Most people recognize the Swiss city of Lucerne by the iconic flower-lined wood bridge that stretches across the Reuss River. Lucerne is a must-visit destination on quite a few of our tours, and it’s easy to understand why. This “pocket-sized” version of Switzerland is home to beautiful Lake Lucerne and towering Mount Pilatus, and has a fascinating history dating back to the 12th century. To help you make the most of a two-day visit, our team of experts has outlined the best travel tips for Lucerne tours.
Your first day will be filled with the top things to do in Lucerne. Wondering how you’ll get to all of these exciting Lucerne attractions in one day? The Swiss are known for extremely reliable public transportation systems, so if you’re unable to walk between these places to visit in Lucerne, simply hop on one of the buses or trains. The transport system is divided into zones, with zone 10 being the city center and primary hub, so it’s easy to navigate on tour in Lucerne!
Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge, is the oldest surviving timber truss bridge in the world. Walking across this bridge is one of the best things to do in Lucerne! The bridge and its accompanying water tower were originally built in 1365 and are understandably the most-photographed Lucerne attractions.
Aside from the impressiveness of its age and structural achievements, the interior also contains paintings by artist Hans Heinrich Wägmann depicting events in Lucerne’s history. Sadly, a fire in 1993 destroyed some of the original works, but luckily many did survive and you can admire them as you traverse from the Old Town on the right bank to the New Town on the left bank.
This moving monument is dedicated to members of the Swiss guard who sacrificed their lives in Paris during the French Revolution. Designed by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen and carved in the early 1820s by artist Lukas Ahorn, it honors the fallen members of the guard. Due to its popularity, there can be a bit of a crowd, so it’s best to make this stop earlier in the day.
For history buffs, the Musegg Wall and its nine towers are an excellent opportunity to learn more about the history of Lucerne and the city’s original fortifications. Make sure to take some photos of the stunning city views from atop the towers, which are open to the public.
This Lucerne attraction may be further away from the center of the city, but getting there is easy! Just remember one of our trusty tips for Lucerne: when walking isn’t in the cards, simply take public transit.
This is the first Baroque religious building in Switzerland. Construction of this icon began in 1666 and it was inaugurated in 1677. Today, the church features stunning examples of Baroque and rococo stucco work, so it’s really a sight to see. Fun fact: It now doubles as a concert venue if you’d like to catch a show!
After touring Lucerne and immersing yourself in the city’s history, you’ll want to grab a bite to eat! Explore the shops, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants in the Hirschmatt-Neustadt quarter. It’s the perfect place to eat Swiss fare and purchase souvenirs to remember your stay in the city.
Make sure you try a delicious meal of veal and mushroom cream sauce called “geschnetzeltes” while you’re in Lucerne. Another one of our favorite foods is “tartiflette.” Melted Reblocohon cheese is the star of this dish, but it also includes potatoes, bacon, and caramelized onions (yum!). How could you go wrong? Check out the restaurants Weisses Schloss and Helvetia for unique takes on traditional Swiss foods.
If you wake up on your second day wondering what to do in Lucerne on tour, we have a few ideas for you. These sights and experiences can be found both inside and outside of the city center, so make sure to use that trusty Swiss transit when you need it. Read on to check out our day two travel tips for Lucerne.
This bridge is the little sister of the famous Kapellbrücke. While not quite as imposing in its stature, this hidden gem is all about inner beauty—it has more original artwork tucked within its trusses, which are unique to Lucerne’s wooden footbridges. Make sure to take your time while you cross this bridge so you don’t miss the beautiful paintings above you.
The Franciscan Church of St. Mary was built between 1270 and 1280 by Franciscan monks. The interior contains the most elaborately decorated pulpit in Switzerland and stunning examples of Gothic architecture. Although simple on the outside, the history of this church is impressive, which is why it’s earned a spot on our list of travel tips for Lucerne.
Go Ahead staffer Jared suggested taking in some planes, trains, and automobiles at Switzerland’s most popular museum—the Museum of Transport. This spot opened in 1959 and contains an excellent history of the country’s transportation and communication technology.
It also features a Swiss Chocolate Adventure ride that takes you through the history of chocolate, and ends with a tasting at the on-site Lindt Boutique. Museum rides and chocolate—what more could you want? The museum is open 365 days a year, so its easy to add to any Lucerne itinerary during your free time.
If you’re looking for a taste of modern-day Lucerne or a trendy bite to eat, head to the Bruch quarter. Surprisingly, this portion of the city was not always so chic. It served as a cattle market from 1912–1971. Now, it’s the best spot to go to visit vibrant restaurants and boutiques offering locally made goods. Stop by the store Mimoa to browse handmade accessories, or if you have a bit more time, stay for a comedy or musical performance at the cultural venue Madeleine.
This Go Ahead excursion option is truly one for the books. If you want to escape Lucerne’s city streets for a few hours and get some fresh lake and mountain air, then this activity is for you. You’ll take a cruise on Lake Lucerne until you reach the world’s steepest cog railway. If you visit Lucerne in the late-spring, summer, or early fall you’ll also get to take a ride on the cog railway up to the peak! From the top of Mount Pilatus, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the snow-capped Alps that stretch for miles.