Every town and city in Switzerland have its own charm and beauty so is the picturesque city of Lucerne in central Switzerland. The city nestled amidst the gorgeous landscape of turquoise waters of Lucerne Lake and the towering Alpine peaks will cast its spell with wonderful medieval architecture and glorious bridges straddling the River Reuss.
Only an hour away from Zurich and the Switzerland capital Bern by train, Lucerne makes for an easy day trip. The major Lucerne attractions can easily be explored in a day but Lucern also offers excursions to nearby mountains which can be done as a day trip from Lucerne hence depending on your interest you can either spend 1 or more days in Lucerne.
Apart from Lucerne points of interest one of the best things to do in Lucerne is the Golden Pass Train which runs between Lucerne and Montreux. The first time we visited Lucerne was as a part of Golden Pass train route, we started from Montreux and Lucerne was a quick stop before boarding a train back to Geneva. We just sauntered around the station and were so smitten by its charm that we decided to return back some day soon to explore more of this enchanting city.
The majestic Lucerne station sits on the shore of Lake Lucerne and replaces the old station in the same location which was burnt down in a fire in 1971. The new and present station was completed in 1991 and the beautiful arch which stands at the main entrance of the station was the main portal of the former station which survived the fire. The present station is a multi-story building with an underground shopping arcade and several rail lines serving domestic and international trains. (connects Munich and Berlin)
Top Things to do in Lucerne Switzerland
Chapel Bridge or Kapellbrucke
The Kapellbrucke or the Chapel Bridge is the iconic landmark of Lucerne just a few minutes walk from the central station. The bridge spans the Reuss River and connects the old town with the new town and was built as a part of the city’s medieval fortifications. The Chapel Bridge is a medieval wooden footbridge bridge dating back to the 14th century and is said to be Europe’s oldest wooden covered bridge and the oldest surviving truss bridge in the world.
The best time to visit the Chapel bridge is summer when the bridge is bedecked with colorful flowers. The wooden bridge lined with vibrant flowers, the shimmering waters and the gracefully gliding swans make for a stunning fairytale vista.
Little about the history of the remarkable bridge, the bridge was rebuilt after a complete destruction in 1993 fire which also burnt down most of the 17th-century paintings hanging from the roof of the bridge. Today there are no more than 30 interesting paintings out of original 150 paintings depicting the history of the city and the stories of the city’s patron saints which you can see as you walk through the bridge. An interesting octagonal tower called Wasserturm or Water Tower stands as a part of the bridge. The tower gets its name from the fact that it stands in the water and has been used as a prison and torture chamber and is closed to the public.
The backdrop of the Chapel bridge is dominated by the tower of Kornmarkt or Town Hall clock tower in the Lucerne old town or Altstadt. The 17th-century building is built in Italian Renaissance style and serves as a venue for concerts and exhibitions. The ground floor with open arcades on the Reuss riverfront hosts a flea market every week.
Jesuit Church or Jesuitenkirche
A little walk down from the Chapel bridge is the imposing Jesuit Church with its bright white facade and twin onion-domed towers. The Jesuit church constructed in 1666 is the first large sacral Baroque church in Switzerland. The interior of the church has elaborate embellishments with stucco work in white and rose color and remarkable frescoes which are worth a visit.
The stunning white palace like building perched on the lush mountains in the backdrop of the below landscape is the five-star hotel Chateau Gutsch which is one of the top Lucerne hotels. The castle was built in 1888 and offers spectacular views of the city of Lucerne. It is said to be inspired by the Bavarian castle Neuschwanstein.
Spreuerbrucke or Spreuer Bridge
Spreuer Bridge is another famous bridge in Lucerne built in the year 1408. The bridge interior is bedecked with 45 out of 67 original paintings which represent the “Dance of Death” by Kaspar Meglinger. The bridge was rebuilt in 1568 after being destroyed in the storm, there is a small chapel in the center of the bridge also built in 1568.
Museggmauer or Musegg Wall
The Musegg Wall is a part of the well-preserved medieval fortifications and can be reached by 15 minutes uphill walk from the old town. The Musegg Wall was built in 1300 has 9 towers out of which 4 are open to the public, one can walk along the ramparts and enjoy the majestic views of the city. One of the nine towers Zyt has its facade painted with two giants carrying the face of the tower clock which is set to chime one minute before all the public clocks of the city.
Old Town Lucerne
Lucerne’s Altstadt (old town) is the most beautiful part of the city set along the shores of the River Reuss. The old town has several medieval buildings and pretty squares dotted with gorgeous fountains. Sauntering around the old town we found several buildings adorned with remarkable colorful frescoes which were an impressive sight to behold though not as extensive as the painted houses of Appenzell in Switzerland. The cobblestone lanes are lined with an array of boutiques, souvenir shops, and cafes.
The Lion Monument is another famous landmark in Lucerne. The monument depicts a dying lion pierced with a broken spear in his shoulder carved into a rock face and was built to commemorate the Swiss mercenaries who died during the French Revolution.
Another unmissable Lucerne attraction is the Glacier garden which is one of the fun things to do if you are visiting with kids. While the garden is home to various trees and flowering plants the museum exhibits include glacial potholes and fossils dating back to the Ice Age. The museum also hosts a multimedia show on the history of the earth and houses the mirror maze which may be of interest for the kids as well.
Swiss Museum of Transport
The Swiss Transport Museum is yet another one of the fun things to do in Lucerne with kids. The museum displays a wide range of life-size models of trains, planes, cars and many other automobiles dedicated to the history of Switzerland’s transport history. The museum also houses a planetarium and a film theatre. The museum is located on the shores of Lake Lucerne and is around 30 minutes walk from the central station, one can also take a bus (6, 8, 24) to the museum. More here.
Whenever we visit a Swiss city or town we make sure to visit the flea markets. From the Plainpalais in Geneva, the largest flea market in Switzerland to the unique markets in Bern the flea markets offer tonnes to explore. We would usually go out to explore Switzerland on weekends and the flea markets are usually in full boom on Saturdays. The flea market in Lucerne is set up on the riverfront and sells pretty much everything from fruits, vegetables, flowers, and antiques.
Day Trips from Lucerne
Lucerne to Titlis
Mount Titlis is a popular family snow resort which offers a unique experience with its revolving cable-car, glacier cave, Ice Flyer Chair Lift, Europe’s highest suspension bridge and ample of snow activities for kids as well as adults. Visitors to Titlis can board a train from Lucerne to Engelberg and from there onwards cablecar ride to the summit of Titlis.
Lucerne to Rigi – Queen of Mountains
Mount Rigi popularly known as the ‘Queen of the Mountains’ is a part of the Alps and is surrounded by lakes, mountains, and villages. The summit offers wonderful panoramic vistas of the surrounding lakes and alps. It is also an ideal place for mountain hikers. A ferry from Lucerne ferry terminal (Bahnhofquai) next to Lucerne train station and then a cable car and cogwheel which transport one to the summit of Rigi.
Lucerne to Mount Pilatus
Mount Pilatus is considered to be one of the best Swiss mountain rides and offers incredible views along the ascend. There are two options to ascend to the summit of Pilatus. Take a bus from Lucerne to Kriens and then gondola up to the summit of Pilatus or take a ferry to the town of Alpnachstad and there onwards a spectacular ride on the world’s steepest cog railway to the summit. The summit has a restaurant, a rope park, kids playground, and Switzerland’s longest toboggan run.
Lucerne Boat Tour
A great way to explore the beautiful region of Lucerne straddling the shores of Lake Lucerne is through a boat tour. There are several different options for boat tours for half or full day excursions to the nearby towns and mountains. You can experience the magic on round-trip ferry to Mount Pilatus and the Mount Rigi or can choose from several other boat tours.
Lucerne Visitors Card
The Visitor Card is issued if you are staying in Lucerne. Visitors make use of the free WiFi spots around the city by using the personal Visitor Card number to sign into the hotspots. The card offers the visitors with numerous benefits on tours and free use of public transport in the city as well as for cableways and museums. More details here.
If you looking base yourself in Lucerne then the best location to book accommodation near the Lucerne Train station as most of the things to do in Lucerne are located close to the station including the ferry station to Mount Rigi Kulm or Mount Pilatus. Check for other accommodations in Lucerne around the city if you want to stay away from the bustling city center.
Have you been to this beautiful city of Lucerne? Do you find it charming enough to add to your bucket list? Share with us your views in comments.
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