Lucerne – Best Things to do + TRAVEL TIPS
- 1 Lucerne – Best Things to do + TRAVEL TIPS
Are you planning your Lucerne itinerary and wondering about the best things to do in Lucerne?
Well, then this post is perfect for you – as a regular visitor of this city, I have compiled a list with the best things to do and see in this pretty city. And at the end of the post, you´ll also find some very important travel information for your Lucerne trip (including tips on how to get around and where to stay).
Often I hear that Lucerne is the most beautiful city in Switzerland. Though I do not fully agree (find out about a place that is even more gorgeous than Lucerne), I think the region of Lucerne is still somehow beyond amazing.
Tip: Switzerland is expensive, so read my top tips to save money on your trip to Switzerland.
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Top Things to Do in Lucerne and Top Places to Visit
Whether you stay one day in Lucerne, or two days or three days – you can use this post to plan your itinerary as you´ll also find many travel tips at the end of the post.
Kapellbrücke – Chapel Bridge
Most people head to the Chapel Bridge first – and I actually recommend doing so, too.
The Chapel Bridge is THE most famous tourist sight and visiting is one of the best things to do in Lucerne.
The wooden bridge, constructed in the 14th century, that once partly burnt down and was rebuilt again, is a magnet for tourists, and with a convenient location, just a stone‘s throw from the train station, easy to reach.
No wonder it is one of the first spots tourists normally visit when in Lucerne. I love the bridge at daytime, but even more at night time when the lights go on – you have not done real Lucerne sightseeing if you have not been at the bridge.
To me, it t just looks so different than the rest of Lucerne, and being on the bridge looking at the alps feels quite unrealistic. Okay, there is another, smaller but similar bridge close by, but Chapel Bridge is still my favorite Lucerne attraction.
On the bridge, you just have to look to the side to see the many restaurants lined up – nice places to have coffee or lunch/dinner, though Lucerne is very pricey in expensive Switzerland.
If you are on the bridge, you see the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne), which is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland and have a great view of the alps as well.
This is probably also the most romantic place in Lucerne for lovebirds (Have I mentioned, that I think Lucerne is probably one of the most romantic places in Switzerland?).
The Jesuit Church, a Catholic Church built in the 17th century, is an attraction worthy seeing even if you are not religious. It is located near the Chapel Bridge, so you can get there within minutes.
I was surprised by its baroque style! I did not expect so much fanciness in Switzerland, and the outside appearance did not give me any clue about its inner beauty.
Despite its beauty, it did not take me long to go through, so it is probably easy to squeeze into your Lucerne itinerary – so make it a stop and do not skip it as it is also one of the best free things to do in Lucerne.
Just a few meters behind the Chapel Bridge you´ll find its little sister. The Spreuer Bridge is another wooden bridge that is a main tourist attraction in Lucerne.
Here, you´ll find also an interesting series of paintings which date back to the 17th century. While it is less busy and less popular, the views are beautiful from there and due to its proximity to the Chapel Bridge it will not take you much time to get there, so another must-see in Lucerne.
Are you looking for more popular Lucerne attractions? Then head to the Lion Monument.
So, since you are in Lucerne, you could go for a stroll through the old town and visit the second most famous sight (and the only other sight besides the bridge) – the Lion Monument which is one of the most popular sights in Lucerne.
The Lion Monument is about a 10-minutes walk from the Chapel Bridge and commemorates Swiss soldiers who died in the 18th century, during the French revolution.
If you prefer guided walking tours (so to make sure not to miss one thing) check out the best prices for guided tours in Lucerne.
One of the best (free) things to do in Lucerne is to admire its beautiful architecture. The old town is a typical Swiss old town – with beautiful architecture all around. With a convenient location to the lake and the Chapel Bridge, you cannot miss it and it is a great place to shop – especially luxury watches.
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 interesting facades (and I mean seriously pretty buildings). However, half a day in Lucerne is enough to have seen most of the city center.
Apparently, there are several museums in Lucerne, but I admit that I mostly skip museums (unless it is history or politics). If you are into museums, you could check them out or be prepared to discover more of the surroundings, which captivated me from the first second.
Lake Lucerne Promenade
Another the top things to do in Lucerne is to walk along the promenade in Lucerne. The promenade in the city center is very busy and also quite lively most of the time, making Lucerne look bigger than it actually is. One of the things I enjoy the most when in Lucerne.
If you are a fast traveler, you can add a few things for your first day. If you prefer a more relaxed way of traveling then above mentioned places make a first great day in Lucerne.
And while I am writing this, I am realising that there are many free things to do in Lucerne. Above mentioned places to visit are all free. But of course, you can spend money in Lucerne – if you want to because there is much more to see in Lucerne.
If you use this post as a Lucerne itinerary, this is about day 2. For day 2, I have a bit of chilling for your itinerary.
What always makes me stand in awe is the fact that Switzerland´s cities are just surrounded by the most beautiful nature – and so is Lucerne.
While the old town is cute, it is nature that fascinates me in Lucerne. Cruising Lake Lucerne proves that it is rightly called one of the most beautiful places 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 really pretty.
One of the best things to do in Lucerne is to spend time on Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee).
The color is not as perfect (but still just gorgeous) as it is with other lakes in Switzerland (I am very spoiled) but a boat cruise should be on your list because this huge lake is surrounded by beautiful scenery.
The boat station is next to the train station. You can do different kinds of tours but I recommend getting a day pass, so you can get out at Weggis boat station. Why getting out here? Keep reading and you´ll find out :).
If you prefer a panorama sightseeing boat tour in Lucerne make sure to check out the best prices.
P.S. If you have a Swiss Travel Pass you can use almost all boats in Switzerland – also the boats on Lake Lucerne – without any extra surcharge. Click here to find out more about the Swiss Travel Pass.
Now, after the sightseeing tour has ended, it is time to relax!
Do not forget to bring your towel and bathing suit to hop into the water.
And if you ask me, the best place to relax in Lucerne is at/in Weggis – it is very cute… 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 just stroll there and relax. It is one of the most beautiful places in Lucerne – quiet and pure nature.
There is a lido and for a small entry fee, you can swim in Lake Lucerne (which 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 tanned, or whatever, and you do not even have to pay for it.
But, regardless of the entrance fee, 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 crowded!
Scenic Tours (Drive or Walking Tours)
Switzerland is one of the best countries to road trip and the region of Lucerne is perfect for driving.
If you still have some energy left after your time at the lake, and if you have a car, you can just drive around Lake Lucerne. It is one of my top tips for things to do in Lucerne that is not a typical tourist attraction. The drive from Weggis to Vitznau – and back to Lucerne – is one of the most scenic drives in Switzerland and so it is not a surprise that it is also part of the Grand Tour of Switzerland.
The Axenstrasse (picture taken from a boat) is another great street to drive along – I even walked the street 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. If you ask me: road tripping in Lucerne is one of the very very very best things to do.
If you have a day pass for the boat, you can get to Flüelen, which is on the other end of Lake Lucerne, and enjoy more boat riding. If the weather is good, this will be like time in heaven.
Cannot get enough of Lucerne? Understandable, so here are more activities in Lucerne.
Musegg Walls & its Towers
The Musegg Wall and its nine towers are part of Lucerne’s historic fortifications – nowadays you can visit the walls and stroll its towers (9 in total) and enjoy fantatsic views of the city, River Reuss and Lucerne´s bay.
However, it is only open from April to the end of October, so you cannot enjoy the views in the winter.
Day Trips From Lucerne
Okay, I would reserve at least one full day for a trip to the mountains near Lucerne. There are several mountain excursions you can take.
Mount Pilatus is located quite close to the Lucerne city center but 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 just hike. Either way, I definitely recommend visiting Mount Pilatus when in Lucerne.
Mount Pilatus is like a village on a mountain – though, this is not a fact, but just my own conclusion. It takes much longer to get up there, there are much more activities to do, and more restaurants and cafes at which to sit down.
Everything is just so special up there that you should plan one full day. I will have to write an extra post on my experiences, as I had an awesome time (disclosure: the weather was amazing on the day of my trip, not too hot, but great and clear, so I had the best views).
Prices depend on how you get to Mount Pilatus (choosing to arrive at the station by boat costs more) and which way you use, to get up (in case you have a Swiss Travel Pass you don’t have to pay for the boat tour).
Click here to find out more about:
P.S. If you like to have a fancy private Mount Pilatus Tour check out this link.
Mount Rigi makes a great half-day trip – especially if you come here on a clear day, you can experience the most amazing sunset.
Stunning views of Lake Lucerne are just a beautiful reward. Up there are restaurants and great views to enjoy – there is even a hotel and a spa, and above all, the views are INCREDIBLE.
If you opt out of Mount Rigi and have some time left, you can always hike some parts. The funicular stops along the way, so you do not have to hike all the way, but can just take a shorter hike.
Mount Rigi is definitely a top attraction in Lucerne and I cannot wait to visit Mount Rigi again.
To get up Mount Rigi you have several options, and I recommend the following route:
You need to get to Vihznau station. You can also get there by bus or drive there by car and park your car in a parking house for about 5€ for 4 hours parking and it takes about 30 minutes to get up there. On a clear day, the ride up is already worth it.
There is another option to get up but this is probably the most scenic one to get up.
To enjoy a day at Mount Titlis, I would plan in a full day or at least 8 hours for these activities. 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.
The train ride gets scenic towards the end, and from the train station, you can either walk to the Mount Titlis cable car station or you can take the free bus shuttle.
And then, 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 walk in the Glacier Cave (a 150-meter-long walkway below the surface of the glacier) or enjoy a walk over the Titlis Cliff Walk (a suspension bridge that is 3,041 meters above sea level).
Tip: You will get a discount with your Swiss Travel Pass.
More Places to Visit in Lucerne
There are more fun things to do, but I think, these are the top places to see in Lucerne in 3 days. If you are looking for a few extra things to do near Lucerne you´ll find my tops tips in this post.
Best Lucerne Travel Tips
After finding out about the best spots in Lucerne here are some important travel information for Lucerne.
Security Tips for Solo Female Traveler
I visited Lucerne with female friends but also by myself (and my dog) and I absolutely loved it. It is absolutely safe for solo (female) travelers and with your eyes open you should feel safe, too. I did not have to take any precautions but tend 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
Here are some recommendations on where to stay in Lucerne.
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 high season). I have stayed in several hotels in Lucerne and here are some tips.
Luxury Hotels in Lucerne
Schweizerhof Luzern is a lovely luxury hotel in Lucerne I stayed at. It is a beautiful and fun 5* hotel located at the shores of Lake Lucerne and a few hundred meters from the old town and main tourist attractions.
Park Hotel Vitznau This is the most expensive hotel in the region. Dogs are not allowed, so I have not had the chance to check it out. However, it looks absolutely gorgeous and is located in a very quiet area but with a view of Lake Lucerne.
Mid-Range Hotels in Lucerne
There is not much in that area, as even 3 or 4-star hotels cost quite a bit.
Hotel des Alps is a lovely 3-star hotel in the city center (and it comes with great views). However, it is not only about the views. The restaurant downstairs offers breakfast (with a view) and from there you are ready to explore the city within minutes.
So, personally, I think, there is no better 3-star hotel with a better location in Lucerne than this hotel.
Budget Hotels in Lucerne
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
Bellpark Hostel is located close to Kriens, not too far from the old town of Lucerne and perfect if you plan a trip to the fabulous Mount Pilatus cable car station. Click here to find the best rates for your stay at Bellpark
TIP: The best option is to look for Airbnb accommodation if you are on a budget. The prices are slightly better, so this might be another option. First-time Airbnb user? Save on your next stay with Airbnb
If you are still not sure 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
I sometimes travel by car and sometimes I use public transportation in Lucerne.
Though I normally love road tripping in Switzerland I should add that parking in cities, also in Lucerne is difficult and extremely expensive. You can use all public transportation in Lucerne (and Switzerland) with a Swiss Travel Pass
If you get to Lucerne by car and use the hotel parking you might get charged about 25€ a night in the city center (I was charged 60 Swiss Francs for 2 nights).
There might be free parking premises in some hotels but parking is in general tricky here.
Public transportation in Lucerne is great and it gives you the chance to book a room outside the city and to get around easily.
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. Mostly, I 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 decent prices for good food!
CONCLUSION: What To Do in Lucerne
I hope, you will have a wonderful trip and enjoy the best things to do in Lucerne (or Luzern). It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. So, whether you want to spend time in a city (or town) or spend time in the nature – in Lucerne you can do both easily and I am sure you will be amazed by its beauty.
Find out more about the best places to stay in Switzerland
Read my ideal 7-day itinerary for Switzerland