Boat trips on Lake Zurich: the must-knows

  • Choose from lots of cruises: from 1-hour round trips to full-day tours crossing the entire lake.
  • If you want to explore Zurich in one day, combine a short boat trip with our city walk.
  • Catering at the boats is excellent. We recommend a cruise of about 1,5 hours to enjoy a multi-course warm lunch.
  • All normal boat rides are for free with a Swiss Travel Pass.
  • There are lots of special cruises, many of them with a culinary theme.
Min. time required: 1:00
Season: all year
Recommended season: early April to mid October
Max. altitude: 408 m (1339 ft)

Lake Zurich boats: quick introduction Copy link to clipboard

Zurich is located in the north-western corner of a 42 km long lake ('Zürichsee' in German) and on the banks of the river Limmat. The company ZSG ('Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft') offers a large fleet and lots of varying cruises. The options range from short round trips to full-day boat excursions all across the lake.

Boat prices, tickets and reservations Copy link to clipboard

Lake Zurich boat tickets: 2024 prices

A long lake cruise between Zurich and Rapperswil costs CHF 27 in 2nd class with rail pass discounts. This is just an example: the ticket price depends on the route and class you choose.

The above price is based on the ZVV 9'O-Clock Day Pass, which grants free travel in the Zurich area for a day.

This isn't necessarily the cheapest option. With many rail passes, you can make discounted or even free cruises on Lake Zurich. Our Zurich travel guide lists all suitable tickets and passes for this area.

Where to buy your boat tickets

If you don't have a rail pass that grants free traveling, you'll need a ticket. Boat tickets are available online, from the ticket desks at the pier of Zürich Bürkliplatz, at rail stations, and on board the boats.


Reservations aren't necessary for the standard boats at Lake Zurich. You can make table reservations for the ship restaurants, but you don't have to.

If you want to join any of the 'Unique Cruises' (mostly culinary-themed cruises), it's advised to arrange for your booking in advance.


You can also choose to book a tour that includes a boat ride at Lake Zurich. In that case, you won't need additional tickets.

Get your tickets for Lake Zurich boats Copy link to clipboard

Day Trip to Mount Pilatus with Aerial Cable Car and Boat Ride (Zurich Departure)
Day Trip to Mount Pilatus with Aerial Cable Car and Boat Ride (Zurich Departure)
Mountains, Scenic boat tripGuided day tour
Take the Dragon Ride cable car to the top of Mt Pilatus, the mountain which, according to medieval legends, dragons and ghosts once inhabited

Offered by Klook:

  • Best price guarantee: Klook will refund double the difference if you find a lower price.
  • Extra Support: if you book here, MySwissAlps can also assist if you have questions about your order.
Zürich City Tour with Cruise and Chocolate
Zürich City Tour with Cruise and Chocolate
City trip, Culinary (chocolate), Scenic boat tripGuided day tour
Go cruise through the many streets of the grand city of Zurich on a comfy air-conditioned coach

Offered by Klook:

  • Best price guarantee: Klook will refund double the difference if you find a lower price.
  • Extra Support: if you book here, MySwissAlps can also assist if you have questions about your order.
Zurich City and Surroundings Day Tour with Ferry and Cable Car Ride
Zurich City and Surroundings Day Tour with Ferry and Cable Car Ride
City trip, Scenic boat tripGuided day tour
Take a short guided tour of the Old Town, passing through the National Museum, the Opera House, and more

Offered by Klook:

  • Best price guarantee: Klook will refund double the difference if you find a lower price.
  • Extra Support: if you book here, MySwissAlps can also assist if you have questions about your order.
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Save money on boat rides with your rail pass Copy link to clipboard

The below travel passes get you discounted or even free boat trips on Lake Zurich. This goes for the standard rides. 'Unique Cruises' require additional payment.

Day Pass Free:
  • All boats
Eurail Global Pass Discount 50%:
  • All boats
Interrail Switzerland Pass Discount 50%:
  • All boats
Saver Day Pass Free:
  • All boats
Swiss Half Fare Card Discount 50%:
  • All boats
Swiss Travel Pass Free:
  • All boats
Swiss Travel Pass Flex Free:
  • All boats

How to reach the Lake Zurich shipping piers Copy link to clipboard

The main boat terminals in Zurich

The main boat docks in Zurich are:

  • 'Zürich Bürkliplatz': this is where the lake cruises start. It's located at the end of the famous Bahnhofstrasse. You can get there on foot from the central station in about 20 minutes, or by tram.
  • 'Zürich Landesmuseum (See)': this is where the Limmat river cruises depart. It's located right next to the central rail station, beside the Swiss National Museum. It takes 3 minutes on foot from the station.

You can reach Zurich by car or train. We recommend traveling by train.

Docks in other towns around the lake

The boats reach many towns all across the Lake Zurich shores. The docks are usually close to the town center and to train stations or bus stops.

Learn how to find docks in the timetable here.

Map of Lake Zurich

There are many cruises on the lake, that aren't all displayed on this map. The boat schedules provide a full overview of all options.

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Operation dates, schedules and timetable Copy link to clipboard

Operation dates of boats at Lake Zurich

The boats operate year-round. The summer schedule runs from early April 2024 to mid- or late October 2024. During the rest of the year, a somewhat limited schedule applies.

Planning your cruise with the timetable

You can consult the ZSG timetables through the links here. Or plan your boat trips in the general Swiss timetable. Set the travel mode to "ship" with the "Settings" function.

The main boat terminals in Zurich are called:

  • "Zürich Landesmuseum (See)"
  • "Zürich Bürkliplatz (See)"

Boat docks in the other towns on the lake can be recognized by the addition "(See)", which is German for "lake". For example: the boat dock at Schmerikon is called "Schmerikon (See)".

Best months to explore Lake Zurich by boat Copy link to clipboard

The best period of the year is early April to mid October, as that's when most cruises are available. We prefer April to June and October: all routes at Lake Zurich are available and there's quite some chance to see snow at the Alps in the distance.

July, August and September are perfect too. You'll see less snow on the far-away mountain peaks, but boat trips are relaxed and refreshing if it's hot in Zurich.

There are restricted timetables from November to March, and the surrounding hills are less attractive during these months.

Weather forecast for Lake Zurich Copy link to clipboard

Sunny weather is best to enjoy the wide views from the lake. But all Lake Zurich boats have enough indoor capacity, so a cruise is perfect for cloudy or rainy days as well.

If you want be seated outside, make sure you're dressed warm enough: there can be quite some wind. Take along sunscreen and sun glasses to protect your eyes from the bright sun reflections.

Find the current forecasts for the Zurich region below.

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Weather forecast

The types of boat rides on the Limmat and Lake Zurich

You can choose from lots of boat trips on the river Limmat and the lake. The main ones are:

  • Limmat River cruises: these 50- to 60-minute canal boat tours can be made from early April to mid- or late-October. They start and end from Zürich Landesmuseum and take you on the river Limmat, along the Old Town, and onto the lake. The “Zürichhorn” dock is where it turns and goes back to the town center. Round trips from the docks along the way are possible as well.
  • Round trips over north-western part of the lake of varying durations, that are available year-round. The shortest option takes about an hour. The longest round tour, from Zurich to Rapperswil and back, takes 4 to 5 hours.
  • Cruises in the Obersee (“Upper Lake”) area, south-east of Rapperswil. These tours can be made on Saturdays, Sundays and on public holidays from May to September.

Learn where the boats depart here.

The best boat excursions on Lake Zurich

According to us, any boat ride that fits your itinerary is perfect: all of the lake is pretty. We personally like to combine a boat ride with a train or bus tour, or with another excursion. This results in a varied half-day or full-day activity. Our favorites are:

  • A one-way boat ride from Zurich to any of the small towns along the lake. Examples are Küsnacht, Thalwil, Herrliberg, Horgen, Wädenswil, Richterswil, and Rapperswil. Then get back by train or bus. Our top pick is Rapperswil. We recommend to explore this scenic village and its castle before traveling back. Or board the Voralpen-Express.
  • The Upper lake cruise from Rapperswil to Schmerikon. The hilly surroundings are very scenic. The pretty train ride from Schmerikon back to Zurich takes about 50 minutes.
  • A boat trip to Kilchberg and a visit to the Lindt Home of Chocolate or the Lindt factory outlet.
  • A short river cruise combined with our Zurich city walk.

About the fleet and catering

The types of vessels on Lake Zurich

The boats are operated by ZSG (“Zürichsee Schiffahrtsgesellschaft”). The large fleet consists of many motorboats and two historic steam paddles. These steamboats operate regularly between April and early October. The timetable shows which boat is scheduled for each trip.

The boats have indoor and outdoor sections in both 2nd class (at the lower deck) and 1st class (upper deck).

Catering on board

Most boats at Lake Zurich have an on-board restaurant. You can have a multi-course lunch during longer trips. If you’re not seated in the restaurant area, you’re allowed to have your own food and drink too.

On top of this, there are many ‘Unique Cruises’. Most of them have a culinary theme. There are beer, Swiss cheese fondue, and brunch cruises for example. Such special trips require advance booking and additional payment.

Other websites of interest



  • price overview of Lake Zurich boat trips

Activities to combine your boat trip with Copy link to clipboard

Mühlesteg bridge over river Limmat in Zurich

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Our guide for the city of Zurich Copy link to clipboard

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Page author: AnnikaSince early childhood I've been visiting Switzerland during my holidays and I just fell in love with the country. I spent many summers in the Bernese Oberland, which still feels like my second home, and then started to explore other areas. Traveling, hiking and photographing in the Swiss Alps are my absolute favorite activities.