Lucerne is a compact city that is popular because of its preserved medieval architecture and artifacts. The town lies in the snow-capped mountains of lake Luzern. The atmosphere of the town is unique and many tourists are attracted to it because of the relaxed, old as well as the modernized style of the city.
During summer, the town is popular for staging orchestras and many people come to see soloists, conductors among other people enjoying music in the region. The town was created during the Benedictine monastery which was founded around the year 730. However, it grew to prominence in the 13th century as an opening towards the alps and it was a major trading town.
Lucerne is very compact and it is easy to explore if you are visiting the area for the first time. For people who love the mountain scenery, you will not be left behind because there are some of the exceptional alpine rides. You can see Switzerland’s most gorgeous mountainous landscape.
How to get to Lucerne
You can get to Lucerne using different avenues such as air, train, car among others. If you are flying to the region you will have to fly to Zürich international airport. The airport is connected to Lucerne via trains and roads. Numerous hourly trains goes from Zürich to Lucerne route. The express train from Zurich will take you less than an hour.
Lucerne is well integrated to the swiss railway network and there is an express train that originates from Bern and Zürich. You are sure to arrive at the destination on time and with the utmost comfort. Alternatively, if you are planning to drive yourself to Lucerne then you will have to cruise along the N14 highway from Zürich. However, you should have a motorway toll sticker. In any means that you choose you are sure to reach Lucerne within a short period.
You can check all the ticket prices and schedules right here: Swiss trains.
What to do in Lucerne
There are numerous activities that you can do in Lucerne to have fun, however, the top most include the following.
1. Mount Pilatus
This is one of the most unique features of Lucerne. You will have to go up using the cableway from Kriens. The half how the ride will take you to another short cable car ride to the 2000-meter mountain. You can climb to the peak of the mountain and have a stunning view of the Swiss alps. Alternatively, you can choose to boat the cog railroad to take you to the highest peak. You can use a guided tour option if you do not want to go through the hustles of planning the entire trip by yourself.
On the top of Mount Pilatus you are going to find a hotel, some shops and even a restaurant. It is a perfect place to relax and breath in the Alps air.
You can find the full information about how to get there, what to do and much more here: Mount Pilatus guide.
2. Visit the chapel bridge
This is the most unique feature of Lucerne. The wooden bridge runs across the Reuss and you will be sure to enjoy some of its unique features. It is a picturesque centerpiece: the bridge was built many years ago and there are pictures of people who contributed to its building in the 17th century. In the year 1933, the bridge was damaged by fire, however, it was completely rebuilt and restored to its original mint condition. Besides, it is Wasserstrom a 13th-century water tower. The bridge is ranked as one of the most photographed locations in Switzerland.
3. Explore lake Lucerne
If you want to know more about lake Lucerne then the best way is by taking a boat. A boat ride will allow you to explore all locations as well as understand how the lake was formed. From May through September you can explore the area by a paddlewheel steamer. In addition, you can enjoy a three-course meal in the ship’s salon as you take a scenic ride. However, if you do not have time for a longer excursion you can enjoy the beautiful alpine peaks and get to know the history by taking a one-hour lake Lucerne panoramic sightseeing ship or cruise.
4. Visit the old town
Every city is known to have a history of its own. Lucerne is not left behind in this because it has an exquisite old town on the banks of the Reuss. The old town has many little squares with fountains as well as an old burger house. The timber-framed buildings bordering the stoned streets are painted with bright colors and this gives it a fairy take atmosphere. The old town has renaissance types of structures and you are sure to get some of the exceptional places from St. Peters chapel to Weinmarkt a late gothic fountain.
5. Mount Rigi
This is one of the signature experiences in Switzerland as it allows you to ride the cog railways from lake Luzerne shores to 1800 meters of mount Rigi. This is the first European cog railway and you can ride in restored cars that date back to centuries ago. From the top, you can see the amazing German forests and amazing views from a high elevation.
You can as well hike up to the top and adore the views as more and more white peaks opens up. I have done it myself and loved the whole experience a lot.
Have a look at all my guidance of Mount Rigi here: Mount Rigi guide.
This is one of the bridges that is covered and it has survived centuries. This is the second bridge that was built in the year 1406 and since then it has maintained its look for years now. There are arts and depictions in the bridge indicating the general development of the region. There are framed in black and each has an explanation on the names of patrons who donated them and the essence of the paint.
7. Visit the lion monument
The lion monument is one of the most popular locations in Luzerne. This is a huge figure of a dying lion that is hewn from the face of a rock ledge. In 1820 Thorwaldsen designed this unique feature of the city and it is a commemoration of the death of more than 700 troops and 26 officers during the protection of king Louis XVI during the French revolution era.
8. Explore the Swiss transport museum
This is a large collection of the exhibition hall and outdoor exhibits which cover tourism, transport and communication aspects of Switzerland. You will see actual examples of railway locomotives, rockets, aircraft, ships, and automobiles. These are a clear depiction of how transport has developed over the years and how Switzerland has mechanized its form of transport over time. There is a 150-projector planetarium that also offers daily shows on the progress and the development of different areas of the city.
You can find all the information about the museum’s tickets and opening times right here: Swiss transport museum.
9. Explore the town walls and towers
Along the northern side of Lucerne’s old town, you will see a wall that was built in the 13th and 14th century with 9 towers all constructed in different styles. The part around was built in the year 1386 and it is still intact. You can climb the four towers to enjoy the view of the lake, city, and the surrounding landscape. The oldest clocks in Lucerne built-in 1535 are placed on the Zyt and it important to note that it chimes on an hourly basis, a minute before all the other city clocks. You can explore to understand its mechanism of action and how it was constructed.
10. Rosengart collection
If you want to know more about post impression art then this is the best museum that you should visit in Lucerne. There are numerous works in this museum and majorly on Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee. The collection also features works of more than 20 artists in the 19th and 20th centuries. You will get to understand the development of art and explore some of the most amazing works of artists in the recent past.
You can find all the information about this destination right here: Rosengart collection.
11. Visit Jesuit church
This is one of the largest churches that was constructed in baroque style and it was built for the Jesuits on the left bank between 1666 and 1677. The interior of the church is decorated with Rocco style and with an outstanding ceiling and ornate faux marble side altars. You should check out the church’s magnificent organs during their regular concerts.
More information about the church here: Jesuit Church.
12. Explore the glacier garden
This is an exceptional relic of the ice age period and it has glacier polished rock and erratic boulders which were dropped as a result of the retreating ice. 32 potholes are formed at the base of the waterfall as a result of melting glacial ice. The formation of the features of this garden is largely linked to the ice age and natural phenomenon. The exhibit also shows how changing climate on earth affects natural surroundings. You can visit an adjacent park for a good picnic.
On the site of the 18th-century Benedictine monastery in St. Ledogar is a twin-towered Hofkirche. This structure was built in the year 1525 and overtime due to changes in climate among other aspects it deteriorated. However, there was a major remodeling in 1634-39 and it is one of the most unique renaissance churches in Switzerland. There is a carved pulpit and choir stalls that were incorporated in the year 1639, the most outstanding feature are the baroque gold altars. You can join recitals in the summer and get to know how the church operates.
14. Mount Titlis
This mountain is about 36 kilometers away from Lucerne and it is one of the biggest winters and summer vacations in Switzerland. It has the best ski resorts in Switzerland and the village is famous for its 12th-century Benedictine monastery. There are monks in the area and you can explore their lifestyle and get to know the history of the town. The area is popular for hiking, mountaineering, and biking among others. If you are visiting during the winter period you will have fun exploring the beautiful alpine scenery.
If you take a gondola to the top, you will get a chance to experience the amazing cliff walk above the mountains and enjoy the majestic views. That is a breathtaking spot.
I have done some skiing in Titlis, so if you happen to be in Lucerne in winter time, you can have a look at my experiences snowboarding there: Mount Titlis.
15. Bourbaki Panorama
This is the most unusual attraction in Lucerne as it has a large panoramic painting and sculpture that depicts the escape of 87000 members of the French military to Switzerland during the Franco-Prussian War in the year 1871. Completed in the year 1881 the work is over a hundred meters long and it is ten meters high. You will get to see the finest panoramic art.
Top things to do in Lucerne conclusion
Lucerne is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland that I highly recommend visiting and spending at least one day.
You should definitely visit the lake and go up to at least one peak around Lucerne, so you can enjoy amazing views from the top.
Lucerne is full of culture and great places to have your Swiss lunch or dinner on the banks of the lake. You will see a lot of very nice and cozy places right next to blue crystal lake. Or take a portion of ice cream and enjoy a slow stroll by the lake.
If you have any questions about Lucerne, please let me know, I will do my best to help you. I have visited Lucerne multiple times and really loved it.
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