Zürich has an abundance of pretty sights and things to do. There is wandering around in the old town of Zürich, enjoying cool places like Frau Gerolds Garten and Urban Surf, and of course, there is the lake! Tourists and locals alike spend sunny days out by the lakeside, walking the long promenade from the inner city all the way to the Zürichhorn park and beach. Meanwhile, ships and boats glide over the water next to them. What many tourists may not know is that many of the ships are actually part of the Zürich public transport network, making a trip on Lake Zürich surprisingly affordable!
The Zürich Navigation Company (ZSG Rundfahrten) offers a wide variety of what they call ‘unique cruises’. Think of cruises allowing you to dance on a boat in Lake Zürich, or culinary cruises where you can eat burgers, mezze or of course Swiss cheese fondue. While these cruises are a great way to combine food with a lake experience, they are rather pricy.
Shorter lake cruises for a fraction of the price
If you have the budget for the more unique cruises offered on Lake Zürich, I think you should absolutely go for it. However, it is great to see that even more budget-conscious travellers can enjoy the lake for a fraction of the price.
In collaboration with the Zürich public transport company, there are several cruises that you can take without breaking the bank. The one that we took and that I recommend taking is the so-called ‘Mini lake cruise’. This cruise only takes about an hour and is thus great to combine with other activities in Zürich.
The mini-lake cruise starts at Zürich Bürkliplatz, right in the middle of the center at the end of the famous Bahnhofstrasse. From there, the mini-lake cruise takes you to different places around the lake such as Zürichhorn, Zollikon and Wollishofen. There are cruises that take you further out on the lake, but these are more expensive and might be a bit too long for visitors with limited time in Zürich. You can find an overview of all cruises under ’round trips on the ZSG website.
We enjoyed the mini-lake cruise so much because it was a great way to get a glimpse of lake life in Zürich, while still being able to do other activities in the city. Especially as we only did a day trip from Luzern where we live, spending several hours on a boat would have been too long for us.
Seats both inside and outside
Naturally, sunny days are preferred when taking a cruise on the lake. However, even for colder and overcast or rainy days, the cruise could be part of your day program. There are seats inside the ship, where panorama windows still allow you to look out and see the lakeside parks, mansions and other sights.
The outside seating on the boats fill up quickly, especially on sunny days, so prepare to either wait or sit inside during your cruise.
Only CHF 6.80, or included in your Zürich day card
Tickets for the cruise can not be reserved or booked in advance. Instead, you buy a ticket at any of the ZVV ticket machines, in the SBB app, or onboard the ship. Tickets for the mini-lake cruise only cost CHF 6.80 for adults, and 3.40 CHF if you have the half fare card.
For visitors with a public transport day pass for Zürich, the mini-lake is free of charge. The same applies to those with a ‘Zürich Card‘. However, as the Zürich Card also includes other cruises on the Limmat river and the lake, the mini-lake cruise might not be your best option.
So there you have it, want to enjoy Lake Zürich without breaking the bank? Head over to the ZSG website and find departure times that fit your travel itinerary!