lucerne, Nidwalden, Schwyz, and Uri. The lake’s German name, Vierwaldstättersee, literally translates as ‘four forest sites’. 

Where do Lake Lucerne boat tours go?

You can take Lake Lucerne cruise tours from the city to Alpnachstad, Brunnen, Bürgenstock, Flüelen, Küssnacht, Vitznau, Weggis, and more. 

A Lucerne lake cruise is also included as part of the Classic Round Trip to Mount Rigi, the Golden Round Trip to Mount Pilatus, and the Gotthard Panorama Express train trip. 

It’s also possible to buy tickets to Mount Burgenstock that include a Lake Lucerne boat trip, as well as the funicular railway. 

Scenic sightseeing cruises also form part of the regular Lake Lucerne boat schedule. 

Which transport passes include Lake Lucerne boat cruises?

Some boat journeys across Lake Lucerne form part of the Swiss public transport network. 

Therefore holders of a Swiss Travel Pass can travel on these boats for free. The Tell Pass also includes boat trips on Lake Lucerne.

Which tickets include a Lake Lucerne boat cruise?

A Lake Lucerne boat tour can also be part of a mountain excursion. The Classic Rigi Round Trip to Mount Rigi includes a boat cruise between Lucerne and Vitznau or Weggis. 

The Pilatus Golden Round Trip to Mount Pilatus, meanwhile, includes a boat ride between Lucerne and Alpnachstad. 

You can also buy tickets for Mount Bürgenstock which include a lake cruise.

The Gotthard Panorama Express combines a boat cruise across Lake Lucerne with a panoramic train ride to Ticino. 

Stadt Luzern paddle steamer sailing on Lake Lucerne

The Lake Lucerne Cruise Options

Gotthard Panorama Express

Operator: Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV AG) 

Summary of cruise: Lucerne to Flüelen, part of Gotthard Panorama Express route which includes train travel from Flüelen to Lugano

Type of vessel: Modern motor vessel or historic paddle steamer

Duration of cruise: 2 hours 45 minutes

What’s included: First class travel on the train, first or second class travel on the boat

Where to book ticket: Buy your train and boat ticket here

Is it covered by Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass? The Gotthard Panorama Express is included with the Swiss Travel Pass – buy yours here.

Discounts: 50% off for Swiss Half Fare Card holders – buy yours here. Children aged 6 to 15 years get 50% off or they travel for free with the Swiss Family Card.

Dates of operation: Late April to late October

Frequency of cruise/service: One service daily except Mondays during operating season

If you travel on the Gotthard Panorama Express, one of Switzerland’s famous scenic railways, then a cruise across Lake Lucerne forms part of the route. The trip is therefore included with your ticket. 

This cruise travels between Lucerne and Flüelen. The boat trip lasts for almost three hours, and delivers passengers to the awaiting train. You will then make your way on to Ticino.

The Gotthard Panorama Express is the sole Swiss Premium Panoramic Train combining a boat cruise with a train journey. You’ll travel with the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company for this leg, either by modern motor boat or vintage paddle steamer. 

Meals are available at the restaurant on board. Trips in both directions take place around lunchtime, giving you the perfect excuse to enjoy a meal on board.

When departing from Lucerne, the boat leaves a little after 11am. When heading in the opposite direction, the boat leaves Fluelen at midday. 

First and second class travel is offered on the cruise sector of the Gotthard Panorama Express. First class passengers can sit on the upper deck, whilst seating for second class passengers is on the lower deck.

Find out all you should know in my complete guide to the Gotthard Panorama Express.

Various sized boats on Lake Lucerne

Mount Pilatus Golden Round Trip

Operator: Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV AG) 

Summary of cruise: Lucerne to Alpnachstad or vice versa, part of Mount Pilatus Golden Round Trip ticket 

Type of vessel: Modern motor vessel or historic paddle steamer

Duration of cruise: 1 hour 10 minutes

What’s included: Cruise from Lucerne to Alpnachstad

Where to book ticket: Buy your ticket here

Is it covered by Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass? The entire Mount Pilatus Golden Round Trip ticket is included with the Tell Pass – buy your Tell Pass here

Discounts: 50% off for Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Half Fare Card holders, and children aged 6 to 15 years.

Dates of operation: Late May to late November

Frequency of cruise/service: Daily during operating period (multiple departures)

If you want to visit Mount Pilatus while in Switzerland, then a cruise from Lucerne to Alpnachstad can be included as part of your ticket. 

In fact, passengers can choose between travelling by train or boat between the city and Alpnachstad, before boarding the steepest cogwheel railway in the world to reach the summit. 

The famous Golden Round Trip ticket for Mount Pilatus includes a boat cruise between Alpnachstad and Lucerne (or vice versa). Guided tours may also include a boat trip as part of the journey to and from Mount Pilatus. 

With lots to do once you reach the summit of Mount Pilatus, this is a very popular trip. You can even stay overnight if you’d like to. Find out more in my ultimate guide to visiting Mount Pilatus.

> Click here to buy your Mount Pilatus Golden Round Trip ticket

> Click here to book a guided tour to Mount Pilatus including a Lake Lucerne cruise

MS Fluelen on Lake Lucerne

Mount Rigi

Operator: Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV AG) 

Summary of cruise: Lucerne to Vitznau or vice versa, part of Mount Rigi self-guided tour route

Type of vessel: Modern motor vessel or historic paddle steamer

Duration of cruise: 1 hour

What’s included: Cruise from Lucerne to Vitznau (or vice versa)

Where to book ticket: Buy your tickets here

Is it covered by Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass? The Mount Pilatus ticket is included with both the Swiss Travel Pass and the Tell Pass – buy your pass here

Discounts: 50% off for Swiss Half Fare Card holders, and children aged 6 to 15 years.

Dates of operation: All year round

Frequency of cruise/service: Daily, multiple departures 

Mount Rigi, aka the ‘Queen of the Mountains’, is also a popular mountain excursion from Lucerne. 

While the cogwheel train to Mount Pilatus is the world’s steepest, the Rigi Bahn is Europe’s oldest mountain railway. There are panoramic views over Lake Lucerne from the summit.

You can travel to Mount Rigi via Arth Goldau, Weggis, or Vitznau in Switzerland. If you choose the latter, you can opt to take a boat trip from or to Lucerne as part of the journey. 

A cruise between the city and Vitznau takes just under an hour. You’ll then board the historic rack railway by the shores of the lake, bound for the top. 

Swiss Travel Pass and Tell Pass holders can travel to Mount Rigi for free. A 50% applies for Swiss Half Fare Card holders, and children aged 6 to 15 inclusive. 

The easiest way to travel to Mount Rigi is to buy a ticket for a self-guided tour. This includes the boat cruise to and from Lucerne, plus train and cable car travel. 

> Click here to buy tickets for the self-guided Mount Rigi tour

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Mount Bürgenstock

Operator: Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV AG) 

Summary of cruise: Part of Mount Bürgenstock self-guided tour route

Type of vessel: Catamaran

Duration of cruise: 30 minutes

What’s included: Cruise from Lucerne to Kehrsiten-Bürgenstock

Where to book ticket: Buy your tickets here

Is it covered by Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass? The Mount Bürgenstock cruise ticket is included, and the funicular ticket is half price, for holders of the Swiss Travel Pass. Buy your pass here.

Dates of operation: All year round

Frequency of cruise/service: Daily, multiple departures

As a third option alternative to Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus, you could travel to Mount Bürgenstock. 

Tickets for this self-guided mountain excursion include a boat cruise from Lucerne to Kehrsiten-Bürgenstock. The funicular railway will then transport you to the mountain-top resort. 

For the first sector of the journey, a half hour catamaran trip will take you to the departure point for the mountain railway in Kehrsiten-Bürgenstock.

Once you reach the summit of Bürgenstock, it’s all about the leisure facilities at this world-class resort. 

These include a dozen bars, cafes, and restaurants. There’s also swimming pools, a 9-hole golf course, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a series of walking trails to follow, and the Hammetschwandlift elevator. 

The Bürgenstock mountain resort also boasts a superb spa. 

The return journey is in reverse, involving a funicular descent followed by a second lake cruise.

> Click here to buy tickets for the Mount Bürgenstock excursion

A yacht moored near the Hotel Schweizerhof beside Lake Lucerne

Public Transport Cruises

Operator: Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV AG) 

Summary of cruise: Public transport services 

Type of vessel: Modern motor vessel or historic paddle steamer

Duration of cruise: 1 to 5.5 hours

What’s included: Ferry transport

Where to book ticket: Buy tickets here

Is it covered by Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass?  Public transport boat travel is included with the Swiss Travel Pass and Tell Pass – buy your pass here

Discounts: 50% off for Swiss Half Fare Card, Interrail Pass, and Eurail Global Pass holders, and children aged 6 to 15 years.

Dates of operation: All year round

Frequency of cruise/service: 

  • Cruises to Weggis / Vitznau / Brunnen / Flüelen – Up to 1 per hour
  • Cruises to Alpnachstad – Up to 7 per day
  • Cruises to Küssnacht – Up to 3 per day
  • Cruises to Bürgenstock – Up to 2 per hour
  • 1-hour Cruise Saphir – Up to 6 per day

Where to board the boat in Lucerne:

  • Pier 1: Cruises to Weggis / Vitznau / Brunnen / Flüelen
  • Pier 2: Cruises to Alpnachstad
  • Pier 3: Cruises to Küssnacht
  • Pier 3: Cruises to Bürgenstock / Short Catamaran Cruises
  • Pier 7: 1-hour Cruise Saphir
Boat sailing on Lake Lucerne

The Lake Lucerne cruise timetable operated by the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV AG) offers various options. This public transport service means you can take a Lake Lucerne cruise with a Swiss Pass or Tell Pass for free. 

If you have a Eurail Pass, an Interrail Pass, or a Swiss Half Fare card, you can get a 50% discount on ticket prices. Kids aged 6 to 15 inclusive also travel at half price. 

Cruises depart up to twice per hour in summer, depending on the route, and operate throughout the year. The duration of the trip depends on your destination. 

There is also a popular Lake Lucerne 1 hour cruise, the Saphir, for sightseers, and this service has the most frequent departures. 

Services depart from piers 1, 2, 3, and 7 in Lucerne. The main destinations are Alpnachstad, Brunnen, Bürgenstock, Flüelen, Küssnacht, Vitznau, and Weggis. Additional stops are also made at lesser known towns and villages. 

The vessels used are a mix of motor boats and historic paddle steamers. Drinks, snacks and meals are available to buy on board. 

For affordable boat trips on Lake Lucerne in winter or summer, it’s difficult to beat the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company public transport boats. 

MS Gotthard sailing on Lake Lucerne

One hour Lake Lucerne cruise by panoramic yacht

Operator: Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV AG) 

Summary of cruise: 1 hour sightseeing yacht cruise

Type of vessel: Panoramic yacht

Duration of cruise: 1 hour

What’s included: Sightseeing cruise with audio guide

Where to book ticket: Buy your ticket here

Is it covered by Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass? This 1-hour Lake Lucerne sightseeing cruise is not included with the Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass, and no discounts are offered for Swiss Half Fare Card holders.

Dates of operation: Check when booking

Frequency of cruise/service: Daily, multiple departures

If you find the Lake Lucerne timetable confusing, or are short of time, then why not book a one hour sightseeing cruise to experience the best of this glittering Swiss lake?

The scenic cruise is operated by the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company, and lasts for an hour. You’ll travel on board a luxury panoramic yacht, ensuring sweeping views throughout. 

An audio guide in a range of languages is included, so you can discover where you are and what you’re seeing. This is accessed via the ‘Listen Everywhere’ app, and you’ll need to bring headphones. 

There are two places to sit back and relax while enjoying the views. The upper deck has a retractable roof, or you can perch above the water on the lower level. 

This cruise departure point is close to the Schweizerhof Hotel, so if you are seeking hotels on Lake Lucerne, this five star property could be the perfect pick. 

> Click here to book this one hour Lake Lucerne yacht cruise

> Click here to book a room at the Schweizerhof Hotel in Lucerne

The ship MS Diamant sailing on Lake Lucerne in the evening.

One hour catamaran cruise on Lake Lucerne

Operator: Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV AG) 

Summary of cruise: 1 hour sightseeing catamaran cruise

Type of vessel: Hybrid-powered catamaran

Duration of cruise: 1 hour

What’s included: Sightseeing cruise

Where to book ticket: Buy your ticket here

Is it covered by Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass? This 1-hour Lake Lucerne sightseeing cruise is not included with the Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass, and no discounts are offered for Swiss Half Fare Card holders.

Dates of operation: Check when booking

Frequency of cruise/service: Daily, multiple departures

Another simple alternative to poring over the Lake Lucerne cruise map is to book a catamaran cruise. Like the panoramic yacht cruise, it lasts for an hour, during which time you can spot sights such as Mount Rigi, Mount Bürgenstock, and Mount Pilatus. 

The vessel is a modern, hybrid-powered catamaran, operated by local experts the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company. Snacks and drinks can be purchased on board.

> Click here to book this one hour Lake Lucerne catamaran cruise

Passengers dining onboard a ship on Lake Lucerne

Two hour Lake Lucerne cruise with lunch

Operator: Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV AG) 

Summary of cruise: 2 hour scenic cruise with 3 course lunch

Type of vessel: Modern motor boat

Duration of cruise: 2 hours

What’s included: Sightseeing cruise, 3 course lunch, and a soft drink

Where to book ticket: Book your ticket here

Is it covered by Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass? This 2-hour Lake Lucerne cruise with lunch is not included with the Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass, and no discounts are offered for Swiss Half Fare Card holders.

Dates of operation: Check when booking

Frequency of cruise/service: Daily

This scenic Lake Lucerne cruise departs at lunchtime, and on board you’ll be served a delicious three-course meal while enjoying the sights.

Fresh, locally sourced ingredients are used in the set menu, and you can book the vegetarian version if you prefer. 

The cruise lasts for around two hours, and will take you from Lucerne to either Vitznau or Küssnacht. To wash down your feast, one coffee, tea, or mineral water is included. You can also buy more drinks on board if you want to. 

> Click here to book this two hour lunch cruise on Lake Lucerne

The dining area on one of the Lake Lucerne ships

3.5 hour dinner and sunset cruise on Lake Lucerne

Operator: Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV AG) 

Summary of cruise: 3.5 hour sunset cruise with 3 course dinner

Type of vessel: MS Diamant

Duration of cruise: 3 hours 30 minutes

What’s included: Sightseeing cruise, 3 course dinner, aperitif, and musical entertainment

Where to book ticket: Book your ticket here

Is it covered by Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass? This 3-hour Lake Lucerne sunset cruise is not included with the Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass, and no discounts are offered for Swiss Half Fare Card holders.

Dates of operation: Check when booking

Frequency of cruise/service: Daily

If a Lake Lucerne sunset cruise appeals most, then you must take a look at this one. It includes an aperitif followed by a three-course dinner.

You’ll also be serenaded by a musical duo, making this a romantic experience perfect for couples. 

A key feature of this cruise is the vessel itself. You’ll travel on board MS Diamant, which is the first climate-neutral commercial passenger boat in Switzerland. 

The three tiers include an underwater viewing deck, an aqua terrace, a glass dome, and the top floor Compass Lounge. 

This impressive boat is the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company’s flagship vessel. 

> Click here to book this sunset dinner cruise on Lake Lucerne

MS Diamant sailing towards Brunnen on Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne Cruises | Final thoughts

If you’ll be visiting the Lucerne area while in Switzerland, then taking a cruise on the lake of the same name is simply unmissable. 

With options including one-hour sightseeing trips for those short of time to full-day mountain excursions covering other modes of transport, there’s an option to suit all visitors.

You can also take a lunch or sunset dinner cruise, or include a boat trip as part of your panoramic railway experience. 

If you hold a Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass, you might even get to travel for free. With public transport ferry services operating all year round, Lake Lucerne cruises are an option open to everyone.

🇨🇭 Visit our Lucerne Travel Guide to read about the best things to do in Lucerne, best hotels in Lucerne, our suggested 2-day Lucerne itinerary, and more. 🇨🇭


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