Tourism and Treks in Lucerne: Top things to do for everybody!
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Ever been to a place overflowing with tourists that still seemed surreal?
That’s Lucerne in a sentence for you.
Swiss Bliss, is what it was.
Anything to do with the sea, delights me, but Switzerland being a land-locked country had different surprises in store. There was adventure, but there was also a calmness in the air, even with all the hustle and bustle around.
A Lake with white swans, the Alps with snowy peaks, para-glider’s dotting the sky and great architecture – Lucerne was picture perfect!
We skipped the museums (If there’s lots to do outdoors, a museum is the last place you’ll see me at), had a lovely budget meal at the Manor restaurant Manora, parked the car at the station and then walked to the lake.
Lucerne isn’t a huge city but it is a very charming one and it’s pretty easy to land at the lake if you head off on a stroll.
Switzerland is another country that’s infamous for being super expensive like Scandinavia and we were on a mini-Euro tour, so budgeting and planning was top priority. With that in mind, here are compact suggestions for the top things to do in Lucerne, on a budget, if you’re in the city for a short duration.
See & Do
In the city: The Kapellbrucke, The Lion of Lucern, a walk on the Mussegg wall via the Old town and boating/cruising on the lake
For art lovers and kids: The Glacier museum (Gletschergarten), The Rosengart Collection if you love Picasso and The Transport Museum or Verkehrshaus der Schweiz for anything that moves!
Rosti – A crispier version of the Hashbrown topped with salty bacon, fried egg, and melted raclette cheese, Fondue – Melted cheese with sides, Zurcher geschnetzeltes – A hearty veal dish
We stayed in an adorable chalet on the outskirts of Lucerne. It was a piece of heaven, clouds descending and all!
In the city
Go paddle boating on lake Lucerne
A dull, rainy day was predicted but when it turned out to be a bright sunny one, we leaped at the opportunity to take a paddle boat out on the lake.
The water was calm, unless a cruise passed by. The pedalo was ideal for a swim and if not for the water being chilly, I would have jumped in! The guys did the hard work and we gazed into the distance mesmerised by the Alps, trying to count the number of para-gliders…
The afternoon flew by and I was happy with all the amazing shots I captured from the middle of the lake.
Boating on Lake Lucerne is an ideal escape if you want to get away from the crowd. It’s peaceful and the views are great. Plus, it’s cheaper than taking a cruise!
Not interested? Walk around the lake away from the city, it will still be a relaxing experience.
Cost: About CHF 30-35 per hour per pedalo. Tickets can be purchased near the lake
Time required: About 2-3 hours
Walk on the centuries old Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge)
We then headed off, to take a walk on the Kapellbrücke. The smell of old furniture greeted us and flowers placed on either sides looked adorable.
Located on the River Reuss, it is one of the most photographed locations in Lucerne (or maybe even Switzerland). This covered pedestrian bridge has paintings on the interior and oodles of history.
It will transport you back to a bygone era!
You may not need to get to the other side of the river, but it isn’t everyday you get to claim you’ve walked over the oldest wooden bridge in Europe!
A good spot to admire the giant swans that paddle by without a care in the world.
If you want to skip the crowds, head to Spreuer Bridge, an almost replica of the Chapel Bridge, with a sombre set of paintings which represent the ‘Dance of Death’.
Time required: About 30 minutes
Feel gloomy at the Dying Lion of Lucerne monument
Although I had previously seen pictures of the Lion Monument, but seeing it in person made me realize it was huge and very depressing. This sad lion was carved in the memory of Swiss mercenaries who died whilst protecting the Tuileries Palace in France, during the French Revolution.
Pay a visit and you will be surprised that a monument can make you feel sad too!
Time required: About 30 minutes
Do the balancing act on the Musegg Mauer (Musegg Wall)
Lucerne’s Altstadt (Old town) is full of medieval architecture and narrow cobbled roads, dotted with traditional shops selling chocolates and watches. Located at the summit of the old town, lies the start of the Museggmauer. The walk along the wall gives you stunning panoramic views of the city and the river.
If you love photography this is not to be missed.
The hike to the top takes about 20 minutes and can be steep at times but it is well worth the effort. 4 towers out of 9 are open to the public from April to November. The clock tower is a must-do!
If hiking is not your cup of tea, a stroll around the Old town is sufficient enough to help you relax and get a taste of an average day in Switzerland.
Time required: About half a day
For families and history buffs
If you love wandering around in museums, Lucerne has a great set. Opt for the Lucerne Museum Card which is great value for a single entry per museum per person.
The Lucerne Museum Card is valid in the following museums
- Swiss Museum of Transport
- Museum of Art
- Rosengart Collection
- Glacier Garden
- Richard Wagner Museum
- Bourbaki Panorama
- Museum of History
- Museum of Natural History
- Museum im Bellpark Kriens
COST: CHF 36 per person
Opt for the KKL Luzern- Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre, if you’d like to attend a concert or musical while you’re here.
The Rosengart Collection (Sammlung Rosengart), if you love Picasso. The museum contains a collection of his pictures and paintings in addition to others like Monet as well.
The Gletschergarten or Glacier Garden (Free with the Swiss Rail Pass) is a unique natural one complete with an Alhambra mirror maze to get lost in. Lucerne was once covered by a glacier with actual potholes, rocks and fossils and this museum showcases that in addition to many other fun novelties.
The Swiss Museum of Transport or Verkehrshaus der Schweiz has many exhibits of anything that moves and is a fun place for kids as they love assuming the role of construction workers in the outdoor arena.
Mount Pilatus in the West or Mount Rigi in the East, both offer stunning views of the Alps and the region.
Home to the world’s steepest cogwheel train and the longest toboggan run in Switzerland this is heaven for hikers. The way to get here is a mix of road, rail, cable car(gondola) and cruise and the views are glorious!
Get the bus No.1 from Lucerne to Kriens and then to the top via cable car. You can then return via the cogwheel train to Alpnachstadt and then catch the ferry back to Lucerne. Reverse the options if you wish.
Ideal for a day out. Picnic suggested but there is a restaurant at the top too.
Numerous trails to suit every taste! You can download a trail map here. Opt for the path that gets you to Tomlishorn for the highest panoramic view in the region.
INFO: There’s ‘Golden Round trip’ and ‘Silver round trip’ tickets that work out cheaper if you’re looking for a deal. The route is: Luzern – Alpnachstad – Pilatus Kulm – Kriens – Luzern depending on the ticket you choose. Tickets can be purchased at the SBB CFF FFS ticket centre at the train station or online. More details and latest prices here
The “Queen of the Mountains” Mount Rigi is a hiker’s paradise and offers panoramas of the lakes and Alps and peeks of Germany and France, on clear days.
You can take a boat cruise from lucerne to Vitznau and the less energetic can then reach the top of the summit from there on a funicular.
Each trail offers breath-taking sights and once at the top all you hear is the sound of cowbells!
INFO: The furnicular may be included for free if you’ve purchased a Swiss Pass. You can get to Rigi from Lucerne as part of the Golden return trip, which includes the ferry on Lake Lucerne, the cogwheel train up the mountain, and the cable car.
The world’s first revolving cable-car on Mt Titlis (Titlis Rotair), the Ice Flyer Chair Lift and a walk atop Europe’s highest suspension bridge are unique options for someone looking for some thrills!
With snow all year round, this glacial paradise is equally stunning.
INFO: Prices and Info for all the activities and the latest updates can be found here
That’s it! Those are my suggestions for the top things to do in Lucerne.
I always advocate unusual locations. Only because there are no stories heard from fellow travellers and no prior expectations. The place is sure to surprise you.
Yet, I’m a firm believer that places are touristy for a reason. There’s beauty for everybody to share!
Lucerne is one such place.
The views are ridiculous, settings idyllic and the whole country looks right out of a pixel-perfect postcard. Pastel sunsets engulf the city in a magical ambiance.
The birthplace of Toblerone is one definitely not to be skipped as it will make you fall in love with nature – tourists or not!
PIN FOR LATER!
Top things to do in Lucerne
- Lucerne is located on the Golden Pass line which allows visitors to take a scenic, panoramic train through the Swiss Alps and is a spot you should consider visiting before heading into the mountains
- The train from Zurich to Lucerne leaves every 30 minutes and takes 45 minutes to get to Lucerne. You can check the train schedules here
- A Swiss Travel Pass offers unlimited access to the Swiss Travel System, inclusive of train, bus and boat. It’s sold for 3, 4, 8 and 15 days and allows a free entrance to over 480 museums and exhibitions. Great for a fortnight in Switzerland
- You can get the Golden/Silver return tickets to Pilatus at the SBB CFF FFS tickets and money exchange centre near the main train station of Lucerne
- Another great activity is the Stanserhorn Cabrio Cable Car – the world’s only open top double-decker cable car flies up the mighty Stanserhorn providing stunning views with a great restaurant on top
- Eat at the Old Swiss house, located close to the Lion Monument and Glacier Museum. A family run establishment famous for its escalopes
- There’s ‘Golden Round trip’ and ‘Silver round trip’ tickets that work out cheaper if you’re looking for a deal. The route is: Luzern – Alpnachstad – Pilatus Kulm – Kriens – Luzern depending on the ticket you choose. Tickets can be purchased at the SBB CFF FFS ticket centre at the train station or online. More details and latest prices here. Lastly, remember to use a VPN when bookings tickets online so you would not have your financial information stolen.
Looking to head off for a hike in the Alps? There’s some info about it here!
Any other items I should add to the list that you enjoyed? Let me know!
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