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10 Best Day Trips from Lucerne

Last Updated on December 6, 2023 by Darla Uhl

The small city of Lucerne sits in the heart of Switzerland amidst the fjord-like Lake Lucerne and majestic mountains. With the famous old wooden bridge on the lake, plus the Alps as a backdrop, this city along the Reuss River is picture-perfect. Lucerne’s old town is perfect for shopping or sightseeing with its many shops and boutiques, as well as cafes and restaurants. If you’re visiting Switzerland for the first time, Lucerne is the perfect place to begin exploring the country.

Although Lucerne has so many activities to offer, those who spend several days there might still want to take day trips from the city. Below are some suggestions for the best day trips from Lucerne for those based there.

Typically, these day trips are located one to two hours away from Lucerne by train.

This article discusses the 10 best day trips from Lucerne. Let’s go!

10 Best Day Trips from Lucerne

1. Interlaken

Interlaken, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and two crystal-clear lakes, is an exciting day trip destination. This place is ideal for thrill-seekers since it offers paragliding, skydiving, and many other activities. It takes just one hour to drive from Lucerne to Interlaken.

Image of Harder Kulm in Interlaken by TouringSwitzerland.com

Interlaken, Switzerland is a trendy tourist hub in the Bernese Oberland. In Interlaken, you will find walking trails along the River Aare, many souvenir shops, a Japanese garden, and the local mountain Harder Kulm for spectacular views. A red funicular takes you from Interlaken to Harder Kulm in 10 minutes, with one departure every half hour.

If you would like to learn more about Interlaken, check out our article Interlaken: 8 Reasons Why You Should Visit.

As one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist spots, Interlaken is also a hot spot for outdoor sports enthusiasts. It is also conveniently located between two beautiful lakes – Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.

For those who are into fun adventures, below are some of the most popular outdoor activities in Interlaken:

  • Tandem Paragliding (GetYourGuide): Experience pure serenity as you float weightlessly alongside an experienced pilot and witness the breathtaking beauty of the Jungfrau region from the sky.
  • Adventure Park (GetYourGuide): Conquer 9 thrilling rope courses and zip lines soaring up to 23 meters above the ground, with the assurance of a comprehensive safety briefing and top-notch safety gear.
  • Kayak Tour of Lake Brienz (GetYourGuide): Paddle through the crystal-clear waters of Lake Brienz with the guidance of an experienced coach, as you soak in the stunning views, including the picturesque Rinngenberg Castle. You may also book this activity in winter (GetYourGuide).
  • Canyoning (GetYourGuide): Dive into the ultimate adrenaline rush with a canyoning expedition in Chli Schilere, featuring challenging rappelling, high jumps, fast slides, and an unforgettable adventure in one of the region’s top canyons.
  • Scenic Jetboat Ride (GetYourGuide): Experience an exhilarating 45 to 50-minute jetboat ride on Lake Brienz near Interlaken, culminating at Giessbach Falls.
Don’t miss these attractions in Interlaken
Harder Kulm
* Höhenweg
* Interlaken-Harder Alpine Game Park
* Lake Thun
* Lake Brienz


How do you get from Lucerne to Interlaken?

With the Lucerne-Interlaken train, you can easily travel between Lucerne and Interlaken.


2. Bern

One of the most important day trips you can take from Lucerne is to Bern, Switzerland’s de facto capital, which is 111 kilometers away. It can be reached in 1 hour and 16 minutes by car.

Image of Bern by TouringSwitzerland.com

Nestled along the banks of the Aare River, Bern offers a variety of attractions for all tastes, whether you enjoy history, art, animals, or simply relaxing in a beautiful setting. It is the federal city of Switzerland. There is much more to discover when you take the time to explore this charming city.

There is no better place in Bern to start your day than the Old Town, located across the Aare River. The Old Town of Bern, which consists of many well-preserved buildings from the medieval era, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. A famous symbol of Bern, which dates back to 1218-1220, can be seen right at the entrance to the Old Town: the Zytglogge.

If you would like to learn more about Bern, check out our article How to Spend 1 Day in Bern, Switzerland.

Don’t miss these attractions in Bern
* UNESCO World Heritage Old City of Bern
* Parliament Building
* Bern Minster Cathedral
Historic Museum
* Bern Bear Pit (Bärengraben)
* Bern Zoo (Tierpark Dählhölzli)
* Zentrum Paul Klee
Gurten
* Museum of Communication

How do you get from Lucerne to Bern?

There are two direct trains per hour between Lucerne and Bern. It takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes to travel from Lucerne to Bern by direct train.


3. Rhine Falls

Known for its powerful cascades, misty rainbows, and picturesque setting amid rocky cliffs and lush greenery, Rhine Falls is one of Switzerland’s most stunning wonders. Despite having to cover 107 kilometers in an hour and 30 minutes, Rhine Falls is a rewarding day trip from Lucerne. Also nearby is Schaffhausen, which is worth a visit.

Image of Rhine Falls by TouringSwitzerland.com

Europe’s most powerful waterfall is Rheinfall (or Rhine Falls). Rhine Falls is located in Neuhausen in the canton of Schaffhausen. Not only is it beautiful and powerful, but it is also considered the largest in Europe.

Rheinfall has a width of 150 meters and a height of 23 meters. In the summer, 600 m3 (21,189 cubic feet) of water pours over the falls. 

Rheinfall is Switzerland’s and Europe’s largest waterfall – and it is definitely worth a visit.

By taking a boat trip up to the Rheinfall rock, you can see this waterfall quite closely. Although it can get quite loud, it is a great experience (I have done it and thoroughly enjoyed it). This rock is accessible via stairs. 

Rheinfall is easily accessible by public transportation. You may also want to visit Schaffhausen and/or Stein am Rhein after visiting Rheinfall.

Don’t miss these attractions in Rhine Falls
Rhine Falls
* Boat Ride
* Smilestones Miniaturwelt
* Schaffhausen
* Stein am Rhein

If you would like to check out Rhine Falls as well as Switzerland’s most beautiful waterfalls, you can check out our articles:

How do you get from Lucerne to Rhine Falls?

Rhine Falls can be accessed from Lucerne by traveling to Zurich. In Zurich, change to a connecting train to Neuhausen Rheinfall. Rhine Falls is a short walk from the train station.


4. Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen, a picturesque Swiss village renowned for its beautiful valley, waterfalls, and outdoor activities, is one of the most picturesque day trips you can take from Lucerne.

Image of Lauterbrunnen by TouringSwitzerland.com

Lauterbrunnen is an idyllic village in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland surrounded by waterfalls. The entire area is best described as a valley with 72 waterfalls. Lauterbrunnen is a great place to start exploring the Jungfrau Region.

Lauterbrunnen village is situated at the valley bottom of this magnificent U-shaped valley in Switzerland. Most of the residents of this valley are actually from Lötschental, the adjacent valley located in Valais. A road was said to have passed between the Eiger and Mönch on the way to Valais. It is said that the heights used to be much milder and more fertile.

By taking the train from Lauterbrunnen, you can reach the sunny car-free terrace of Wengen as well as Kleine Scheidegg. From Kleine Scheidegg, you can change trains to go to Jungfraujoch. You may access Mürren through Lauterbrunnen itself or via Stechelberg on the other side of Lauterbrunnen. In addition, if you keep ascending, you’ll reach Piz Gloria – the summit of Schilthorn at 2,971 meters above sea level.

Some of the other highlights of the Lauterbrunnen region include Staubbach Waterfall, Trümmelbach Waterfalls, Mürrenbach Waterfall, and Gimmelwald.

Don’t miss these attractions in Lauterbrunnen
Trümmelbach Waterfalls
* Staubbach Waterfall
* Mürrenbach Waterfall
* Gimmelwald
Wengen
Kleine Scheidegg

If you would like to plan a day in Lauterbrunnen, you can check out this article How to Spend 1 Day in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.

How do you get from Lucerne to Lauterbrunnen?

From Lucerne, take the Interregion train to Interlaken Ost. In Interlaken Ost, change to the connecting train that will bring you to Lauterbrunnen.


5. Lake Geneva

241 kilometers away from Lucerne, Lake Geneva is the perfect day trip for a relaxing and beautiful getaway. Wineries and a slower lifestyle make this French-speaking region a refreshing contrast to Lucerne’s more hectic pace.

Image of Lake Geneva in Vevey by TouringSwitzerland.com

Lake Geneva is a crescent-shaped lake formed from the Rhone River and shared between Switzerland and Geneva. At its eastern end, the Rhone flows into the lake between Villeneuve and Le Bouveret. It empties into Geneva in the west.  On the southern shore of Lake Geneva are the Chablais Alps, on the western side the Swiss Jura, and on the eastern side the Bernese Alps.

There are so many beautiful places around Lake Geneva that choosing a few is difficult. My top recommendations include the regions of Lavaux, Montreux, Vevey, Rochers-de-Naye, Lausanne, and Geneva.

Don’t miss these attractions in Lake Geneva
* Montreux
* Vevey
* Rochers-de-Naye
* Lausanne
* Geneva
* Lavaux Vineyard Terraces

If you would like to plan a day in Lake Geneva, you can read our article 8 Best Places on Lake Geneva.

How do you get from Lucerne to Lake Geneva?

Trains run directly between Lucerne and Lausanne/Geneva. Visiting other regions around Lake Geneva will probably require you to take a connecting regional train.


6. Mount Rigi

In addition to enjoying breathtaking views of nearby lakes and mountains, Rigi is an easy day trip from Lucerne. If you want to experience the Swiss Alps, Mount Rigi is well worth the 2-hour journey.

Image of Lake Lucerne from Mount Rigi by TouringSwitzerland.com

Rigi is one of the most visited mountains in the entire Central Switzerland region. It lies surrounded by three lakes – Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug, and Lake Lauerz.

Rigi is popular for its spectacular viewpoints overlooking the lakes and mountains. Most people can also visit it by going up from one town by cable car or train and going down by another, as there are numerous possibilities to visit the mountain. From Rigi, you have breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and towns nearby.

Don’t miss these attractions in Rigi
* Rigi Kulm
* Rigi Kaltbad Mineral Bath
* Hiking Paths in summer
* Skiing and sledding in winter

How do you get from Lucerne to Mount Rigi?

Although there are numerous ways to go up to Mount Rigi, the fastest is taking the inter-regional train from Lucerne to Arth-Goldau and from there taking the cogwheel railway up to Rigi Kulm. This trip takes as little as 80 minutes from Lucerne.


7. Lugano

A relaxing day trip on the Gotthard Panorama Express includes plenty of sightseeing. A paddle steamer will take you around Lake Lucerne before a panoramic train takes you through the historical Gotthard route. Beyond the Gotthard lies Switzerland’s Italian-speaking region.

Image of Lugano by Andreas from Pixabay

Located in the sunny Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, Lugano is one of the most popular cities to visit in Switzerland. The lush gardens, the charming old town, the shopping, the mild climate, and delicious food have made it a popular getaway, especially in spring and autumn.

Lugano provides a nice contrast to the German-speaking region of Lucerne. An interesting mix of Swiss and Italian culture can be found here; life is relaxed and enjoyable.

Don’t miss these attractions in Lugano
* Chiesa Santa Maria Degli Angeli Church
* City Center and Via Nassa
* Catedrale San Lorenzo
* LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura
* Monte San Salvatore
* Monte Brè
* Lake Lugano

How do you get from Lucerne to Lugano?

It is highly recommended that you take the Gotthard Panorama Express from Lucerne to Lugano. You can book it via sbb.ch.


8. Zurich

Zurich’s numerous museums, shops, and activities make it one of the most vibrant day trips from Lucerne. In less than an hour, you can reach Zurich from Lucerne.

Image of Zurich by TouringSwitzerland.com

As Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich offers plenty of restaurants, bars, museums, and shops. Here you will also find beautiful churches such as Grossmünster and Fraumünster. My favorite family outing here is the Zoo, which, in my opinion, is the best zoo in the country.

There are many things that you can do in Zurich so if you would like to visit somewhere larger and livelier than Lucerne, I highly recommend that you give it a try.

Don’t miss these attractions in Zurich
* Landesmuseum Zurich
* Grossmünster Church
* Uetliberg Mountain
* Lindenhof
* Lake Zurich
* Bahnhofstrasse for shopping

If you would like to plan a day in Zurich, you can read our article 25 Best Things To Do In Zurich, Switzerland.

How do you get from Lucerne to Zurich?

There are two direct trains per hour between Lucerne and Zurich. It takes approximately 41 to 50 minutes to travel from Lucerne to Zurich by direct train.


9. Aare Gorge

With steep rock walls, rushing water, and stunning natural scenery, visiting the Aare Gorge makes for an interesting day trip from Lucerne. It takes an hour to an hour and a half to get there from Lucerne.

Image of Aare Gorge by TouringSwitzerland.com

Known for its limestone formations, Aare Gorge is a large piece of bedrock. It stretches 1,400 meters long and 200 meters deep between Innertkirchen and Meiringen. With a system of safe paths and tunnels, you can walk through the gorgeous gorge to experience nature in a unique way.

Access to Aare Gorge has been possible for more than a century. It has been open to the public since 1888. Restaurants, a winter-covered terrace, and a playground have expanded the tourist appeal over the years. Throughout the years, they have also made continuous efforts to make the gallery safer.

If you would like to read more about Aare Gorge, you can check out our article The Aare Gorge Canyon Walk in Haslital, Switzerland.

How do you get from Lucerne to Aare Gorge?

Take the Lucerne-Interlaken Express train from Lucerne to Meiringen. From Meiringen, take the connecting train to Aareschlucht Ost or Aareschlucht West. It takes approximately 1 hour 17 minutes to 1 hour 44 minutes to travel from Lucerne to Aare Gorge train station via Meiringen. The Aare Gorge entrance is a few minutes walk from the train station.


10. Brienz

In just under one hour, you can drive 53 kilometers to the lovely village of Brienz from Lucerne. Discover one of the most beautiful streets in the world and then ride the train to Brienzer Rothorn for breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps.

Image of Brienz by TouringSwitzerland.com

Brienz is a charming, unassuming Swiss village set along the turquoise waters of Lake Brienz. Known for its woodcarving tradition, Brienz has a museum and a school dedicated to wood carving. It is also home to Brunngasse, one of Switzerland’s prettiest streets.

Following your exploration of the village, I recommend heading up to Brienzer Rothorn. A few of the other beautiful attractions in the area include Iseltwald, Giessbach Falls, and the Ballenberg Open-air Museum.

Don’t miss these attractions in Brienz
* Brunngasse
* Woodcarving Museum
* Brienzer Rothorn
* Iseltwald
* Giessbach Falls
* Ballenberg Open-air Museum

If you would like to read more about Brienz, you can check out our article 12 Things to Do in Brienz Switzerland.

How do you get from Lucerne to Brienz?

Take the Lucerne-Interlaken Express train from Lucerne to Brienz. It takes approximately 1 hour and 27 minutes to travel from Lucerne to Brienz.


Summary: Best Day Trips from Lucerne

For those who are staying for a couple of days in Lucerne, Switzerland, and wish to venture out to other places, we hope that this list was helpful.

To summarize, if you are looking for large cities with lots of activities, Zurich, Bern, and Lugano are great choices. Brienz and the Lake Geneva region are for those who want something a bit smaller and more laid back.

Rhine Falls, Lauterbrunnen, and Aare Gorge offer some of the most picturesque landscapes for photographers. Lastly, Mount Rigi is the most suitable choice for those who want to visit the mountains.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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