Best Day Trips From Bern & Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne and Bern are some of the prettiest cities in Switzerland. They both also make a good base if you are staying in Switzerland for a few days and want to explore the nearby towns and villages. They are actually located quite near to each other (about 100 km apart), so all of the places mentioned in this post can be reached from either city (unless otherwise stated).
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Lucerne is called the prettiest town in Switzerland. Located about an hour south of Zurich by car, and right next to gorgeous Lake Lucerne, the city of Lucerne is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Switzerland. While not everyone has heard of it because of its small size, don’t be surprised when you visit if it is packed with tourists.
Bern is about 100 km west of Lucerne and is one of the few cities that does not have a real lake. However, it has the Aare, which makes it interesting. The Aare is a tributary from the High Rhine, and is the longest river to both begin and end in Switzerland. Bern is also the capital of Switzerland, known as its “federal city.” And it is one of the most beautiful capitals in the world.
Even if you are visiting many of these places from Lucerne, the fastest train connection is often via Bern – but those trains are honestly pretty boring. If you are not in a rush and have the time, try to avoid them and take the slower trains that offer better scenery to watch. You can relax and enjoy the ride and the view.
Day Trip to Interlaken From Lucerne or Bern
From Lucerne and Bern, you can easily visit Interlaken, which is located between these two cities and just south of them. Interlaken is the most popular place to visit in Switzerland. While the town is not rich in attractions, it is the location that makes it so breathtaking and a great day trip from Bern and Lucerne.
Interlaken is situated in a slim stretch of valley between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. It is surrounded by mountains, dense forests, glaciers, and meadows, making it a natural beauty. Though there are much better town centers than this one, you have plenty of things to do to keep you busy. There is Harderkulm, which is a mountain that offers some amazing views if you hike up (takes about 2-3 hours). You can take a boat trip on one of the lakes and enjoy views from the water.
You can also go paragliding. Interlaken is very popular for outdoor sports, and it is not uncommon to see lots of paragliders in the town center – it is just the thing to do. And don’t forget to see the breathtaking mountain ranges of the Swiss Alps, like Jungfrau. Find out more about things to do in Interlaken.
Day Trip to Engelberg and Mount Titlis From Lucerne or Bern
From Lucerne, it is easy to reach the lovely town of Engelberg and see Mount Titlis. If you are in Bern, it is also fairly close. If you are driving, you should arrive from Lucerne within about 50 minutes. A train ride will take about an hour.
Mount Titlis is one of the most famous mountains in Switzerland. It also boasts the world’s first cable car. It is very popular for winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, hiking is the thing to do. You should also see the Titlis Cliff Walk, a suspension bridge that is 500 meters above the ground.
If you take the Ice Flyer chair lift up, you will see some breathtaking views. It will take you up to the slopes in winter or over glaciers in summer.
Another great sight for your day trip is Trübsee, a glacial lake that would be a great spot for a picnic. For more adventure and excitement, you can visit Titlis Adventure Park or the zipline. Or you could spend a few hours mountain biking. You should definitely make it a point to visit Engelberg and Mount Titlis because there is so much to do and it’s so easy to get to.
Day Trip to Zurich From Bern or Lucerne
It is easy to get to Zurich for a day trip if you are coming from Bern or Lucerne. Located in the northeast part of Switzerland, Zurich is one of the country’s biggest cities. It is also one of my personal favorites.
I love Zurich because of its proximity to Lake Zurich. This is one of the best places to visit, especially in the spring, summer, and early fall. The water is clean and clear, and it’s perfect for taking a swim. Or, if you prefer staying dry, take a boat tour up to the other side, to Rapperswil. It’s very beautiful along the lake, with cafes that are great for when you want to take a break and relax. There is often live musical performances on the warm, summer days. If you are on a budget, the best thing you can do is sit at the lake, have a drink, listen to some music, and enjoy the weather.
Bahnhof Street, the most expensive shopping street in the world, is another place to visit while in Zurich for a day trip. And you can see the house mountain of the city of Zurich – Uetliberg Mountain – which can be reached within just a few minutes.
I have a more detailed post on Zurich for you here.
Day Trip to Montreux From Bern or Lucerne
Another really beautiful town to visit on a day trip from Lucerne and Bern is Montreux at Lake Geneva. It is easy to get to from these two places and is one of the cutest little towns in Switzerland, if not Europe.
The town itself does not have that much to do or see, but it is located by Lake Geneva and boasts a promenade that is bursting with colorful flowers. Montreux is famous for its jazz festival though, so you will see a lot of musically-themed décor around town, such as music notes and sculptures along the promenade.
You might also notice the Freddie Mercury statue – the late lead singer of the rock band Queen. There is an exhibition that you can see at the band’s recording studio. You might also want to visit the famous Chateau de Chillon, which is a medieval fortress right on the banks of Lake Geneva. Inside, you will find a chapel with 14th-century murals.
While not the biggest town in Switzerland, it is perfect for a day trip. Montreux is just the right size to discover in one day (though two days would not harm either). Here is my Montreux guide.
Day Trip to Mount Pilatus From Bern or Lucerne
Mount Pilatus is located very close to Lucerne, so this would make an easy day trip, if that is where you are staying. If you are in Bern, don’t worry. It only takes an hour to get to this great Swiss mountain.
Mount Pilatus is one of the best mountain peaks in Switzerland, and even better, it is one you can visit without a hike. There are a number of peaks you can see, but the highest is Tomlishorn. Since the mountain overlooks Lucerne, you get incredible views of both the town and Lake Lucerne. To get up the mountain, take the cable car or ride up on the cogwheel train, which is an experience in itself.
Once you ascend Mount Pilatus, there is lots to do. If you are visiting in the winter, enjoy some of the many winter activities, like skiing and snowboarding. If you are arriving in the warmer months, then you can look into paragliding and hiking.
Mount Pilatus not only offers gorgeous views of this central part of Switzerland, but there is also lots of things to do and enjoy. If you love the outdoors, this is a day trip you won’t want to miss.
Day Trip to Lauterbrunnen From Bern or Lucerne
This mountain village in the Swiss Alps is another great day trip from either Lucerne or Bern. It is actually one of the most famous places around for lovers of the outdoors. And I don’t mean just the run-of-the-mill outdoorsy people – I mean the adrenaline junkies who do crazy things, like paragliding and base jumping. If those are your sports, then Lauterbrunnen is the place for you.
You can visit the Schilthorn summit, which was featured in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. This summit overlooks the valley of Lauterbrunnen, and you can take the cable car that goes from the village of Stechelberg to Schilthorn Mountain for views over the Bernese Alps.
Waterfalls are something Lauterbrunnen also has – as in, 72 of them. The most famous of these waterfalls is Staubbach Falls, which you can watch descend over the cliffs of Lauterbrunnen Valley. Trummelbach Falls is also a treat, as it is located underground. You have to pay entry, but it’s very special and worth a visit. This area is also great for hiking.
And don’t miss the train ride that takes you to the alpine summit of Jungfrau, which brings me to the next day trip from Bern and Lucerne…
Day Trip to Jungfraujoch From Bern or Lucerne
Probably one of the most popular day trips from Bern and Lucerne is to Jungfraujoch, which can be reached from either Interlaken or Grindelwald. People love it here because it is the highest train station in Europe. The summit of Jungfrau is over 4,100 meters above sea level – so you can imagine the views!
Getting to Jungfraujoch is time-consuming, but an experience in itself. You can take the train or the funicular, depending on where you are coming from. But once you are up there, you will see what all the fuss is about.
There is an actual ice palace, which is definitely worth seeing. Also, with that elevation, you will be rewarded with an incredible panorama of scenery that will likely take your breath away.
If you enjoy winter sports, then you’re in luck because there is always snow in Jungfraujoch. Even in the summer, you can enjoy your favorite winter activities. In fact, there is a Snow Fun Park that you can visit in the summer, since the snow is guaranteed.
If you are on the summit of Jungfrau, you are more or less at the top of Europe – this is why it is so popular. Visiting Jungfraujoch as a day trip is definitely doable from either Bern or Lucerne.
Day Trip to Lucerne From Bern
Beautiful Lucerne. If you are staying here, then you must make time to look around and explore. If you are staying in Bern, then I suggest a day trip to see all the lovely landmarks of this medieval village that sits between mountains, overlooking Lake Lucerne.
Lucerne is really pretty. There are quite a lot of attractions to see, such as the Chapel Bridge, which is an iconic covered bridge from the 14th century that winds its way from the Old Town to the right bank of Reuss River. It is also covered in murals.
The Old Town is another place you should see, as well as the wall from the 14th century that borders it. If you like nature, stroll along beautiful Lake Lucerne – one of the prettiest lakes in all of Switzerland. Take a boat tour, where you can relax and take in some great sights from the water.
See a beautiful sunset from Vitznau, and from there, take the funicular to Mount Rigi. Enjoy the ride up and you will see one of the best sunset views.
There are a lot of great towns around Lucerne, but don’t forget to enjoy the beauty of the town itself. It has a lot to offer. Here are more travel tips for Lucerne.
Day Trip to Bern From Lucerne
If you are staying in Lucerne, then you must see Bern. If you are in Bern already, then this will be the easiest day trip commute yet. This city is the capital of Switzerland, but it is different from any other capital I have seen, and worth exploring.Built in the 12th century, you’ll notice that the Old Town of Bern has a lot of medieval architecture that dates back to its origins. It has also been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take some time to stroll through this historic area before heading onto the next attraction.
Bern is right off of the Aare River, so you can stroll along the banks, taking in the views. You can also stop at the Rose Garden, which is a beautiful park that looks out over the river and old town, offering stunning views, especially on clear days.
To get a little closer to nature, check out the Bear Pit. This is a designated area across from the river where a bear family lives and you can observe them from afar. The bear is the symbol of the city, by the way, hence the bear park.
For some political and historical sights, check out the 15th-century cathedral and the Parliament building, as well as the 13th-century French church and the medieval tower known as the Zytglogge from the same time period.
Check out my Bern guide here.
There are so many beautiful things to see in this region of Switzerland. I hope that this list of the best day trips from Bern and Lucerne will help you choose where to go and what to see when you are visiting.