Lucerne Attractions and Activities
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Lucerne's fame as a tourist destination is kept up from year to year by an incredible choice of attractions and activities. The town enjoys a remarkable site in the heart of Switzerland at the northwestern end of Lake Lucerne, where the Reuss River resumes its course, making an excellent base for many excursions in the region and in Switzerland - in a small amount of space, this region embodies almost everything that is a part of Switzerland: an Old Town dating back to the Middle Ages, a lake with Europe's most extensive inland navigation and great panoramas of the Swiss Alps. We provide just a short list of options.
Excursions: >> Mountain ExcursionsCity Excursionsother Excursions
Mt. Pilatus (2,132 m / 6,993 ft):
Half- or Full-day excursion (approx. 1 hour by bus from Lucerne via Kriens to the top). Mt. Pilatus is easy to reach by public transport, and Lucerne's landmark is the perfect peak for everyone, large or small. Two gondolas, seven restaurants, the world's steepest cogwheel railway and Central Switzerland's biggest suspension rope park guarantee exciting excursions. All kinds of sports fans meet here for hiking, climbing and biking during summer months, and for hiking, snow-shoeing or sledding in winter time. Consider the "Golden Roundtrip" traveling by cogwheel railway, cable car and boat.
Mt. Titlis (3,020 m / 9,906 ft):
Half- or Full-day excursion (approx. 90 minutes by train from Lucerne to the top). Snow and Fun all year round; the Titlis is the highest Alpine tourist destination in Central Switzerland, and the Titlis Rotair is the world's first revolving cable car. Visitors will be impressed by the spectacular 360° panorama and attractions such as the Ice Flyer chairlift or the Glacier Park. The Lucerne Tourist Office offers escorted tours to Mt. Titlis (daily starting at 11:15 AM or 12:10 PM).
Mt. Rigi (1,797 m / 5,895 ft):
Half- or Full-day excursion (approx. 90 minutes by train from Lucerne to the top). Follow the traces of Mark Twain and Queen Victoria, the first famous visitors of Mt. Rigi, the sun terrace above Lake Lucerne with views over the snow-capped Alps and 13 lakes. There are several possible itineraries to get to Mt. Rigi from Lucerne such as: by steamboat from Lucerne to Vitznau and then the cogwheel train up to "Rigi-Kulm"; a ride back to "Rigi-Kaltbad" and then with the gondola to Weggis and back to Lucerne by boat - or descending down to Goldau by cable car and then back to Lucerne by train. Detailed itineraries are available at the railway station in Lucerne.
Stanserhorn (1,900 m / 6,232 ft): open from April through beginning of November
Half- or Full-day excursion (approx. 1 hour by train from Lucerne to the top). The panorama view from the first and only revolving restaurant of Central Switzerland is absolutely fantastic - over 100 km (160 miles) of the Alpine mountain range, 10 Swiss lakes and an alpine-flower reserve. The ride to the Stanserhorn combines an old-timer funicular (built in 1893) with a modern aerial cable car.
Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe (3,454 m / 11,330 ft):
Full-day excursion (approx. 4 1/2 hours by train from Lucerne to the top). Snow and ice 100% guaranteed! The UNESCO World Heritage offers the Sphinx observation hall, an impressive Ice Palace and a hiking plateau in the glacier - these are year-round attractions up on the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe. Summer attractions include a skilift, husky-drawn sledging and adventure activities. Consider a stopover in Interlaken.
Schilthorn - Piz Gloria (2,970 m / 9,742 ft):
Full-day excursion (approx. 4 hours by train from Lucerne to the top). The most spectacular 360° panorama in the Alps! Dine-and-wine in the world's first revolving restaurant at an altitude of nearly 3,000 metres. Impressive views embrace some 200 snow-capped peaks, ranging from the Bernese Alps to Mont Blanc in France and Germany's Black Forest. Consider a stopover in Interlaken.
Zurich - Switzerland's financial capital:
Half- or Full-day excursion (approx. 50 minutes by train from Lucerne). Zurich is Switzerland's largest city, and with its famous "Bahnhofstrasse" (business and shopping street) is considered the country's most important financial, industrial and commercial center. It is also known to be the intellectual capital of the nation and particularly receptive to contemporary trends associated with younger generations. Zurich and the surrounding region is home to the biggest number of museums and exhibitions in Switzerland - the city offers a wealth of history, architecture, and culture, and is an absolutely charming, interesting and beautiful place to visit.
Basel - cultural capital of Switzerland:
Half- or Full-day excursion (approx. 60 minutes by train from Lucerne). In Basel you can live and breathe art and culture. The city promises "Culture Unlimited" and sparkles with an incomparable programme of culture and leisure activities. Basel also is known as an important trade center, and an interesting place of archtiecture offering both - old historic buidlings as well as modern structures designed by world famous architects.
Bern - Switzerland's captivating Capital:
Half- or Full-day excursion (approx. 60 minutes by train from Lucerne). Founded in 1191, this is a city of medieval magic, listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage. Attractions of Bern include several historic sites such as the famous Clock Tower, the bearpits (home to the city's heraldic animals), the House of Parliament, the Paul Klee Center, the Swiss Alpine Museum, and excellent shopping arcades.
Thun - Gateway to the Bernese Alps:
Half- or Full-day excursion (approx. 90 minutes by train from Lucerne). Thun (pronounced "Toon") is one of the most original towns in Switzerland. It occupies an admirable site with magnificent views of the Bernese Alps and is much overlooked by visitors pressing on to Interlaken. With its picturesque castle, the quaint medieval Old Town, and Lake Thun, one of the loveliest and largest lakes in Switzerland, Thun is well worth a visit. Consider taking the Golden Pass scenic train via the Bruenig Pass and Interlaken to get to Thun, and return with a fast train via Bern - including stopover (or vice versa).
Interlaken - in the Heart of the Swiss Alps:
Full-day excursion (approx. 2hours by scenic Golden Pass train from Lucerne). Interlaken, the small town between the cristal-clear lakes of Thun and Brienz is surrounded by Alpine pearls such as sparkling streams, fantastic falls and extraordinary mountain scenery including the famous peaks of the Eiger, the Moench and the Jungfrau. Don't miss strolling along Interlaken's famous "Höheweg" promenade - it is one of the best locations in Switzerland for souvenir and watch shopping, and offers superbe views of the Jungfrau mountain range. Consider returning to Lucerne with a fast train via Bern or Thun (including stopover in one of the two cities), and/or combining the excursion to Interlaken with visiting other sights of the Jungfrau region, such as the Jungfraujoch or the Schilthorn, the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum or the St. Beatus Caves.
Lugano - the Swiss Mediterranean City:
Full-day excursion (approx. 2.5 hours by direct train from Lucerne; also consider the scenic train William Tell Express including a steamboat ride on Lake Lucerne - total travel time one way = 3.5 hours). Lugano is an international city and the crossroads and melting pot of European culture. It is not only the Ticino's most important city, and Switzerland's third most important financial center, but also a town of parks and flowers, villas and sacred buildings, and it has been a holiday destination for many Swiss since the end of the 1800's. Lugano offers a traffic-free historic town center with buildings in Italianate Lombardy style, a beautiful lake, uncountable hills and mountains, and numerous options for outdoor activities and excursions to sights in the surrounding area. Along Lake Lugano are lots of Venetian-type villages showing the closeness of neighboring Italy.
Other Excursions / Sights:
Lake Lucerne Cruises:
20 boats - 5 of which are nostalgic paddle-steamers - enable you to take round trips and offer endless possibilities for excursions which can also be combined with mountain railways along the lake. Enjoy a pleasant roundtrip cruise, or a lunch, a Sunday breakfast or brunch on a Lake Lucerne cruise - in every season.
Chapel Bridge & Water Tower:
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, including the biographies of the city's patron saints, St. Leodegar and St. Maurice. The octagonal tower - over 34 meters high (112 ft) - was built around 1300 as part of the city wall and used as an archive, treasury, prison and torture chamber. The Water Tower is Lucerne's landmark and the most frequently photographed monument in Switzerland.
Built in 1386 as part of the rampart walls, the Musegg Wall is still almost entirely intact. Three towers are open to the public: the "Schirmer", the "Zyt" and the "Männli". The oldest city clock is in the Zyt tower - this clock is allowed to chime every hour one minute before all the other city clocks.
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.
Historical buildings clad in frescos border the Old Town on the right bank of the River Reuss at a few picturesque squares such as the Weinmarkt, where Lucerne swore a federal oath with the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden in 1332.
Nature’s own monument to its history, with a park and museum. It is a tourist attraction, but also an oasis of peace. Glacial potholes of impressive proportions bear witness to the last ice age and to the fact that Lucerne was once covered by glaciers. The Glacier Garden is centrally located in Lucerne, next to the Lions Monument and within just 15 minutes walking distance from the Railway Station.
Lucerne City Tours:
Discover Lucerne on your own: Lucerne's main attractions are within short distances to each other, and thus, self-guided tours are easy and allow the flexibility of your own schedule: Cross the famous Chapel Bridge (the covered wooden bridge); continue along the riverside to the historic section of the town; walk up to the city ramparts and climb up the Watchtowers for a promenade on the Musegg Wall and view over Luzern; continue with a visit of the Lion's Monument and the Glacier Garden or the Swiss Museum of Transportation. Get details and a city map at the Lucerne Tourist Office (at the Railway Station).
Guided City Tour: The Lucerne Tourist Office offers guided walking tours of the city of approx. 2 hours. During summer season (May 1 - October 31) there are daily tours, and during the rest of the year, the tours are just on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The tour starts at 9:45 AM from the meeting point at the Lucerne Tourist Office (price: CHF 18.00 / person).
City Train: a 40-minute, audio-guided non-stop city tour past the most important sights; daily from mid-April through October.
Sports: >> Summer SportsWinter Sports
Lucerne is an excellent destination for leisure and adventurous hiking. The region features more than 250 km (155 miles) of hiking paths. There are trails starting just above the city or along the lakeshores or the Reuss River, numerous trails of all levels are in the surrounding hills and mountains, and there also are some theme paths such as the Geology / Botany Trail at the Stanserhorn, or the Historic Swiss Path from Ruetli to Brunnen. Free brochures with suggestions for walks and various detailed hiking maps are available at the local tourist offices.
The Lake Lucerne region is a great place for biking and mountain biking. There are bike trails on the surrounding hills and mountains, as well as interesting routes along the lakeshores. Too many options to list here - get detailed information and maps at the Lucerne Tourist Office.
The Lake of Lucerne is crystal clear offering various activities in and on the water. There are several public swimming areas that invite to enjoy the clean water - popular is the "Lakeside Beach" right in front of the "Nationalquai" with the historic hotels.
There's the 18-holes golf course of Lucerne situated at the Dietschiberg above the city offering a spectacular view of Lucerne, the lake and the Alps. Nearby are the golf clubs and courses in Kuessnacht at the foot of Mt. Rigi, and in Engelberg, and finally, there are about 10 more golf courses located in Central Switzerland. Thus, plenty of options for a golfer's stay in Lucerne...
Other Summer Sports include indoor sports activities such as Tennis, Squash, Badminton, Billard, Pool, Bowling and Fitness; outdoor leisure activities such as Minigolf, Beach Volleyball, Inline Skating or Horseback Riding, and watersports like sailing or boating; and adventures sports such as Sky Diving, Paragliding, Canyoning, Climbing, Mountaineering and Trekking.
Lucerne is surrounded by mountains, and Central Switzerland has a variety of ski resorts that can be easily reached from Lucerne and that offer well-groomed pistes of varying degrees of difficulty for skiers and snowboarders, as well as other winter sports options.
Skiing / Snowboarding:
Following the list of some ski mountains and major ski resorts near Lucerne:
Mt. Titlis, 50 minutes by train and bus / 45 minutes by car to Engelberg
Moerlialp, 40 minutes by train / 20 minutes by car to Giswil
Schoenbuehl, 50 minutes by train / 25 minutes by car to Lungern
Klewenalp, 50 minutes by train / 20 minutes by car to Beckenried
Rigi Kulm, 90 minutes by train via Arth-Goldau to the top
Hasliberg, 1 hour by train / 50 minutes by car to Hasliberg (village)
Soerenberg, 1 hour by train or car to Soerenberg (village)
Marbachegg, 1 hour by train or car to Marbach
Most of the ski resorts mentioned above also offer trails for cross-country skiing; the closest to Lucerne are located in Engelberg (35 km / 22 miles of trails) and on Mt. Rigi (14 km / 9 miles of trails). There's a major cross-country skiing center on the Glaubenberg above Sarnen offering 40 km (25 miles) of trails; it can be reached by train and bus (approx. 70 minutes) or by car (approx. 40 minutes).
Most of the ski resorts mentioned above offer groomed runs for sledding; the longest runs are found on Mt. Rigi (10 km / 6.5 miles) and at the Klewenalp above Beckenried (9 km / 5.5 miles); there's also a 6 km (4 miles) run at Mt. Pilatus.
Snow-Shoeing / Winter Hiking:
Mt. Rigi and Mt. Pilatus as well as Engelberg offer several trails in various length and difficulty for snow-shoeing and winter hiking.
Other Winter Sports include indoor sports such as Tennis, Squash, Badminton, Fitness and Swimming (indoor pools), and Curling and Ice Skating at Lucerne's covered Ice Rink.
Go Out: (Dining / Entertainment / Nightlife)
Lucerne has plenty of options for dining out - for every taste and budget ! Lucerne's gastronomy is noted for its variety: you'll find traditional Swiss specialities alongside innovative and imaginative gourmet fare from around the world. Whatever the establishment – a cozy eatery or a chic restaurant – the chefs demonstrate a deep passion for their craft. After dinner, there are numerous bars, pubs and nightclubs.
A unique combination of excellent food, music and great fun. The Stadtkeller offers an unforgettable experience with original Swiss Folklore Shows: traditional Swiss customs and usages including national costumes, cowbells, flag throwing, alphorns and yodelling in a historical building (dating back to the 12th century).
Grand Casino Lucerne:
The Grand Casino Luzern, the former Kursaal is an architectual jewel: the neo-baroc palace was constructed in 1882 and occupies an idyllic location on the shores of Lake Lucerne offering magnificent views. With its gaming casino, Olivo restaurant and Casineum, the Grand Casino Luzern is a wonderful place to while away the time, offering gaming thrills, culinary treats and hot party nights all under one roof.
Shopping in Lucerne is smooth and alluring. There are two major shopping districts: the Old Town and along the Pilatusstrasse. Exclusive watches and jewelry, attractive fashions and stylish accessories, and not forgetting Swiss chocolate! In Lucerne, everything is to hand - shopping in the car-free Old Town is a must for any visit to Lucerne.
Lucerne hosts numerous markets - weekly, monthly or seasonal. Vegetable, fruit, fish, flower or crafts markets, as well as the flea market or the Christmas market.... - get detailed information at the Lucerne Tourist Office.
General opening hours in Lucerne:
|Monday through Wednesday
||9 AM - 6:30 PM
|Thursday and Friday
||9 AM - 9 PM
||9 AM - 4 PM
||during summer, a few shops open at 11 AM
Most of the shops at the railway station are open daily until 8 PM.
Fumetto, International Comix-Festival: (in April)
Since its introduction in 1992, the Fumetto Lucerne has developed into the top location for artistically ambitious comics in Europe. Every year it presents a well-balanced program of exhibitions by national and international artists committed to narrative art. Fumetto is unique in its avant-garde approach and focuses on various forms of art (comic, installation, theatre, painting, performance, installation, graphic arts, streetart, animation).
Famous orchestras, legendary conductors, virtuoso soloists - for more than seventy years, the Lucerne Festivals have become a meeting place for leading performers from all over the globe. Some 120,000 visitors make their way to Lucerne every year to attend its three festivals – at Easter (10 days in April), in Summer (100+ events from Mid-August through Mid-September), and at the Piano (one week in November).
Calendar of Events in Lucerne
Swiss Transport Museum:
The "Verkehrshaus" is located just outside Lucerne, directly on the lake and easily reached by bus or by boat. Europe's largest, most comprehensive Transport Museum contains trains, planes and automobiles, etc. - just everything that keeps the Swiss on the move and that marks the development of transport and communications. More than 3,000 items are exhibited in a space as large as 40,000 square meters; it also has an IMAX theater ad the planetarium, which is based on digital technology, takes visitors on a trip through the vastness of the universe.
The Tell Museum, located in Buerglen, the Birthplace of William Tell, contains the most comprehensive collection of historical and artistic documents, accounts and miscellanea spanning six centuries relating to the Swiss patriot William Tell.
The Bourbaki Panorama Lucerne houses one of the world's few panorama paintings still in existence. Its new museum impressively outlines the media history of the 19th century. This museum with the impressive circular painting (10 m high and 112 m in circumference) of a memorable episode from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 in which the French Army, under General Bourbaki, crossed into Switzerland, has developed into a unique cultural and meeting center with restaurants, cinemas, museum, an art gallery and shops.
The “Glasi” in Hergiswil near Lucerne is Switzerland’s oldest glassworks and offers tours explaining its history. Discover, interact with and experience glass in all its facets. Visitors learn all about the latest applications and the highs and lows of the glassworks’ 190-year history. In 1996, the Council of Europe declared the "Glasi" as one of Europe’s best museums.
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