Located in the heart of Switzerland, Lucerne is a picturesque lakeside city surrounded by the Swizz Alps. What to do in Lucern for a day or two?
From beautifully painted bridges, excellent museums, and a handful of historical sights, there are plenty of places to visit in Lucerne. In this article, I’d like to share my favorite things to do in Lucerne and tips for making the best of your trip.
Start at Lucerne Central Station
Start your trip at Bahnhof Luzern (Lucerne Central Station), the transportation hub of Lucerne and Central Switzerland.
I love its charming decoration, convenient and strategic locations. From the station, you can walk to the old town on foot or take a lazy boat ride on Lucerne lake.
If you’re hungry, head to the RailCity shopping mall on the lower floor before you venture to town. There’re plenty of food and drinks shops and pedestrian passageways leading to different parts of town.
Upon leaving the station, you’ll see a big stone arch right outside. It’s an excellent spot for photography and often a meeting spots for people in town.
Transport: Purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass is a great way to save money on transportation. It also offers free entrance or discounts on attractions. Learn more about it here.
Cruise Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne is probably one of the most gorgeous places that I’ve ever visited.
With stunning mountains in the background, the lake boasts tranquil and serene scenery. The water is so clean that I feel like you may be able to drink from it.
There are plenty of things to do on Lake Lucerne: water sports, boat trips, tours to Vitznau, Mount Rigi, or Weggis.
I highly recommend taking the Scenic Panorama-Yacht Cruise to see Lucerne from a completely different angle. It’s an excellent picturesque sightseeing loop with a well-done audio tour in English and other languages.
For a memorable experience, I suggest catching a sightseeing boat and enjoying a lovely lunch while you cruise. You can learn more about the Lunch cruise here.
Have fun at the Swiss Transport Museum
Swiss Transport Museum (Verkehrshaus der Schweiz) is a brilliant place to visit in Lucerne. While it’s a bit pricy, it offers a great insight into Swiss craftsmanship.
The museum features an enormous collection of all types of transportation with endless hours of entertainment. Trains, cars, boats, aircraft, etc., you name it.
Start the day early and spend all day here if you can. There are many things to see and hands-on activities to enjoy. It’s a beautiful outing, and I would expect, a paradise for children.
At this museum, you can also find a planetarium, the Swiss Chocolate Adventure, and the IMAX Filmtheater, Switzerland’s largest cinema screen.
They share the same space and opening hours with the Swiss Transport Museum. To visit them, you need additional tickets or a Full Day Pass.
My favorite one is indeed Swiss Chocolate Adventure. Here, you can get on a chocolate journey while learning more about the discovery, provenance, manufacture, and transport of chocolate.
Swiss Transport Museum admission fee and opening hours
Swiss Transport Museum is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm in the summertime, and 10 am to 5 pm in the wintertime.
Admission to the Media World, daily screenings in the Filmtheatre and daily shows in the Planetarium
Alternatively, you can buy the Lucerne Museum Card at Lucerne Tourist Information. It’ll give you entry to all of Luzern’s museums over two days (36 CHF/ $39.4).
Student (under 26)**
Child (under 16)
Young child (under 6)
Museum incl. Media World
Swiss Chocolate Adventure
Filmtheatre Daytime films
Filmtheatre Evening films 2D / 3D
19 / 22
15 / 18
12 / 15
12 / 15
RedBull The Edge (Age limit: 12 years and older)
* Currency in CHF (Swiss Franc).
How to get to the Swiss Transport Museum
I recommend taking buses #6, #8, #28 from the station and get off at the Verkehrshaus stop (2.50 CHF / $2.73).
Or, for extra fun, catch the boat from the main pier across from the train station. (direction: Verkehrshaus, 1-2/hour, 10 minutes, 6 CHF/ $6.56).
Walk around Lucern old town
Lucerne is so charming that I find strolling the old town and crossing painted bridges are already enough for a fulfilling experience.
I love the medieval building and architecture in this town. There are several beautiful squares, including Mühlenplatz, Sternenplatz, Hirschenplatz, and Weinmarkt.
On Tuesdays and Saturdays, you can find a farmer’s market on both sides of the river near the main bridge.
See the Chapel Bridge
Next, head to Chapel Bridge, the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge. It was built over 600 years ago in 1365 to stop the attacks and protect the city.
Strolling along with this remarkable landmark, you can find several paintings featuring Lucerne’s historical events and its two saints from the 17th century. The roof of the bridge is designed with sophisticated, thick, and solid wood.
I was most impressed with painting number #1, featuring a legendary and formidable giant.
Unfortunately, many of its famous paintings were lost during the fire in 1993, when a leisure boat moored under the bridge caught fire.
While the end of the bridge houses the restorations of the 17th-century originals, you can see many burnt and charred paintings still in the original spots. Those in the middle were luckily in storage during the fire and were therefore saved.
Also, don’t forget to see the octagonal stone Water Tower (Wasserturm). It was built around 1300 and used as a prison, a watch gate, and an integration room.
Visit Jesuit Church
Just a short walk from Chapel bridge is Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church), the first major Baroque church in Switzerland. It’s dedicated to Francis Xavier, a co-founder of the Jesuit order.
I was amazed by its charm and decoration when I first entered.
The whole church is beautifully decorated with stunning baroque paintings cascading the ceiling and walls. Its onion-topped towers were added in 1893, while the high altar and side altars were completed over the years.
Visit Sammlung Rosengart Museum
If you’re an art lover, Sammlung Rosengart is a must-visit attraction on your trip to Lucerne.
A destination for Impressionist enthusiasts, the Sammlung Rosengart Art Museum is home to priceless works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and numerous masterpieces by 19th and 20th-century famous artists.
Here, you can find extensive collections of Picasso’s later artworks on the ground and first floor, including paintings, drawings, graphic and sculptural works, and watercolors.
The upper floor offers a great insight into Picasso’s lifestyle and his artistic process. There are several black-and-white photos of Picasso, capturing his personality greatly. I never felt so close to an artist like this.
There are also other amazing works by Paul Klee, Braque, Monet, Renoir, Miró, Chagall, Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, and Pissarro.
Sammlung Rosengart admission fee and opening hours
I recommend walking up the street and start at the upper portion of the wall. If you enter at the lower end by the river, there will be plenty of stairs to conquer before reaching the first tower.
I made this mistake and was quite exhausted when I got there. And yes, there are several steps up and down the towers too.
See the Lion Monument
The Lion Monument, designed by Danish Neoclassical sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, is a famous monument featuring a dying lion.
This huge sculpture (ten meters in length and six meters in height) is carved right into a cliff, overlooking a pool in a peaceful park.
Here, the lion rests his paws on a shield, and tears streaming down his cheeks. On one side, there is a broken end of a spear slowly killing the mighty beast.
Next to the lions are two shields. One with a broken symbol of France shows the end of Louis XIV, while the other shield with the Swiss symbol remains intact, representing the resilience of Swiss mercenaries.
The story of Lion Monument
The Lion Monument honors the heroic sacrifice of 800 Swiss mercenaries defending Louis XVI at Tuileries Palace during the French revolution in 1792.
In that historical event, while the French soldiers ran away, Swiss mercenaries stayed and fought to their last breath to protect Louis XVI and the royals.
Although both the King and Queen were killed, the bravery and resilience of Swiss soldiers will always be remembered.
Visit Glacier Garden of Lucerne
Located near the Lion Monument, Glacier Garden (Gletschergarten) is a fascinating place to learn about glaciers and their formation.
It was amazing to walk around the glacier-grinded grounds and see geological formations before heading to the museum.
I love their exhibition here. They showcase the glacial processes and how Lucerne, the Alps, and Central Switzerland lakes once looked like.
Amrein’s House is also an interesting spot to stop by. It’s an old chalet featuring original furnishings and models of traditional Swiss buildings.
After your venture, I highly recommend taking a hike to the Tower Walk and visiting another old chalet and an observation tower.
Then, finish your trip with a visit to the Hall of Mirrors, a delightfully low-tech funhouse. You may feel dizzy and confused, but it will be lots of fun.
Glacier Garden of Lucerne admission fee and opening hours