Have you ever looked up a travel website and seen these amazing scenes of Lucerne? Marvellous wooden bridges crossing Lake Lucerne from where you can see the wonderful city washed in the bright Swiss Sun nested in a valley with snow covered peaks.
We absolutely guarantee that once you step into Lucerne a permanent imprint of this image will be with you forever. Read more below about the main things to know when considering a day trip to Lucerne.
- Travel to and Around Lucerne
- Where to Stay in Lucerne
- Things to do in Lucerne
- 1. Walk down the Iconic Chapel Bridge
- 2. Check Out the Jesuit Church
- 3. See the Town Hall
- 4. Climb on the City Walls (Museggmauer)
- 5. See the Lion Monument
- 6. Check Out the Glacier Garden of Lucerne
- 7. Explore the Wonderful Area of the Church of St. Leodegar
- 8. Sip some Alpine Water at Fritschibrunnen
- 9. Explore Mt. Rigi
- 10. Take a Cruise on Lake Lucerne
- Other Things to Do in Lucerne
- Best time to Visit Lucerne
- Final Thoughts
Lucerne, located in central Switzerland and the capital of the Lucerne Canton, is a picturesque city known for its stunning natural beauty, historical charm, and cultural significance.
The city has a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages. Its well-preserved medieval architecture, including the iconic Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), reflects its past as an important trade and transportation hub.
Surrounded by mountains and located on the shores of Lake Lucerne, the city offers numerous opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and water sports.
Lucerne subscribes to CET (UTC +1). The local currency is the Swiss Franc. One other thing to note if visiting Switzerland is that the country is part of the Schengen Agreement but not part of the European Union.
Lucerne’s combination of natural beauty, historical charm, and cultural richness makes it a must visit destination for travellers exploring Switzerland.
Travel to and Around Lucerne
The city itself is accessible by most means of transportation although flights to this destination tend to be fairly accessible especially out of season. On this occasion we travelled by train to Lucerne from Bern as part of our summer 2023 Interrail trip. Alternative routes by train exist from Basel to Lucerne also.
Whilst there are no airports in Lucerne, if you are looking to fly then Zurich Airport is the closest airport and then a one hour train ride from there.
We’ve often seen well priced flights from London. If you are looking for suitable flight options, make sure to check out this article with top tips on how to find cheap flights.
Lucerne is a major transportation hub with excellent rail and road connections, making it a convenient starting point for exploring other parts of Switzerland.
Most of the city is perfectly walkable when it comes to the touristic points. Similar to Luxembourg, we wouldn’t suggest using motorised public transport as most points of interest are easily accessible on foot.
Here’s a brief overview of the public transportation options in Lucerne:
- Trains: Lucerne’s main train station, Lucerne Hauptbahnhof, is a major transportation hub in Switzerland, offering excellent train connections to various Swiss cities and neighboring regions. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) operates the train services, providing easy access to destinations like Zurich, Bern, and Interlaken.
- Trams and Buses: Lucerne has an extensive network of trams and buses that cover the city and its suburbs. These services are operated by Verkehrsbetriebe Luzern (VBL) and provide a convenient way to get around within the city.
- Boats: Lake Lucerne is an integral part of the city’s landscape, and public boats and ferries provide scenic transportation on the lake. These boats connect different lakeside towns and offer breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains.
- Cable Cars and Funiculars: Lucerne is a gateway to the Swiss Alps, and several cable cars and funiculars in the city and nearby areas transport visitors to mountain peaks, such as Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi, for hiking and sightseeing.
Lucerne’s well-organized and efficient public transport system makes it easy to explore the city, visit nearby attractions, and embark on scenic journeys through the nearby stunning Swiss landscapes.
Where to Stay in Lucerne
When it comes to accommodation in Lucerne there are plenty of options for all budgets. What you will find is a series of well placed by the waterfront, five star hotels which are iconic to the view of the city. Alternatively there are plenty of budget friendly options including Airbnbs.
We would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. Use the widget below to find the best hotels in Lucerne for your specific dates.
Things to do in Lucerne
If you are wondering whether Lucerne is worth visiting we can whole heartedly reassure you there are plenty of attractions in Lucerne.
We would suggest you spend at least a weekend in Lucerne and the surrounding area to fully immerse yourself in what the city has to offer; however, it is possible to do Lucerne in a day also (like us).
What we noticed as we arrived at Lucerne main train station is how close everything was to everything else. What you will notice is that most attractions are in the old city centre and as mentioned earlier they are easily accessible on foot.
Below we list Lucerne’s best places to visit in our eyes.
1. Walk down the Iconic Chapel Bridge
The Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) in Lucerne is an iconic and historic wooden covered bridge that spans the Reuss River. Dating back to the 14th century, it is not only a striking architectural marvel but also one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks.
The bridge features a distinctive triangular roof and is adorned with a series of painted panels that depict scenes from Lucerne’s history. As part of the bridge’s structure, there is a 43-meter tall octagonal tower, known as the Water Tower (Wasserturm), which once served as a prison and today stands as a symbol of the city.
When we visited the bridge we found it to be a very serene experience. What you will notice is that although there are a few tourists, they aren’t overwhelming as in other cities around Europe, contributing to the enhanced experience here.
The bridge is best enjoyed from the side of the Town Hall, sitting at a coffee shop and enjoying the scenery with Lake Lucerne in the background.
2. Check Out the Jesuit Church
The Jesuit Church, is a magnificent Baroque-style church that stands as a remarkable example of religious architecture and artistry. Constructed in the 17th century, this church is adorned with ornate stucco work, intricate frescoes, and impressive marble details.
Its grand façade and stunning interior make it one of the most important religious buildings in the city. The Jesuit Church is a significant historical and cultural site in Lucerne, known for its impressive architecture and artistic beauty, making it a popular attraction for visitors exploring the city.
Its location just next to the Chapel Bridge makes it a convenient stop in your itinerary and overall a complementary experience to your tour.
3. See the Town Hall
The Town Hall , known as the “Rathaus” in German, is a historic and imposing building that reflects the city’s rich heritage and political significance. Dating back to the 1600s, this Renaissance-style town hall features an ornate façade adorned with frescoes and intricate architectural details.
It serves as the seat of the municipal government and remains a symbol of Lucerne’s civic pride. The Town Hall is not only an administrative centre but also a significant architectural and historical landmark, offering visitors a glimpse into the city’s past and political heritage.
4. Climb on the City Walls (Museggmauer)
The city walls are a well-preserved segment of the medieval fortifications that once surrounded the city. The walls blend in nowadays with the city landscape very similar to Brasov’s fortifications.
These walls, including the Musegg Wall, feature a series of ancient towers and ramparts dating back to the 14th century. The Musegg Wall is particularly famous for its well-preserved towers and its iconic clock tower, which boasts the world’s oldest functioning clock mechanism.
You can explore the city walls, enjoying panoramic views of Lucerne and the surrounding mountains. During visiting times you can even climb on the ramparts and see the city from the top of the walls and towers.
5. See the Lion Monument
The Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal) is a poignant and renowned sculpture carved into a sandstone rock face. Created in the early 19th century, this iconic work of art depicts a dying lion, its paw resting on a shield with the Swiss flag, and serves as a tribute to the Swiss Guards who were killed during the French Revolution.
The monument is known for its emotional impact and is considered one of the most touching and powerful sculptures in the world. It has become a significant symbol of courage, sacrifice, and Swiss national pride, drawing visitors from around the globe to pay their respects and admire its artistic and historical significance.
The park is also very serene and quiet and we suggest you take a few minutes to gaze and admire the wordsmanship of the sculpture sitting on one of the nearby benches by the pond.
6. Check Out the Glacier Garden of Lucerne
The Glacier Garden (Gletschergarten) is a unique natural attraction that offers a fascinating glimpse into the Earth’s geological history. This extraordinary site is home to ancient glacial potholes, which were formed over 20,000 years ago during the Ice Age.
Visitors can explore these perfectly round, deep holes, admire the surrounding rock formations, and learn about the geological forces that shaped the region.
The Glacier Garden also features a museum that delves into the Earth’s past and the history of Lucerne. It’s said to be an educational and intriguing destination that combines natural wonders and historical insights, making it a must-visit for those interested in the Earth’s geological evolution.
We intended to visit, given its proximity to the Lion Monument, but unfortunately it was closed that day. Perhaps another reason to return to this wonderful city.
7. Explore the Wonderful Area of the Church of St. Leodegar
The Church of St. Leodegar, commonly referred to as the Hofkirche, is a striking religious edifice. This impressive church, constructed in the 17th century, combines both Renaissance and Baroque architectural elements, creating a visually stunning masterpiece.
The twin towers of the Hofkirche are prominent features on Lucerne’s skyline, and its interior is adorned with ornate stucco work, elaborate frescoes, and a magnificent organ.
The church is dedicated to St. Leodegar, the city’s patron saint, and remains a significant place of worship, as well as a historical and artistic gem, drawing both tourists and the faithful to appreciate its grandeur and cultural importance.
8. Sip some Alpine Water at Fritschibrunnen
The Fritschibrunnen is a charming and historical fountain located at the heart of Lucerne. This delightful fountain, built in 1918, is named after the Swiss poet and musician Ludwig Emanuel Zehnder, who wrote under the pseudonym “David Friedrich Strauss.”
The Fritschibrunnen features a whimsical, bronze statue of a goat that appears to be playing a stringed instrument, a unique and playful representation of Zehnder’s artistic identity.
The fountain is a popular attraction and a symbol of Lucerne’s artistic and cultural heritage, delighting both visitors and locals with its artistic and musical homage.
9. Explore Mt. Rigi
No trip to Switzerland would be complete without a hike in the Swiss Alps. Having finished most of our itinerary for the day we decided to venture out of the city and explore Mount Rigi which is one of the recommended things to visit from Lucerne.
We managed to go to Arth-Goldau station which is at the base of Mount Rigi. The cog wheel train station is in the same SBB station where you get off. As we had Interrail passes we were able to get a 50% discount off the cog wheel train tickets.
The ticket for the Mt. Rigi is an all day pass allowing you to use the mountain’s network of cog wheel trains, funniculars and other rides unlimited. Essentially you can explore the whole mountain without even needing to walk. Yes, it’s that impressive!
Overall, the views and the journey are incredible with blue water lakes and snow covered mountain peaks. We suggest you definitely consider at least half a day trip here.
10. Take a Cruise on Lake Lucerne
Boat cruises in Lucerne offer a captivating way to explore the city’s stunning surroundings and enjoy picturesque views of Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alps. These cruises typically provide a relaxing and scenic experience, allowing passengers to appreciate the region’s natural beauty while gliding across the crystal-clear waters.
Visitors can choose from various boat tours, ranging from short trips around the lake to full-day excursions that may include stops at nearby towns and attractions.
Whether for leisurely sightseeing, dining, or simply enjoying the fresh alpine air, boat cruises in Lucerne offer a memorable and serene way to soak in the area’s breath-taking landscapes and embrace the tranquillity of the Swiss lakeside.
Other Things to Do in Lucerne
If the above is not enough, here are a few more suggestions about things to do in Lucerne:
Best time to Visit Lucerne
The best times to visit Lucerne, Switzerland, largely depends on your preferences and the kind of experience you’re seeking:
- Summer (June to August): Summer is the high tourist season in Lucerne, as the weather is warm and pleasant, and outdoor activities are in full swing. This is an excellent time for hiking, boat trips on Lake Lucerne, and exploring the surrounding mountains. However, be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices, especially in July and August.
- Spring (April to May) and Autumn (September to October): Spring and early autumn offer milder temperatures, making it a great time for sightseeing, exploring the city, and enjoying outdoor activities without the peak-season crowds. Spring brings blooming flowers, while autumn showcases beautiful foliage.
- Winter (November to March): Lucerne is a delightful destination in the winter, with its cosy Christmas markets, scenic snowy landscapes, and the opportunity for winter sports in the nearby mountains. It’s an ideal time for skiing and snowboarding, but also for enjoying the festive atmosphere. Keep in mind that some mountain attractions may have limited accessibility in winter.
We went during late August, and despite it being a heatwave across Europe, we found the temperature to be a pleasant 30 degrees Celsius. This is due to the cooling effect offered by the nearby forests and lake.
Ultimately, the best month to visit Lucerne depends on your personal interests. If you prefer mild weather and fewer tourists, consider the colder seasons.
For outdoor adventures and cultural events, summer is the prime season. If you love winter sports and holiday festivities, the winter months can be magical.
Overall, Lucerne is an amazing city and one definitely to add to your bucket list. Whilst it might not be great for a visit on its own, combining it with other places to visit such as Mount Rigi or other Swiss cities makes it a great contender for your travel list.
The city is great for families, couples or solo traveller and offeres something for everyone.
Whether looking for a short gateway or a longer stay, Lucerne has plenty of places to visit in 1 day or across several days if you want to explore the nearby mountain ranges.
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