I always love driving by the dramatic Vierwaldstättersee (aka Lake Luzern) on our way to Ticino or Italy. Last year we finally got out on the water a couple times and we loved it. The lake takes so many twists and turns and the mountains shoot up so dramatically from the lake. They run all year but much more frequently in summer. You can see the ferry timetables here. I think it’s nice any time of year as long as you have clear skies. There are many different routes, with one-way and round trip options, but I think the middle of the lake is the nicest section because the mountains are bigger. You don’t need to book ahead, just arrive a little beforehand to buy your ticket and get a good seat.
Important kid details. You can easily bring your stroller on the boat. There is a little cafe and/or restaurant on the boat depending on which boat you are on. But I recommend bringing lots of snacks for your kids as we found the offers at the cafe and restaurant either too junky (just chips and candy) or too fancy (expensive salads and plated meals) to feed our little ones. The boat is relatively safe, with high walls around the perimeter but your kids can climb on the benches and peer dangerously over the edge, so watch your kids carefully.
Now for some pics from our trips.
Our first trip, we took the train from Zurich to Brunnen (about the middle of the lake), then the ferry to Flüelen, about a 1 hour ride, then the train back to Zurich. Here we are waiting for the boat in Brunnen.
We did this at the end of December because had free tickets that were expiring. It was very cold and we could have sat inside to stay warm. But we were so happy to see the sun that we just bundled up and had the boys run around the desk to keep warm.
Our second trip, I took my out-of-town relatives on the popular Rigi trip that starts and ends with a ferry trip from Luzern to Vitznau. It’s certainly more expensive than driving directly to Vitznau to catch the cogwheel train. But it really added to the whole experience as you can see Rigi as you approach over the water, giving some perspective. Plus it gave us an excuse to wander around Luzern before and after the trip. Sometimes SBB.ch has special offers for this excursion, so keep your eye out.
Here is my grandma on the boat as we approach Vitznau with Rigi in the background (can you see that swiss flag in the background?). The other pic shows us at the picturesque Vitznau ferry dock. We all agreed that the ferry ride made this trip extra special.