Pleasure Boat Cruises on Lakes Thun and Brienz in Switzerland

Day-trip boat excursions on the Thunersee and Brienzersee near Interlaken and Bern cruise by historic towns with castles and spectacular Alpine views.

Thunersee Viewed from Schloss Spiez in Switzerland

The Thunersee and Brienzersee lakes near Interlaken in Switzerland are beautifully located with many historic towns and castles on the shores. Pleasure cruises are a fun way to explore these lakes in the Berner (Bernese) Oberland in central Switzerland while enjoying amazing Alpine views. Pleasure boat cruises can easily be combined with sightseeing, visiting museums and castles, cable-car rides to mountain tops, and easy hiking and cycling routes with views. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises often depart from Interlaken and Thun.

Boat Cruises on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz

Pleasure boat on the Thunersee in Switzerland

Lakes Thun and Brienz are smaller than other major Swiss lakes with the longest one-way cruise (Thun to Interlaken) lasting just over two hours. En route, passengers can enjoy spectacular Alpine views and visit many small, picturesque towns. Excellent public transportation (trains or buses) on all sides of the lakes allows for fast travel if time is limited.

Both lakes have their attractions but Lake Thun is probably the better choice for most travelers. Pleasure cruises here can combine the beautiful mountain views with pleasant stopovers in interesting towns with historic sights as well as lovely café terraces. However, the slightly smaller Lake Brienz also has its attractions with the banks less built-up than Lake Thun.

Although Lakes Thun and Brienz are connected by canals and the Aare River, these are not navigable by cruise boats. Interlaken West station on Lake Thun is connected by rail with Interlaken Ost station on Lake Brienz. It is also a fairly easy walk between these two train station and boat departure piers.

The Pleasure Boat Cruise Season on Lakes Thun and Brienz

Pleasure boats in Spiez on the Thunersee in Switzerland

The cruise season on the Thunersee and Brienzersee is from early April to December. The high season is from mid-May to late October. Even in spring, cruises are available daily while the winter season is usually limited to cruises on weekends and especially on Sundays. No cruises depart during January, February, and March.

Special event cruises are common throughout the year. It is also possible to combine cruises with sightseeing excursions including trips up to mountaintops or museums.

From late October to December, special cruises are only available on the Thunersee departing from and returning to Thun. These cruises include brunch cruises (Sundays), and at night fondue (cheese on Saturdays, Chinese on Fridays), and raclette boats (Thursdays). The cruise fare and meals are separate allowing wintertime cruising without taking a full meal too.

Two historic belle époque paddle steamboats – the SS Lötschberg (1914) on Lake Brienz and the MS Blümlisalp (1906) on Lake Thun – cruise a few times per day during the high season. The rest of the year, regular diesel-powered boats are used by the BLS Schifffahrt Berner Oberland.

More on the Lake Thun and Lake Brienz Region:

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About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to European-Traveler.com, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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