Lucerne is one of my go-to destinations whenever I am in Switzerland. Though there have been times, I stayed in Lucerne for many days, I often visit Lucerne as a day trip.

If you are planning your Lucerne trip, you might be wondering about the best things to do in one day in Lucerne. In this post, I share my tips on the top activities, plus many travel tips for your 24 hours in Lucerne.

Lucerne is often considered the most beautiful city in Switzerland – known for its very preserved medieval architecture – including the stunning Chapel Bridge – gorgeous Lake Lucerne and the proximity to the gorgeous Swiss Alps.

There is a lot to do and see – but if you visit Lucerne for a day only, it helps to be well-informed about the best activities so you can plan your day. And I am happy to share this info with you.

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Before talking about your 1-day Lucerne itinerary, here are some tips for your short Lucerne trip.


There are a couple of ways to get around in Lucerne and I want to quickly introduce you to the main ones. Whenever I visit Lucerne for a day, I do a mix of all of them.

WALKING: One of the best ways to get around Lucerne is on foot. The best way to experience it all is by walking. However, there are a few sights you cannot walk.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Though I walk a lot when I am in Lucerne, I also suggest using public transport (instead of a car) to the places that are further away. Lucerne has an efficient public transportation system that includes buses and trains, making it easy to get around the city and the surrounding areas. 

If you stay in an official accommodation in Lucerne, you will get a Visitor Card and can use public transportation without any extra costsIt is valid for the town center but it does not get you all the way to Mount Rigi station. However, it comes in pretty handy

The Swiss Travel Pass covers the bus and train rides as well. I almost always have a Swiss Travel Pass which makes my life much easier (more on that below).

BOAT: Whenever I am in Lucerne, I hop on..a boat. Boat tours are a great way to explore Lucerne and its stunning Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee in German). I normally use the boat at least once whenever I et to Vitznau (and from there take the funicular to get up Mount Rigi).

The regular boat cruises are also included in the Swiss Travel Pass.

CAR: I normally love road-tripping in Switzerland, but I should add that parking in cities and Lucerne is difficult and extremely expensive.  There might be free parking premises in some hotels, but I recommend getting there by public transportation.

Swiss Travel Pass

A Swiss Travel Pass is normally my perfect travel companion. The initial price is quite high, but I use buses and trains without any costs and can do unlimited boat cruises on Lake Lucerne. I can even use the cogwheel train to go up to Mount Rigi for free with the Swiss Travel Pass in 2024 and also have free entry to many museums in Lucerne.

There is a 50% discount on cable car excursions to Mount Pilatus and Mount Titlis. 



Without further ado, here is how I would spend my one day in Lucerne.

Though I have been to Lucerne many times, the first Lucerne attraction I stop by is this iconic chapel – the Chapel Bridge.

KapellbrückeChapel Bridge

The Chapel Bridge is THE most famous tourist sight in Lucerne.With its convenient location, just a stone‘s throw from the main train station, it is also within easy reach.

Chapel Bridge 2016 in Lucerne - Can you spot me and Puppygak on th bridge?

This covered wooden footbridge spans the Reuss River diagonally in the city of Lucerne and was originally constructed in the 14th century. It burnt partly down in 1993 and was rebuilt, and today, it isagaina magnet for tourists together with its water tower.

On the bridge, I love the views of the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne in English), and the Reuss River, as well as the fantastic panorama of the Swiss Alps.

Lucerne with the Chapel Bridge, Jesuit Church and Mount Pilatus

Close up painting at Chapel Bridge in Lucerne
Chapel Bridge

A series of paintings that date back to the 16th century are on display making the bridge even more special.

Next to the bridge, many restaurants are lined upthose restaurants and bars are also excellent places to have coffee or lunch/dinner.

You have not really seen Lucerne if you have not seen the Chapel Bridge.

  • There is no entrance fee
  • Open 24/7
  • Takes about 10-60 minutes

Jesuit Church

The Jesuit Church is located near the Chapel Bridge. Actually, you can see it already if you stand on the bridge. It is a Catholic church built in the 17th century, and the outside appearance does not give any clue about its inner beauty – so it will most likely surprise you.

Jesuit Church in Lucerne in winter

Despite its stunning looks, it did not take me long to go through it, so it is probably easy to squeeze it into your Lucerne itinerary (even if you are not religious/Catholic).

  • Open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. On Mondays and Thursdays, it opens at 9:30 a.m. Before you enter, check when it is closed for religious worship. Their website is in German, thus I have not linked it for you.
  • Free to visit
  • Takes about 10-60 minutes
  • Dress modestly

Lion Monument 

Then it is time to explore the beautiful old town of Lucerne. Before admiring the pretty buildings there, we start with one of the main sights located there the Lion Monument. 

Dying Lion Monument- One of the tops things to do in Lucerne

The Lion Monument commemorates Swiss soldiers who died in the 18th century during the French Revolution. It is a unique landmark in Switzerland and a must-see in one day in Lucerne.

I always stop by and look at this giant and very cute and sad lion that represents a tragic history.

It does not take long to see, but you might be interested in the history and a guided walking tour might help you learn more about it. Check out the best prices for guided tours in Lucerne.

  • Open 24/7
  • No entrance fee

Glacier Gardens

Next to the Lion Monument is the Glacier Garden, a wonderland that holds secrets dating back 20,000 years to the last Ice Age! The Glacier Garden offers a unique opportunity to peer into Earth’s past.

It allowed me to delve into this subterranean world and embark on a fascinating journey through time, uncovering secrets about geology and history.

Glacier Garden in Lucerne, outdoor museum

Take a journey through time and witness the incredible transformations of Lucerne’s landscape! 

Additionally, the garden features a museum and a fun mirror maze. I must admit, this mirror maze was actually also quite fun for me – so it´s not only fun for kids, but they will probably love this part the most of the Lucerne itinerary.


  • Located in the Old Town of Lucerne, just next to the Lion Monument
  • Free with a Swiss Travel Pass
  • 22 CHF for adults (if you are on a budget, you can skip it as it is rather expensive without the Swiss Travel Pass).

Lucerne Old Town 

The Lion Monument and Glacier Garden are located in the old town, but there are more attractions I like to see. Thus, I recommend exploring the rest of the gorgeous old town, which is full of charming architecture.

Old town in Lucerne in winter

Lucerne old town with drinking water and fountain

Lucerne city center_traditional music

If you do a selfguided walking tour, visit the Town Hall, and along the way, pass some pretty buildings with exciting facades (and I mean seriously pretty buildings) like the Hotel des Balances (pictureHotel Waageabove).

Also, watch out for the fountains – the water is drinkable and some of the fountains are quite unique! My tip is to keep your eyes open and watch closelywith so many pretty houses, you might easily overlook a few.

A guided walking tour might be a good option to learn more about the old town and the historic buildings. Check out prices for walking tours here. 

While these places are absolutely stunning – I recommend, staying in the old town/Chapel Bridge for 2-4 hours max. Of course, it depends on how fast/slow you travel but I suggest spending the rest of the day “outdoors” – in nature, so reserve the rest of the day for some time at the lake and on top of a mountain.

Enjoy Lunch

You might want to have lunch now – and there you will have to choose from many options. In the old town, you have many restaurants where you can sit down and relax when having lunch. 

Alternatively, this is what I often do in Lucerne – buy some sandwiches/snacks and have them near the promenade – having lunch with a view, is just a great idea.

Chill at Lake Lucerne Promenade 

Then it is time to leave the Old Town and head to Lake Lucerne again (you will have seen it once you get out of the train station). The promenade of Lake Lucerne in the city center is bustling and quite lively. 

Lucerne promenade

Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee in German) is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerlandand one of the largest in the country. Given its size, it is unlikely you can walk around the whole lake.

What I do (depending on my energy level and the weather), is stroll the lake area for a few minutes or an hour. Depending on when the boat leaves for the next stop on this itinerary. 

Hop on a Lake Lucerne Boat Tour 

I then hop on the boat in Lucerne (there are several piers, so make sure to find the right one) and go to Vitznau. This cruise takes about an hour and I get to see the beauty of the lake and also get to experience one of the best mountain views in Switzerland.

Lake Lucerne with a dog

Boats Tour on Lake Lucerne- A Must Do Activity in Lucerne

There are different cruises – they differ in duration, stops, and also the kind of boats. I suggest getting to Vitznau station – because you can combine this cruise with another activity. 

  • Regular boat cruises, including the one to Vitznau station, are included in the Swiss Travel Pass.
  • This boat trip to Vitznau station will take about one hour.

Head Up Mount Rigi 

I get off at Vitznau station for one particular reason – I highly suggest getting up Mount Rogi (Rigi Kum).

Mount Rigi makes a great halfday trip –  and I love visiting it, especially on a clear day, just experience the most fantastic sunset in Switzerland. So, I suggest spending your afternoon and evening at Mount Rigi Kulm and ending your day there.

Getting up Mount Rigi - a must-do activity in Lucerne

Views of Lake Zug from Mount Rigi, Switzerland, Arzo Travels

Up there are restaurants, a hotel, a spa, and above all, the panorama is INCREDIBLE including views of Lake Lucerne but also of Lake Zug and Lake Lauerz.

Mount Rigi sunset in Switzerland in the winter

Mount Rigi is actually a great place to visit year-round – except for a few days, the cogwheel operates every day. It is an amazing attraction at any time of the year. When you visit Lucerne in the winter, Mount Rigi is also a great option for all kinds of winter sports. 

To go up The Queen of Mountains, you have several options, and I recommend the following route

1) Get to the Vitznau boat/bus station. Get there by bus, car, or boat from Lucerne. It takes about one hour to get there from Lucerne (either by boat or public transportation (all free with a Swiss Travel Pass).

2) From there, either hike up or take the cogwheel traingoing up via cogwheel is spectacular. The boats and cogwheels are coordinated and this should be smooth without waiting time in between.

I visited several Mount Rigi times in the summer, spring, and fall, and twice in the winter. My favorite time is to visit in the afternoon to enjoy the views during daylight and then watch the amazing sunset.

  • The cogwheel ride takes about 30 minutes and it is free with a Swiss Travel Pass in 2024.

Alternative: Visit the Swiss Museum of Transport /Verkehrshaus 

Okay, this stop is just an extraespecially if you visit Lucerne with children or are into the history of transport. It would be hard to fit everything into a 1-day itinerary. So, this is a wonderful alternative if you want to skip the Lake Lucerne boat cruise and/or the Mount Rigi excursion

The most famous museum in Lucerne is the Swiss Museum of Transportand the most visited in all of Switzerland. It includes exhibits of all forms of transport, including trains, automobiles, ships, and aircraft, as well as communication technology. You could get to the museum if you walk along the Lake Lucerne promenade (it is about 1.6 miles/2.5 km from Chapel Bridge) or hop on a busor combine it with a Lake Lucerne boat cruise as it has its own boat station.

  • Open 365 days a year
  • Discount with a Swiss Travel Pass


Here are some quick tips for your 1-day Lucerne itinerary before we talk about the top activities.

Where to Stay in Lucerne For One Night

Accommodations are not cheap in Lucerne, but we know that about Switzerland already, so it should not surprise us in such a popular destination. I have stayed in several hotels in Lucerne, and here are some tips.

Luxury: Schweizerhof Lucerne: I highly recommend this 5-star property where I stayed during my first trip to Lucerne – a luxury hotel in the center Lucerne. ➡️  Book your stay at Schweizerhof Lucerne here.

Mid-Range: Hotel des Alpes: On my last Lucerne trip, I stayed at Hotel des Alpes. The room view was amazing (and included views of the Chapel Bridge and Mount Pilatus). ➡️ Book your stay at Schweizerhof Lucerne here.

Budget: The Bed + Breakfast: If you want to stay in a budget hotel, have a look at this B&B. Some rooms have a shared bathroom, and some have a private one. ➡️ Book your stay at The Bed & Breakfast here.

Click here to read my full post on the best hotels in Lucerne.

Where to Eat 

Lucerne has some really nice restaurants, and as a vegetarian, it was one of the few places I always found enough options.I mostly got takeaway food and sat by the lake. But there are restaurants for all tastes and price ranges (p.s. no super duper cheap food, though.

If you get the chance to dine at Galerie Schweizerhof Restaurant, it has great views and reasonable prices for good foodAlso, there is a Tibits at the train station where you will also find plenty of vegan food and it is a good alternative to heavy Swiss cuisine.

More Lucerne Tips

  • Wear comfy shoes, there might be some uphill walking and there are definitely a lot of cobbled-stoned streets
  • Bring a refillable water bottle and get some fresh mountain water from the fountains
  • Even in the summer, I would bring a sweater for the mountain tops as it can get chilly up there
  • Credit Cards are widely accepted in such a popular tourist spot like Lucerne – however, small shops might still only accept cash, so it might be a good idea to have some cash on you


Lucerne the picturesque city nestled in the heart of Switzerland, makes a beautiful day trip with preserved medieval architecture. It sits amid snowcapped mountains on Lake Lucerne, with colorful old buildings lining the waterfront and cobbled streets.

One day in Lucerne is not enough but normally allows me to see my favorite places – and those are the above-mentioned places that you can also see in a day with this itinerary.

Lucerne is surely one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland  – offering a wonderful mix of outdoor activities and cultural sights.

Stay safe!

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