Are you planning to travel to Lucerne, Switzerland? Below, I have included my favorite tips and locations for first-time visitors to Lucerne.
The first place I take a visitor is to Chapel Bridge. The bridge was constructed in the first half of the 14th century as a part of the city’s fortifications and named after St. Peter’s Chapel, which is located nearby. The paintings that were added in the 17th century illustrate scenes of Swiss and local history, (each with a skelton in the painting.) The Water Tower was built around 1300 as part of the city wall and used as an archive, treasury, prison and torture chamber. It is Lucerne’s landmark and the most frequently photographed monument in Switzerland.
If you have the time, take a cogwheel railway from Vitznau or Goldau to Mt. Rigi.
For complete quiet, take a sailboat or catamaran on Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne.
If you come to Lucerne, get your picture taken by Musegg Wall. A part of the rampart walls built in 1386; the wall is almost entirely intact. Three towers are open to the public: Schirmer, Zyt and Mannli. The oldest city clock, built by Hans Luter in 1535, is in the Zyt tower. This clock is allowed to chime every hour one minute before all the other city clocks. Visitors can climb the Musegg Wall (Easter – November 1st) 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Cuckoo!
Food in Lucerne, Switzerland
If you are interested in trying a typical dish of Lucerne, go to Wirtshaus Taube and order Roesti. My health conscious mother was shocked when I told her it was a combination of grated, crispy potatoes, gruyere cheese, fried egg, tomato and bacon. Yummy!
Another local dish to try at Restaurant Burgerstube is Lozarner Chugelipasteli, a puff pastry shell filled with diced veal and mushrooms in a cream sauce.
When you visit Lucerne you may want to invest in a Swiss watch. For something a little more affordable, try the Swiss chocolate. The car-free old-town center offers exclusive shops such as Bucherer at the Schwanenplatz and Confiseur Bachmann is a leading Swiss confectioner.
Short on cash? Visit the Farmer’s Market along the right bank of the Reuss River. Every Tuesday, Friday (the Fish Market) and Saturday from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m.
For an expensive meal that you’ll remember, go to Hotel des Balances (14 points in the Guide Gault & Millau.) While the Suite Lounge and Bar above the Hotel Monopolis is the place for late night dining.
Photo opportunities in Lucerne include photos from Mount Titlis, the highest viewpoint in Lake Lucerne. Take the Ice Flyer chairlift and go snow tubing in Titlis Glacier Park.
A great way to spend the day is to visit Mount Titlis, Mt. Rigi or take a paddle steamer on Lake Lucerne.
Have you heard about the Lion Monument? The dying Lion of Lucerne is one of the world’s most famous monuments. It was carved out of natural rock in memory of the heroic deaths of the Swiss mercenaries at the Tuileries in 1792. Mark Twain described the Lion of Lucerne as the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world.
For those looking for an active day outdoors, hike Mount Titlis or Mt. Rigi or go sailing on Lake Lucerne.
My favorite trail is anywhere on Pilatus Kulm peak. Walkers and hikers will experience Alpine meadows, mountain streams, rugged cliffs and maybe ibex, chamois and Alpine roses.
Things to do in Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne’s best concert hall is the KKL Lucerne (Culture and Convention Center) at Europaplatz and is the work of the Parisian architech Jean Nouvel. The 1800 seat concert hall is one of the finest concert halls in the world. The Lucerne Hall, the Convention Center with the auditorium and the Museum of Art – the fourth largest in Switzerland – are also part of the construction.
For a night of dancing, go to Casineum, it’s in the same building as the Grand Casino Lucerne. And to find out what’s going on at night or on weekends, read Neue Luzerner Zeitung.
If you like people watching, stroll through the narrow streets or public squares of Lucerne; it’s free and you’ll often find musical entertainment.
In the spring you may attend a real Swiss wrestling event in Beckenried. Here you will see local customs such as yodeling, flag throwing and long horn blowing. I took the boat to Beckenried and returned by public bus and train to Lucerne. This was one of my highlights in Lucerne!
In the summer you might like the Lucerne Festival. Every year the leading performers from all over the globe gather together on the shores of Lake Lucerne to celebrate music in Jean Nouvel’s concert hall known for its phenomenal acoustics and exquisite architecture. In the fall you should visit the Lucerne Blues Festival.
In the winter you should go to Carnival. Every year, towards the end of winter, Carnival breaks out in the streets, alleways and squares of the old town. Strange characters in masks and costumes appear, while musicians (Guggenmusigen) play their instruments as thousands sing and dance away the winter.
Do you like art? An Insider Tip in Lucerne is the Picasso Donation Museum and the Rosengart Collection. The Rosengart offers a selection of Classical Modernist art, with collections by Pablo Picasso thanks to S. and A. Rosengart’s friendship with Picasso.
Just outside of Lucerne you can take a train to Schwyz and visit the oldest production site of Swiss accordions or take a train to Entlebuch and hike the Swiss UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
If you are traveling with kids, or you enjoy travel, you won’t want to miss the Swiss Museum of Transport. Your railpass will serve as entrance to this amazing museum that demonstrates travel by road, rail and water, as well as air and outer space.
Where are your favorite places to visit in Lucerne, Switzerland?
Thank you to Christian Haueter of Lucerne Tourism for assistance with this post.
Photos and YouTube video by Nancy D. Brown