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22 Best Things to Do in Lucerne, Switzerland

22 Best Things to Do in Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne is a beautiful lakeside town in Europe, but knowing what to do there for a first-timer can be hard. Luckily, Lucerne offers plenty of things for travelers looking to explore Swiss culture while enjoying all that nature has to offer.

From the spectacular views of the Swiss Alps, quaint cobblestone streets, and so much more, if you want to explore Lucerne correctly, you’ll need to do your homework. Or just read this slab of a finely crafted Swiss travel article. You’re most welcome.

As one of the best places to visit in Switzerland, Lucerne is a city that requires careful planning to ensure you make the most of your visit, so we’ve compiled this list of what you must do before leaving Lucerne.

If you prefer a visual guide, you’ll want to watch our YouTube video below, featuring videography and photography from my visit to this charming city. While you read the article, you’ll notice I took nearly every photo of each attraction mentioned here.

Things to Do in Lucerne, Switzerland

1. Take a Walking Tour of Lucerne Old Town

Reuss River and Old Town Lucerne, Switzerland
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Lucerne has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and was one of the first Swiss cities to be granted this status. There are plenty of things to see and do in Lucerne. One of the best things to do is to take a walking tour of Lucerne Old Town.

I pieced together a self-guided walking tour to casually walk through Lucerne and strategically stop at cafes. Gotta love Swiss coffee! Or you can go on a guided walking tour to learn about the history of this legendary medieval city.

Read Also: An Authentic Renaissance Lucerne Hotel Review

2. Visit the city’s most famous landmark, the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge)

Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), Lucerne
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Kapellbrücke, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland

The city’s most famous landmark is Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), an 18th-century wooden covered bridge that crosses Lake Lucerne. The bridge’s 153 wooden steps are open to pedestrians and are guarded at night by two mechanical lions. Worry not; they don’t bite.

This bridge is the oldest wooden covered bridge and the oldest truss bridge in Europe. The Chapel Bridge contains several interior paintings dating back to the 17th Century.

Unfortunately, the bridge was partially burned in 1993 from a discarded cigarette butt. However, many of these paintings were lovingly recreated or restored. Still standing in all its glory, this bridge is one of the most charming I’ve ever crossed.

See Related: Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland

3. Take a Boat Tour of Lake Lucerne

Mount Pilatus from Boat Tour on Lake Lucerne
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

One of the largest steamboats in all of Europe routinely takes tours of the lake. Get a ticket for it to enjoy the lake in true Swiss form.

These boat tours depart from various locations on the lake and offer visitors a chance to see things from a new perspective as well as enjoy the fresh air and the picturesque views of the Alps, including Mount Pilatus, and the cute municipalities of Weggis and Gersau.

Lake Lucerne is one of the largest lakes in the country and is home to one of the most beautiful lakeside towns in Europe – Lucerne. Lake Lucerne offers many things for travelers looking to explore Swiss culture while enjoying all that nature has to offer from the water.

See Related: Best Hotels in Lucerne, Switzerland

4. Visit the Lion Monument

Lion Monument, one of the most famous landmarks in Switzerland
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Denkmalstrasse 4, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland

The Lion Monument commemorates the Swiss Guard troops killed during the French Revolution. Switzerland is a historically neutral nation but is famed for its soldiers.

For hundreds of years, Swiss mercenaries were regarded as the best soldiers in Europe, and every major nation used Swiss troops – including the French. During the last days of the French Revolution, the last troops defending French royalists were the elite troops of the Swiss Guard.

This sculpture of a dying lion is one of Switzerland’s most famous landmarks, attracting around 1.4 million visitors each year. In 2006, it was added to the list of Swiss monuments under protection.

Mark Twain praised the sculpture of the mortally wounded lion as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.” I’m inclined to agree with Mark Twain on this. There was something about visiting this sculpture that was incredibly moving, more so than anything I’d seen before at home.

5. Do the Mount Pilatus Golden Round Trip Summit

Mount Pilatus cogwheel railway Switzerland.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Mount Pilatus Golden Round Trip Summit is a scenic cable car, boat ride, and the world’s steepest cogwheel railway that will take you from the picturesque town of Lucerne, Switzerland, to the mountaintop of mighty Mount Pilatus.

This trip can be done in a mere 4-5 hours and is an excellent way to see the astounding views of the Swiss Alps surrounding the country’s fourth-largest lake, Lake Lucerne. The mountain was first known as Chedi, a Sanskrit word derived from and used to describe a red rock growing in the area.

Various local stories exist about the origin of the name Pilatus. According to one tale, Pilatus was named after Pontius Pilate, an infamous biblical villain reviled for his complicity in the crucifixion of the carpenter and all-around good guy Jesus Christ. According to a medieval legend, dragons had healing abilities on the mountain. A chronicle from 1619 states:

‘as I was gazing up at the tranquil night sky, I saw a very bright dragon with flapping wings leave one of Pilatus’ caves and glide across to another cave known as Flue on the opposite side. I was so stunned at this amazing sight around nine o’clock that I stood in amazement for an hour or more.’

Mount Pilatus is the highest mountain in the canton of Lucerne in Switzerland, at 2,132 meters. It’s also one of the steepest. The mountain is known to be frequently cloud-covered, but on the day we visited, it was in its most natural form of beauty – naked as a jaybird.

See Related: Where to Stay in Lucerne

6. See a MASSIVE Collection of Picasso’s at the Sammlung Rosengart

Interior of Sammlung Rosengart, Lucerne
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Pilatusstrasse 10, 6003 Luzern, Switzerland

Among the thousands of pieces displayed at the Sammlung Rosengart in Lucerne is one of the world’s largest collections of Pablo Picasso’s works.

Founded and directed by Lynn Rosengart, the museum has a notable 18th and 19th-century European art collection, including over 2,000 drawings by Albrecht Dürer. The art museum can be easily accessed in the Lucerne city center, steps away from the train station.

See Related: Day Trips from Lake Como to Switzerland

7. Tour the Glacier Garden of Lucerne

Glacier Garden of Lucerne
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Denkmalstrasse 4a, 6006 Luzern, Switzerland

The Glacier Garden in Lucerne is a must-see if you visit this lovely Swiss town. The garden will take your breath away with its rare plant species, outstanding Alps views, and the sparkling lake below.

The garden is set in the middle of the Lucerne city center and showcases the history of the glaciers formed during the Ice Age. This inspiring garden is home to a wide variety of plants from all over the world, with many from the Alps. You’ll also find a fascinating Ice Palace here that’s made from real ice.

This is also located near the Lion Monument, so if you plan on visiting either of these spots, you may as well visit both!

8. Visit the Bourbaki Panorama

Bourbaki Panorama, one of the best things to do in Lucerne
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Löwenpl. 11, 6004 Luzern, Switzerland

Visiting the Bourbaki Panorama is one of the most popular things in Lucerne. The Bourbaki Panorama Luzern, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, commemorates the internment of 87,000 French soldiers in Switzerland during the winter of 1871. The 112 × 10-meter (formerly 112 x 14 m) huge circular painting is told through the painter Edouard Castres’ story of 1881.

The message of the Bourbaki Panorama is timeless and still relevant today. War, solidarity, and separation issues are more pressing now than ever. The panorama medium is now recognized as the origin of panoramic film as a concept and source of inspiration for 360-degree filming and virtual reality.

While visiting the panorama, there are plenty of other exhibits within the art museum to explore. Buying a Swiss Travel Pass gives you free access to this art museum and panorama.

See Related: Day Trips from Nuremberg

9. Get Epic Views of Old Town from the Old Wall of Museggmauer

Museggmauer (Old Town Wall) of Lucerne, Switzerland
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Auf Musegg, 6004 Luzern, Switzerland

This is one of the best things to see in Lucerne and a must-add to your itinerary. The old city walls offer an incredible view. This location offers stunning panoramic views of the historic old town across Mount Pilatus and Lake Lucerne.

I admired the weathered look as I approached the ancient wall in true Swiss style. Goats, yaks, and chickens were foraging on the grassland near the old wall, and a local cafe was located nearby, where I enjoyed another strategic Swiss coffee.

Walking Museggmauer was a great free thing to do that offers great views of the city and excellent history.

10. Spreuer Bridge – one of Lucerne’s other Stunning Covered Wooden Bridges

Address: Spreuerbrücke, 6004 Luzern, Switzerland

The Spreuer Bridge is a covered bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland, and was built in 1406. It is made of timber and is similar to the Chapel Bridge, only with 45 macabre paintings under its rafters. Think of it as the evil Chapel Bridge – which you thought was unique up to this point! Admit it!

The Spreuer Bridge is actually one of four bridges that span the River Reuss in Lucerne (the others being the Chapel Bridge, the Mill Bridge, and the Brass Bridge), located next to the Kornhausplatz.

Built to replace an earlier bridge that had been destroyed in a fire (which seems to be a theme) the Spreuer Bridge is a covered wooden bridge with a length of 93 meters (305 feet) and a width of 3.5 meters (11 feet). It contains 45 Dance of Death paintings on its rafters, done by an unknown artist in the 17th Century – the OG Deviant Art.

The Spreuer Bridge is open to pedestrians and is free to enter. There are often concerts on the bridge, making for a lovely atmosphere amidst the creepy wooden paintings. But seriously, the bridge is one of the most beautiful sights in Lucerne and is definitely worth a visit!

See Related: Best Places To Go For Your Birthday

11. Visit Mount Riggi

Boat Heading to Mount Riggi

Address: Rigi, 6410 Arth, Switzerland

Rigi is a striking mountain that is located just outside of Lucerne and offers visitors stunning views of the city, lake, and Alps. If you’re looking for a breathtaking view of Lucerne and the surrounding mountains, tour Mount Rigi.

This mountain is located just a few minutes outside Lucerne and offers panoramic views of the city and the Alps. It’s definitely worth the trip. There are a number of different ways to enjoy Mount Rigi, depending on your fitness level and activity preferences.

For those looking for a more challenging hike, there are a number of marked trails that wind their way up the mountain. However, if you’re after something less strenuous, Rigi can also be explored by train or cable car.

12. Explore the Engelberg Valley and visit Mount Titlis

Town and Mount Titlis

Address: Titlis, 6390 Engelberg, Switzerland

In the summer, visitors can hike and mountain bike in the beautiful Engelberg Valley, while in winter, the area comes alive with skiers and snowboarders taking advantage of the wonderful powdery snow.

Mount Titlis is an impressive mountain that offers visitors a wide range of activities to enjoy, both in the summer and winter months.

The Titlis Cliff Walk is also popular – this walkway hangs off the edge of the mountain and offers breathtaking views of the Engelberg Valley. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, visit the Titlis Rotair, Europe’s highest-rotating cable car. The valley is a superb destination for a day trip from Lucerne.

13. Admire the beauty of Franziskanerplatz & Franciscan Jesuit Church

Church Interior of Franciscan Church

Address: Franziskanerpl. 1 6000, 7 Luzern, Switzerland

On the west bank of nearby Lunenburg, Franziskanerplatz is a lovely city square in the heart of the river Reus and stretches along both banks.

Many tour books and guides overlook these locations for some reason. This destination should be visited. It features a beautiful plaza with several magnificent and colorful historical monuments.

The Franciscan churches in Franziskanerkirche may be seen at the same location, offering a fantastic journey. It’s just as interesting as the two churches previously mentioned. Franciscans erected the church in the 14th Century, and it has a basic appearance from the outside.

14. Day trip to Jungfraujoch

Kyle Kroeger at the Top of Europe, Jungfraujoch
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Jungfraujoch, 3801 Fieschertal, Switzerland

Lucerne is the perfect place to explore Swiss culture and nature. Among the things to do in Lucerne, a day trip from Lucerne to Jungfraujoch is a must-do for any traveler. Around 80 km from Lucerne, Jungfraujoch is considered a top of Europe and is home to the tallest railroad station in Europe at 3,454.

The lifts access the Sphinx’s 3,573-meter summit. Jungfraujoch Top-Of-Europe Days excursions are a great way to see this lovely Alpine region.

This quintessentially Swiss experience begins with a drive around the stunning countryside and continues with a railway trip along the Jungfrau Pass, where you’ll see the Kleine Scheidegg Pass and the Eiger North Face.

See Related: Most Beautiful Cities in Europe to Visit

15. Ride the Funicular Gütsch & Views from Hotel Château Gütsch

Funicular  Ride in the Mountains

Address: 6003 Lucerne, Switzerland

Did all that other stuff sound too basic? Try this on for size. Discover something less touristy by taking the Funicular Gütsch. This incredible mountainside railway has to be ridden to be believed.

The nearby Historic Hotel Château Gütsch has a stunning city view and an equally fun name to say out loud as the funicular. With the city and mountain of Rigi in the background, this vista is simply breathtaking.

There is also a forest with walkable routes. The hotel has an excellent restaurant with an outdoor terrace open to non-guests with views for days. Château Gütsch is the ideal location to unwind, making Disneyland Castle look like a cardboard box.

See related: 19 Real, Magical Castles in Fairytales to Visit

16. Wheel about the Swiss Museum of Transport

Address: Haldenstrasse 44, 6006 Luzern, Switzerland

The Swiss Museum of Transport is one of the most popular museums in Switzerland and one of the best in the country. It’s a great place to learn about the history of transportation in Switzerland and around the world. There are exhibits on everything from aviation to railway transportation.

The Swiss Museum of Transport is home to a large collection of vintage cars and motorcycles. If you’re a fan of transportation history, the Swiss Transport Museum is a must-visit when you visit Lucerne.

17. Eat Iconic Swiss Chocolates!

Set of Different Swiss Chocolate

Swiss chocolate is world-renowned as some of the finest you can get your teeth into, and there are plenty of places in Lucerne to try some. Lindt, the world-famous chocolatier, has a store in the old town you can visit. You can sample their delicious chocolates there and purchase a few (or lots) to take home.

If you’re looking for something more unique, head to Confiserie Sprüngli. This confectioner has made Swiss chocolate since 1836 and offers some of the most unique flavors ever. Be sure to try their famous Luxemburgerli, a delicate chocolate sandwich cookie.

18. Study the composer’s life at the Richard Wagner Museum 

Address: Richard-Wagner-Weg 27, 6005 Luzern, Switzerland

Lucerne was once home to the controversial composer Richard Wagner and is now home to the Richard Wagner Museum, which was established in his old home.

Wagner was a prolific composer and conductor born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1813. The museum is dedicated to his life and work and contains memorabilia such as personal letters, original scores, and photographs.

Visitors can also watch videos of Wagner’s operas being performed. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission costs 15 Swiss francs for adults and 10 Swiss francs for children and seniors.

19. Lucerne Botanical Garden

Yellow Flowers

The Lucerne Botanical Garden is a must-see for any nature lover. The garden contains over 4,000 different species of plants from all over the world, including a large collection of cacti and succulents.

In the summer, the garden is open daily from 8 am to 7 pm, and in the winter, it’s open from 9 am to 5 pm. The cost of entrance for youngsters under 16 and students with a valid ID is free, as well as 10 Swiss francs for adults, while access for children under six years old and seniors is also free.

See Related: Best Party Cities in Europe

20. Get some pics of the Hofkirche

Front Facade of the Hofkirche of Lucerne, Switzerland
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: St. Leodegarstrasse 6, 6006 Luzern, Switzerland

The twin towers of the Hofkirche, a Benedictine monastery from the 9th Century that was added to and restored periodically between 1634 and 1938, were built in 1525. This church is considered to be the most important Renaissance church in Switzerland.

The church is considered Switzerland’s largest for the Italian Renaissance style and era. The Agony in the Garden in the North Tower is a stunning late Gothic sculpture that adds to the tower’s magnificence. The pulpit and choirs are from 1638, and tombs can be found in an adjacent arcade.

Although its interior is ostensibly rather basic, it only exposes the magnificent baroque-style altars. During the summer, when the church’s famous organ concerts are held, Hofkirche is one of the most popular places in Lucerne for visitors.

21. You MUST eat cheese fondue in Lucerne

Hands Dipping Food on Cheese Fondue

When you’re in Lucerne, you need to try the cheese fondue. No, you NEED to. This dish is a staple of Swiss cuisine and can be found in restaurants throughout the city.

The cheese fondue is a savory, gooey dish that is perfect for winter nights. The best part is that you can customize your fondue with cheeses and meats. Be sure to try the fondue during your visit to Lucerne.

See related: German Potatosalat (Potatoe Salad) Recipe

22. Take a scenic walk around Lake Lucerne

Sunrise Over Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Lucerne is located on the edge of Lake Lucerne, which offers stunning views of the surrounding Alps. One of the best things to do in Lucerne is take a scenic walk around the lake, giving you ample time to enjoy views of it all.

The walking trails offer beautiful views of the mountains and the lake. You can also stop at one of the many cafes or restaurants along the trail for a bite to eat or a drink. Be sure to walk around Lake Lucerne during your visit to Lucerne.

Best Places to Say in Lucerne

Reuss River and Old Town Lucerne, Switzerland
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you’re more interested in seeing the city’s attractions rather than train travel to the top of the Swiss Alps, Lucerne has a lot to offer. The city has numerous excellent hotel choices that are accessible by foot. If you stay in the old town area, you’ll be in a great spot to walk to nearly every notable tourist attraction or point of interest.

If you’re visiting Lucerne by car, check out Hotel Château Gütsch, mentioned above. Some hotels in the town center include Hotel des Balances, Hotel Alexander, and Palace Luzern. If you’re on a budget, try Hotel Ibis or the backpacker hostel Sleepy Lion.

See Related: Things to Do in Zurich

Travel Tips for Visiting Lucerne

Charming Lucerne street with cobblestones, Swiss flags, and café
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The culture is a blend of Swiss and German traditions, with a focus on quality, precision, and family values. You’ll find that the people of Lucerne are friendly and welcoming and take great pride in their city.

When visiting Lucerne, take advantage of the city’s location on the shores of Lake Lucerne. The views of the Alps from the lakeshore are breathtaking, and there are many things to see and do in the area.

See Related: Top-Rated Hotels in Interlaken, Switzerland

Places to Stay in Lucerne

1. Lucerne Walking and Boat Tour: The Best Swiss Experience Top Recommendation

Lucerne is the perfect destination for a Swiss city break. This tour will give you the opportunity to discover Lucerne at your own pace and with ease. You'll enjoy a guided walk in which your knowledgeable guide will bring the history of this beautiful city to life. After that, hop on the boat and take in stunning views from Lake Lucerne as you cruise around the lake.

2. Tandem Paragliding Flight in the Lucerne Region

Take a tandem paragliding flight from Lucerne and gaze out over the Swiss Alps from the sky. With a professional paragliding instructor by your side who will take care of the navigation, you can focus on the thrill of the flight. No experience or a high level of fitness is required, just an interest in adventure and a desire to discover the landscapes of Lucerne.

3. Lucerne: Mt. Pilatus Cable Car, Cogwheel Train & Lake Cruise

Journey to the top of Mt. Pilatus by aerial cable car, brave the world's steepest cogwheel railway and cruise back to Lucerne by boat. You'll enjoy jaw-dropping views on the cable car ride up the mountain, a unique experience on the world's steepest cogwheel railway and breath-taking sights from your boat trip back to Lucerne.

FAQs

Does Lucerne have an old town?

Yes, the Lucerne Old Town is called Altstadt in German. Lucerne is Switzerland’s prettiest city, and its historic center is among its most beautiful. Many of these homes have stunning interior decorations. The Chapel Bridge (Kappelbrücke) is the most photographed site in Lucerne.

What are some things to do in Lucerne in winter?

In winter, some things to do in Lucerne include skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and skating. Lucerne is in a picturesque setting with the Alps nearby, so plenty of outdoor activities are available during winter. Or, while visiting Lucerne, take the opportunity to get to know the enchanting old town since it boasts several unique shops and eateries.

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