Located in central Switzerland, Lucerne or Luzern is a picturesque city. With its stunning alpine setting, breathtaking views, and countless activities, the city has a lot of attractions that will leave you with lasting memories. If you are wondering – is Lucerne worth visiting? Then read on to find out our reasons!
Is Lucerne worth visiting? Here are 10 reasons
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Lucerne is a cute, charming, and compact city in Switzerland. From exploring the nearby mountains to taking a cruise on Lake Lucerne, or enjoying the renowned culture of its Old Town, Lucerne will delight your heart.
The city is great for history, culture, and nature lovers alike!
Although we love the convenience of a big city like Zurich (for flights from Canada or North America), or lists of attractions and such…. there is something about compact cities like Lucerne.
They are walkable, charming with beautiful architecture, no modern buildings nearby, and a serene atmosphere…and the ‘things to do’ list is manageable (even for bucket list chasers like us lol). Lucerne is indeed very pretty!
There’s no doubt that this Swiss city should not be overlooked when planning a trip to Switzerland. Here are our 10 reasons why we adore Lucerne and why you must add it to your Switzerland itinerary,
Lucerne’s History and Cultural Experience
Lucerne has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 12th century. It was founded in the 8th century and was known as Leodegar (Luciaria).
The iconic Chapel Bridge gives the city its unique charisma!
Lucerne’s strategic location on Lake Lucerne gave it great importance during medieval times. The city is renowned for its fortifications which were built in the 14th century and remain standing today.
Museggmauer (Musegg Wall) as they are called. These walls give visitors an insight into the city’s history and its role as a strategic center during times of war.
Lucerne is also renowned for its cultural experiences, with many museums and galleries that showcase its past and present.
You can explore the Historisches Museum Luzern which houses artifacts from Switzerland’s ancient and modern history, or visit the Rosengart Collection, which houses works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, and other masters.
Other museums include the Richard Wagner Museum, the Bourbaki Panorama, and the Swiss Transport Museum.
The city also has a thriving performing arts scene, with its music hall being a particularly popular attraction.
Lucerne also hosts a range of festivals throughout the year, including the annual Lucerne Festival, which is a classical music festival held from mid-August to mid-September.
The city also hosts Christmas Markets. All these experiences give visitors a unique insight into the city’s vibrant culture and history.
Lucerne is an amazing destination for anyone looking to experience Swiss culture and history.
When exploring the city, and getting to Lucerne, we recommend the Swiss Travel Pass. This transportation card will allow you unlimited rides on trains, trams, boat rides, and access to over 500 museums in Switzerland.
Using this Pass you can travel from Zurich International Airport and arrive in Lucerne, and embark on day trips nearby. You can also visit museums for free with this Pass.
SWISS TRAVEL PASS
Get unlimited rides on trains, trams, buses, and boats throughout Switzerland with an all-in-one Swiss Travel Pass!
Buy it online, show your e-ticket on your phone, and start your Swiss Adventure with ease and stay on budget!
Lucerne has a beautiful Old Town – Altstadt
One of the most remarkable attractions in Lucerne is its Old Town – the Altstadt. Lucerne Old Town is compact and one of the most stunning in the whole of Switzerland.
There are museums and historical sites that you can visit, but pretty much wandering through the Old Town will just leave you mesmerized!
The Old Town is home to an array of historic buildings and landmarks, which make for an amazing photo spot in Switzerland!
As you walk through the narrow alleys and cobblestone lanes, you will find medieval churches and colorful fountains.
The Old Town also has numerous shops, restaurants, and bars for visitors to explore. Here you can find everything from traditional Swiss chocolates to cuckoo clocks, souvenirs, and local handicrafts.
Overall, Lucerne’s Old Town is an amazing place to experience the city’s culture and heritage. With its charming streets and numerous attractions, it’s sure to be a highlight of any visit.
Visit the oldest covered bridge in Lucerne
A visit to the Old Town isn’t complete without stopping at its iconic Chapel Bridge.
The Chapel Bridge is one of the most iconic attractions in Lucerne, Switzerland. The bridge was built in 1333 and spans the city’s Reuss River. It is one of Switzerland’s oldest covered bridges and features numerous paintings from 1608.
The bridge has a rich history, having been destroyed by fire twice in 1799 and 1993. However, it was rebuilt both times, with the latest reconstruction being completed in 1994.
Kapellbrücke is named after the nearby St Peter’s Chapel. The bridge is not only famous for its length but also for the beautiful paintings covering the roof of the walkway.
It was lined with approximately 147 paintings, depicting scenes from Lucerne’s religious and cultural past, including depictions of the city’s patron saints – St. Leger and St. Maurice.
Today, only 30 of them were fully restored (and 47 survived the fire damage).
The bridge is also home to the Water Tower, a local landmark that dates back to the 14th century. It is believed that this tower was built before the Chapel Bridge itself.
Visiting the Chapel Bridge is a must-do activity for any visitor to Lucerne and Switzerland. It is a great spot to take in the city’s stunning views and appreciate its rich history.
See the city and the mountains in Lucerne
In addition to the iconic Chapel Bridge and its many cultural attractions, Lucerne has plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
You can go on a leisurely bike ride around the city or take a hike up Mount Pilatus for stunning views of the city.
Alternatively, adventure-seekers can go paragliding or skydiving over the nearby lakes and mountains.
One can also relax on a sightseeing cruise across Lake Lucerne.
Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi are two popular mountains in the Swiss Alps near Lucerne. Both mountains offer stunning vistas of the surrounding area, as well as a variety of outdoor activities.
You can take cable cars to the summits of both mountains. At the summit of Mount Pilatus, you can opt to take the world’s steepest cogwheel railway down to Alpnachstad.
Meanwhile, Mount Rigi is accessible via a funicular ride from Vitznau (red line which is pretty) by boat from Lucerne or Arth Goldau (blue line).
Both mountains provide visitors with plenty of opportunities for exploring nature.
Lucerne is the perfect base to explore more of Switzerland
The beauty of Switzerland is that you can keep one city as a base and then explore more of the country. And Lucerne is no different.
With a solid train network and roadways, you can embark on a lot of destinations from Lucerne for an epic day trip!
Take day trips from Lucerne
One of the most popular day trips from Lucerne is a visit to Mount Pilatus. You can easily combine a Lucerne and Mt Pilatus on the same day as well.
This mountain offers breathtaking views of the city and surrounding area, which can be enjoyed by taking a cable car up or hiking one of its numerous trails.
Once at the peak, you can explore the Dragon’s Trail, or enjoy easy hikes at the summit.
You can also explore the largest city in Switzerland – Zurich. It is only an hour’s train ride away, and the city offers plenty of attractions, from art galleries and museums to shopping centers and restaurants.
Spend a day wandering the Zurich Old Town, enjoy a stroll along the picturesque Lake Zurich, take a boat ride for some stunning views, and shop before returning to Lucerne.
Burglen and Meggen
Lucerne is also surrounded by numerous quaint villages, such as Bürglen and Meggen. These small towns are a great place to explore traditional Swiss culture and architecture, as well as sample some of the local cuisine.
These cute towns are located about 30 to 40 minutes drive away.
Those looking for an adrenaline rush should make their way to Interlaken, a town located between two stunning lakes.
You can go on a boat cruise between the two lakes – Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Or enjoy activities such as paragliding, hiking, and cable car rides to the mountains!
Mt. Titlis is another amazing day trip from Lucerne. You can take the aerial cableway up the mountain and admire the surrounding scenery as they go.
The ride is one of the most popular as it is the world’s first revolving cable car (TITLIS Rotair cable car).
Once at the top, there are lots of activities to enjoy from skiing or snowboarding in winter months, to amazing hikes. Or you can simply soak in the views from the Titlis Cliff Walk.
Pro tip: Hotels in Lucerne
Here are some hotel recommendations for your overnight stay in Lucerne
- Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern: Stay at this 5 star hotel in Lucerne. Book a suite with amazing views of the city and the lake. The location is perfect for sightseeing on foot. Check availability here
- Altstadt Hotel Krone Luzern: Another Old Town favorite, the Altstadt Hotel Krone Luzern also boasts an excellent location and is an affordable option in the heart of the city. Book your stay here
- Holiday Inn Express Luzern – Kriens, an IHG Hotel: Free breakfast + modest rooms + mid-budget property is this Holiday Inn Express for you! The hotel is situated near the train station and the Chapel Bridge. Check current prices and availability here
Ride the scenic GoldenPass train from Lucerne
One of the amazing things to do in Lucerne is enjoy the BEST experiences that Switzerland is known for. We already covered the Swiss Alps, but how about a scenic train ride?
The GoldenPass Line departs from Lucerne and covers a distance of 191 km (118 miles). To complete the entire journey, it will take around 5.25 hours on three trains. You can choose to embark on one or more sectors.
From Lucerne, the train passes through Interlaken before arriving in beautiful Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Along the way, you will get to admire the stunning views of Lake Lucerne and its surrounding mountains as they travel along the shores.
During the journey, soak in breathtaking views of vineyards and rolling hills, as well as some of Switzerland’s most famous landmarks such as Chillon Castle.
When riding the GoldenPass train from Lucerne, you can relax and enjoy the stunning views as they make their way to each stop.
Visit landmarks, museums, and monuments in Lucerne
Lucerne is home to many stunning landmarks and museums that are sure to captivate any culture lover. These attractions can be explored in a day, as you wander the Old Town lanes, and beyond.
St Peter’s Chapel
You can also marvel at St. Peter’s Chapel, one of the oldest churches in Switzerland and the resting place of a number of legendary Swiss figures.
This iconic church is located just a few minutes walk away from the Chapel Bridge. It is a large Baroque church that looks stunning against the charming bridge and the Reuss River views.
One of the most iconic sites in Lucerne is the Lion Monument, a stoic lion sculpture carved into a sandstone cliff face that commemorates the Swiss Guards who were killed during the French Revolution.
Art and History Museums
The city also boasts some amazing museums, such as the Rosengart Collection which houses artwork from renowned artists like Picasso and Monet.
For something more interactive, why not visit the Swiss Museum of Transport and explore a variety of exhibitions featuring everything from vintage cars to aircraft?
Those interested in history can also explore the Swiss Museum, where they can learn more about Switzerland’s past and its vibrant culture.
The Glacier Garden
The Glacier Garden is another popular destination in Lucerne and serves as an excellent reminder of the power of Mother Nature. This remarkable site features massive glacial boulders, a waterfall, and several unique rock formations.
And…..those who prefer to shop and enjoy a bit of retail therapy can explore the one-of-a-kind shops in the Old Town. From Swiss chocolatiers to independent boutiques, there’s something for everyone here.
Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in Lucerne’s stunning culture or explore its historic sites, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in this captivating city.
Embark on sightseeing cruises from Lucerne
We left the best for the end! So you might be aware that Lucerne is situated on the banks of Lake Lucerne, which makes it an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy a relaxing sightseeing cruise.
You can embark on a scenic cruise from the city, and enjoy a few hours of amazing sights and vibes!
There are a variety of companies that offer daily cruises across the lake. You can also combine a boat trip with a walking tour of the Old Town too!
One popular cruise is this tour that takes you from Lake Lucerne on a round-trip catamaran trip. This breathtaking ride takes about one hour and includes spectacular views of the lush greenery of Mount Pilatus, Rigi, and Bürgenstock.
Occasionally you will find sunset cruises. These romantic cruises feature live music, drinks, and delicious food as you admire the stunning twilight views of Lake Lucerne.
So is Lucerne worth visiting?
Yes, Lucerne is definitely worth visiting. Located in central Switzerland, the city is known for its picturesque alpine setting and rich cultural heritage. It offers a variety of activities and attractions that make it an ideal destination for both young and old.
From exploring the nearby mountains to taking a cruise on Lake Lucerne, or enjoying the renowned culture of its Old Town, Lucerne has something for everyone.
Lucerne is also an ideal city to explore and enjoy during any season – whether it’s winter skiing or summertime boating.
Its museums, galleries, and historic sites will provide a deeper understanding of the city’s past, while its natural beauty makes it an ideal destination for nature lovers.
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