If you are planning your Lucerne itinerary, you might be wondering about the best things to do in Lucerne. In this post, I share my tips on what to do in Lucerne plus many travel tips for your trip to this unique city!
You can use this post also as an itinerary, as I share tips on how I would spend 1 day in Lucerne, 2 days, 3 days, or 4 days in Lucerne or you can just pick the best activities for your trip.
TIP: Switzerland is expensive, so read my top tips to save money on your trip to Switzerland.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.
TIP: A Swiss Travel Pass might be perfect for you especially if you travel by train. The initial price is quite high, but you can use buses and trains without any costs, can do unlimited boat cruises on Lake Lucerne, enjoy a 50% discount on Mount Pilatus and Mount Titlis, and get free entry to many museums in Lucerne.
And you get to use the cogwheel train up to Mount Rigi for free with the Swiss Travel Pass in 2023. Check out the Swiss Travel Pass here and see, if it’s worth it for you.
IS LUCERNE WORTH VISITING?
To keep it short: Yes, Lucerne is worth visiting. It is amazing. Lucerne is one of a kind – I cannot think of any other city nestled in such stunning scenery. The alpine panorama with the river and Lake Lucerne, the old town with its stunning buildings…There are many reasons to visit Lucerne.
READY TO FIND OUT WHAT TO DO IN LUCERNE?
BEST THINGS TO DO IN LUCERNE
At the end of the post, you´ll also find many travel tips (like how to get around, etc.), but let´s start with the top Lucerne attractions first.
1 – Kapellbrücke – Chapel Bridge
The Chapel Bridge is THE most famous tourist sight in Lucerne. So, even if you have only one day in Lucerne, my tip is: visit the bridge.
Feel the history of Lucerne on a stroll over Chapel Bridge! Admire beautiful views along the banks of River Reuss, get lost in awe while passing Water Tower and make sure to visit St. Peter’s Chapel at Rathausquai – all without breaking your travel budget.This wooden bridge, originally constructed in the 14th century burnt mostly down in 1993. It was rebuilt again and today, it is – again – a magnet for tourists. With a convenient location, just a stone‘s throw from the train station, it is also easy to reach.
If you are on the bridge, you see the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne), and the Reuss River, and have a great view of the Alps, too. This is probably also the most romantic place in Lucerne for lovebirds. Check our Guided Tours in Lucerne
On this bridge are an exciting series of paintings that date back to the 17th century.
You have to look to the side to see the many restaurants lined up. It is an excellent place to have coffee or lunch/dinner, though this area of Lucerne is very pricey in expensive Switzerland.
TIPS FOR VISITING CHAPEL BRIDGE
- I love the bridge in the daytime, but even more at night when the lights are on.
- There is no entrance fee
- Open 24/7
- Takes about 10-60 minutes
2 – Jesuit Church
The Jesuit Church is located near the Chapel Bridge, so you can get there within minutes.
Construction of this revered structure began way back in 1666 and it was officially inaugurated by royal decree a mere 11 years later. This venerable building is modeled on Rome‘s iconic Gesù church and showcases majestic baroque stuccoes as well as stunning rococo interior decorations – from its awe-inspiring high altar down to its exquisite organ & treasury.I was surprised by its baroque style! I did not expect so much fanciness in Switzerland, and the outside appearance does not give any clue about its inner beauty.
Despite its stunning looks, it did not take me long to go through, so it is probably easy to squeeze into your Lucerne itinerary – do not skip it as it is also one of the best free things to do in Lucerne.
TIPS FOR VISITING JESUIT CHURCH
- 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 15-60 minutes
- Dress modestly
3 – Spreuer Bridge
Just a few meters behind Chapel Bridge and the Jesuit church, you´ll find Chapel Bridge´s little sister: The Spreuer Bridge. It is also a wooden bridge – though not as impressive as Chapel Bridge, I still recommend taking a peek.
While it is less busy and less popular, the views are beautiful from there, too, and due to its proximity to the Chapel Bridge, it will not take you much time to get there.
Here you will also find – on sunny days at least – many people spending their time, relaxing, putting their feet into the river, and picnicking.
4 – Lion Monument
From the Spreuer Bridge, it is just a very short walk to the old town of Lucerne, where you have a few more interesting places to see. One of the first stops in the old town should be the second most famous sight in the city – the Lion Monument.The Lion Monument is about a 10-minute walk from the Chapel Bridge and commemorates Swiss soldiers who died in the 18th century during the French Revolution.
Bertel Thorvaldsen’s incredible sculpture of a majestic lion has captivated onlookers ever since its inauguration in 1821. Standing at over life size, the beautiful statue would inspire awe-struck visitors for centuries to come – even Mark Twain was moved by it and described it as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”
IMPORTANT: The Lion Monument will be under ongoing maintenance work from 6 March to mid-May 2023
If you prefer guided walking tours (so as to make sure not to miss one thing), check out the best prices for guided tours in Lucerne.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR THE LION MONUMENT
- Located in the Old Town of Lucerne
- Open 24/7
- No entrance fee
5 – Lucerne Old Town
After visiting the Lion Monument, it is time for the town center. The old town is a typical Swiss old town – with beautiful buildings all around.
Take a stroll through the Old Town to explore hidden gems and striking pieces of history! Admire fresco-adorned houses, marvel at unique architectural details, and uncover centuries’ worth of culture. This car-free area will transport you back in time with its picturesque squares – all just waiting for you to discover an unforgettable adventure.
One of the best (free) things to do in Lucerne is to admire its charming architecture – especially in the old town. Alos, it is a great place to shop.
There are a couple of squares you should add to your Lucerne itinerary:
Visiting Weinmarkt Square will transport you back in time. The beautiful fountain there is a relic from 1481, crafted over 10 years by the skilled hands of Konrad Lux! Although it’s undergone some changes since then (including an upgrade to an octagonal design and a brand new shell limestone column), its original form has been carefully preserved for us all to admire today.
So whether or not you’re into history, be sure to drop by this gorgeous spot – just don’t forget your camera!
Step back in time to the hustle and bustle of 1500 m2! Mühlenplatz was Lucerne’s only spot for all your milling needs during the Middle Ages. But it turns out that this historic square has even deeper roots – digs around here have shown signs of life before Lucerne officially became a city.
So get ready to explore hundreds of years’ worth of culture, history, and hydropower without ever leaving this one unique place!
Kornmarkt and Hirschenplatz
You won’t want to miss the town hall on Kornmarkt, originally erected as a public trading hall in 1370. And don’t forget about fascinating traditional houses with ornamented facades at Hirschenplatz – all under historical monument protection so you can admire them safely.
Are you ready to party?! If so, make sure Kapellplatz is at the top of your list! According to local lore, this picturesque square hosts an annual carnival that kicks off with «Schmutziger» Thursday and continues all week.
You can even find a special Fritschi Fountain in celebration of Brother Fritchsi who -you guessed it- is buried there! So come on down for colorful masks from long ago, no lack of festive spirit…and not one but TWO days devoted solely to partying (we see you Shrove Tuesday). Get here soon before they bury us too 😉
Attractions in the Old Town
If you do a self-guided walking tour, you should also visit the Town Hall, and along the way, you´ll pass some pretty buildings with exciting facades (and I mean seriously pretty buildings). However, a few hours in the old town of Lucerne is enough to have seen most of the city center.
Also, watch out for the fountains – the water is drinkable and some of the fountains are quite unique!
There are many stunning buildings in the old town – like the Hotel des Balances (picture “Hotel Waage” above). My tip is to keep your eyes open and watch closely – with so many pretty houses you might quickly oversee a few.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR VISITING THE OLD TOWN OF LUCERNE
- 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.
6 – 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, making Lucerne look bigger than it is. Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee in German) is one of the best lakes in Switzerland – and the fourth largest in the country.Given its size, it is quite unlikely to walk around the whole lake. Depending on how much energy you have left, you could walk for hours and take some breaks.
TIPS FOR WALKING LAKE LUCERNE PROMENADE
- Wear comfy shoes
- There are enough options to sit down – on a bench or just by the water
- You can just walk a few minutes (or longer) and then hop on a bus to get back to the city center. If you have a Lucerne guest card, the bus ride is already included.
- From Lucerne Chapel Bridge walk on the northern shores of Lake Lucerne – it is a beautiful, scenic way.
7 – Swiss Museum of Transport /Verkehrshaus
Lucerne has several museums. The most famous museum in the city, and the most visited museum in Switzerland, is the Swiss Museum of Transport.
It opened more than 60 years ago and exhibits all forms of transport including trains, automobiles, ships, aircraft, as well as communication technology. You will find several exhibitions, theme parks, and simulations in more than 20,000m2 of exhibition space.
TIPS FOR VISITING THE MUSEUM AND SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS
- You could get to the museum if you walk along the Lake Lucerne promenade (it is about 1,6 miles/2.5 km from the Chapel Bridge) or hop on a bus
- Great to visit at any time of the year (and an amazing thing to do in the rain).
- Ppen 365 days a year
- Opening hours: In the summertime: 10 am – 6 pm, in the wintertime: 10 am – 5 pm
- You get a discount with a Swiss Travel Pass
- Check out their website for more information
If you are into museums, you could check the Swiss Museum of Transport out. However, with a limited in Lucerne, you might be more interested in spending time outdoors. Personally, in Switzerland, I am more into outdoor activities and thus I admit that I mostly skip museums (unless history or politics)
8 – Mount Rigi
If you visit all the above-mentioned places, you most likely cannot visit this amazing mountain peak. Mount Rigi makes a great half-day trip – especially if you come here on a clear day, you can experience the most fantastic sunset. So, I suggest spending your afternoon and evening at Mount Rigi and ending your day here.The stunning panorama of Lake Lucerne is just a beautiful reward. Up there are restaurants, a hotel, a spa, and above all, the views are INCREDIBLE.
You can get up via a cogwheel train or cable car. If you enjoy hiking, you could also hike up all the way. The cogwheel train stops along the way, so you do not have to walk all the way, but you can take a shorter hike.
TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT RIGI
- To get up Mount Rigi, you have several options, and I recommend the following route: Get to Vitznau boat/bus station, by bus, car, or boat. This is your starting point – from there you can either hike up or take the cogwheel train to the top. On your way back you can then also take the boat or alternatively take the bus and then have to change to a train later to get to Lucerne. It takes about one hour to get back to Lucerne (either by boat or public transportation).
- You can park your car in a parking house for about 5€ for 4 hours of parking
- The cogwheel ride up Mount Rigi takes about 30 minutes. On a clear day, the ride up is already worth it. Check out Prices for a Trip to Mount Rigi
- Free with a Swiss Travel Pass
- The sunset I watched from Mount Rigi on a clear, sunny day was spectacular.
- It is an amazing attraction at any time of the year. I visited in summer twice and winter once and was blown away every time.
THINGS TO DO IN LUCERNE IN 2 DAYS
Since you can use this list as an itinerary or just as a list with “top things to do in Lucerne”, above mentioned activities would make a perfect first (full) day in Lucerne. With two days in Lucerne, you can explore even more of this stunning place!
9 – Lake Lucerne Boat Tour
Start your day with a boat tour on Lake Lucerne. What always makes me stand in awe is that the most beautiful nature surrounds Switzerland´s cities – and so it is Lucerne. Cruising Lake Lucerne proves that it is rightly called one of the best places to visit in Switzerland.Okay, I admit my passion for boat cruises might not be normal – some would say it is ridiculous. BUT, Lake Lucerne is actually gorgeous. The color of Lake Lucerne is not as perfect as other lakes in Switzerland, e.g. Lake Brienz, but a boat cruise should be on your Lucerne bucket list.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR A LAKE LUCERNE BOAT CRUISE
- The boat station in Lucerne is next to the train station. You can do different kinds of tours, but I recommend getting a day pass so that you can get out at various stations.
- If you prefer a panorama sightseeing boat tour in Lucerne, make sure to check out the best prices.
- If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you can use almost all boats in Switzerland – also the “regular” boats on Lake Lucerne – without any extra surcharge. Click here to find out more about the Swiss Travel Pass.
10 – Mount Pilatus
Mount Pilatus is another fantastic half/full day trip from Lucerne. Mount Pilatus is like a village on a mountain. It takes much longer to get up there compared to Mount Rigi. But there are many more activities to do and more restaurants and cafes to sit down.
Everything is just so special up there that you should plan one full day. I visited about four times – in summer and winter. It is a perfect trip for any time of the year.On a busy day, you might have to wait in line to catch a cogwheel train to get up. If you like to get up faster, you can also use the cable car to reach the summit – or you can hike. Either way, I definitely recommend visiting Mount Pilatus when in Lucerne.
TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT PILATUS
- If you hike, wear proper hiking boots and dress in layers – it can get cold up there
- Prices depend on how you get to Mount Pilatus. Choosing to arrive at the station by boat costs more. In case you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you don’t have to pay for the boat tour and get a discount on the cogwheel/cable car.
- Find out more about: A Mount Pilatus trip, including a Lake Lucerne boat trip
- Here is more about a self-guided trip to Mount Pilatus with the cogwheel and cable car
- If you would like to have a fancy private Mount Pilatus Tour check out this link
- Mount Pilatus in the winter offers some amazing winter sports activities (skiing, snowboarding, etc.)
With two days in Lucerne, you probably will not have time to do much more. So, if you stay longer, here are a few more suggestions.
WHAT TO DO IN LUCERNE IN 3 DAYS
With three days in Lucerne, you have time to relax. And luckily, I have a beautiful spot for you guys: a hidden gem in Lucerne.
11 – Weggis
And if you ask me, the best place to relax in Lucerne is at/in Weggis – it is adorable. I am not sure if it is a village or just whatever, but it is tiny, and if you get off the boat (or drive there by car), you can stroll there and relax. It is one of the most beautiful places in Lucerne – quiet and pure nature.There is a lido – one of many public outdoor pools in Switzerland. Sometimes lidos are free and sometimes you have to pay a (small) entry fee. By visiting this lido, you have all facilities of a swimming pool and you can swim in Lake Lucerne (that water is very clear!), BUT if you ask me, skip the lido and keep walking (or driving) another kilometer or so and you find the best place to swim in Lake Lucerne.
At the very end of Hertensteinstrasse is a beautiful meadow, including some restrooms, where you can lay down and chill – go swimming, get a tan, or whatever. I love that place because it is a hidden gem in Switzerland. And since a friend and I discovered it a few years ago, we always come back there (dogs are allowed). Even on a beautiful sunny day, I have never experienced it being crowded!
TIPS FOR VISITING WEGGIS
- Do not forget to bring your towel and bathing suit to hop into the water
- No entrance fee – open 24/7
- Very limited free parking just in front
- Get to the very end of Hertensteinstrasse to experience this hidden gem
12 – Scenic Tours (Drive or Walking Tours)
Switzerland is one of the best countries for a road trip, and Lucerne’s region is perfect for driving.
If you have a car, you can drive around Lake Lucerne. It is not a typical tourist attraction but I still enjoyed it but you could also walk some of the parts (I did that, too). The drive from Weggis to Vitznau – and back to Lucerne – is one of Switzerland’s most scenic drives, so it is not a surprise that it is also part of Switzerland’s Grand Tour.
TIPS FOR ROAD TRIPPING LUCERNE
- The Axenstrasse is another great street to drive along. I even walked the road once (don´t ask me why), and the views are just incredible. Plan in some time so you can stop and soak in great views.
- There are many speed cams throughout Switzerland – and speeding in Switzerland is very expensive. So, enjoy and watch your speed. Here are more tips for driving in Switzerland.
Do you have more time in Lucerne? Then I suggest this for your Lucerne itinerary.
13 – Musegg Walls & its Towers
The Musegg Wall and its towers are part of Lucerne’s historic fortifications. Nowadays, you can visit the walls, stroll its towers, and enjoy the city’s fantastic views, River Reuss, and Lucerne´s bay.
The walls are very well preserved – today, the wall is still 870 meters long, 9 meters high, and 1,5 meters wide. 9 of the original 30 towers still exist today and you can walk along many sections of the ramparts and get up on several towers.
TIPS FOR VISITING MUSEGG WALL & ITS TOWERS
- Only open from 1. April to 1. November from 8 am to 7 pm
- Free to walk the wall
- I do not recommend wearing sandals – hiking boots are not required but trainers would be great
- There are a lot of steps
- Seeing all the towers was a bit confusing to me because it is not a straight walk. Especially finding the entrance to the Männli Tower was not easy but worth it and it is actually my favorite tower because it offers the best views (seen in the picture above).
- The most interesting tower itself is probably the Zyt Tower – the Clock Tower because it features a large clock and includes some information.
MORE LUCERNE ATTRACTIONS TO SEE IN 4 DAYS
If you have four days in Lucerne, I suggest a day trip to Mount Titlis.
14 – Mount Titlis
To enjoy a day at Mount Titlis, I would plan a full day or at least 8 hours. It is a great place to visit at any time of the year. Hop on a train at Lucerne train station and head to Engelberg train station.There is a lot to do at Mount Titlis. You can go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe hiking, sledding, and more (in the winter). And in summer, you´ll also find plenty of activities (like hiking, etc.).
You can also explore the Glacier Cave which is a 150-meter-long walkway below the glacier’s surface. Or enjoy a walk over the Titlis Cliff Walk – a 100-meter-long suspension bridge that is about 3000 meters above sea level and 500 meters above the ground.
My tip: Do some hiking in between and do not only see the places the cable car brings you to.
TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT TITLIS FROM LUCERNE
- Take the Luzern – Engelberg Express. The train ride gets scenic towards the end of your trip
- From the train station, you can either walk to the Mount Titlis cable car station or take the free bus shuttle.
- You will get a 50% discount with your Swiss Travel Pass.
Welcome to the Glacier Garden, a wonderland that holds secrets dating back 20,000 years to the last Ice Age! Marvel at the breathtaking kettle basins that are remnants of this era, and journey even further back in time to 20 million years ago when palm leaves and fossilized shells were the norms in the subtropical ocean region.
Take a journey through time and witness the incredible transformations of Lucerne’s landscape! Explore what the city looked like before glaciers retreated and imagine what it would be like to bask on a subtropical beach in the heart of Switzerland.
Step into the past and discover the secrets of Lucerne’s natural history. Let’s venture off to a time full of wonder and amazement!
You’ll certainly be transported to another time and place when you explore the wonders of the Glacier Garden.
BEST TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR LUCERNE ITINERARY
After finding out about the best spots in Lucerne, here is some important travel information for Lucerne.
Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers in Lucerne
I have visited Lucerne with (female) friends but also as a solo traveler (sometimes accompanied by my dog), and I absolutely loved it.
Yes, Lucerne is safe for solo (female) travelers, and with your eyes open, you should feel safe, too. I did not have to take any precautions but tended to be a bit careful all the time. All these recommendations can be done as a solo female traveler in Lucerne without any problem.
Where to Stay
Lucerne has a very high density of great hotels. Unfortunately, accommodation is not cheap in Lucerne. Budget hotels also cost quite a fortune (at least during the high season which means from July to early September and in December). I have stayed in several hotels in Lucerne, and here are some tips.
Luxury: Schweizerhof Luzern is a lovely luxury hotel in Lucerne. It is a beautiful and fun 5* hotel located at Lake Lucerne’s shores and a few hundred meters from the old town and main tourist attractions. Check out rates here.
Mid-Range: Hotel des Alpes is a nice 3-star hotel in the city center (and it comes with great views). The restaurant downstairs offers breakfast (with a view), and from there, you are ready to explore the city within minutes. I think there is no 3-star hotel with a better location in Lucerne. Click here to find the best rates for your stay at Hotel des Alpes.
Budget: The Bed & Breakfast -Neustadt offers single and double rooms (with an occupancy of 4 people maximum). Some rooms have a shared bathroom, and some have a private one. Click here to find the best rates for your stay at B&B.
- If you are still unsure where to stay in Lucerne, you can check out my full accommodation guide on the best places to stay in Lucerne here.
How to Get Around Lucerne
Sometimes I travel by car and sometimes I use public transportation in Lucerne.
BY CAR: Though I normally love road tripping in Switzerland, I should add that parking in cities and Lucerne is difficult and extremely expensive. You might get charged about 25-30€ a night in the city center (I was charged about 55€ for 2 nights). There might be free parking premises in some hotels, but parking is in general tricky here.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Public transportation in Lucerne is great and it gives you the chance to book a room outside the city and get around easily. If you stay in an official accommodation in Lucerne, you will get a Visitor Card and can use public transportation without any extra costs. It is valid for the town center (it does not get you all the way to Mount Rigi station e.g.) but it comes pretty handy.
SWISS TRAVEL PASS: I have had a Swiss Travel Pass several times, and I think, in no other city in Switzerland, it is as useful as in Lucerne. You can use buses and trains without any extra charge, the boat tour mentioned on this Lucerne itinerary is included, and you get a discount for Mount Pilatus and Mount Titlis.
You can also visit the Swiss Museum of Transport for a discount and in 2023, you can also use the cogwheel train up to Mount Rigi – for free! It is not cheap but it might pay off (for me, it does at least). If you buy it via GetYourGuide, you usually get have a free cancellation option in case you have to cancel – this is very important to me because we never know what might happen. Check out prices here.
Where to Eat in Lucerne
Lucerne has some really nice restaurants, and as a vegetarian, it was one of the few places I always found enough options. I mostly get takeaway food and sit 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 food!
- Also, there is a Tibits at the train station. Tibits in Zurich was the first vegetarian restaurant in the world and they now have a few restaurants all over Switzerland. You will also find plenty of vegan food and it is a good alternative to heavy Swiss cuisine.
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CONCLUSION: BEST LUCERNE ATTRACTIONS
I hope you will have a wonderful trip and enjoy the best things to do in Lucerne (or Luzern in German). So, whether you want to spend time in a lively town or in nature – in Lucerne, you can do both easily, and I am sure you will be amazed by its beauty.