You have been able to read a lot about visiting Luzern on this website already. The old town, the mountains and various restaurant. One major sight was not covered enough though: the Vierwaldstättersee or lake Luzern. The city of Luzern wraps around the end of the majestic lake, where the lake flows into the Reuss river. The Vierwaldstättersee is one of the largest lakes in Switzerland and a popular place to take a cruise while enjoying the views. Read all about taking a cruise on the lake in this article!
About the Vierwaldstättersee
The Vierwaldstättersee is a enormous lake in central Switzerland. It is over 100 square kilometres large and in some areas, the lake is over 200 metres deep! The lake thanks its name to the four original cantons it initially bordered: Schwyz, Luzern, Uri and Unterwalden. While the canton Unterwalden nowadays is divided into Nidwalden and Obwalden, the name of the lake remains the same. Internationally, the lake often goes by the name of ‘Lake Lucerne/Luzern’
Various cruising routes available
The cruises and regular boat traffic on the Vierwaldstättersee is run by the company Schifffahrtsgesellschaft des Vierwaldstättersees or SGV. They have a large fleet of cruising ships in all shapes and sizes. From ultra-modern cruise ships to old nostalgic steamers, you can find all of it on lake Lucerne on a sunny day.
SGV offers several cruising routes out of Luzern. You can spend about 1 hour on their modern Saphir ship for a small tour over the lake, but they also have routes available that have you on their ships for over 5 hours! Prices vary, but the cheapest cruise on Vierwaldstättersee of about an hour costs CHF 29 for an adult. Good to know that GA (the Swiss public transport subscription) is valid on the cruise ships, as are various travel passes. On their website, SGV outlines exactly which passes give free access to the lake routes, and which give you a discount.
The lake cruises generally either depart from the dock directly in front of the Luzern train station, or in front of the Schweizerhof hotel. There are ticket counters in both locations where you can purchase tickets and get more information about the available cruises.
Want a short budget cruise?
Switzerland is expensive, and you might want to save your money for a different activity than a cruise. Not to worry! While the longer cruises on the lake offer majestic views over the mountain ranges, they are also quite expensive. If you simply want a taste of Luzern from the water, without breaking the bank, there is a way though!
Rather than going on a cruise roundtrip that takes over an hour, I recommend those with little time or money to simply take one of the cruise ship for a shorter distance. Our favorite taking one of the ships between Luzern train station and Lido/Verkehrhaus. While this route only takes about 11-12 minutes, it does offer you nice views of the city from a different perspective. It allows you to experience the lake, without emptying out your wallet. The best thing about this shorter cruise is its price: only CHF 6.60 for a regular ticket. Those with a half fare card only pay CHF 3.30!
There are even nicer routes to choose from, but some are only available on the weekends. If your schedule allows, I do recommend taking cruise 304 from the Luzern train station to the Meggenhorn stop. This trip will take you further out from the city to the lovely Meggenhorn castle. A full-price one-way ticket sets you back CHF 10 and you spend almost 40 minutes on the boat. You can choose to either walk back to Luzern (around 1.5 hours by the lake), or take a short bus ride.
Considering that the cheapest sightseeing cruise on the Vierwaldstättersee starts at CHF 29, the two options above are worth considering for a slightly discounted (but not less beautiful) experience on the Vierwaldstättersee!
Specialty cruise on Vierwaldstättersee
In addition to the regular cruises on the lake, SGV also organizes a wide range of specialty cruises, often with a culinary aspect to it. How about a brunch cruise in the weekend, or eating fondue on a ship while you glide past the alps?
For these speciality Vierwaldstättersee cruises, special prices apply and you can easily book them on the SGV website.
To cruise or not to cruise?
All in all, I definitely recommend taking a lake cruise when you are visiting Luzern. Especially on clear days, this is a great way to see the city from a new angle, and see the majestic mountains around Luzern from up close.
Whether a round tour, or a trip on one of the regular boat routes is the best option, depends on your available time and budget. If you have a Swiss travel pass, cruises are free of charge for you!
You can find more information about all the available cruises on the website of Schifffahrtsgesellschaft des Vierwaldstättersees. You can get tickets on the their website, at the ticket counters in the city, but also in the SBB travel app.