WHAT TO DO IN ZUG + TRAVEL TIPS
Zug is a beautiful town in Switzerland that is not on many Switzerland itineraries. It is rather an off-the-beaten-path place – yet, it is charming with some lovely and stunning sights. And in this post you will find out about the best things to do in Zug – here is what to do + travel tips for your trip.
FACTS ABOUT ZUG, SWITZERLAND
- The town of Zug is located approximately in the middle of Switzerland, between Zurich to the north and Lucerne to the south.
- It lies 425 meters above sea level, on the northeastern shores of Lake Zug (Zugersee).
- The most spoken language is German.
- Zug in German actually means “train”.
- With 30000 inhabitants, it is the capital and largest town of the Canton of Zug. But, honestly, the Canton of Zug is not much bigger than Zug itself! It is one of the smallest in Switzerland.
- Something impressive is that a quarter of the inhabitants of the canton are foreigners, and it is one of the richest and safest cantons in Switzerland – which means also in the world.
- Fun fact: Zug is a tax haven! It was actually the first tax haven ever: the Zurich-Zug-Lichtenstein triangle was established in the mid-1920s. The tax rate in Zug is about half of the average Swiss tax rate, which makes the town and canton an excellent place to establish the headquarters of international companies, and also to live a very pleasant (but expensive) life.
- So, just because Zug is more of a hidden gem amongst tourists, it does not mean it is cheap. Prices for lunch/drinks are almost as high as in Lucerne or Zurich.
- How to get to Zug: You can reach Zug by train from Zurich in less than 30 minutes, and from Lucerne in just 20 minutes. The rest of Switzerland is easy to reach from these two cities.
- And I highly recommend getting to Zug by public transportation. Parking in Zug can be quite tricky.
- Check out more general travel tips for Switzerland here.
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SWISS TRAVEL PASS
If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if it’s a road trip. It is only for non-Swiss residents though and perfect if you visit Switzerland for 3 days or longer.
- It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs.
- You can also do boat cruises without additional costs – and you can cruise Lake Zug with regular boats to get around.
- It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides, and some are even free with the Swiss Travel Pass.
The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high – but it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you.
For me, it usually makes sense as I use public transportation/mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland). I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN ZUG
There are lots of lovely places to see in Zug. You can see most highlights in one day, but you’ll easily keep yourself busy for a few more days too.
Visit Lake Zug
Obviously, Lake Zug is one of the most beautiful sights in Zug. Approximately 14 km long and just 5 km wide at its widest point, Zug is located on the northeastern tip. The northern half of the lake belongs to the canton of Zug, the southern half to the canton Schwyz, and just a tiny part is claimed by the canton of Lucerne.
Lake Zug is very picturesque. The northern and western shores are quite level; green and hilly Zugerberg Mountain is on the eastern side, while Mount Rigi dominates the southern shores with its steep sides. Thanks to pretty towns and a few castles, it’s a lovely sight at any time of the year.
Stroll Lake Zug Promenade
The promenade of Lake Zug is a lovely place for a stroll. You can walk from the old town all the way to the marina, along the “corner” of the lake. It is very narrow and cramped by the old town, where the large, medieval houses don’t leave much space. But then, it becomes wide and spacious, lined with trees, and with docks here and there to walk a little into the lake.
Don’t miss the “Seesicht”, the famous stairs under the lake! This unique walk-in sculpture by Swiss artist Roman Signer looks like a large, rectangular pipe diving into the lake: it contains a steel staircase leading to a window so that you can look into the lake. When the water is clear, it’s a very cool experience!
Very close to the Seesicht is the “Springbrunnen”, the geyser of Lake Zug. This water jet is active from spring to autumn. There are other pretty fountains in the old town, but this is the only fountain on Lake Zug. If you won’t make it to Geneva and its famous lake fountain, well, here you have a small version of it.
Right there, between the Seesicht and the Zug Bahnhofsteg harbor, is a very colorful and artistic section of the promenade. This work of art by Maria Bettina Cogliatti marks the area of the Katastrophenbucht, the Disaster Bay where the lakeshore broke in 1887, which caused flooding in the town and the death of 11 people.
From there until the marina, the Zug promenade features pretty green areas and sports establishments.
The views of the town and the mountains are gorgeous everywhere along the Zug promenade, but it’s even more magical at sunset because the sun goes down on the other side of the lake. However, be careful with the weather: on stormy days, the lake might flood the promenade.
Cruise on Lake Zug
On a beautiful day, a cruise is a perfect way to enjoy the gorgeous Lake Zug – and to appreciate the scenery from a different point of view.
There are many stops all around Lake Zug.
- It takes about 1 hour – 1,5 hours from Zug in the north, to Arth am See in the south.
- Free with a Swiss Travel Pass
If you like to be more active, you can rent – in the summer months – little paddle boats and explore the lake on your own.
Hike on Zugerberg Mountain
The mountains closest to Zug are the Zugerberg, just south of the town on the eastern side of Lake Zug, and Mount Rigi, on the southern shore. The green, wooded Zugerberg mountain is 1.039 meters (3,408 feet) high.
You can reach it with the Zugerbergbahn funicular from Zug: the upper station is at 925 meters altitude. The views are gorgeous! It’s not steep, so hikes are easy even for families with children – and there’s also a mountain bike trail.
Best Views of Lake Zug
While the panorama from Zugerberg Mountain is beautiful, there are many more places from where you have gorgeous views of Lake Zug. This includes the famous Mount Rigi, which is easily accessible from Lucerne, or the impressive hike from Klingenstock to Fronalpstock.
To enjoy these amazing views from Mount Rigi, you have to do a minimum amount of work – just get up via funicular and then there is just a short uphill walk (the funicular ride to Mount Rigi is included in your Swiss Travel Pass).
A stunning panorama awaits you also from the Frontalalpstock mountain (there is a 50% discount with your Swiss Travel Pass, and you can get up via ski lifts). However, if you do the hike from Klingenstock to Frontalpstock, you have an amazing experience in addition (it is an intermediate hike and you should plan a full day for it from Zug).
Relax by the Lakeside at the Lido
Just south of the old town “Altstadt”, between the casino and the lake, there is the Zug public beach “Seeliken”: a small park where you can lay down and relax, with access to the lake to enjoy a refreshing swim, plus a bistro for meals and snacks. Entry is free. Check out the website of Seeliken Lido
In the other direction, on the northern side of Lake Zug, there are 2 other great spots.
The Lido Zug (Strandbad Zug) is quite fancy: there is a small sandy beach, a nice café/restaurant, a kid’s pool, and diving boards to jump in the lake. And the best of all: ENTRY IS FREE.
The Brüggli Lido Zug instead is located near a campsite, there is grass and sand to lay down, a food kiosk and barbecue areas, and beach volley fields. Entry is also free. Check out more about Brüggli Lido Zug.
Stroll the Old Town “Altstadt”
The medieval old town of Zug is definitely worth some time. Stroll around and get lost among the narrow streets and the picturesque, painted buildings. There are cute shops, art galleries, and fountains at every corner. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes to explore the cobblestone streets.
Don’t miss the Altstadthalle, the city hall with a painted facade, and the iconic Zytturm Zug, the clock tower with its roof decorated with colorful tiles. But truly, the whole old town is just very pretty, clean, and well-maintained. It really feels like traveling back in time.
Head to Zug Castle
Zug Castle is located a little outside of the old town (a 5 to 10-minute walk).
It doesn’t really look like a traditional, medieval, stone castle, but more like a stone-and-timber house on top of a wide base. Inside its decorated and furnished rooms, there is the Museum of Cultural History of the town.
Animal Watching in Zug
If you are looking for a rather unique attraction you will be pleased to hear that in Zug, just at the promenade are two places you will not find everywhere.
On the one hand, you have the “Hirschgarten” – a little park for deers. Yes, next to the lake is this park where deers “chill” within a fenced area. Then you have an “aviary” because the ornithological society of Zug keeps many different birds here.
DAY TRIPS FROM ZUG
There are a few nice day trips from Zug worth considering.
This Swiss gem is located really close to Zug.
- You can reach Lucerne by train in approximately 20 minutes by train.
Lucerne is, very simply put, just amazing. The picturesque old town full of painted facades and unique fountains, the iconic chapel bridge over the lake, the relaxing lake promenade, and all around the stunning peaks of the Alps: in one day in Lucerne, you can definitely see the highlights. If you are looking for a view from above, don’t miss the Musegg Walls and its towers.
- Check out my Lucerne travel guide.
You could choose to extend your day trip from Zug: after Lucerne, continue for a couple of hours by train along three lakes – including beautiful Lake Brienz – until the town of Interlaken.
As the name suggests, Interlaken is located between two lakes: Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. There are lots of things to do in and around Interlaken, so it might be difficult to choose!
My favorites by far are cruising on the mesmerizing Lake Brienz and taking the Brienz Rothorn steam locomotive ride up to the top of Brienzer Rothorn mountain. The views are absolutely incredible and memorable.
Why not take a train from Zug to Zurich?
- In less than 30 minutes you’ll be in the financial heart of Switzerland, which happens to be a very beautiful city too.
Stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse (the most expensive street in the world!), admire the view from Lindenhof Hill, explore the colorful and charming old town, and rest along the Limmat river or on the shores of Lake Zurich. One day is short, but it’s enough to get a feeling of Zurich.
Switzerland’s capital is a very beautiful city.
- It takes 1,5 hours to Bern by train, so it can make for a lovely day trip from Zug.
On a nice day, head to Rosengarten Park to enjoy the views of the old town, and then say hello to the bears who live at Baren Park. Of course, at Aare River, you can relax and admire the panorama. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and rightly so: it’s gorgeous and full of attractions, like the Cathedral, the clock tower, the Town Hall, the Parliament, and more. Check out the best things to do in Bern.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEST ZUG ACTIVITIES
Zug is a beautiful town – its proximity to Zurich or Lucerne makes it easily accessible. It is colorful and charming with a perfect mix of beautiful architecture and nature. So, if you have wondered about the best things to do in Zug, then you have hopefully found your answers here.