14 Good Reasons Why You Must Visit Lucerne, Switzerland

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I know many cities in Switzerland, including Geneva, Bern, Zurich, and Basel, as well as towns near the Swiss Alps. But Lucerne stands out with its unique mix of experiences. It showcases Swiss architecture, history, culture, nature, and even technology!

In my view, Lucerne is like a mini-Switzerland. Visiting this city gives you a snapshot of what the whole country has to offer. From the Dying Lion monument to the towering medieval walls of Musegg and the mystical Mount Pilatus, Lucerne offers many the experiences that make Switzerland great. That’s why it’s a must-visit, especially if you’re planning to see Switzerland in less than a week.

To help you understand why Lucerne is worth a visit, I’ll share 15 reasons. These will highlight the best experiences, unique attractions, and benefits of visiting Lucerne. So, let’s dive in!

As a lover of all places that are quaint and alpine, I can’t help but be biased towards the idea that “everyone must visit Lucerne.” It’s the perfect example of the place where I wish I was born.

Nevertheless, I’ll also mention various places in Switzerland and nearby countries that you can compare with Lucerne to see which one fits your travel style better. These places could be good alternatives to Lucerne.

If you end up choosing Lucerne, I’ve written another piece that can guide you on how to make the most of your time in Lucerne. Here’s where you can find the best hotel deals in Lucerne.

Watch this video to spark your wanderlust to visit Lucerne.

Below are the top experiences in Lucerne.

#1 Reason: Lucerne’s Strategic Location

One of the main reasons to include Lucerne in your travel plans is its central location in Switzerland. It’s a convenient stopover when exploring the country. For instance, if you’re traveling from Zurich to Geneva, Lucerne is right on your path. Here’s a quick rundown: ZurichLucerneBernInterlakenMontreuxGeneva.

But Lucerne isn’t just a hub within Switzerland. It can also be a key stop on a multi-country European journey from Italy to Germany or France. Imagine starting in Milan, northern Italy, and ending in Strasbourg, Eastern France, or the Black Forest in Southern Germany. Your route could look like this: MilanLuganoLucerneBaselBlack Forest (Freiburg)—ColmarStrasbourg.

What’s more, Lucerne is near the Jungfrau Region, one of Switzerland’s top spots offering some of the best experiences in the country. If you base yourself in Lucerne for your Swiss adventure, the Jungfrau Region or Interlaken is just a scenic two-hour train ride away.

Beautiful skyline of Lucerne
The beautiful skyline of Lucerne

Let’s take a closer look at the regional level. The strategic positioning of Lucerne stands out even more. Lucerne is a stone’s throw away from some of Switzerland’s most stunning mountains, such as Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus.

If you choose to stay in Lucerne, these mountains are just an easy day trip away. And of course, we can’t overlook Lake Lucerne. Literally, it’s just a few steps from Lucerne’s train station, ready for you to explore.

The best part is, if you’re planning to fly to Lucerne, your journey will be effortless. This is because Lucerne is just a quick train trip from Zurich. Zurich is Switzerland’s biggest city. It offers the most affordable and numerous flight connections globally.

#2 Reason: Lucerne’s Beautiful Setting

You may already have an idea from my first reason to visit Lucerne, this city has a beautiful natural setting. It gives Lucerne views that should inspire you to take photos at every turn.

View of Mount Pilatus and Lake Lucerne
View of Mount Pilatus and Lake Lucerne

The banks of the Reuss River, the promenades along Lake Lucerne, and the top of Lucerne’s medieval towers offer views that blend architecture and nature. And if you’re into photography, you could easily fill your camera with hundreds of stunning shots in a day, weather permitting.

Indeed, finding fantastic viewpoints needs no effort. From the bridges of Old Town Lucerne, you can even photograph Mount Pilatus rising above the city’s old buildings.

If you want to see more amazing views and further appreciate Lucerne’s stunning natural setting, though, you don’t have to worry about getting lost or tired. The best views of Lucerne are from Mount Pilatus. Despite being 2000 meters high, it’s very accessible from the city. You can reach the top of Mount Pilatus within an hour by cable car or funicular train.

If the weather is good, you might even see a sea of clouds from there, which can give you a heavenly feeling! Check out the activities below to get an idea of the breathtaking destinations around Lucerne and how to get there.

Indeed, Lucerne is known for its beautiful natural setting, but it’s not the only city in Switzerland with this quality. Other cities near the Swiss Alps share this feature too.

In my opinion, the biggest rivals of Lucerne in terms of scenery are Thun in the Bernese Oberland and Montreux in the Swiss Riviera. Like Lucerne, both Thun and Montreux boast amazing mountain views and lovely lakes.

Outside of Switzerland, there are also great alternatives. Annecy in the French Alps, Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps, and the Italian Towns along the shores of Lake Como and Lake Garda are comparable to Lucerne. These places offer equally stunning natural settings.

#3 Reason: Chapel Bridge — Lucerne’s Unique Landmark

Another reason to visit Lucerne is to see the Chapel Bridge. This bridge is not just a famous landmark in Lucerne, but it’s also a symbol of Switzerland.

Built in the early 14th century, it’s the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe. In fact, it’s the oldest truss bridge still standing in the world. For many travelers, getting to see this bridge in person is a major highlight. It’s one of those experiences that you just have to tick off your travel list.

Chapel Bridge
Chapel Bridge

There’s no question, it’s a special experience. Especially when you see the triangular paintings from the 17th century on the gables of the Chapel Bridge. These paintings show different events from Lucerne’s history, making it come alive.

If you visit Lucerne during the summer, you’ll see the Chapel Bridge decorated with lots of flowers. Swans swim under the bridge. It’s a simple scene, but so beautiful that it can make you forget about everything else.

The best part about the Chapel Bridge is that you can walk across it without paying a thing! And if you’re in Lucerne during the Lilu Light Festival, you’ll see the historic water tower next to the Chapel Bridge lit up with colorful lights. It’s one of the landmarks that really stands out during the festival.

#4 Reason: Musegg Wall — Switzerland’s Most Notable Medieval Structure

Another reason to visit Lucerne is the Musegg Wall. Like the Chapel Bridge, it’s a well-known landmark in Lucerne and throughout Switzerland. This wall, built in the 1400s, is one of the best preserved medieval walls in the country.

The wall stretches 900 meters from the Reuss River and connects nine towers, which are great examples of medieval military architecture. From certain spots in the city, like Hotel Château Gütsch, you can see the Musegg Wall shaping Lucerne’s skyline. Another good spot to view the wall is from Spreuerbrücke.

What’s great about the Musegg Wall and its towers is that you can walk along the wall and enter the towers for free! From there, you can enjoy amazing views of Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alps.

If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, Merlin (2008), or Lord of The Rings, being there might feel like stepping into a fantasy world. It’s a truly unique experience, especially for travelers like me who come from the opposite side of the world.

Towers of Musegg Wall
Towers of Musegg Wall

If you’re into places with well-preserved medieval walls, in Switzerland, Lucerne is a top pick. But if you’re looking to explore beyond Switzerland, there are plenty of options in Europe.

Take France, for example. You wouldn’t want to miss the double-layered wall of Carcassonne or the rectangular walls of Aigues Mortes.

Then there’s Germany. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a charming town known for its well-preserved walls. These walls offer a view of the town’s lovely half-timbered houses.

And let’s not forget Italy. Bergamo is home to the UNESCO-listed Venetian Walls. These walls have stood the test of time, surviving without damage from wars or conflicts. It’s quite a sight to see.

#5 Reason: Zytturm — A Unique Tower with Hidden Gems

What sets Musegg Wall in Lucerne apart from other medieval walls in Europe is its beautiful tower called Zytturm or Zyt Tower. It is one of nine towers that make up the Musegg Wall.

Zytturm in Lucerne

The Zyt Tower, built in the 15th century, is unique for its time-honored clock on its façade, carried by two giants depicted on a 16th-century mural. Also, it wasn’t built for defense, but for the people of the city: a clock tower.

Interestingly, inside the tower, there are nine more clocks. These were collected by a man named Jörg Spöring, who looked after the tower clock for 50 years. The clocks were made between the 1500s and 1900s, and they show how clock-making has changed over time. You can visit the tower and see the clocks from spring to fall, and it’s free to get in.

These clocks are displayed on old wooden platforms inside the tower. The oldest platform was made in the year 1403.

There’s another clock tower in Switzerland that’s really worth a visit. It’s called Zytglogge and it’s in Bern, the country’s capital. What’s special about it is that it’s an astronomical clock with lots of colors and design. Amazingly, you can actually go inside and see the huge mechanism that powers its amazing moving figures every hour.

#6 Reason: Meggenhorn Castle — Switzerland’s Hidden Gem in Lucerne

Germany and France are known for their stunning castles, but Switzerland’s castles have a charm of their own, thanks to their idyllic locations. Chillon Castle in Lake Geneva and Oberhofen Castle in Lake Thun are just two examples of the picturesque settings of Swiss castles.

Meggenhorn Castle
Meggenhorn Castle

Another gem is the Meggenhorn Castle in Lucerne. It may not be as well-known as the Chapel Bridge or as large as the Musegg Wall, but it’s a landmark that can make your fantasies come true and is a good reason to visit Lucerne.

The castle, nestled on a hill overlooking Lake Lucerne in Meggen, dates back to the 18th century. It offers panoramic views of the lake, the city of Lucerne, and the mountains of Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi. But the castle itself is also a visual delight. Its design, inspired by the Châteaux Chambord in France’s Loire Valley, makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. 

During your visit, don’t miss the castle’s chapel, which boasts an impressive Neo-gothic style. Also, take the time to hike down the path leading to the lake for a beautiful view of the dock.  Every Sunday afternoon from April to October, you can explore the private living quarters of the castle’s former inhabitants. For more details, please visit the official website of Meggenhorn Castle.

If you’re planning a trip to Europe and wondering which castle to visit, I’d recommend the Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps. This castle served as the model for Walt Disney’s castles, and it’s easy to see why when you visit.

Another great option is the Lichtenstein Castle in the Swabian Alps. Both these castles, like the Meggenhorn Castle, are situated in locations that take your breath away.

#7 Reason: Lido Luzern — A Blend of Relaxation & Amazing Views

Lucerne, to me, feels like a slice of paradise. The reason? It’s home to a beach called Lido Lucerne, or Strandbad Lido Luzern in the local language. If you’re planning a summer trip to Switzerland and want a place to relax without breaking the bank, this is the place to be.

Lido Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland
Lido Luzern

The beach offers a variety of activities to keep you busy.

Feel like swimming? You can choose between the lake or a heated 25-meter pool. If you’re traveling with children, they’ll enjoy the playground, complete with a fountain, waterfall, and paddling pool. For sports enthusiasts, there are six beach volleyball pitches to test your skills.

But what about the view? Picture yourself lounging on a 300-meter sandy beach, gazing at the majestic Pilatus, Bürgenstock, and Stanserhorn mountains, with the city of Lucerne in the backdrop.

The sand is golden and clean, ideal for building sandcastles or just digging your toes in. For sunbathing, there’s ample space on the shady lawn areas. And the best part? The sandy beach is just a pathway away.

For more information, you can check Lido Luzern official website.

#8 Reason: Mount Pilatus — One of Switzerland’s Most Beautiful Mountains

Switzerland is home to countless mountains and peaks, but Mount Pilatus stands out for its unique views and experiences it offers to visitors. The highest peak, Tomlishorn, soars up to 2,128.5 meters, or about 6,983 feet.

From the summit, you can spot unrivaled view of the surrounding lake and mountains. On a clear day, you can gaze at over 70 Alpine peaks, and the views can reach as far as France and Germany. The sight is nothing short of breathtaking.

Most importantly, Mount Pilatus boasts the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. It’s been around since 1889 and takes you on a scenic 30-minute ride from Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm. You’ll pass through forests, meadows, and striking rock formations. It’s a ride you won’t forget.

Did you know that Pilatus Railway has an average slope of 35%, max at 48%? As an engineer, I appreciate the complexity and effort it takes to build such structures and I find the ride on this railway a travel bucket list.

Pilatus Railway in Mount Pilatus
Pilatus Railway in Mount Pilatus

And once you’re on top of Mount Pilatus, there’s so much to do! You can go hiking, explore the Dragon Trail, or enjoy a meal at one of the five restaurants. If you’re up for an adventure, try the Fräkigaudi, Switzerland’s longest toboggan run. And if you want to extend your stay, you can even spend a night at the Pilatus Kulm Hotels.

Lucerne is not the only place in the Alps that boasts impressive engineering feats like the Pilatus Railway. There are other spots too.

In Switzerland, for instance, you have the Klein Matterhorn in Zermatt. It holds the record for being the world’s highest cable car station. Another Swiss marvel is the Jungfraujoch in Lauterbrunnen, known as the world’s highest train station.

Crossing over to France, you’ll find the Aiguille du Midi cable car in Chamonix. It’s the one with the world’s highest vertical ascent.

#9 Reason: Frakigaudi Toboggan Run — Mountain Fun for Families

Mount Pilatus isn’t just about the steep railway and the stunning views from the top. There’s more to it.

Right near the peak of Mount Pilatus, another exciting adventure awaits you. It’s the Frakigaudi Am Pilatus, a toboggan run that’s perched high up on the mountain.

From the top, you’ll make your way down the mountain, covering a distance of 1350 meters. The journey is filled with thrilling moments – sharp turns, dragon holes, and even two built-in jumps!

As you slide down, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Alps. The entire toboggan run gives you a feeling of flying, as you swerve with the wind.

And here’s the best part – if you try the Frakigaudi Am Pilatus, you’ll be ticking off an item on your bucket list. Why? Because it’s the longest summer toboggan run in Switzerland!

However, Lucerne isn’t the only spot in Switzerland where you can enjoy a toboggan run. There’s another place you can go. It’s Kandersteg. This lovely town is in the Bernese Oberland, close to the beautiful Oeschinen Lake.

In Germany, the longest toboggan run is located in a very special village called Oberammergau. This is where houses are painted with colorful murals and a legendary passion play takes place every ten years.

#10 Reason: Hammetschwand Elevator — Europe’s Highest

Lucerne is a place that’s worth a visit, with many attractions that could be on anyone’s must-see list. Not only does it have the Chapel Bridge and Pilatus Railway, but it also boasts the Hammetschwand Elevator in mount Bürgenstock. This elevator holds the record for being the tallest outdoor elevator in Europe and is also one of the quickest of its kind.

View from Hammetschwand Elevator overlooking Lucerne
View from Hammetschwand Elevator overlooking Lucerne

For travelers like me, a trip to Lucerne wouldn’t be complete without a ride on this elevator. The top station is located at an impressive height of 1132 meters above sea level. The elevator whisks you up to this height at a speed of 3 meters per second.

One of the best things about the Hammetschwand Elevator is the unique view it offers. As you ascend, you get a spectacular view of Lucerne and Mount Pilatus. On rare occasions, you might even see a sea of clouds beneath the elevator’s top station. If you’re lucky enough to experience this, the journey from the ground station to the top will feel like a magical ascent into the clouds.

#11 Reason: Chocolates — Lucerne’s Blend of Sweetness

Visiting Lucerne offers a variety of experiences. You can enjoy breathtaking views, thrilling mountain adventures, and significant historical and cultural sites. But that’s not all. Your taste buds are in for a treat too — chocolates.

The Läderach Chocolatier Suisse, a renowned chocolate shop, is one of the places where you can have the chocolatey experience. 

Läderach Chocolatier Suisse in Lucerne is more than just a chocolate shop. It’s a place where you can witness the creation of Swiss chocolates, from the cocoa bean to the finished product. You can even make your own chocolate in their Walk-In Atelier!

The House of Läderach in Lucerne offers a unique experience. It’s not just about buying chocolates, it’s about immersing yourself in the art of Swiss chocolate making. The sensory delight of touching, smelling, hearing, and tasting their quality chocolates is something to look forward to. 

There’s plenty to do here. You can take a guided tour of the factory, learn about the history of cocoa and Läderach in their museum, relax in their café, and shop for freshly produced chocolates and pralines in their large factory store.

Learn more from the official website of Läderach Chocolatier Suisse in Lucerne. Discover more chocolatey experience below.

For a memorable culinary journey in Switzerland, Gruyeres is a must-visit. This place offers a unique cheese tasting experience that will leave your taste buds wanting more. From this town that you can also visit the Maison Cailler Swiss Chocolate Factory, where you can indulge in as many chocolates as you want.

#12 Reason: Churches — Lucerne’s Impressive Architecture

Lucerne is worth visiting for its beautiful landmarks, most are free to visit. Among these are the churches, such as the Jesuit Church and the Hofkirche or the parish church of Lucerne.

Interiors of the Jesuit Church in Lucerne
Interiors of the Jesuit Church in Lucerne

For architecture enthusiasts, these landmarks will impress with their grandeur, as seen in the Jesuit Church, and uniqueness, as seen in the Hofkirche.

The Jesuit Church is not just any church. It is the first large baroque church built north of the Alps. Stepping into it is like stepping into the 17th century when it was built to strengthen the Catholic presence.

The exterior might seem simple, but the interior is a different story. Visitors are greeted by a stunning display of white and golden rococo stucco. If you’re fortunate enough to catch a concert, you’ll be amazed by the acoustics that fill the church with melody.

Next the Hofkirche, or the Church of Saint Leodegar. This church has been standing for over a thousand years. Despite changes over the centuries, it remains a significant religious and architectural landmark.

Its facade, a blend of German Renaissance and Gothic styles, is sure to catch your eye! When you visit, don’t miss the stunning wrought iron gates and intricate gilded altars inside.

While the churches in Lucerne are indeed beautiful and unique, there’s a whole other level of beauty to be discovered in other parts of Europe. The churches in Lucerne possess a charm that is only a fraction of what you can find in the churches of Rome, Florence, Venice, and Paris.

#13 Reason: Museums — Lucerne’s Interesting Aspect

Truly, Lucerne is a city that’s worth visiting, and another compelling reason is the abundance of museums. Each museum is a gateway to new discoveries, adding an extra layer of interest to your Swiss adventure.

These museums in Lucerne also serve as great alternatives for fun, especially when the weather isn’t ideal for exploring the mountains. I’d like to highlight three museums that stand out: Sammlung Rosengart, Kunstmuseum Luzern, and the Swiss Museum of Transportation.

The Sammlung Rosengart is like a time capsule of modern art. Imagine walking through rooms filled with over 200 pieces by masters like Cezanne, Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Klee, and Miro. The museum itself is a sight to see, housed in a specially remodeled neo-classical building. It’s like stepping into the minds of these great artists.

Then there’s the Kunstmuseum Luzern. This place is a big deal in the Swiss art scene. It’s got a collection that takes you on a 500-year journey from the Renaissance to now. And the best part? They’ve got rotating exhibitions, so there’s always something new to discover.

And let’s not forget the Swiss Museum of Transport. It’s the most visited museum in Switzerland for a reason. It’s got everything from trains and cars to ships and planes, and even stuff on communication technology. It’s all about the past, present, and future of how we get around. Plus, it’s interactive, so it’s fun and educational for all ages.

#14 Reason: Lion Monument — Lucerne’s Unique Story

Many are drawn to Europe for its deep-rooted history. In Europe, history isn’t just confined to the pages of books. It’s etched into every corner of the continent, both figuratively and literally.

Autumn colors in Lion Monument, Lucerne
Autumn colors in Lion Monument

In Lucerne, you’ll find a piece of history carved into a rock. This is the Lion Monument, also known as the Lion of Lucerne. This sculpture was created by Bertel Thorvaldsen, who chiseled the monument into a wall in the 1820s. It serves as a memorial to the Swiss Guards who were massacred during the French Revolution in 1792.

The Lion Monument portrays a giant dying lion, measuring ten meters in length and six meters in height. It’s located at the eastern end of the medieval town, perched above a pond.

When you visit Lucerne, make sure to take advantage of the insightful tours available. These tours are designed to help you uncover the significant historical aspects of Lucerne.

So, those are my 14 reasons to visit Lucerne! If you’re considering a visit and planning to stay for 2 days or more, there are resources available to help you find the best hotel deals in Lucerne. This hotel browser features a map that can assist you in finding the most conveniently located hotels, as well as those with the best views.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out sample itineraries for Lucerne to help you decide how long you should stay.

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Lucerne, Switzerland

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