Looking for some inspiration for Lucerne day trips or wondering what are the best places to visit near Lucerne in Switzerland? This guide should give you plenty of ideas for the VERY BEST day trips from Lucerne.
Lucerne (Luzern) is one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. But in addition to the main sights and attractions in Lucerne city itself, it also has the most stunning surroundings, with lots of beautiful places within easy reach.
Furthermore, the city is very centrally located in Switzerland and has great transport connections. All this makes Lucerne an excellent base location for exploring central Switzerland, no matter if you are traveling by car or by train.
But which Lucerne day trips are worth your time the most? And – once you decided which places you want to see – how to get there and make the most of your day? This article should help you choose where to go and help you plan some amazing day trips from Lucerne. Take a look!
Good to know: There are so many beautiful places that you can visit as a day trip from Lucerne. Too many to mention even half of them here. So in this guide, we concentrate only on the VERY BEST, most popular day trips from Lucerne. We also include a few additional suggestions, and locals’ favorites, if you have more time or want to get just a little bit off the beaten path.
Either way, all the places featured below are really worth it even if you are coming from the other side of the world and have to be very selective about what you spend your time and money on.
Take a look!
These are the BEST day trips from Lucerne:
1. Mt Pilatus
Mt Pilatus, just a stone’s throw from the city is by far the most popular day excursion near Lucerne. The views on a clear day are stunning!
Because it’s so close by and you can see the best in just a few hours, many people coming from the other towns visit Lucerne and Mt Pilatus on the same day. I highly recommend planning two separate days for the city and Mt Pilatus, but if you are short on time, a day trip is definitely possible as well.
Why visit: Mt Pilatus offers stunning views over the city, the Lake of the Four Cantons (aka Lucerne Lake), and the surrounding mountains. In addition, if you do the famous Mt Pilatus Golden Round Trip, you ride on a scenic gondola, enjoy jaw-dropping views from an aerial cable car, travel on the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, and you’ll take a scenic boat ride on Lake Lucerne. It’s the best way to experience a big variety of scenery and different modes of transport.
Season: Mt Pilatus is accessible the whole year, but the best season is between mid-May and mid-October when the boats and the cogwheel trains operate. This allows you to enjoy everything that a Mt Pilatus day trip has to offer.
How much time you need: Count at least 4-5 hours for a day trip to Mt Pilatus from Lucerne.
Getting there: Mt Pilatus can easily be reached by car or public transport and there are many ways to do it (the most popular is the golden trip or the silver trip – tickets usually bookable a few months before the season starts). We explain all the options in our guide below. In addition, there are also organized tours if you prefer to go with a local guide.
LEARN MORE: How to Visit Mt Pilatus from Lucerne
2. Mt Titlis & Trübsee
At 3,239 meters (over 10,000 ft), Mount Titlis is the highest easily accessible mountain peak near Lucerne. It’s also one of the most beautiful Swiss peak destinations attracting lots of international tourists. The mountain is accessible from Engelberg, which is a small charming mountain resort.
Halfway along the gondola ride to the top of Mt Titlis, there’s also a beautiful mountain lake Trübsee where you’ll find all kinds of outdoor activities in any season. It’s a paradise for nature lovers.
Why visit: Mt Titlis is so high that you feel like standing on top of the world here. The views over the Swiss Alps are incredible! In addition, you can take a ride on the Ice Flyer chairlift, walk over Europe’s highest suspension bridge (Titlis Cliff Walk), and also visit an ice tunnel inside a glacier.
Depending on the season, there are also other fun activities at Mt Titlis and its intermediary cable car station Trübsee. In summer, you can go snow tubing on a glacier, hiking, biking, row a boat on Lake Trübsee, take your kids to a playground, or enjoy some fun activities such as Trübsee flyer zip line. In winter, you can go skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, visit an ice bar, etc.
We absolutely love skiing in Engelberg in winter and the Four Lakes Hike is one of our favorites in summer. However, if you are just visiting Mt Titlis as a day trip from Lucerne, I recommend concentrating on Mt Titlis itself as well as trying some fun activities at Trübsee.
Season: Mt Titlis is a year-round destination, and equally special at any time of the year. If you are visiting Lucerne in winter (when many other places aren’t as nice or as easily accessible), Mt Titlis is actually one of the best places to visit for a day!
Good to know: Even in summer, it can be quite cold at the top of Mt Titlis and since you are also visiting an ice tunnel, warm clothing and sensible walking shoes are a must! In winter, dress really warm – ski clothes and warm winter boots are perfect.
How much time you need: Plan at least 6 hours if you are visiting Mt Titlis from Lucerne. If you can, make it a full-day trip. Be sure to start early so that you can make the most of your day ticket and experience everything that a destination like Mt Titlis has to offer.
Getting there: Mt Titlis can be reached via a series of cable cars from Engelberg town. Engelberg is just a 40-minutes drive from Lucerne (or 43 minutes by train). You can easily visit on your own (in that case, get Mt Titlis tickets here), or you can also opt for a guided tour by bus (from Lucerne).
LEARN MORE: How to Visit Mt Titlis
3. Boat Trip on Lake Lucerne
If you are looking for a relaxing tour near Lucerne that doesn’t involve much planning, you can simply opt for a boat ride on Lake Lucerne. It’s especially beautiful in the summer, of course, when it’s warm and the scenery is nice and green.
There are quite a few options when it comes to boat trips, and that will also determine how much time you need. This is one of the easiest excursions from Lucerne that you can do even if you only have an hour or two.
Good to know: Boat trips start near Lucerne Railway Station, right in the heart of the city center. There are various possibilities in any season, but – of course – many more options in the summer.
Here are some of the best boat tours from Lucerne, depending on how much time you have and in which season you visit:
- 1 hour: Short scenic panorama cruise. This is the most popular boat trip from Lucerne, best in summer.
- 2 hours: Gourmet lunch cruise. This is the best option in the low season, but also very nice in summer. It’s one of the few tours that’s available almost the whole year.
- 3-4 hours: City walking tour + scenic boat ride. This is a great year-round option 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.
- Full day: Get a day ticket at the boat terminal near the station and hop on and off the boat at some of the villages along the shores of the lake. You can make your own day trip itinerary depending on the boat schedules and the places you want to see.
4. Mt Rigi
Mount Rigi, aka Queen of the Mountains, is another very popular day trip from Lucerne. Located just near the city on the opposite side of the lake from Mt Pilatus, it’s actually a very similar excursion to that of Mt Pilatus.
The views are somewhat different, of course, and there’s more to do at Mt Rigi in the winter season than at Mt Pilatus, but – unless you have lots of free time in the Lucerne area – I’d only do one of these two excursions. There are other day trips in the area that will give you more variety in scenery.
Why visit: Mt Rigi offers a typical Swiss mountain experience – with a variety of transport options, great views, and fun outdoor activities.
You also get a chance to ride on the historic Vitznau – Rigi railway. Built in the 1870s, it’s the oldest mountain rack railway in Europe (and the second oldest in the world).
Because of its proximity to Lucerne and a more flexible schedule (with trains running from early morning to late in the evening), you can easily plan a half-day to a full-day trip here, even if you only start later in the day.
Season: Mt Rigi is a year-round destination and enjoyable in summer as well as in winter.
How much time you need: Count at least 5-6 hours for a visit to Mt Rigi from Lucerne. If you start early and stay late, you’ll have some time for hiking (summer) or fun winter activities on the mountain.
Getting there: Just as with Mt Pilatus, visiting Mt Rigi from Lucerne involves quite a few transport options (also because you can reach the peak from different sides). One of the best ways to visit Rigi from Lucerne is by booking this Classic Round Trip ticket. It includes a scenic boat ride to Vitznau, a rack railway trip from Vitznau to Rigi, a cable car travel to Rigi Kaltbad, followed by one more boat ride back to Lucerne.
If you don’t care about the boat ride and want to make your own way to/back from the foot of the mountain, you can also just get a Mt Rigi day ticket. It includes all the trains/gondolas on the mountain, but not the tickets to/from Lucerne. This is a good option for those who are driving or those who prefer to take a train instead of a boat from the city.
TIP: Another nice option for the Mt Rigi day trip from Lucerne is this highly-rated self-guided tour that – in addition to the transport tickets to the top of the mountain also includes an entrance to Rigi Kaltbad Mineral Baths & Spa. Keep in mind that you’ll have to get to Vitznau, Weggis, or Goldau on your own (there are trains and boats, so it’s easy to do, but not included in this ticket).
5. Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe
Jungfraujoch, aka Top of Europe, is one of the highest places you can easily visit in the Swiss Alps. It’s also one of the most popular day trips in central Switzerland.
Why visit: Jungfraujoch is the highest railway station in Europe. A scenic railway trip takes you next to and above the glaciers to an altitude of 3,454 m (11,332 ft). Once at the top, you can admire the stunning views over the Aletsch Glacier (the largest glacier in the Alps) and some of the highest mountain peaks in Europe.
In addition, there are some fun experiences such as an Ice Palace deep under the eternal ice; Alpine Sensation, or Jungfrau Panorama… In summer, you can also hike to a nearby mountain hut or go snow tubing on the glacier.
In addition to the activities at Jungfraujoch itself, you can also go hiking in the area around Kleine Scheidegg, visit the charming car-free village Wengen, explore the beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley and maybe even see the subterranean Trummelbach Falls. In winter, you can opt for some fun winter activities or spend more time in the towns of Wengen or Grindelwald.
We love the Jungfraujoch region and visit here quite often – hiking in summer or skiing in winter. There’s so much to see and do here that you can spend weeks and still not see it all… But if one day is all you’ve got, a Jungfraujoch day trip will not disappoint.
Season: Jungfraujoch is a year-round destination that you can visit 365 days a year. Because of the altitude, there is always snow at the top, so be sure to dress warm!
How much time you need: Plan an entire day for a day trip to Jungfraujoch from Lucerne. Start as early as you can so that you can make the most of your ticket and visit other places such as Kleine Scheidegg and either Grindelwald or Wengen that you’ll pass along the way.
Getting there: Jungfraujoch can only be reached by train from Kleine Scheidegg or Eiger, which are small railway stations high in the mountains. They are accessible either from Lauterbrunnen via Wengen or from Grindelwald, which – in turn – are accessible via a train from Interlaken. And Interlaken can be easily reached by train from Lucerne. If you don’t have a car, that’s a lot of trains indeed!
Getting to Jungfraujoch is less complicated than it sounds, and you can read all about it in our detailed guide for visiting Jungfraujoch via the link below. You’ll need to get train tickets or – if you prefer – the train and gondola combo. Alternatively – and probably the easiest option for those who don’t have a car – is to visit Jungfraujoch from Lucerne with this highly-rated guided day tour.
Going with a tour has several advantages: you don’t have to worry about anything, and the guide will make sure you see the best places and enjoy the best views and activities available in that season and within the time that you have. Furthermore, tours can even be a bit cheaper than going on your own since they take advantage of group discounts for the train tickets.
Good to know: This is one of the most expensive day trips from Lucerne. Also if you go by car, it’s still very pricey because of the train tickets, especially those for the highest section on the Jungfraujoch Railway. But when you see the infrastructure and the environment where this railway is built, you’ll realize that building and maintaining a place like this must cost a fortune, and that’s reflected in the price.
TIP: If you can, we recommend planning at least two days to the Jungfrau Region from Lucerne. This would allow you to visit a few places (e.g. Jungfraujoch + Grindelwald and/or Interlaken (see below)) without wasting too much time for connections. This 2-day tour can help you plan a trip like this.
LEARN MORE: How to visit Jungfraujoch
Interlaken is a picturesque little town located between two even more picturesque lakes: Brienzersee and Thunersee. It’s a very popular destination for excursions in Switzerland, but not that much for the town itself, rather for the stunning surroundings.
So if you plan a day trip to Interlaken, don’t just visit the town – be sure to explore at least one of the lakes as well!
Alternatively, you can opt for some of the adventurous activities in Interlaken, such as canyoning or rafting. These tours also include transfers from Lucerne – more info below.
Why visit: Interlaken is one of the more relaxing day trips from Lucerne, and the landscapes here are amazing. Come here for the fantastic scenery of the two lakes of Interlaken, the views from Harder Kulm (a small mountain that you can easily reach by funicular from Interlaken), and the charming town itself.
Good to know: Because it’s lower here in the valley, you can usually enjoy amazing views even when it’s cloudy in the nearby mountains. It’s also a rather budget-friendly day trip, certainly if compared to visiting places like Jungfraujoch (mentioned above).
Season: Interlaken can be visited the whole year, but it’s most enjoyable in the summer season (+- May to October). In winter, only very few boats are available (usually only on weekends) and the Harder Kulm funicular doesn’t run either, so it’s a very different experience than in the summer.
How much time you need: Plan an entire day if you are visiting Interlaken from Lucerne. You don’t need much time for the town itself, but you could take a boat on both lakes and make a very enjoyable day trip.
Getting there: You can take a train from Lucerne to Interlaken (it takes almost 2 hrs), but we recommend including at least one boat ride in your day trip itinerary.
Here are a few suggestions on how to plan a day trip to Interlaken from Lucerne (this will work best when all the boats are running, so from April to mid-October):
- Interlaken + Thunersee: For a more relaxing day, visit Interlaken and Harder Kulm first, followed by a boat ride on Thunersee lake, visit Oberhofen Castle and/or Spiez, and end in Thun. Visit the town and then take a train (1.5hrs) from here back to Lucerne.
- Interlaken + Brienzersee + Thunersee: If you want to ‘see it all’, take a train from Lucerne to Brienz (1.5 hrs), followed by a boat ride on Brienzersee to Interlaken. Here, take a funicular to Harder Kulm and have lunch. Afterwards, take a boat on Thunersee from Interlaken to Thun. Visit the town and take a train back to Lucerne. For this trip, get a boat day pass for both lakes.
- Interlaken + Grindelwald: You can also opt for this organized tour that visits Interlaken together with Grindelwald as a day trip from Lucerne (more about it further below). If you want to see both of these places on the same day, this is by far the best way to do it.
- Adventurous activities. If you are looking for an adventurous day trip from Lucerne rather than sightseeing, check out this Interlaken rafting trip or this canyoning trip (both include return transfers from Lucerne).
Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong – this is one of the most beautiful areas in central Switzerland.
LEARN MORE: Interlaken Day Trip
The capital of Switzerland, Bern, is also one of the nicest cities to visit in Switzerland. If this is your first time in the country and you haven’t been to Bern yet, then definitely consider a visit!
The good thing is that Bern is quite compact and you can see most of its main attractions in a day. Furthermore, it’s just a 1-hour journey by train, and thus a perfect day trip destination from Lucerne.
Why visit: Bern is the capital city of Switzerland and that in itself is a good reason to visit. But it’s also a really beautiful and unique town, totally different than Lucerne or Interlaken.
Bern has a rich history and some famous landmarks including the building of the Swiss Parliament, the Cathedral, Zytglogge clock tower, and Bern Historical Museum/ Einstein Museum. You can also visit Einstein’s House. But probably the nicest thing to do is simply walk around the old town and admire all the beautiful fountains.
TIP: Be sure to see the brown bears in a small sanctuary next to the river. Bears are the symbol of the city, but it’s really special to see them roaming around in this Bear Pit in the town center.
Season: Bern can be visited at any time of the year. It’s also a great day trip from Lucerne when it rains, or when the weather is too bad to enjoy the mountains.
How much time you need: We recommend planning an entire day for Bern. You can see the main landmarks and get a taste of what the city is about in just a few hours. But if you want to explore all the best places, climb the Cathedral tower, and visit at least one museum, you should really plan at least 4-5 hours in the city, plus the travel time.
Getting there: You can easily get to Bern by train from Lucerne. It takes just an hour and there are plenty of trains from early morning to late evening. By car, it takes quite a bit longer than by train, mainly because the traffic around the two cities can be really bad. Parking is quite easy in Bern and not as expensive as in Lucerne.
TIP: There’s also a very nice day tour that visits Bern and the Emmental Valley (+ cheese dairy farm, etc.). You can take this tour from Lucerne or from Zurich, but it’s only available in high season and just a few days a week.
Grindelwald is a charming town and a world-known mountain resort in central Switzerland. Located about half an hour by train from Interlaken, it’s one of the places from where you can reach Jungfraujoch (mentioned above). But there is so much more to see in this area that Grindelwald deserves a separate day trip!
Just as Interlaken, Grindelwald town itself is nice, but mostly for shopping and dining. It’s the mountains around it that make it special!
Why visit: Grindelwald is one of the most famous ski resorts in Switzerland and the town itself is quite nice. But the main reason to come here is the scenery of the surrounding mountains. In the summer, head to Grindelwald-First which is a fantastic destination in itself.
Here, you’ll find sweeping panoramas and some of the best views in the area. Don’t miss the First Clifftop Walk and take a short hike to Bachalpsee Lake. In addition, there are many fun activities here such as gliding and ziplining, mountain carts, etc.
Next to Grindelwald town, you can also visit Gletscherschlucht, a beautiful glacier canyon. It’s accessible via boardwalks and is a nice place for the whole family.
Season: Grindelwald is a year-round destination and skiing here is phenomenal. But if you are planning a day trip from Lucerne and are mainly interested in sightseeing, Grindelwald is more worthwhile in the summer. In winter, I’d opt to go on to Jungfraujoch instead.
How much time you need: If you are planning to visit Grindelwald as a day trip from Lucerne, count an entire day. If you plan well and only concentrate on ‘the musts’, you can also make a quick stop in Interlaken on your way back since you’ll pass there anyway. In fact, there is a tour that does exactly this and combines a visit to Interlaken and Grindelwald in one day from Lucerne. (But they do use a private coach instead of the trains, which makes it easier to do it with limited time).
Getting there: Grindelwald can be reached by train or by car. From Lucerne, take a train to Interlaken and from there – another train to Grindelwald.
LEARN MORE: What to do at Grindelwald – First
9. Schynige Platte
Schynige Platte is a real hidden gem of the Swiss mountains, one you won’t (yet) find in many travel guides. It’s a wonderful destination but is somewhat overshadowed by all the other famous places nearby (Interlaken, Grindelwald, Jungfraujoch…). And so not many tourists find the time to get here.
But if you’d like to see some jaw-dropping mountain scenery without the huge crowds of international tourists, you’ll love it here. Schynige Platte is a great alternative to places like Mt Pilatus, Mt Rigi, Interlaken, or Grindelwald.
This is not to say that you’ll be alone here – far from it. But it’s a place that is more popular with the locals and travelers spending longer vacations in the area and is not frequented by tour groups.
Why visit: Schynige Platte has some of the very best 360° views in the area around Interlaken! On one side, you can see the snowcapped mountain peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. And on the other side, you have the incredible panorama of the two lakes of Interlaken.
There are also some relatively easy (and very rewarding) hikes at Schynige Platte. This is one of our personal favorite places in central Switzerland – simply breathtaking!
Season: Schynige Platte can be visited in the summer season, from around the end of May to mid-October.
How much time you need: Plan an entire day if you are visiting Schynige Platte as a day trip from Lucerne. You could also combine it with a stop at Interlaken (on your way back).
Getting there: Schynige Platte can be reached by (a very slow) historic cogwheel train from Wilderswill, just near Interlaken. You need to take a train from Lucerne to Interlaken, and from there – a train in the direction of either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald, and get off at Wilderswill. Be sure to check the train schedule for the Wilderswill – Schynige Platte train, get your tickets in advance, and arrive early. There aren’t that many trains and it can get quite busy here, especially on the weekends at around 10-11 AM.
LEARN MORE: How to Visit Schynige Platte
10. Stoos – Fronalpstock
Stoos is a little car-free mountain village on the eastern side of Lake Lucerne. It’s another hidden gem of the area but is extremely popular with the locals. It’s not that much the village itself that makes it worth visiting, but the phenomenal scenery of the area, especially at Fronalpstock.
Stoos area makes a wonderful day trip from Lucerne, but – unless you have a car – it will require much more effort to get there than any of the other places mentioned above.
Why visit: Come here for the jaw-dropping panoramas from Fronalpstock and for one of the best ridge trails in Switzerland, Stoos Ridge Hike.
In addition, Stoos has one of the coolest mountain railways we’ve ever seen. A ride on this world’s steepest funicular railroad (with a gradient of 110%!) is an attraction in itself!
Season: Stoos can be visited in summer or in winter, but for the best views and hiking, come here from late May to early October. In winter, it’s a nice ski resort, and the views remain amazing, of course.
How much time you need: Count a good part of the day if you are visiting Stoos from Lucerne. For the visit itself (+ the hike), you need 3-4 hours. This does not include travel time from Lucerne.
Getting there: The best way to do this day trip from Lucerne is by car, and it takes about 40 minutes. It’s also possible to get here by public transport. You’ll need to take a train from Lucerne to Schwyz and from there the bus nr. 501 to Schwyz, Stoosbahn. This journey takes at least 1h20. For more practical information and to read more about the hike itself, please see our detailed guide via the link below.
LEARN MORE: Stoos Ridge Hike
10+. Additional suggestions for day trips from Lucerne
If you have even more time in the Lucerne area, or if you are looking for some more inspiration for nice excursions nearby, here are a few more suggestions for places to visit near Lucerne:
- Mount Bürgenstock half-day/day trip from Lucerne by ferry and funicular (see more info and get the tickets here). You can also take the impressive Hammetschwand Elevator here – see the picture below!
- Stanserhorn – just 15-20min by car or by train to Stanserhorn-Bahn, and from there the cable car to the top. More possibilities – here.
- Zurich – just 45min by train or by car from Lucerne.
- Stein am Rhein & Rhein Falls (Europe’s biggest waterfall) – take a train from Lucerne to Zurich, followed by this popular 5hr tour to the falls. You can easily combine a visit to the falls with that of Zurich city itself.
- Basel – 1hr journey by train from Lucerne.
- Oeschinen Lake. This is one of our personal favorite hikes in Switzerland. However, it’s almost 2hrs from Lucerne to Kandersteg + gondola and the hike at Osechinensee itself. It’s doable, but ideally only if you have a car, or don’t need to get back to Lucerne on the same day. It can be combined with the Interlaken area (but not all in one day).
- Zermatt – this is a very popular destination in Switzerland and it’s also possible to see the best of Zermatt in a day. However, I don’t recommend visiting Zermatt as a day trip from Lucerne – it’s really quite far for that (doable, but you’ll spend so much time on the trains that you won’t have much time left to see something). If you go, ideally you spend at least one night, or even more time – there’s so much to see and do in Zermatt in any season!
So, this is a list of our favorite places to visit near Lucerne. You can’t really go wrong with any of these destinations – they are all worth a visit. It just depends on the season when you visit, the time you have, and your interests.
Have a wonderful trip!
READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Lucerne
Read also – some of our favorite hikes in Switzerland:
- Matterhorn Glacier Trail (in Zermatt)
- Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge Hike (near Zermatt)
- Hiking at Schynige Platte (near Interlaken)
- Oeschinensee Hike (close to Interlaken)
- Four Lakes Hike in Engelberg (near Lucerne)
- Bachalpsee Lake Hike (Grindelwald)
- Stoos Ridge Hike (not far from Lucerne)
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