32+ Things to Do in Lucerne for That You Can’t Miss! (2024 Guide)

written by local expert Jane Elmets

Jane always knew she wasn't destined for a desk job... She has travelled all over the world and is passionate about noodles, sloths and her hiking boots! When she isn't busy adventuring around the world, you can find her reviewing travel gear and dishing out travel tips to all the places she's visited.

Located in the Swiss Alps south of Zurich, Lucerne, Switzerland lies waiting to be discovered. A combination of nature and city, there’s no shortage of things to do in Lucerne, whether you’re visiting for culture and history or simply to eat and enjoy yourself (as one does on vacation!).

To help you see the best of this one-of-a-kind city, we’ve put together this list of 32+ of the best things to do in Lucerne City. We’ve visited Lucerne twice now and each time find something interesting and unique to do!

Whether you want to just stroll along Lake Lucerne or do the many adventurous things around it, there’s something for everyone here.

With that being said, be sure to give it a read to see all that’s waiting for you in this Swiss paradise!

Lucerne Things to Do Highlights

  • Jungfrau Mountain from Lucerne: See one of Switzerland’s most iconic mountains on a full day trip. This tour includes a bus ride as well as the popular cog wheeled train.
  • Swiss Travel Pass: Get unlimited on boats, trains, and buses in over 41 cities all over Switzerland.
  • Fjord-lake Boat Ride: Fjord-lake is one of the most scenic locations in Lucerne, and the best way to experience it is from within the lake itself. This is one of the most highly rated tours around Lake Lucerne.
  • Paragliding: For those brave souls among us who enjoy adventure and are okay with cutting through the cold Swiss air, a paragliding tour may be a great way to satisfy that craving for adrenaline.

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Where is Lucerne?

First things first. In case you’re wondering, Lucerne is a quaint, picturesque town in Switzerland.

Also known as Luzern in German, it is one of the most gorgeous areas in the country, hence its popularity among tourists worldwide. 

More specifically, this town is located at the north end of Lake Lucerne, which is lovingly known as Vierwaldstättersee among locals. Lake Lucerne is one of the most iconic attractions in Switzerland and rightly so!

Lake Lucerne is 114 square kilometers and has lots of space for swimming and boat cruising. If you’re planning a trip to Lucerne, one of the best things to do is to go on a boat ride so you can properly explore Lake Lucerne.

Aside from this, Lucerne is the first city to join the Swiss Confederation and is one of the most visited places in Switzerland. Lucerne old town is beautiful and is filled with lots of historical attractions such as the Lucerne’s Chapel Bridge.

If you want to explore Lucerne, it is considered a “compact” destination, with numerous things to do and sights to see! The good news is most of them are within walking distance from each other. Lucerne is easy to explore and you will definitely enjoy the elegant historic buildings, lovely atmosphere, and of course, picturesque mountain scenery all around.


Best Time to Visit Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland is actually an amazing destination to visit any time of the year. Different attractions would draw tourists in at all times. You’ll experience a unique charm throughout each season! That said, let’s break it down by the months based on the weather, budget, and events.

Visiting Lucerne during June to September is its peak season because this is when you can experience pleasant weather. Because of that, expect it to be filled with tourists and visitors! During this time, you can expect lots of people hanging around Lake Lucerne, making the most out of the beautiful weather.

Because Lucerne is near the Alps, you can expect cool weather even during the summer season, with temperatures ranging from 12-24 degrees Celsius from June to August. The temperatures may drop a few degrees come September.

You will want to go to Lucerne during these months to enjoy the outdoors for biking tours and hiking. But again, these months (especially July to August) are extremely busy and the priciest, so it’s recommended to book everything in advance and to pack warm clothes to stay comfortable.

October to May is the off-peak season in Lucerne, where you can expect fewer tourists and cheaper travel deals. If you love skiing, then November to April is the time to visit, which is the skiing season in the area. The temperatures will dip in October, ranging from 6-14 degrees Celsius. It can even hit the negatives until February. Expect it to be very cold during these times, even when the temperatures begin rising in March.

While it may be extremely cold February to March are great times to go as well, since this is Lucerne’s carnival festival! 

So, the time of year you would like to visit Lucerne will depend on what you want to see, weather preferences, and the events you’d like to attend.

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Best Things to Do in Lucerne

1. Marvel at Mount Pilatus

When visiting Lucerne, you’ll be faced with an unparalleled view of this majestic mountain. Standing 2,128 meters high above the city, Mount Pilatus is nicknamed “Dragon Mountain” due to folklore claiming that dragons with magical healing powers lived at the top.

A visit to the summit of Mount Pilatus is a must-do in Lucerne, and it’s rather accessible even if you left your hiking boots at home. During the summer you’re able to take a Golden Tour that will take you by paddle steamer from Lucerne, and then you’ll climb aboard the steepest cogwheel railway in the world. 

Once you reach the top and take in the sights, you’ll be able to take a cable car back down, enjoying the stunning view the entire way.

If you want to see Mount Pilatus from a different angle, you can even take a helicopter flight over this mountain and nearby Mount Rigi!

Whichever way you choose to bask in the glory of this mountain, it is certainly a top thing to do in Lucerne.

2. Take a Boat Ride on Lake Lucerne

Another Lucerne landmark that simply cannot be missed is Lake Lucerne. Situated right in the middle of the city, you can enjoy views of the pristine water by walking along the banks or hopping aboard a historic paddlewheel steamer.

The entire time you’re near lake Lucerne, you’ll have stunning views of the surrounding alps and the distinct city that seems within an arm’s reach.

Top Tip: Want to explore Lake Lucerne with a dash of luxury? Hop aboard a panoramic yacht that’ll take you around the lake on a 1-hour cruise.

If you have time to spare, go for the gourmet lunch cruise, which offers both full of delicious food and amazing views. Seeing Lucerne from the water is splendid!

view from lake lucerne of the city

3.Stroll around the Old Town

The Old Town is a staple of Lucerne, so be sure to head there to enjoy some medieval architecture, wander through narrow streets, and of course pick up souvenirs to bring back home with you. You’ll also find some of the best places to eat in Lucerne in Old Town so be sure to stop for some lunch!

While exploring the Old Town, don’t forget to stop by the Church of St. Leodegar (also known as Hof Church by locals) for some culture and the Town Hall for some history. The Town Hall is easily identified because of its unique architecture and the large clock town that stands out even from a distance. 

Another popular destination when walking around the old town is the Chapel Bridge. Chapel Bridge, also known as the Kapellbrücke is a covered wooden footbridge spanning the river Reuss.

It is a crowning feature of the city and is a must-see when visiting Lucerne. As mentioned, most places in Lucerne are walking distance from each other.

Insider Tip: If you’re looking for more things to do, check out this 2 day Lucerne itinerary!

We recommend going on this tuk tuk tour around the city which covers all the main sights while giving you insight into the unique culture of the place. You will visit the major churches,  Chapel Bridge, and more.

4. Explore Hofkirche

One of the dominant features of the Lucerne skyline is the twin church spires rising up above the rest of the city. These spires belong to the Church of St. Leodegar, or Hofkirche, a Roman Catholic place of worship built in the 1630s.

Hofkirche is one of the most important Renaissance churches in Switzerland, so it draws people from far and wide to revel in the building’s glory.

When you enter the church, you’ll be faced with gold alters, high curved ceilings, and lavish decor throughout. There are beautiful carvings and paintings depicting scenes from history, as well as arcades that house tombs belonging to old Lucerne families. 

If you’re visiting in the summer, be sure to check the church’s schedule because there are often concerts played on the church’s organ!

5. Visit the Musegg Wall

The defenses of Lucerne were raised by the end of the 14th century and were used to defend the town from the north’s sharp slope. The Mussel Wall will give you a breathtaking view, with nine tall towers in a row. 

Four of these towers are still accessible, including Zytturm, the most famous tower holding Lucerne’s oldest clock. OF course, you must check the other three towers, which will give spectacular views of the lake and city. 

6. Sleep in a Castle

If you’re looking for accommodation while in Lucerne, Switzerland, Château Gütsch will give you a taste of what it’s like to be royalty.

A true 19th-century castle, the interior of this chateau was renovated to give guests the ultimate royal treatment. Enjoy rooms that look out directly over the town, lake and surrounding mountains, while relaxing in your cushy, spacious suite.

7. Visit the Jesuit Church

Built right after Hofkirche, the Jesuit Church in Lucerne is also an attraction worth stopping in when you traverse through the old town of Lucerne.

A Baroque-style structure, the Jesuit Church was built over the course of the 16th and 17th centuries, and was the first of its kind north of the Alps. Inside, you’ll find a beautiful and light atmosphere, with paintings on the ceiling and a lavish altar accented with gold.

Located right on the river bank, this is a nice place to spend an afternoon getting some culture and sunshine at the same time. 

8. Visit the Richard Wagner Museum

Renowned German composer Richard Wagner had to leave Munich in 1865 due to trouble with his affairs. In fact, it was Ludwig II who forced him out! Wagner was given a manor house in Lucerne, where he lived for six years. This was where he began writing Götterdämmerung and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

The Richard Wagner museum used to be his residence and here, you can learn all about him and how he spent his years in Lucerne. You can find musical manuscripts, paintings, photos, furniture, correspondence, and even his Erard piano!

The Richard Wagner Museum is a popular attraction in Lucerne!

9. Traverse the Town Walls and Towers

While you’re in the Old Town, be sure to walk around the Old City Walls that were constructed over 600 years ago.

Along the walls, you’ll find nine tall towers with pointed tops. Four of these towers are still accessible to visitors, so get climbing to take in views of the city and surroundings. This is one of the best viewpoints in Lucerne old town! 

The four towers within the old town that are accessible are Schirmer, Zyt, Wacht and Mannli.

Zyt is particularly special because of the clock in the tower that chimes one minute before the rest of the clocks in the city. I guess there are some special perks that come with being over 600 years old! 

Lucerne Old City

10. Wander across Chapel Bridge

The Chapel Bridge is another historic must-see when making your way through Lucerne.

Built in 1333, this covered bridge creates a crossing over the Reuss River. It’s actually the world’s oldest truss bridge that’s still standing!

On the ceiling of the bridge’s cover, you’ll find several paintings depicting Lucerne’s history. Unfortunately, in 1993, there was a fire that destroyed most of the masterpieces that make the Chapel Bridge so special. However, there are still 30 of the originals that have been restored and are ready to be viewed by eager visitors. 

Besides the historic significance this bridge holds, you’ll be faced with glorious river views while walking across it. This is definitely a marvel worth visiting! 

view from chapel bridge in lucerne

11. Fly over the Alps

If you want to see Lucerne and its surroundings from a bird’s eye view, take an aerial tour over the Swiss Alps.

This scenic flight takes off right next to the lake and flies over plenty of highlights in the region. But if you’d like to see something specific, you can even ask your pilot to steer you there! 

The route isn’t set, so you’re able to have a customized experience soaring over Lucerne.

12. Visit the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre

The Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre was created by Jean Nouvel, taking shape from 1995-2000. One particular feature that immediately catches everyone’s attention is the flat roof that pushes out over the vast waterfront.

Inside the amazing structure are the first-class concert hall and Lucerne Art Museum, where you can appreciate artworks dating from the Renaissance to the present times.

After exploring the area, you can take a break in the World Café for some very fine ccoffee, where you can enjoy stews during the cold weather or ice cream come summer. 

13. Check Out the Reuss River

The city has another medieval bridge downriver near Old Town, which is the Spreuer Bridge. This bridge was built in the 15th century and has a similar design to Chapel Bridge. It has a roof, truss design, and 17th-century paintings on pediments. 

As you head on further downriver, you will come across the Nadelwehr or the Needle Dam. You will get to see more of Lucerne and learn about how these structures are crucial to protect the city from floods. 

14. Take a Trip to the Lion Monument

Lion Monument is a Lucerne staple and features a gorgeously carved dying lion in a sandstone cliff. While it may not seem like much, Lion Monument can be described as a small oasis in the hustle and bustle of the city.

Built in the early 1800s, the lion monument pays homage to the Swiss Guards who defended King Louis XVI during the storming of the Tuileries in 1792.

It’s a beautiful area with a pensive atmosphere. The Lion Monument is a rock relief of a dying lion and the statue itself is wonderfully detailed. The lion’s expressiveness is as lifelike as the real thing and is a great way to commemorate the bravery of the Swiss Guards.  

It won’t take long to visit the Lion monument, so it’s definitely worth checking out. There’s a lot to do in the surrounding area, so this is a lovely peaceful break during your stay in Lucerne!

Travel Must: We love renting cars whenever we travel- it just gives you so much freedom to explore at your own pace. Click here to compare car rental prices You’ll be surprised at how affordable it is!

lion carved into stone over a pond

15. Ride the Cog Railway

Europe’s first cog railway is located in Lucerne, Switzerland where you can ride from Lake Lucerne to Mt. Rigi, which has an elevation of a whopping 1,798 meters! 

What makes this trip worthwhile is that you can ride in restored cars that date back as far as the very beginning of the railway’s operations, with some steam engines dating back to the 1920s. 

It is the world’s steepest cogwheel railway and is a must visit when in Lucerne. Moreover, you will enjoy the views, which stretch all the way to Germany’s the Black Forest. 

16. Go Hiking

Lucerne, Switzerland is a hiker’s paradise. Even people who love to walk and explore their surroundings will enjoy the town, as it is filled with flat lakeside paths. Hikers can find challenging trails with steeper terrains for more of a calorie burner.

If you’re wondering where to begin, check out Lake Rot. More challenging trails are in Bireggwald, which is close to the city and has views of Mt. Pilatus.

hiking near Lucerne

17. Gallivant through Glacier Garden

If you think the 1800s was a long time ago, swing by Glacier Garden to witness potholes formed in the last Ice Age. We’re talking 20,000 years ago! 

Located right next to Lion Monument, Glacier Garden features interactive exhibitions and multimedia presentations to help you understand these archaic phenomena.

Besides the natural wonder, it also has a mirror maze inspired by the Alhambra in Granada. It’s made of 90 mirrors and creates endless illusions as you make your way through the twists and turns. Just think about all the Instagram-worthy moments!

After wandering around for a couple of hours, head to the park next door for a picnic lunch and to bask in the Swiss sun. 

18. Roam around a Nuclear Bunker

The Swiss are prepared for anything and it’s evident that the people of Lucerne were not messing around when it came to being equipped for a nuclear attack.

Lying below the city sits the giant, unused Sonnenberg Bunker. It was built in the 1970s during the Cold War and can hold 20,000 residents of Lucerne. At one point, this bunker was the largest one for civilians in the world!

Every last Sunday of the month, visitors are given the opportunity to descend into the bunker to explore this underground facility. You can also book a private tour for your group in advance!

While wandering, you’ll come across emergency equipment for hospital and decontamination use, as well as more generic items like washing machines and bunk beds fit for an entire city. If you love quirky experiences, this is a one-of-a-kind visit!

19. Skydiving over Lucerne

Looking for some adrenaline during your stay in Lucerne? There’s no better way to get your blood pumping than skydiving over Lake Lucerne!

First, you’ll fly 4,000 meters high, enjoying views of your entire surroundings. Then you’ll jump out of a plane attached to a qualified instructor who will guide you through the Swiss Alps and over the pristine lake.

Catch a glimpse of the city as you rush towards the ground, only to be greeted with a soft landing upon returning to earth. Out of all the ways to see Lucerne, this is certainly the most exciting. Another popular option is to go paragliding in Lucerne.

Not sure what to expect from a skydive? Read about Tom’s experience skydiving in Interlaken!

20. Rest in a Capsule Hotel

It should come as no surprise that Switzerland is a pretty pricey country. That said, you can still find some options for accommodation that won’t completely break the bank.

One of our favorite budget options is the Capsule Hotel that’s located right in the heart of Lucerne. Not only will you be paying a reasonable price per night, but you’ll have a unique sleeping experience and be right in the city center.

The capsules at this particular hotel look rather futuristic so when you tuck in for a good night’s sleep, imagine you’re aboard a spaceship. Who knows, you may just wake up next to Spock!

21. Visit the Rosengart Collection

Art fans rejoice! Sitting in the middle of Lucerne is a post-Impressionist collection that simply cannot be missed. 

The Rosengart Collection is considered to be one of the most outstanding collections of modern art in all of Europe, featuring works from artists such as Monet, Matisse, and Chagall. If those names don’t impress you, I’m sure that you can certainly be enticed by a marvelous Picasso and Paul Klee as well. 

While walking around the gallery, you’ll be able to immerse yourself almost 300 pieces of art that are sure to WOW! Alternatively, you can also wander around The Lucerne Art Museum to see more wonderful pieces.

22. Immerse Yourself at the Bourbaki Panorama

A final destination for all the art lovers visiting Lucerne is the fantastic panorama painted in 1871. This 10-by-112 meter scene wraps around a building and depicts the winter of 1871 when 87,000 French soldiers sought refuge in Switzerland during the Franco-Prussian War.

Besides just being a painting, this panorama incorporates sculptures as well to really make the scene come to life. It’s an immersive experience that will really round out any trip to Lucerne.

23. Engelberg-Titlis Day Trip

Engelberg-Titlis is just 35 kilometers south of Lucerne, which is central Switzerland’s largest vacation destination that holds one of Switzerland’s top ski resorts. 

This village is popular as it has a 12th-century Benedictine monastery. You can find monks living and working in the area up to this day. During summer, there are many fun outdoor activities to do like hiking, golfing, mountaineering, and more. Come winter, you can ski and snowboard all you want!

When in Lucerne, you can do a half-day trip as they are very close to one another. 

24. Walk Along the Lakeside Promenade

When crossing the Seebrücke bridge, walk along the waterfront, where you will get to see a lot of grand buildings that date back to the end of the 19th century. From here, you can find the Mandarin Oriental Palace, Grand Hotel National Luzern, Grand Casino Luzern, and a lot of other structures worth visiting. 

Walk further where you will find luxury homes and more tourist attractions. Fortunately, you can stay cool as there is a pedestrian promenade lined with trees for shade and fresh air. From here, you can also enjoy a lot of other activities and places to visit, like boat rentals, petanque games, or cafes.

25. Learn at the Swiss Transport Museum

Paintings, not your thing?

Well, Lucerne is also home to the Swiss Museum of Transport or Swiss Transport Museum, which is the most visited museum in all of Switzerland! 

In the Swiss transport museum, you’ll find retired aircrafts, trains and cars stacked so high on top of each other they nearly reach the ceiling.

The entrance of the Swiss transport museum itself is something to behold as it’s constructed from past highway signs guiding you through the country. While walking around, you’ll be faced with more than 3,000 displays!

Whether you’re interested in history, technology, or of course different modes of transportation, there is something for everyone in the Swiss Transport Museum.

Insider’s Tip: Want to save some time? Skip the line by buying your ticket online!

street signs at swiss museum of transport

26. Indulge at a Cheese and Chocolate Tour

It wouldn’t be a trip to Switzerland without gorging yourself on the ever-famous Swiss cheese and chocolate.

During this all-inclusive tour, you’ll get to visit a cheese factory inside of a monastery. Learn how cheese is made, and then have the chance to fill up on fondue or raclette. After that, you’ll get to wander the Aeschbach chocolate factory for dessert. You’ll even have the opportunity to make your own chocolate bar!

I’m not sure it gets any better than cheese and chocolate…

27. Sip Wine Next to Lake Lucerne

Okay, I know I said it doesn’t get much better than cheese and chocolate, but what if you add wine into the equation?

While in Lucerne, Switzerland, take a trip to the most traditional winery in the region for a tour of the vineyards. Imagine enjoying a tasting with flawless views of Lake Lucerne!

The outing begins with a 30-minute cruise on Lake Lucerne, followed by a leisurely stroll to the vineyards. You’ll be able to enjoy stunning sights, sip on local wines and snack, while surrounded by majestic mountains. You’re on vacation, afterall, so you may as well enjoy yourself!

28. Make a Toast at Brauerei Eichhof

More of a beer person? Don’t worry, Lucerne has just the thing for you. 

Brauerei Eichhof is a 180-year old brewery that makes, sells and serves up ice-cold ones all day long. They a local favorite, so you’ll see their beers while you’re out and about in the city. But what better place to have one than where it’s made?

With a visit to Brauerei Eichhof, you’ll have the chance to take a guided tour to see exactly how their famous beer is made and then have the chance to sample it all! 

29. Treat Yourself to a Luxury Hotel Stay

If you’re looking for luxury accommodation, while in Lucerne, Switzerland, there’s no better option than booking the Penthouse in the Art Deco Hotel Montana.

From these stunning rooms, you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in panoramic views of Lake Lucerne, Lucerne Old Town, and of course the Swiss Alps. If you’re after more than just nice sights, each Penthouse suite includes a hot tub on a private rooftop terrace.

Talk about living large!

30. Summit Marvelous Mount Rigi

Mount Rigi is nicknamed the Queen of the mountains as she looms over Lucerne with a watchful eye.

Either hike to the summit or take the mountain railway to enjoy views of the alpine and beyond. Watching the sunset from the top is an experience that’s sure to last you a lifetime. 

Insider’s Tip: One of the best ways to see Mount Rigi is via the Classic Rigi Route! Take a combination of boat, rack railway, and cable car as you traverse from Lucerne to the mountains. This self-guided, full-day excursion gives you the best of Mount Rigi. Get more details here.

For any upcoming trip to Lucerne, you should have plenty to do. From exploring the natural wonders of the region to strolling old city streets, activities are plenty and entertainment abundant. 

This lovely Swiss town is a memorable place to learn about history, indulge in Swiss specialties, and have the visit of a lifetime.

Is there something you loved in Lucerne that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!

Check out this Switzerland travel guide for awesome tips on where to stay and what to do!

31. Go to the Heidegg Castle

This is a mere 30-minute drive from Lucerne and one of Switzerland’s oldest castles. The Schloss Heidegg has been around since 1192 and is Canton’s oldest known residential building. 

Today, Heidegg Castle is Seetal Valley’s history and cultural center. This living history museum will show visitors more about the life of the country aristocracy from centuries ago. 

If you have children, head over to the grand playroom, where the kids can dress up as royalty! You may even head out to the castle’s rose gardens, then their café for coffee and cake before you leave. 

32. Head to the Franziskanerplatz and Franciscan Church

Franziskanerplatz is a gorgeous town square in Lucerne and worth visiting, even if many people overlook this place. It’s a must-visit because of its picturesque surroundings, with colorful traditional buildings. 

You can also visit the Franciscan Church when in this town, which was built in the 13th century. While it looks simple from the outside, you will marvel at the Gothic interior designs within. Inside dons an impressive altar, stunning pulpits, and angel-ceilings. 

Other churches worth visiting while in the city are Lucerne Jesuit Church which has an impressive facade and beautiful interiors.

Lucerne Jesuit Church

How to Get Around Lucerne

Since Lucerne is a small town, it’s easy to go around. Their public transport network consists of buses and local trains, with their ticket system being simple. The regional network is divided into a zone, where you purchase tickets for a certain zone. 

Lucerne old town is extremely walkable but we do recommend booking tours or renting a car to be able to see attractions outside of the old town.

Everyone will love public transport, especially the trains, as they are always on time. Moreover, they are fast, extensive, and reliable, which is why trains are your best option when exploring Lucerne and the whole of Switzerland. 

You may also hop on their buses, as they have an extensive bus system that is comparable to their trains. 

Where to Stay in Lucerne

When it comes to choosing a hotel in Lucerne, you are spoilt for choice. Whether you’re traveling solo, on a romantic getaway, or with a huge group, you’ll be able to find tons of suitable options at a range of price points.

Here are a few of our recommended hotels in Lucerne

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Things to Do in Lucerne | Taking a trip to this lovely Swiss city? Here are 22 things to do while visiting Lucerne!
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