Situated on the shores of sparkling Lake Lucerne, at the base of Mount Pilatus, the city of Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s most scenic destinations and a popular basecamp for exploring the Swiss Alps. Visit to see the city’s historic medieval center, then head into the mountains for hiking, cycling, and winter sports adventures.
Take a walking tour of the city, and see Lucerne landmarks such as Lion Monument and Chapel Bridge, the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe. Then visit the Picasso Museum and the lakeside farmers markets and take a walk along the city’s old fortifications, the Musegg Wall.
You can see Lucerne on a day trip from Zurich that includes round-trip transportation and a boat cruise on Lake Lucerne, or stay in town and head out into the Alps to visit sights like Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus, and the Bernese highlands. You can also visit Lucerne on a multi-day tour of the Swiss Alps that includes other must-see towns like Interlaken, Gruyères, and Zermatt.
Things to Know Before You Go
Boat cruises and mountain tours leaving from Lucerne may be cancelled for safety reasons if the weather is bad.
Weather in the Swiss Alps can be cool and unpredictable even during the summer months; make sure to bring along extra layers and a rain jacket.
Some Lucerne boat cruises and city tours are wheelchair accessible; inquire before booking.
How to Get There
Lucerne is located on the shores of Lake Lucerne near the Swiss Alps, about 32 miles (52 kilometers) south of Zurich. The nearest international airport is located in Zurich, and there is a direct train from the airport to Lucerne. Parking can be expensive and difficult to find in the city, so it’s best to take public transportation or book a tour.
When to Get There
Lucerne is a year-round destination and is particularly crowded in July and August. The best time of year to visit depends on which activities you want to participate in. May through September is the ideal time for hiking and biking adventures, ski season runs from early December through late March, and Lucerne’s Carnival Festival takes place in February.
Visiting Mount Pilatus
A trip to the summit of 6,995-foot (2,132-meter) Mount Pilatus is one of the most popular excursions from Lucerne. The journey to the summit involves a boat cruise on Lake Lucerne, a trip on the world’s steepest cogwheel train, and a ride on the aerial cableway to the summit. From Mount Pilatus, you can head out for a hike or just enjoy the panoramic views of Lucerne and the Swiss Alps from the summit.
- Things to do in Central Switzerland
- Things to do in Zurich
- Things to do in Basel
- Things to do in Davos
- Things to do in Montreux
- Things to do in Lake Como
- Things to do in Ferno
- Things to do in Strasbourg
- Things to do in Milan
- Things to do in Geneva
- Things to do in Annecy
- Things to do in Turin
- Things to do in Innsbruck
- Things to do in Swiss Alps
- Things to do in Lake Geneva
- Lucerne Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche Luzern)
- Rosengart Collection (Museum Sammlung Rosengart)
- Lucerne Old Town
- Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrucke)
- Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee)
- Culture and Congress Centre (KKL)
- Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal)
- Richard Wagner Museum
- Swiss Museum of Transport (Verkehrshaus der Schweiz)
- Mt. Pilatus
- Pilatus Railways (Pilatus Bahnen)
- Mount Rigi
- Mt. Stanserhorn CabriO Cable Car