Taking a paddle steamer in Lake Lucerne

If you are in the Lucerne area on a clear sunny day, one thing you shouldn’t miss is taking a cruise in Lake Lucerne. Lake Lucerne or Vierwaldstättersee in Swiss German is located in central Switzerland. As in many other lakes in the country, the lake was formed by past glacial activities. It’s the fourth largest lake in Switzerland.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Lake Lucerne has an unusual shape with many arms. The western side of the lake is generally less deep than the eastern side. Passenger boats, which runs on a regular schedule, serve as an important mode of transportation for cities and towns around the lake. Many of these boats are historic paddle steamers. For visitors like us these boats provide a fantastic way to enjoy a cruise on the lake.

We started the journey in Weggis, our base for three weeks in Switzerland, catching a paddle steamer that came from Lucerne. The boat made 8 stops along its way to Flüelen, which is on the shore of Urnersee, before turning around and heading back toward Lucerne.

Our boat ride started from Weggis to Flüelen and back.
The boat pier in Weggis
The paddle steamer named Schiller with Mt. Pilatus in the background
The boat arrived on time, Swiss style, with lots of passengers on board. Not many people on the boat disembarked in Weggis.
The dining deck for first class ticket holders
Susan prepared and brought foods for picnic on the boat. As first class ticket holders we could bring our own foods and beverages to eat on the dinning deck, which we did including a few bottles of wine. 😍
The view from the boat deck was gorgeous. The breeze felt good, but be sure to bring a jacket and sweater that are easy to put on or take off when the weather changes.
Every now and then the boat stopped at the pier of little towns around the lake. That’s when we got to see houses and churches up close. Many of the houses were built high up on a steep hillside.
The east side of Lake Lucerne is surrounded by high and steep sided mountains, which rise up from the shoreline and, therefore, is more dramatic than the west side.

After the boat left Brunnen, it headed south into Urnersee. Urnersee is an arm on the east end of Lake Lucerne. The scenery was getting better.

At the southern end of Urnersee, we arrived at Flüelen. The boat turned around here.
Looking back toward Flüelen as the boat was leaving Urnersee.
Arriving back in Weggis

While waiting to disembark, we got to see the paddle steamer engine in action. To launch a video, click on the picture below.

The total time for our journey from Weggis to Flüelen and back was a little over 4 hours. If you start the journey in Lucerne, a roundtrip boat journey to Flüelen takes about 6 hours. From what I read, some visitors took a short cruise from Lucerne which showed you only the west side of the lake. It would be a shame to not have enough time to see the east side of the lake as in my opinion is more dramatic than the Lucerne side.

4 thoughts on “Taking a paddle steamer in Lake Lucerne

  1. Sounds like a great experience! When we were there it was winter, and none of the iconic green that we associate with Switzerland was present. This definitely makes me want to take another trip and do it all over again. We visited Mt. Pilatus and walked around the town of Lucerne. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Oh I love paddle steamers, and this ride all around Lake Lucerne looks fantastic, Keng. Your photos are such a treat, so clear and well-crafted, several times while cursoring through your post I heard myself gasp. Seeing the jagged lines of the magnificent Alps, emerald green hillsides, churches, houses was wonderful, also the beautiful clear water. Everything looks so pristine here. How great that first-class ticket holders can bring a picnic and enjoy it on the deck while you float past the gorgeous scenery. Also enjoyed the Vimeo, the rhythmic engineering at work.

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    1. Thanks for the kind comment, Jet. Unlike traveling on an airplane, first class ticket for trains and boats in Switzerland is a reasonable upgrade that does not cost an arm and a leg and sometimes can make the trip less stressful. Thanks to our friends who suggested that we took the paddle steamer, this was one of the highlights of our time in the Lake Lucerne Area.

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