All of Switzerland's larger lakes are crisscrossed by elegant steamers, some of them restored paddle steamers. Their café-restaurants serve drinks, snacks, and hot food at standard mealtimes; toilet facilities are provided. Service continues year-round but is greatly reduced in winter. Unlimited travel is free to holders of the Swiss Travel Pass. The Swiss Travel Pass Flex may also be used for boat travel. For some travel such as night or themed cruises, you may have to pay a fee even with the Swiss Travel Pass.
Tickets can be purchased at ticket booths near the docks before departure; tickets for some shorter boat rides are also sold at a counter on board before departure. Tourism offices usually have the latest schedules, though it may be better to check with the boat companies. Credit cards are generally accepted, as are Swiss francs and euros.
The Compagnie Générale de Navigation offers excursion boat rides on Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), which range in price depending on the distance covered and the type of excursion. Numerous options are available on Lake Luzern, including with Schifffahrtsgesellschaft des Vierwaldstättersees. In Ticino, the Navigazione Lago di Lugano and Navigazione Lago Maggiore-Bacino Svizzero run frequent daily boat trips. In Zürich, boat rides of 1½ to 7 hours are available in summer with Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft. In winter, the number of boat rides dwindles.
Compagnie Générale de Navigation. 17 av. de Rhodanie, Lausanne, Vaud, 1001. 0900/929929; www.cgn.ch.
Navigazione Del Lago di Lugano. Viale Castagnola 12, Lugano, Ticino, 6906. 091/2221111; www.lakelugano.ch.
Navigazione Lago Maggiore. P. le Baracca 1, Arona, Piedmont, 28041. 0322/233200; 0848/091091; www.navigazionelaghi.it.
Schifffahrtsgesellschaft des Vierwaldstättersees. Werftestr. 5, Luzern, Luzern, 6002. 041/3676767; www.lakelucerne.ch.
Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft. Mythenquai 333, Zürich, Zurich, 8038. 044/4871333; 0848/988988; www.zsg.ch.