Things to do in Lucerne

Things to do in  Lucerne

Water under the bridges

Medieval architecture, a handsome lake, and covered wooden bridges that span the River Reuss are among Lucerne’s haul of treasures. But enticed not only by its treasures, tourists from around the world also come to enjoy the wealth of things to do in Lucerne and nearby. Visitors can get their mountain action on day trips to Mt. Pilatus, Mt. Rigi, and Jungfraujoch, and enjoy hassle-free excursions to the bigger city of Zurich, just an hour away by train.

Top 15 attractions in Lucerne

Lucerne (Luzern)

Situated on the shores of sparkling Lake Lucerne, at the base of Mount Pilatus, the city of Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s most scenic destinations and a popular basecamp for exploring the Swiss Alps. Visit to see the city’s historic medieval center, then head into the mountains for hiking, cycling, and winter sports adventures.More

Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee)

Located at the heart of Bernese Oberland and surrounded by the famous peaks of Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus, Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) is one of Central Switzerland’s most photographed natural wonders and the country’s fourth largest lake. Whether you’re soaring overhead in a cable car, cruising the lake itself, or visiting waterfront villages such as Weggis and Gersau, Lake Lucerne is mesmerizing from all angles.More

Mount Rigi

Nicknamed the “Queen of the Mountains,” Mount Rigi has long captured the hearts of writers like Mark Twain and painters like JMW Turner. Encircled by a trio of lakes—Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug, and Lake Lauerz—and adjacent to the neighboring peaks of Mount Pilatus and Brunnistock, Mount Rigi is the enduring postcard star of Central Switzerland.More

Pilatus Railways (Pilatus Bahnen)

With its network of cable cars and cogwheel railways traversing the snow-clad slopes of the mighty Mount Pilatus, Pilatus Railways (Pilatus Bahnen) provides the link between the lakeside resort of Lucerne and the 7,000-foot (2,133-meter) summit.More

Lucerne Old Town

Set on the left bank of the River Reuss, the Lucerne Old Town is encircled by medieval walls and watchtowers and connected to the right bank by two covered wooden bridges: Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) and Spreuer Bridge (Spreuerbrücke). The narrow streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site are lined with half-timbered houses and 15th-century buildings.More

Lake Brienz (Brienzersee)

Lake Brienz (Brienzersee) is one of the two lakes that flank the popular resort town of Interlaken. The village of Brienz, which sits on the opposite side of the lake (and from which the lake takes its name), is a picture-perfect Swiss spot made up of traditional wooden chalets with the snow-capped Alps rising behind them.More

Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrucke)

The oldest covered bridge in Europe, Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrucke) has spanned the river Reuss in Lucerne since the Middle Ages. Decorated with paintings along the interior, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Switzerland.More

Mt. Pilatus

A multi-peaked massif, Mt. Pilatus towers over Lucerne and Central Switzerland. Though Queen Victoria enlisted a mule to help her ascend the mountain in 1868, visitors now venture up by cable car or cogwheel train, which—with a gradient of up to 48 percent—is said to be one of the world’s steepest. Crisscrossed by hiking trails and sled runs, Mt. Pilatus features a kid-friendly adventure park and a suspension rope park. From the top, you can see as far as Italy on a clear day.More


Set in an alpine valley at the foot of Titlis, Engelberg, the “Mountain of Angels,” is one of Central Switzerland’s most scenic villages. Founded in 1120 by Benedictine monks, Engelberg is renowned for its historic monastery and offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities.More

Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal)

Carved into the low cliff face on the outskirts of the Old Town of Lucerne, the Lion Monument is the city’s most distinctive landmark. Described by Mark Twain as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world,” the giant sandstone sculpture depicts a dying lion resting in a shaded nook above a shimmering pond.More

Mt. Titlis

Reaching 10,626 feet (3,239 meters) above sea level, Mt. Titlis is Central Switzerland’s highest peak and probably its finest vantage point. The mountain has a cutting-edge transportation system—including, most famously a revolving cable car that turns 360 degrees during the ride to the top station at 9,908 feet (3,020 meters). Those lucky enough to be inside the car are graced with stunning panoramic views of Alpine peaks, sheer rock faces, and an icy crevasse-cracked glacier.More

Titlis Cliff Walk

Europe’s highest suspension bridge, the Titlis Cliff Walk provides panoramas across the Uri Alps for any intrepid explorer willing to cross the 10,000-foot- (3,041-meter-) high, open-air walkway. Linking two snow-capped crags on the summit of Mt. Titlis, the bridge connects the Ice Flyer chairlift and Südwandfenster viewing platform.More

Culture and Congress Centre (KKL)

Best known as the KKL (Kultur und Kongresszentrum Luzern), this waterfront concert hall and cultural center is famous for avant-garde architecture and its status as a top music venue. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the site boasts contemporary features like a “floating” roof, which contrasts against Lucerne’s historic cityscape.More

Mt. Stanserhorn CabriO Cable Car

Mt. Stanserhorn’s CabriO cable car is the first in the world to boast a roofless upper deck, bringing you closer to the Swiss landscape. Breathe in fresh Alpine air as you ascend to the 6,227-foot (1,898-meter) summit and enjoy panoramic views of the mountain towns, lakes, and meadows below.More


Towering 13,025 feet (3,970 meters) above the town of Grindelwald, Eiger (German for ogre) is one of Switzerland’s most recognizable and fearsome mountains. Scaling the near-vertical north face is a notoriously challenging feat, one that has claimed a number of lives since the first successful ascent in 1938.More

Trip ideas

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All about Lucerne

When to visit

Lucerne is busiest in the summer months (between June and August) when the weather is warm enough for swimming in the lake, and music festivals and the Lucerne Regatta set the city abuzz. Travel during the winter, however, and you’ll be rewarded with snowcapped mountains, the Lucerne Christmas markets, and January’s Lilu Light Festival, during which international artists illuminate the city squares and alleyways with light displays.

Getting around

Lucerne is reached easily by train, and the main railway station, Bahnhof Luzern, is a transport hub from where boats and buses also depart. All of Lucerne’s main sights are found in the city (zone 10), and the Lucerne Visitor Card—given to overnight hotel guests at no additional cost—covers free public transport in this zone. Otherwise, the city is walkable; you can reach the historic center from Bahnhof Luzern in five minutes, and all the main sights are nearby once there.

Traveler tips

The city of Lucerne is best photographed from up high, and one of the most special (if lesser-known) vantage points is up Lucerne’s Sonnenberg mountain. Take a bus to Kriens, then board the blue Sonnenbergbah Funicular, which is a joy to ride. At the top, a restaurant, playground, and walking trails await, along with panoramic views of the city, lake, and mountains.


A local’s pocket guide to Lucerne

Mark Bolan

Mark lived and worked in Lucerne for 5+ years, making the most of everything Switzerland had to offer, from fondue and skiing to quick lunchtime dips in the lake.

The first thing you should do in Lucerne is...

check out the Kapellbrücke, Europe's oldest covered bridge and a true symbol of the city. You’ll quickly see why it’s the most photographed landmark in Lucerne.

A perfect Saturday in Lucerne...

includes brunch close to Kapellbrücke, a stroll beside the lake, and a visit to the old town’s chocolate shops and bakeries. Don’t miss the Löwendenkmal, an impressive lion sculpture carved into the rock.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the view from Mount Pilatus, a truly stunning and unmissable alpine vista. Take a short train ride or tour from the city and then ride the cable car to the top.

To discover the "real" Lucerne...

visit in late February or March when the city turns into one big festival site for a unique local carnival known as Fastnacht.

For the best view of the city...

walk or take the short funicular ride to Château Gütsch, which sits high above the city, for an amazing view of the city, the lake, and the mountains.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking Lucerne’s all just cheese and chocolate, when it’s actually a small but cosmopolitan university city with lots of great restaurants and bars.


People Also Ask

What is Lucerne known for?

Lucerne is best known for its lake, mountain, and medieval Old Town, which can be seen on one tour. The Old Town standout feature is Chapel Bridge, a picturesque wooden walkway over the Reuss that is the city symbol. Other highlights include the Culture and Congress Centre and Swiss Museum of Transport.

Is one day enough for Lucerne?

Yes. You can do Lucerne in a day. Start early on an Old Town walking tour, then set sail across the lake toward the house mountain. Take the world's steepest cogwheel train to Pilatus Kulm, and head back down via aerial cableway. Back in town, have fondue at a lakeside restaurant.

Do they speak English in Lucerne?

Yes. English is widely spoken in Lucerne, particularly in places frequented by tourists. You'll have no trouble buying tickets or ordering food in English. But, if you're after a more immersive local experience, it's worth looking up a few Swiss German phrases before you arrive.

What is there to do in Old Town Lucerne?

A walk over the iconic Chapel Bridge is a Lucerne must. From there, take a stroll along the quayside, or get lost among the Old Town's medieval facades, cobblestone streets, colorful fountains, and modern shops. Head north to the Museggmauer city wall to ascend ancient towers for an aerial city view.

Is Lucerne worth visiting?

Yes, Lucerne is worth visiting, and those on limited time can see a mountain, lake, and Old Town in one day. The Culture and Congress Centre and the Swiss Museum of Transport are great spots for kid-friendly culture. Whether it's your first time or fifteenth, you'll find something to do.

Is Lucerne expensive?

Yes. Expense-wise Lucerne is in line with the rest of Switzerland—a bit heavy on the pocket. To get more bang for your buck, get a city pass, which offers free public transport, covered entrance fees, and discounted experiences. There's also a Lucerne Visitor Card, which offers local discounts.

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