Newly Swissed Online Magazine

A guide to the Great Lake Cruise on Lake Lucerne

If you are anything like me, you love the water: lakes, rivers, oceans, pools, a puddle in the middle of a street. You get the idea.

Being around water soothes me, grounds me, and relaxes me. For my sanity, I need to be close to the water. No water, no Rex. I believe that Lake Lucerne is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. In fact, the lake is one of the chief reasons why I have moved here from Hawai'i.

Great Lake Cruise on Lake Lucerne

How boat navigation on Lake Lucerne has changed over time

In the 1800s, boats on Lake Lucerne were mainly used for trade. Yet today, the ferries, steamboats, and passenger ships are both a tourist attraction and a way for local Swiss to commute.

Over time, the ports along Lake Lucerne have attracted hotels, restaurants, cafés, and shops. This added convenience is attracting ever more people to the water - and thus on board the boats.

In Switzerland, riding a boat is an exquisite way of exploring another canton. And especially for getting to a point across a lake, boats are often faster than trains and buses.

The Lake Lucerne Navigation Company operates most of the ships you see on Lake Lucerne. I can highly recommend trying their various experiences. Whether it is simply getting from Lucerne to Bürgenstock or taking your date on a sunset cruise, there are lots of memorable ways to be on the water.

Additionally, the company offers many varieties of boats to ride, from old paddle steamer boats to a state-of-the-art superyacht. All 19 boats, including five historic ones, offer something exceptional and unique.

The Great Lake Cruise on Lake Lucerne

On a lonely Saturday morning, I decide to do the Great Lake Cruise, a roundtrip journey from Lucerne to Flüelen and back. Lucky me: boat rides are included in my SBB GA pass (as well as in the Swiss Travel Pass). I pack my cameras and jump on the 09:12 AM “Gotthard” boat to Flüelen.

The Great Lake Cruise operates all year and requires roughly 5.5 hours. It starts in Lucerne in the morning and runs hourly from 9:12 AM until 1:12 PM. Of course, if your feet are getting antsy during the long ride, feel free to jump off along the way.

The towering Swiss Alps, views of rolling hills, old cottage homes, historic churches, and cafés with lakeside terraces invite you along the way.

I end up planting my feet for the entire ride, enjoying the ever-new vantage point from behind the window and from the deck.

The snow-capped Mount Pilatus looked his best:

Bürgenstock with its wooded slopes reminds me of an island in Southeast Asia.

As we get closer to Flüelen, the stark cliffs of Uri make for quite a contrast to the turquoise lake.

Before I know it, I have stayed for the entirety of the Great Lake Cruise! If the roundtrip seems excessively long, I still recommend taking the boat at least one way on a leisurely day. In this scenario, you could start either in Lucerne or Flüelen and ride the train back.

And some expert advice: embark on the Great Lake Cruise in the early morning. That’s because the lake will be mostly calm and void of most private boats.

More information about Lake Lucerne

Size: 114 km²
Depth: 214 m

The most scenic parts of Lake Lucerne:

  • Bay of Lucerne
  • Bay of Gersau
  • Kreuztrichter (the cross-shaped center part of the lake)
  • Bay of Weggis
  • Bay of Stans
  • Bay of Horw
  • Lake Alpnach
  • Lake Küssnacht
  • Lake Uri

Rex Moribe

Rex traded his surf shorts for scarves, poke for prosciutto, year long summers for four seasons, the ocean for lakes, and poi for cheese. If you haven't guessed, he is from Hawaii.

Rex is an IT administrator by trade but is finding himself behind a camera more and more and immersing himself in social media and marketing.

Rex Moribe

Download our e-book: 77 Facts about Switzerland