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17 BEST Things to Do in Lucerne, Switzerland (+Map, Info & Tips)

17 BEST Things to Do in Lucerne,  Switzerland (+Map, Info & Tips)

Visiting Lucerne in Switzerland, and wondering what to see and do in Lucerne? In this article, we share the VERY BEST places to see and things to do in Lucerne. You’ll learn about the main sights and attractions in the city itself, plus the most popular excursions to Mt Pilatus and Mt Rigi that are also considered as not-to-miss experiences in Lucerne.

Nestled on the shore of Lake Lucerne and among the beautiful snow-capped mountains, Lucerne (Luzern) is one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. It’s also one of the most popular places to visit for international tourists traveling to Switzerland.

The reasons why are easy to see. Compact and easy to explore, it is steeped in history, its ancient architecture lovingly preserved. Like a scene from a fairytale, the city is both beautiful and romantic, with a range of experiences and attractions for the entire family to enjoy.

In this guide, we’ve put together a list of the top sights and things to see and do in this friendly and welcoming city. We also include some tips and a map that will help you make the most of your visit.

Top 3 Experiences & Tours in Lucerne:

  1. Mt Pilatus Excursion.
  2. 1-Hour Lake Cruise.
  3. Mt Titlis Excursion.
What to see and do in Lucerne, Switzerland

TIP: If you are visiting Lucerne for just the first time, opt for a city walking tour with a local guide. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the city, covers all the musts, and you can combine with e.g. Mt Pilatus excursion or Swiss Trasport Museum (more info about all these below). Another nice option for the first visit is this city walking tour that also includes a boat ride on Lake Lucerne.

If you have a few days in the area, be sure to read our guide to the best day trips & excursions near Lucerne.

Without further ado, here are the very best things to do in Lucerne, starting with the main sights and attractions in the city itself:

1. Chapel Bridge & Water Tower

Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) is one of the most iconic landmarks of Lucerne. This covered wooden footbridge is the best-known and most photographed sight in Lucerne, featured in all brochures and travel guides. A walk over the famous Chapel Bridge is a must-do in Lucerne!

Built in the early part of the 14th century, Chapel Bridge is the oldest surviving truss bridge in the world. It runs diagonally across the River Reuss and links the Old Town of Lucerne with the right bank.

The bridge is really picturesque, but it is also historically interesting, with triangular 17th-century paintings in the ceiling pediments. These portray scenes from Lucerne’s history and images of its patron saints. There were once many more paintings than you can see now, but these were sadly destroyed by a fire in 1993. This fire also devastated much of the bridge itself. Subsequent renovations have restored the bridge to its former glory, although you can still see some fire damage on the paintings.

Next to the bridge stands the 34 m high Water Tower (Wasserturm ) which was built in the 13th century as part of Lucerne’s defenses. Older than the bridge by about 30 years, it has never actually contained any water and is named for its location instead. During its history, it has been used as a treasury, an archive, and a prison. Today, it houses the Lucerne Artillery Association on the middle floor and a souvenir shop on the ground floor.

Good to know: No matter what time of year you visit Lucerne, you can get some great photos here! The bridge is festooned with flowers in the summer and covered with a dusting of snow in the winter. There is no fee to walk over the bridge and it’s always open.

TIP: If you are staying in town, come here at sunrise or sunset for magical views with (at least in the morning) no crowds! And lookout for the Alpine Swifts that roost under the rooftop of the Wasserturm – their return from their African winter home marks the beginning of spring for locals.

Lucerne Chapel Bridge and Water Tower
Lucerne Chapel Bridge is the most iconic landmark in the city
Lucerne Chapel Bridge and old town
Lucerne Chapel Bridge and old town

2. Old Town

Lucerne’s picturesque Old Town on the right bank of the Reuss River is just stunning. Visiting it truly feels like taking a step back in time, with its historic architecture beautifully preserved. The good thing is that the historic old town is quite compact and the area is totally pedestrianized, so it is easy to explore on foot.

You’ll find plenty of opportunities for memorable photos, from narrow cobblestoned streets and ancient bridges to medieval squares with fountains. The tall, timber-framed buildings are brightly painted in rainbow colors and look really picturesque.

Many of the buildings’ facades are richly decorated with figures of court jesters, knights, milkmaids, and more. Some of the very best are to be found at Hirschenplatz, Kramgasse, Sternenplatz, and Metzgerrainle.

Head to the Kornmarkt to see the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall). This impressive stone structure was built from 1602 to 1606 in the Italian Renaissance style but features a very Swiss-looking hipped roof. Its ground floor was once a trading hall but is now used for concerts and exhibitions.

Adjacent to it is a 14th-century clock tower with a pointed maroon roof that dominates the skyline throughout the Old Town.

Lucerne Old Town riverside
Lucerne Old Town & Town Hall clock tower
Colorful buildings in the old town of Lucerne
Beautiful buildings in the Old Town of Lucerne
Beautiful building of Hotel des Balances on Weinmarkt in Lucerne old town
The beautiful building of Hotel des Balances on Weinmarkt town square
Weinmarkt town square in Lucerne old town
Weinmarkt town square in Lucerne Old Town

Don’t miss Weinmarkt square, just to the west of the Kornmarkt. Walled by medieval guildhalls, this beautiful town square was the town’s fish market until the middle of the 16th century. It features a Gothic central fountain that many visitors agree is the prettiest in Lucerne!

In the Kapellplatz you will find Lucerne’s oldest church, St. Peter’s chapel. It was built in 1178 but was restored to its current form in the 1700s.

Good to know: The old town is also a great spot for shopping and taking home some authentic Swiss souvenirs, including chocolates, army knives, and watches. You’ll find many international chains here, too, such as Fossil, H&M, Guess, etc., plus some of Lucerne’s best restaurants and cafes.

TIP: Head to the Rathausquai (Town Hall Square) any Tuesday and Saturday between 6 am and 1 pm to visit the bustling fruit and vegetable market. The stalls are set up in the arcades along the river and the lively atmosphere – not to mention the great views of Chapel Bridge – make it well worth a visit.

Colorful painted building in Lucerne old town - Restaurant Fritschi
Colorful building in Lucerne old town
Fritschibrunnen fountain on Kapellplatz in Lucerne old town
Fritschibrunnen fountain on Kapellplatz in the old town

3. Boat ride on Lake Lucerne

Let’s leave the highlights of the city for a bit because truly, one of the best things to do in Lucerne is actually escaping the hustle of the old town and taking a boat ride on the famous Lake Lucerne. It’s especially nice to do in the summer but is possible in any season.

There are several different options when it comes to boat trips on Lake Lucerne. A lot will depend on how much time you have. But since the shortest boat rides only require an hour or two of your time, it’s really something not to be missed when visiting Lucerne.

Good to know: Boat trips start in the heart of the city center, just near Lucerne Railway Station (and a 5-minute walk from the Chapel Bridge). There are several options throughout the year, but – of course – many more in the summer than in the winter.

Here are some of the best boat tours from Lucerne:

  • 1-hour scenic panorama cruise. This is the most popular boat trip you can do in summer (and on the weekends in the shoulder season).
  • 2-hour gourmet lunch cruise. This is one of the best boat tours that can be done at any time of the year.
  • 3-4 hours: City walking tour + scenic boat ride. This is a perfect choice for those who are visiting Lucerne for the first time and want to see the best of the city and its surroundings in just a few hours. Available in all seasons.

And – if you have more time – you can just get a day ticket at the boat terminal and explore the lake with one of the many boats that stop at different villages along the shores of Lake Lucerne. You can also just stay on the boat and get back to the city without getting off. It all depends on the time you have and the places you want to see.

Good to know: If you have the Swiss Travel Pass, regular cruises on Lake Lucerne are included free of charge.

LEARN MORE: Swiss Travel Pass: What’s Included & Is it Worth It

Boat ride on Lake Lucerne is one of the best things to do in Lucerne Switzerland
A boat ride on Lake Lucerne is really a must!
Best things to do in Lucerne - boat trip on Lake Lucerne
Boat on Lake Lucerne

Good to know: In summer, you can also rent pedal boats and explore Lucerne from the water. You won’t be able to go that far, but it can be something nice to do if you have half an hour to spare.

We saw one rental place close to Seebrücke bridge, and also one on the waterfront promenade.

I indicated the locations on our map of Lucerne attractions further below.

Pedal boats for rent in Lucerne Switzerland
Pedal boats for rent in Lucerne

4. Spreuer Bridge

Back to the main sights in Lucerne city again. Spreuer Bridge (Spreuerbrücke) may not be quite as well known as Chapel Bridge, but it’s also well worth a visit! Located just a short distance away, this is the spot where Lucerne’s flour mills were once allowed to dump their waste. This gave rise to the bridge’s name, which came from the word ‘sprue’ (meaning chaff).

Like Chapel Bridge, Spreuer Bridge is also covered and constructed from timber.

Built in 1406, it, too, contains artwork, but quite different from that found on Chapel Bridge. Instead, on the triangular panels under the rafters are 45 rather macabre paintings of the Totentanz (Dance of Death). The largest example of a Totentanz cycle believed to exist, the works were painted by Swiss master Kaspar Meglinger and his students from 1616 to 1637.

TIP: If you are a little disappointed that Chapel Bridge is a modern reconstruction of the original, you will appreciate the more historic construction of Spreuer Bridge. Either way, you really have to see both of these bridges when visiting Lucerne!

Good to know: Just as most sights in Lucerne’s old town, Spreuer Bridge is free to see and is always open.

Spreuer Bridge in Lucerne Switzerland
Spreuer Bridge
Spreuer Bridge is a must see in Lucerne
Spreuer Bridge
Wooden carvings and paintings on the inside of the Spreuer Bridge in Lucerne
Wooden carvings and paintings on the inside of the Spreuer Bridge

5. Musegg Wall & Towers

Lucerne’s Musegg Wall and its nine towers (aka Lucerne Ramparts Walk) is another really nice thing to do in Lucerne. Located just a little bit off the way from the main sights in the old town (but only 3-5 minutes walk from the above-mentioned Spreur Bridge), it feels like somewhat of a hidden gem. Only the most popular tower is busier; the rest is usually rather quiet.

Musegg Wall and its towers were originally part of Lucerne’s fortifications. It runs along the north of the Old Town and was built between the mid-14th and early 15th centuries.

You can’t walk all along its length, but the section dating back to 1386 is virtually intact. In summer, you can even climb 4 of the 9 towers: the Schirmer Tower (Schirmerturm), the Zyt Tower (Zytturm), the Wacht Tower (Wachtturm), and the Männli Tower (Männliturm).

The panoramic views from the towers all are splendid, but many tourists don’t get to all the towers and just visit the Zyt Tower, aka Lucerne Clock Tower. This tower is among the most famous landmarks in Lucerne and it houses the oldest clock in the city. It tolls the hour 1 full minute earlier than any other clock in town! You can see its mechanisms when you are inside, and if you’re lucky to be here a minute before the hour, you can hear the bell ring.

Good to know: There is no fee to visit. Wear appropriate footwear if you plan to walk on the walks and climb the towers. Some steps are quite steep. Also, the towers are only open in the summer season, but you can always just walk over and see what is accessible. It’s worth seeing the walls and the exterior of the Zyt tower either way.

You can do the walk on the Musegg Wall in either direction. We started at Nölliturm, by the river, and walked towards the Zyt clock tower. That way, you visit the most impressive tower at the end, but you do have some uphill walking to do at first. You can also easily do it the other way around – it really doesn’t matter that much. Part of the walk is on the walls between the towers, and part – on the road following the wall.

Luzern Musegg Wall - one of the best things to do in Lucerne
Musegg Wall & Towers
Best things to do in Lucerne - Zytturm clock tower
Zytturm, the famous clock tower of Lucerne
Clock inside Zytturm tower in Lucerne
The giant clock of Zyt Tower
Lucerne city view from Männliturm tower on Musegg Wall
Lucerne city view from Männliturm tower
Musegg Wall in Lucerne
Part of the Musegg Wall
Lucerne old town as seen from Musegg Wall
Lucerne old town as seen from Musegg Wall

6. Lion Monument

One of Lucerne’s most iconic sights, the monument of a dying lion (Löwendenkmal) is located in a green and idyllic spot just to the north of Löwenplatz. It’s just a 10-15 minutes walk from the old town and Chapel Bridge.

Designed by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, the Lion Monument was carved into the face of a sandstone quarry in 1820. Its purpose was to commemorate the death of Swiss troops that perished whilst protecting King Louis XVI at the Tuileries Palace during the French Revolution.

The carving is huge and very symbolic. You can see an intact shield featuring the Swiss coat of arms behind the lion, who is resting on a broken shield bearing the fleur-de-lis of the French royal family. It is a very poignant sight and was described by Mark Twain as the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world.

Good to know: This is a lovely and serene spot to sit for a while, with a tranquil pond immediately in front of the massive sculpture and gardens nearby. This is one of Lucerne’s free attractions and you can visit at any time.

Best things to do in Lucerne - Lion Monument
Lion Monument
Lion Monument in Lucerne, Switzerland
Lion Monument

7. Glacier Garden of Lucerne

Located right next to the Lion Monument, Glacier Garden of Lucerne (Gletschergarten Luzernstunning) is a natural relic of the Ice Age that was discovered in 1872.

Originally formed by retreating glaciers 20,000 years ago, it features potholes created by glacial waterfalls. You can also see the fossils of palm fronds and shellfish dating back 20 million years. This is when the area was the shore of a subtropical sea. The experience is enhanced by some very sophisticated animation projected onto the rocky structures.

A series of interactive exhibits help you get a better understanding of the area’s ancient geology. There is a working model showing glacial movement and how it affected the landscape and explanations of how climate change is impacting our world. You can also see an early climber’s hut, plus an observation tower that gives you some excellent views across Lucerne to Mount Pilatus.

The on-site museum is housed inside the former home of the Amrein family who founded the Glacier Garden. It is fascinating, containing an 18th-century relief model of Switzerland, historic rooms, and rock specimens.

The museum also features an ‘Alhambra mirror maze‘ which contains 90 mirrors. It was originally created for the 1896 Swiss National Exhibition in Geneva, then transferred to Lucerne in 1899. Great fun for young and old!

Good to know: Glacier Garden of Lucerne is open daily, from 10 AM to 5-6 PM, depending on the season. For practical info, check their website.

TIP: Entry is included in the Lucerne Museum Pass and is free with the Swiss Travel Pass.

Glacier Garden of Lucerne is a popular place to visit in Lucerne
The entrance of the Glacier Garden of Lucerne is located just next to the Lion Monument
Lucerne tourist attractions - Glacier Garden of Lucerne
Glacier Garden of Lucerne – Photo © Glacier Garden Lucerne

8. Jesuit Church

In 1573 the city of Lucerne invited the Jesuits to construct a college, the aim being to reduce Protestant influence at the time. The Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche) – designed by Austrian and Italian architects and located on the southern bank of the Reuss – was consecrated in 1677.

It was the first large Swiss church north of the Alps to be built in the Baroque style. Additions and alterations were made over subsequent years, with the completion of the onion-domed towers taking place in 1893.

You might feel a little underwhelmed when you see the Jesuit Church from the outside as it is relatively plain. But the inside is a different story, with ornate stuccowork in the side chapels, white marble, and a stunning painted ceiling. So be sure to take a look inside – it’s well worth a few minutes of your time!

TIP: Check their website before you go as you may be able to coincide your visit with one of the church’s popular organ recitals.

Jesuit Church in Lucerne Switzerland
Jesuit Church
Interior of the Jesuit Church, one of the best places to see in Lucerne Switzerland
Interior of the Jesuit Church

9. Franziskanerplatz & Franciscan Church

Franziskanerplatz is a beautiful town square on the left bank of the Reuss in the heart of Lucerne. For some reason, it’s often overlooked by many guides to the best places to see in Lucerne. But it’s absolutely worth a visit! This picturesque town square is home to some really nice and colorful traditional buildings.

Franciscan Church (Katholische Franziskanerkirche), located here, is also more than worth a quick visit. It’s just as interesting as the other two churches included in this guide.

The church was built in the 13th century as part of the Franciscan Monastery and looks quite simple from the outside. But the Gothic interior is really impressive – with one of the most beautiful pulpits in Switzerland, an impressive altar, and an angel-ceiling on one of the side altars.

Good to know: Lucerne Christmas market takes place on Franziskanerplatz. It’s usually open during the first three weeks of December.

TIP: When exploring the left bank of the Reuss river, take a few minutes to walk around the area a bit more. You can see some impressive architecture here, including some Renaissance palazzos, nice little town squares, and lots of colorful historic buildings.

Interior of Franciscan Church in Lucerne Switzerland
Interior of the Franciscan Church in Lucerne
Franciscan Church in Lucerne Switzerland
Franciscan Church in Lucerne
Franziskanerplatz – Franciscan square
Franziskanerplatz in Lucerne, Switzerland
Buildings on Franziskanerplatz

10. Church of St. Leodegar

More impressive is the exterior of the Church of St. Leodegar (Hofkirche St. Leodegar), sometimes referred to as the Cathedral of Lucerne.

The iconic twin steeples of the Hofkirche are located where the eighth-century Benedictine monastery of St. Leodegar once stood. The monastery was followed by a Roman-style basilica, which burnt down in the 17th century during the Thirty Years’ War. Lucerne then built its new church, preserving the towers of the building before it. It is now seen as Switzerland’s most important Renaissance church.

There are many interesting features to look out for here.

A Late Gothic sculpture portraying the Agony in the Garden is on the north tower. All around the church are arcades where prominent members of old Lucerne families were laid to rest. The adjacent graveyard is also worth a visit.

Inside the church, you can see elaborately carved pulpit and choir stalls dating back to 1639. There is also a polychrome Maria-End-Altar on the north side of the nave which was originally made in the 1500s and rescued from the fire. This shows the Apostles supporting the ailing Virgin Mary. You can also see a high altar made of black marble, which dates back to the time of the restoration in the 17th century.

Good to know: Hofkirche is located on the top of a hill that overlooks Lucerne’s historic Old Town. There are also some other really impressive traditional buildings in the area around the church.

Church of St. Leodegar (Hofkirche St. Leodegar) in Lucerne
Church of St. Leodegar
Interior of Hofkirche St. Leodegar in Lucerne
The interior of Hofkirche St. Leodegar
Traditional buildings in Lucerne city center near the Hofkirche
Traditional buildings near the Hofkirche

11. Swiss Museum of Transport

The Swiss Museum of Transport (Verkehrshaus der Schweiz) could just as well be listed at the very top of this list of things to do in Lucerne. It’s that good! The only reason we didn’t list it at the top is because it’s located a bit outside of the city center, requires at least a few hours of your time, and is, therefore, a place that many tourists don’t get to.

But if you do have a couple of hours to spare, then a visit here is absolutely worth it. It’s a definite must if you are visiting Lucerne with kids! Our boys kept on talking about it months after we visited, and are already saying that we should make an excursion to the museum next time we go skiing in Engelberg (close to Lucerne). Yes, they’re even willing to give up a day of skiing for it!

Made up of a mixture of exhibition halls and outdoor displays, this fascinating museum is a great place to visit in Lucerne in any season and in any weather. The best part is that everything is interactive and you won’t get bored for a second. Also, once inside, all the experiences are included in your ticket.

It’s a fun place to learn about the development of all different forms of transport over the years, from aircraft and rockets to ships and cars. There are both models and real examples, including Switzerland’s very first diesel locomotive and 30 different aircraft. Nice to see is also an auto-theater, where cars from throughout the years are stacked six-high on shelves. Here, you can also do a car crash test.

Our kids especially loved the flight simulators, where you can pilot an airplane or a helicopter.

Real-size airplane at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne Switzerland
An aircraft at the Swiss Museum of Transport
Helicopter flight simulator at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne
Helicopter flight simulator at the Swiss Museum of Transport

In addition to the Transport Museum, there are several other attractions at the same location. You can visit a newly updated 150-projector Planetarium that offers shows every day, plus a 3D film theater showing documentaries on Switzerland’s largest screen. Meanwhile, you can learn all about state-of-the-art trends in communication at Media World, with exhibits featuring virtual reality and more.

And if those activities weren’t enough, how about a chance to learn about how Swiss chocolate is made? The ‘Swiss Chocolate Adventure‘ does just that via a multimedia journey – and you get to taste some, too! You could easily spend an entire day here and still not see it all!

Good to know: The museum is open daily and you can get the tickets that also include Media World. If you have a Swiss Travel Pass you will receive 50% off the cost of entry to the museum. If you have an entire day, opt for the day-pass instead. It includes admission to the museum, Swiss Chocolate Adventure experience (can also be done separately), Media World, Filmtheatre, and Planetarium.

TIP: To really appreciate everything this museum and the other attractions at the same site have to offer, try to set aside a whole day for your visit. This is the most popular museum in Switzerland, and with good reason. As a minimum, count 2-3 hours just for the Swiss Museum of Transport itself.

Swiss Museum of Transport - one of the top attractions in Lucerne
Giant traffic signs at the Swiss Museum of Transport
Auto theater at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne
One of the car exhibitions at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne

12. Lakeside Promenade

Another really nice thing to do in Lucerne is to walk along its lakeside promenade. If you cross the Seebrücke bridge at the railway station and turn right, you can walk along the waterfront for several miles.

The first part of the waterfront promenade, in the city center, has many grand buildings, most dating from the end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th century. You’ll see Grand Hotel National Luzern, Grand Casino Luzern, Mandarin Oriental Palace (former Hotel Palace Luzern, which is currently undergoing renovation), and many others.

The first part of this pedestrian promenade is lined with trees, and it has the feel of a nice cozy park. There are places to play petanque, boat rentals, cafes, playgrounds, etc. Even if you don’t walk much further than this, it’s nice to come here, if just to escape the crowds and the summer heat. In the summer, you can also go for a swim at Seebad Luzern.

If you do take the time to walk further, you’ll pass some luxury homes that likely cost multiple millions (if they ever come on the market). Continuing even further along the lake, you’ll reach the Swiss Museum of Transport and Lido Lucerne – Lucerne’s Beach.

Good to know: If you decide to walk from the city center to the Swiss Museum of Transport, count 30-40 minutes, likely a bit more if you want to have a relaxing walk and not rush. It’s a really nice walk, and you can also take a boat to come back (or vice versa).

Lucerne waterfront promenade is not to be missed
Lucerne waterfront promenade
Lucerne lakeside promenade and a red boathouse
Lucerne lakeside promenade
Small park at Lucerne Waterfront
A small park at Lucerne waterfront

13. Mt Pilatus

Some people would say that Mt Pilatus (Pilatus Kulm) is one of the main attractions of Lucerne, and should be at the top of any list of places to see in the city. Indeed, it’s well worth a visit, but more as a day trip from Lucerne. That’s why we didn’t list it at the top.

Even though it’s located just nearby, Mt Pilatus is not a place you just hop over to. You really need to count at least 4-5 hours for a visit here. If you can, plan a separate day for it, in addition to the city itself. But yes, if you only have 1 day in Lucerne, you can see the main sights of Lucerne city and visit Mt. Pilatus on the same day.

From the top of Pilatus Kulm, you have stunning views of the city, Lucerne Lake, and the surrounding mountains.

In addition, if you do the famous Mt Pilatus Golden Round Trip, you get to ride on a scenic gondola, enjoy amazing views from an aerial cable car, take a journey on the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, and enjoy the views from the scenic boat ride on the lake.

It’s a nice way to see some very diverse scenery in just a few hours and also to experience so many different modes of transport (always a big part of any Swiss mountain experience).

Good to know: Mt Pilatus can be visited the whole year, but the best season is between mid-May and mid-October. That’s when the boats and the cogwheel trains operate, and you can also do some hiking at the top.

Getting there: The most popular way to visit Pilatus is either by booking the golden trip or the silver trip. In addition, there are also organized tours if you prefer to go with a local guide. You can find more info about all the options in our detailed guide via the link below.

LEARN MORE: How to Visit Mt Pilatus from Lucerne

Pilatus Kulm - one of the must see places in Lucerne Switzerland
Pilatus Kulm

14. Mt Rigi

Just as Mt Pilatus, Mt Rigi (Rigi Kulm), aka the Queen of the Mountains, is worth a day trip in itself. It’s another popular mountain destination near Lucerne, just on the other side of the lake than Mt Pilatus. So the views from here are somewhat different.

Whether it’s worth doing both, that’s another question. A lot depends on how much time you have in Lucerne, and which other places you visit nearby.

Anyway, a day trip to Mount Rigi is another typical Swiss mountain experience – with a variety of transport options including the historic Vitznau – Rigi railway, nice views, and lots of fun outdoor activities. It’s also a year-round destination and it has more to offer in winter than Mt Pilatus.

Good to know: You need at least 5-6 hours for an excursion to Mt Rigi from Lucerne. However, the train schedule is more flexible than transport options on Mt Pilatus, with trains running in the evening too, so it can be somewhat easier to visit here, depending on when you arrive in Lucerne and how much time you have.

Getting there: One of the most popular options is the Classic Round Trip. It includes two scenic boat rides, a ride on a rack railway, and a cable car. With less time, skip the boat and just visit Mt Rigi with this ticket that includes all the transport on the mountain, but not the tickets to/from Lucerne.

Rigi Kulm - one of the best places to see when visiting Lucerne in Switzerland
Views from Rigi Kulm

Now that we listed all the main places to see in Lucerne, I want to mention a couple of more things to do for those who have more time in the city itself.

Two of these attractions are museums, and so it can be something nice to do in Lucerne when it rains, or when it’s really cold in the winter. Take a look!

15. Bourbaki Panorama

The Bourbaki Panorama is another interesting place to visit in Lucerne. It’s a very unusual museum that contains one huge panoramic painting stretching inside the circular building.

In addition, there are also some temporary expositions, but the main feature is, of course, this circular painting by Swiss painter Edouard Castres.

The painting is truly gigantic – 10 on 112 m (33 on 367 ft). It depicts the internment of tens of thousands of French soldiers who fled to Switzerland at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–1871. In the 19th century, Switzerland already became known as a neutral country, staying out of military conflicts, but helping those in need.

TIP: Be sure to ask for an iPad guide (included in the ticket price) so that you get a narrative explaining what you see.

Good to know: The museum is open daily, except on some public holidays. Opening hours vary per season. For more information, check their website.


16. Rosengart Collection

Located in the former National Bank building on Pilatustrasse, Rosengart Collection (Sammlung Rosengart) is the private collection of the Lucerne art dealer Angela Rosengart. It has only been open to the public since 2002 and mainly features post-Impressionist art. There are 300 pieces on display at any time, including works by Monet, Cézanne, Kandinsky, Léger, Chagall, and Matisse.

More prominently, there are 125 paintings and drawings by Paul Klee. These are displayed in the basement of the three-story building and arranged to highlight his evolving style. Across the entire ground floor, you will find a collection of Picasso’s paintings from 1938 up to 1969, plus some of his early drawings.

Along with her father, Angela Rosengart was personally acquainted with these artists and you can see paintings of her amongst Picasso’s displayed works.

More than just an art display, this museum strives to help you get to know the artists a little better. There are around 200 photographs of Picasso, some of them featuring him at work. There are also lots of different guided tours available, aimed at adults, children, or families. During these tours, you discover more about the pieces on display and the lives of the artists who created them.

TIP: Don’t miss the video – shown in the conference room on the top floor of the museum. It gives you the background to this collection and how it was gifted to the city.

Good to know: The museum is open daily, except on some public holidays, with opening hours varying depending on the season. For more information, see their website.


17. Funicular Gütsch & Views from Hotel Château Gütsch

If you have some extra time and are looking for something less touristy to do in Lucerne, take Funicular Gütsch to the top of the mountain west of Lucerne city center. Here, you’ll find a historic 19th-century Hotel Château Gütsch and stunning views of the city.

The views from here are stunning, with Lucerne city beneath and Mt Rigi in front of you! There’s also a forest with walking trails.

TIP: The hotel has a nice restaurant/ cafe with an outdoor terrace, and non-guests can also have a drink or lunch here.

And, of course, if you are looking for a nice place to stay in Lucerne, Château Gütsch is a nice choice. It’s quite conveniently located for sightseeing in Lucerne, and – if you are traveling by car, you’ll be glad to know that it has private parking.

Good to know: The funicular runs daily from very early in the morning until about an hour past midnight. The ride takes 1.5 minutes and costs just a few CHF.

Funicular Gutsch & Hotel Chateau Gutsch in Lucerne
Funicular Gütsch & Hotel Chateau Gütsch
Lucerne city at Mt Rigi views from Gutsch Castle Hotel
Lucerne city and Mt Rigi views from Gütsch Hotel

Map of Lucerne Attractions

Lucerne city is quite compact and most of the main sights are located really close to each other. Only the Swiss Museum of Transport is somewhat further away but can be reached by public transport or even on foot via the Lakeside Promenade.

Mt Pilatus and Mt Rigi are a bit outside of the city.

We indicated all the best places to see in Lucerne on the map below. This will give you a better idea of where everything is and will help you plan your sightseeing.

How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.


Where to stay for sightseeing in Lucerne

If you are traveling by train, stay in the city center of Lucerne, close to the railway station. There are lots of nice hotels within a short walking distance. Here are some of the best options for all budgets:

If you are visiting Lucerne by car, take a look at the above-mentioned Hotel Château Gütsch; it has private parking (fees apply, but much cheaper than in the city center). Most hotels in the city center don’t have on-site parking, but you can use one of the public parking garages nearby.

Of course, you can also just stay outside the city and just drive to Lucerne when you want to explore the attractions in town. This is what we did on one of the recent trips when we stayed in the area for about a week. We opted for Seeblick Höhenhotel in Emmetten, about half an hour drive from Lucerne city center.

Schweizerhof - one of the nicest 5 star luxury hotels in Lucerne Switzerland
Schweizerhof – one of the nicest 5* luxury hotels in Lucerne
Luxury Hotel des Balances in Lucerne Switzerland
Luxury 4* Hotel des Balances in Lucerne Old Town

So, this is our guide to the best places to see and things to do in Lucerne, Switzerland. I do hope that you have enjoyed this guide and that it will help you plan an enjoyable and memorable stay.

TIP: In addition to Mt Pilatus and Mt Rigi, there are so many other amazing places to visit around Lucerne. Take a look at our best suggestions via the link below.

READ ALSO: Best Day Trips from Lucerne

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Best things to do in Lucerne (Luzern) Switzerland
Lucerne sights and most popular tourist attractions

More travel inspiration – some of our favorite places in Switzerland:

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Friday 28th of July 2023

To guide or NOT to guide? =) First of all, thank you for all of this wonderful information. I will be making my first trip to Switzerland. For the Mt. Pilatus trip as well some others like Jungfraujoch, I am not sure which way to go. I am perfectly fine navigating the different modes of transport and would enjoy being able to spend more liesurely time exploring, rather than the rigid times to have to stick to woth a guide. However, without a guide, will I be missing any of the commentary/information or is it really all about the scenery, views and experience? Or can i go up with a guide and once at the top, come down on my own? Thanks you for your advice.


Tuesday 1st of August 2023

Hi Shyam, if you are comfortable researching all the transport options yourself, you really don't need a guide and can just visit everywhere on your own. Depending on where you are traveling from, for some places, sometimes booking a guided tour means that you'll have a bit more time at the place itself because most tours use private buses so you travel faster than by train, especially if your train journey involves 2-3 train switches. Sometimes, going with a group can also be cheaper than going on your own because they get group discounts. But all of this really depends on the destination. As for guided tours themselves, also that depends on the destination, the tour you choose, and the guide. You'll always learn more interesting facts from a local guide, but if you are just interested in the scenery, it's definitely not a must. You'll certainly have much more flexibility and potentially be able to do some more hiking if going on your own. Hope this helps.

Shelley Bodnar

Tuesday 25th of July 2023

Hello Jurga! We are from Canada and planning our first trip to Switzerland this September. We have 3 nights booked just outside of Lucerne and 2 nights booked in Lauterbrunnen. We have the STP for 5 days commencing on our second day there. Our first day we will explore Lucerne on foot. The 3 mountain excursions and hikes we have researched (also with the help of your articles) are Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi, Stoos Ridge Hike, and possibly riding the Stanserhornbahn Funicular. Since we only have 2 days maximum for day trips from Lucerne are there two of these excursions that we could possibly do on the same day with an early morning start? We are trying to fit in as much as we can in a short time.

For our second part (based out of Lauterbrunnen) we have narrowed our list of hikes and excursions to: 1) Mannlichen -Klein Scheidegg hike, 2) your recommended Oberberghorn Panorama Trail, 3) First - Bachalpsee Hike and 4) Schilthornbahn cable car excursion. Are we missing any "must sees"? Can you recommend how these could be sequenced to make the best use of our limited time? It is very overwhelming trying to find a workable itinerary and any advice or help you can give would be greatly appreciated. I am probably missing other fantastic areas to explore - any suggestion would be great!

Thank you so very much. I love reading your articles. Shelley


Thursday 27th of July 2023

Thank you so much for this quick and thorough reply. Much appreciated.


Thursday 27th of July 2023

Hi Shelley, any of two mountain excursions are usually not easy to combine in one day because of distances and the opening times of the gondolas. The only place that's open longer is Mt Rigi railway. Ideally, with 2 days in Lucerne, you do one mountain excursion each morning and explore more of the city in the afternoon. If the weather is exceptionally good, you have a car, and you start very early, you might be able to quickly visit two places in the mountains on the same day, but it will likely be quite rushed, very expensive, and you won't have much time to enjoy it. The same for Lauterbrunnen, don't try to visit too many different areas, unless you can 'connect' them. For example, you can easily combine the Panorama Trail between Männlichen and Kleine Scheidegg with an excursion to Jungfraujoch and also walk around Lauterbrunnen valley or visit Wengen on the same day. If you take a train to Schynige Platte and hike the Oberberghorn Panorama Trail there plus continue over Faulhorn, you would pass Bachalpsee and end at Grindelwald-First. It's a long day and a serious hike, but that's the only way to visit these two areas on the same day. Otherwise, you really need a day for each of these separately. Once again, this is mainly because of the operating hours of mountain trains/gondolas. You could probably combine Männlichen - Kleine Scheidegg with Grindelwald-First on the same day, but in that case, you won't have the time to visit Jungfraujoch, and you'll end up paying for two very expensive tickets instead of one. Schilthorn is yet another excursion that you could combine with some hiking in Mürren, visit Lauterbrunnen, and depending on when you get back down to the valley, you could maybe also visit Trümmelbach Falls. My tip is not to try to see 'everything', but pick one area each day and explore it to the fullest. It's the best way to truly enjoy it without spending a fortune on tickets and all your time running from one gondola to another. If you are still set on trying to visit many of these areas in a short time, consider getting a multi-day pass of the Jungfrau region as that could save you quite some money on tickets. But if I recall well, you need at least 3 days for it to make sense. PS The Swiss Travel Pass doesn't include all these gondolas and trains in the mountains. It includes public transport between towns, etc. but only gives you discount on most mountain excursions. There are just a few exceptions. You can find more info in this article: Swiss Travel Pass. Hope this helps. Have a great trip!

Patti Lingaur

Tuesday 25th of April 2023

This is an awesome guide. How can I get a copy of it? My husband I will be visiting for the first time in July for 4 days. We will be taking the train from Basel to Lucerne and staying at the Casada Boutique Hotel. The city walking and boat tour sound lovely. Is there a day trip you would recommend near Lucerne? Can you travel up the mountain without going on the cog train?


Thursday 27th of April 2023

Hi Patti, if you absolutely need a copy of this, you can simply print it (Ctrl+p). For day trip suggestions, please see this article: Lucerne day trips. I am not sure I understand your last question. It depends on which mountain you mean. If it's Mt Pilatus, you can also just take a gondola there instead of a cogwheel train (or both - one up and the other one down). Here you can find all the information for visiting Mt Pilatus from Lucerne. If you don't have the time to read the entire article, you can just get the tickets for the gondola here. You can also just hike, but it takes much more time and can be a very long and tiring hike. Hope this helps. Have a great trip!


Friday 10th of February 2023

Thanks for this wonderful article Jurga! Really love what you are writing about. One of my favorite places around Lake Lucerne is Sisikon, where you can relax at the lakeside or take a swim in summer. The mountain-lake scenario is simply incredible and you can reach the place easily by boat from Lucerne. Have you already been there? Send you my warmest regards from Zurich, Marc


Saturday 11th of February 2023

Thanks for the tip, Marc, yes, we have passed that part of the lake a few times. Quite frankly, as pretty as it is, I think that places like that are much too 'local' for first-time (and even repeat) international visitors. If you only have a day or two in Lucerne (and in general, limited time in Switzerland), there are just so many amazing choices that are worth the time much more. Happy travels!

Ishan Jhaveri

Friday 23rd of September 2022

Hi Jurga,

I just came across your post and really was fascinated with your blog. I wish i had this time to travel arround, I am going to switzerland with my wife and a infant of 20 month old. (We are going on 28th september till 11th october). We have planned from Zurich to geneva in between stopping at Locarno, lucerene, and grindelwald).

I required one help from you especially in Lucern. ( We have just 2 days where in one we want to see the old town- chappel bridge, lion monument and the transport museum)

Second day we want to visit Mt. Pilatus and Mt. Stanserhorn both on same day, is it possible. Like frankly we will just spend a couple of hours up there as we are with a infant.

I would really appreciate your advise and suggestion, if the earliest possible to help us plan.

Regards Ishan


Friday 23rd of September 2022

Hi Ishan, your plan sounds ok, but it's difficult to advise much not knowing how you travel (car/ public transport). Also, keep in mind that the days are getting shorter and - in any case - the gondolas only run until around 4 pm (be sure to double-check). So if you want to visit both - Pilatus and Stanserhorn on the same day, you would have to start very early. For Pilatus, just take the gondola from Kriens and back the same way (so no trains or boats that many people do since that will require much more time). And then drive to the gondola in Stanserhorn. I'm not sure how feasible this would be if you don't have a car though - you'll have to research public transport options between Kriens and Stanserhorn. Getting to Kriens is very simple - by car or R-bus from Lucerne center. The other day - Lucerne town and Transport Museum sounds ok. Alternatively - this would be my personal recommendation - you can split the mountain excursions and do one each morning. Then on one afternoon, visit the old town and on the other - the Transport Museum. I think this would be much more relaxing. Also, keep an eye on the weather forecast as that might influence your ultimate itinerary anyway. Hope this helps. Have a great trip!

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