Lucerne is ideal for first time visitors. It's compact and lively, and close to many attractions for both good and bad weather.
WHAT TO DO
The attractions in and around Lucerne. The Pilatus, Titlis, hiking trails and more.
Rent an apartment or holiday home in Lucerne.
Any questions left about Lucerne? Feel free to post to the forum!
Location and scenery
Lucerne is situated where the Alps begin. There are hills in the north and mountains in the south. The town lies along the banks of Lake Lucerne. Scenic boat trips can be made directly from the town center.
Pros and cons of Lucerne
Lucerne is one of the towns that is ideal for first time visitors to Switzerland. Also, it's a good place to start or end your visit to Switzerland, as Lucerne is easily accessible from Zurich and Zurich airport. The town has a lot to offer: a picturesque and compact town centre, museums, boat cruises, and a generous choice of hotels, shops and restaurants.
Many attractions can be reached easily from Lucerne. The Pilatus mountain is right next door. A short trip gets you to the Rigi railways, or the famous cable car up the Titlis.
Lucerne allows you to be very flexible in choosing your activities, as there are plenty of good and bad weather options. The town has lots of facilities, it's lively, but not as big as Zurich or Bern for example.
If you want to see the highest peaks of the Swiss Alps, then Lucerne is not the best base. In that case you'd best consider regions further south, e.g. the Jungfrau region.
Winter in Lucerne
Lucerne is very atmospheric in November and December. Christmas shopping can be done in the illuminated old town. A Christmas market is held, and you can easily travel to other towns and Christmas markets. Examples are Zurich, Bern and Basel.
Lucerne is at low altitude and has a mild climate. Snow in town isn’t common. You’ll have to travel to reach winter sports resorts.
The main snow destination near Lucerne is Engelberg-Titlis. Engelberg can be reached in 45 minutes by train. Due the high altitude of Titlis, snow can fall during a large part of the winter season. This snow area is generally open from early October to late May. It offers a wide range of snow activities, including sledge runs.
Sledding, bobsledding and snowshoe hiking are available at Pilatus, the mountain closest to Lucerne.
Many more ski regions can be visited from Lucerne. Count on traveling times of at least an hour. Lower ski regions have most snow in January and February.
What not to miss in Lucerne
The picturesque old town can easily be explored on foot. Try to include at least these sites:
- Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke): a 200 m long covered wooden bridge in the city center, with 111 paintings in the inside. Attached is the Water Tower, which dates back to about 1300. The bridge is accessible on foot from the train station in 5 minutes;
- Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche) in the Bahnhofstrasse, 100 m from the Chapel Bridge
- Franciscan Church (Franziskanerkirche), behind the Jesuit Church;
- Hof Church (Hofkirche) in the Sankt-Leodegar-Strasse;
- Lion Monument in the Denkmalstrasse, about 15 minutes from the rail station. It commemorates the hundreds of members of the Swiss Guard who died while defending the Tuileries Palace in Paris in 1792;
- Musegg Wall: the 13th century city walls in the north of the town center. Some of the towers are accessible.
- All these highlights, and more, are included in our self guided Lucerne city walk suggestion.
More things to do in and around Lucerne are listed here.