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boat ride in Lucerne

I know that there are many boats that travel multiple times a day. In fact there are so many I just find the schedule very confusing and I can't decide whether to go on one of the boats that go from town to town along the lake or take a one hour tour. My question is, do I need to get tickets ahead of our arrival on July 23, or can I just wait until we get there and ask for help at the TI?

Posted by
20480 posts

Prices are always the same. If you are in Switzerland for any length of time and be traveling, a Half Fare card will get you half price. If you get a Swiss Travel Pass, they're free.

Posted by
219 posts

People just show up for the ferry whenever convenient, and take the next ferry. There's a ticket booth beside the dock, and the dock's just outside the main entrance to the train station. (No ticket needed if you have a Swiss Travel Pass.)

Posted by
8889 posts

These boats serve as public transport for the various town and villages around the lake, as well as giving tourists scenic trips. They are used by the locals travelling between towns or going to Luzern for a "big city" shop.
This is why they don't just go out and back, but hop from village to village, which makes the timetable look complicated.
No public transport in Switzerland needs buying tickets in advance. Like you do at home, the locals just get up in the morning and decide to go somewhere. But unlike you, in order to do this they walk down to the landing stage, buy a ticket and get on a boat.

Posted by
27 posts

Hi Chris,

Does this mean, no buying regular train tickets, Mountain excursions, Panoramic Scenic Train tickets in advance ? Even i can buy the Half fare card once i land in Switzerland (Geneva Train station).

I read somewhere that in Europe, train tickets do surge pricing just like airlines and was asked to purchase tickets atleast 3 months in advance.


Posted by
8889 posts

I read somewhere that in Europe, train tickets do surge pricing just like airlines and was asked to purchase tickets atleast 3 months in advance.

But Europe is many different countries, and many more different railway companies. And each has their own strategy for pricing and ticketing.
That statement applies to high speed trains (but not local trains) for example in Italy and France. And those tickets are specific to a train, include an assigned seat and are only valid on that train.

The Swiss have a totally different philosophy. The Swiss want a "turn-up-and-go" service, where a ticket is valid on any train, and there is at least one train an hour on all routes and all stations. You can turn up at any station in Switzerland (there are 1838), you WILL get a train within one hour, and it will get you, with connection trains, to any other station in Switzerland. And, if there is no rail line, buses wait at the station for the train and run connecting services. This system isn't cheap.

There are two exceptions to this rule:
1) There are some cheap Sparpreis tickets available which are only valid on specific under-occupied trains.
2) There are 4 extra tourist trains (extra to the normal hourly services, but running on the same lines) which do require reservations.

Finally yes, you can land at Geneva airport, walk to the airport station ("Genève-Aéroport", a different station to the one in the city centre), buy a one-month Half Fare Card for CHF 120, and whenever you want to travel buy a half price tickets on the day at the station, and get on the next train. The "Half price" is the same as a child's fare, and there is a button for it on every ticket machine.

For mountain excursions, it is best not to decide when you go until you have checked the weather.