Best Lake Thun and Lake Brienz Cruises (From Interlaken)

Lake Thun and Lake Brienz cruises from Interlaken

Interlaken is world-famous for its position between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. It’s probably the best town in Switzerland for boat cruises because there’s a total of 22 destinations you can reach from there. 

Short boat rides, long return trips, culinary cruises, and even steamboat cruises are all available. From the best time for a cruise to my favorite rides on either lake, here’s everything you need to know about cruises on Interlaken’s lakes! 

Lake Thun Cruise

Lake Thun
Lake Thun

Lake Thun is the bigger of the two lakes in Interlaken and offers more options for cruises than Lake Brienz. Also, the shores of Lake Thun offers more things to do, including both historic attractions and natural landmarks. 

Overview

Cruises on Lake Thun are available year-round. Departure is from the Interlaken West pier, located convenienetly behind the train station. Lake Thun is the bigger of the two lakes in Interlaken, so offers more options for cruises. Below is all the information you need to plan a Lake Thun cruise, from cruise suggestions to all applicable discounts. 

Cruise Recommendations

thun castle
Thun Castle

Let’s kick the guide off with an overview of my favorite Lake Thun cruises from Interlaken: 

  • Interlaken to Thun: The full two-hour cruise is the best for first-timers in Interlaken. It’s wonderfully scenic and allows you to discover all the best sights along the shore of Lake Thun. When you arrive in Thun, be sure to visit the town’s magnificent castle, stroll around the old town, and even upriver for stunning views. 
  • Interlaken to Spiez: the cruise from Interlaken to Spiez takes about an hour. Spiez is a lovely town with a castle and a stunning marina. Grab lunch at the marina restaurant, and enjoy panoramic views along with a delicious Swiss specialty. You can also travel up to Niesen on the mountain trains. 
  • Interlaken to Beatushöhlen Sundlauenen: This short cruise is ideal for travelers who want to have the experience of a lake cruise, but don’t really enjoy being on a boat. When you reach the docks, head to St. Beatus Caves to explore one of the best natural landmarks near Interlaken. Combo tickets for the boat ride and cave entrance are available. 
  • Oberhofen: if you have time, I also recommend stopping at Oberhofen on the way back just because it is so stunning. There is a picturesque castle right next to the dock and an amazing cafe right there were you can just soak up the views (the shot below is from my visit there last September).

Tickets, Prices, & Reservations

Lake Thun cruises

The cost of Lake Thun cruises depends on the type and distance of the cruise. A short ferry ride from Interlaken to St. Beatus Caves will set you back 19 CHF, but it’s more than 50 CHF if you want to go all the way to Thun. Those are the costs of one-way tickets, and round-trip tickets are double the price. 

For the longer cruises, it’s best to ride the boat in one direction and then take the train back. It’s faster and cheaper, and you still get to experience gliding over a lake. A full list of fares for cruises on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz is available here.

One important thing to note is that these are the prices just for regular boat transfers. Themed cruises or events with dinner service are inevitably more expensive and often imply a round-trip. 

To reserve your spot on one of the boats operating on Lake Thun, go here. BLS Lake Cruise operates all cruises on Lake Thun, and the online ticket shop is easy and intuitive to use. Select your departure point, where you want to go, when you want to go, and whether you want a one-way or a return ticket. If you’re eligible for any discounts, you can apply them during checkout. 

Discounts

Discounts for Lake Thun cruises are available with various travel passes

Many discounts are available for cruises on Lake Thun. If you buy the Seepass for 159 CHF, you can enjoy unlimited cruises on either lake for an entire year. This is a really good deal if you’re staying in Switzerland for a while and you plan to go on multiple boat rides. But if you’re in the area for just a couple of days and want to do one quick boat tour, it’s not for you. 

Alternatively, there’s a day ticket that allows you to board multiple cruises on either lake. The full price is 79 CHF, and a 50% discount is available with various travel passes. It’s probably the best deal for cruising on both lakes on the same day. 

Travelers with one of the following passes can enjoy a cruise on Lake Thun for free: 

A 50% discount is granted to travelers with: 

  • Half-fare travelcard
  • Swiss Half Fare Card

Also, be on the lookout for any special promotions. Often you can get bundled tickets that include an entrance ticket to a special attraction plus the boat ride there. 

Discounts are available only for the standard transfers from one town to another. Culinary cruises are not eligible for discounts in most cases, except for rare special promotions. Additionally, you can only access the class area that your travel pass is valid for. If you’ve got a second-class Swiss Travel Pass, you can only ride the boats in second-class. But you can pay for a first-class upgrade if you like. 

Timetable

Lake Thun Boat Cruise
Boats on Lake Thun operate daily

The timetable for cruises on Lake Thun in 2024 is available here. Cruises on Lake Thun are operated daily, with reduced frequency on Sundays. Fewer cruises are available in the winter, but you’ll have a plethora of options if you’re trying to arrange a cruise between March and October. 

One important thing to note is that the timetable is subject to change as a result of extreme weather conditions. Heavy rain or snow can cancel a cruise, so be sure to check the weather forecast before booking any tickets. 

Also, I must mention that at the moment of writing this, the majority of cruises on Lake Thun are suspended due to a record-breaking low in the river water levels. Only the boats between Hünibach and Neuhaus are in operation for the next couple of months, which is why you should always check the current conditions for Lake Thun cruises

How to Reach the Docks

Interlaken switzerland from above
The docks in Interlaken are behind the Interlaken West train station

The boats on Lake Thun stop at a total of 15 piers, which means that you can board a boat in no less than 15 different towns along the lake shore. Interlaken West and Thun are generally the most popular places for cruise departures, so I’ll focus on how to reach the docks in those two towns. 

In Interlaken, you want to head to the Interlaken West station. The pier is on the river behind the train station, and you will have the experience of navigating a narrow river canal before reaching the lake. 

In Thun, the docks are also in a canal behind the main train station. The pier is very easy to spot, especially because there’s often a pretty big ship docked. Just head right when you exit the train station, and you’re at the pier in a couple of minutes. 

If you want to book a cruise from a town different from the one you’re staying in, you can travel by train or bus. The trains are faster but the bus is significantly cheaper. The railway follows the southern shore of Lake Thun, so if you want to go to one of the towns on the northern shore, the bus might just be your only option. 

Best Time to Do

The best time for cruises on Lake Thun is from April to October. Ideally, you can do a cruise on a hot summer’s day and enjoy sitting on the deck, enjoying the pretty views while the sun warms you up. But summer cruises on Lake Thun are very popular and often entail large crowds. 

It’s why I prefer riding the boats in the off-season. Winter cruises are available, but keep in mind that they’re dependent on the weather conditions. I’ve already mentioned that nearly all the cruises are suspended on both lakes at the moment, so if you’ve got a specific cruise in mind, it’s best to wait for warm weather. 

Lake Brienz Cruise

lake brienz guide cruise
Lake Brienz

This section will be just a little bit shorter because most of what I’ve said about cruises on Lake Thun also applies to cruises on Lake Brienz. The cruises are operated by the same company, so all the same rules, discounts, and special conditions apply here as well. 

Overview

Although it’s smaller and offers fewer cruise destinations, Lake Brienz is the more popular of the two lakes for boat rides. That’s mostly because of its stunning turquoise color, which the lake largely owes to glacial runoff. And even though there are fewer cruises on Lake Brienz, they’re just as rewarding – if not more – than those on Lake Thun. 

Cruise Recommendations

Iseltwald Interlaken
Iseltwald on the shore of Lake Brienz

First thing’s first – here’s an overview of my favorite cruises on Lake Brienz from Interlaken: 

  • Interlaken to Brienz: Board a boat in Interlaken and in an hour and 15 minutes you will reach the town of Brienz. My favorite thing to do in town is hang out with llamas at the Llama Ranch, and you can also tour the town, visit a museum, or just enjoy lunch with a fabulous view of the turquoise lake.  
  • Interlaken to Iseltwald: Iseltwald is a gorgeous little town on the southern shore of Lake Brienz, about 40 minutes from Interlaken. Visit the town to enjoy spectacular views, see an old castle, and spot where scenes from Netflix’s Crash Landing on You were filmed. 
  • Interlaken to Giessbach: It’s one hour from Interlaken to Giessbach by boat, and it’s probably my favorite cruise on Lake Brienz. When you get off the boat, ride the funicular up to Grandhotel Giessbach, and then follow the trail to the Giessbach waterfall. It’s one of the most famous natural landmarks along the shore of Lake Brienz. 

Tickets, Prices, & Reservations

Boat ride on Lake Brienz

Tickets for Lake Brienz cruises are cheaper than tickets for Lake Thun cruises. The lake is smaller with fewer piers, and all the boat rides are shorter, so it makes sense that the tickets are not as expensive. A detailed overview of fares for boat rides on Lake Brienz is available here

One thing to note is that the same-day pass that I mentioned earlier is valid on Lake Brienz. For 79 CHF (or 39 CHF if you’ve got one of the eligible travel passes) you can enjoy unlimited rides on either lake for one day. 

I recommend buying tickets a couple of days in advance in the summer season because Lake Brienz is immensely popular. It’s also smart to book a table in the boat restaurant if you want a guaranteed seat, but not always necessary. 

Discounts

Discounts for cruises on Lake Brienz are available with many travel passes

The same discounts that apply to Lake Thun cruises apply to Lake Brienz cruises. Enjoy a free ride if you have one of the following passes: 

  • GA Travelcard
  • Saver Day Pass SBB
  • Swiss Travel Pass
  • Eurail/Interrail Pass
  • Junior travelcard
  • Berner Oberland Pass 

And you can get tickets with a 50% discount with one of these passes: 

  • Half-fare travelcard
  • Swiss Half Fare Card

Other deals for Lake Brienz cruises include: 

Timetable

BLS Lake Cruise operates daily boat rides on Lake Brienz daily from April to November. A full timetable is available here. It’s important to note that cruise availability is seasonal, and by far most rides are available in the summer months.  

How to Reach the Docks

The docks in Interlaken are located just behind the Interlaken West Station. And it’s the same in Brienz, with the pier being just steps away from the town’s train station. You can travel to Brienz from Interlaken by train, but buses are the only option for travel along the southern lake shore. 

Best Time to Do

Cruises on Lake Brienz are suspended in the winter

Cruises on Lake Brienz are usually suspended in the winter. This season there are no cruises from November to April, so the best time for a cruise on Lake Brienz is anywhere from April to October. 

I will say that June to August is a special time to experience this lake. Especially if you book a culinary cruise in the old steamboat! However, summer is by far the most popular season for Lake Brienz cruises, so expect crowds. 

If you want to experience a more intimate cruise on Lake Brienz, I recommend planning a trip in May or September-October. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Lake Thun or Lake Brienz: Which is more beautiful?

Lake Brienz is more beautiful than Lake Thun because of its gorgeous turquoise color. However, the towns on the shore of Lake Thun offer more interesting attractions and landmarks than those on the shore of Lake Brienz. 

Is Lake Thun Cruise worth it?

Lake Thun cruises are absolutely worth it. Especially a cruise to Thun town, where you can tour a gorgeous castle and walk around a river island. 

Is the Lake Brienz cruise worth it?

Lake Brienz cruises are worth it because it’s one of the prettiest lakes in Switzerland. The lake is special because of its turquoise color, and the views experienced on a Lake Brienz cruise will remain etched in your memory forever. 

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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