In the heart of Switzerland lies the small and pretty town called Lucerne set amidst the clear fjord-like blue lake and majestic mountains. Most visitors begin their journey to the Alps from Lucerne. Nowadays, it is a popular destination for visitors from all over the world.
The following are 9 of the best things to do in and near Lucerne, Switzerland.
1. Cruise along Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne itself is one of the most well-known lakes in the country surrounded by beautiful mountains.
The lake itself is composed of several basins: Lucerne, Küssnacht, and Alpnach. Furthermore, it has several bays – Stansstaad, Weggis, Buochs, Gersau, and Uri. The various basins and bays provide exhilarating and changing views of the landscape.
The Lake Lucerne ship company provides several cruise experiences: short and long round trips, culinary cruises (brunch, candlelight, and more), and cruise + mountain excursions.
Popular for visitors is to cruise on one of the five steamboats in service. The oldest one in the country, Steamboat Uri, had its maiden voyage in 1901.
Of the five paddle steamers on Lake Lucerne, only one is capable of sailing under the low Acheregg bridge and reaching Alpnachstad. Steamboat Unterwalden” as the steamboat is called, has a funnel and wheelhouse which can be hydraulically lowered. It is really fascinating to watch.
2. Hike the Swiss Path – Switzerland’s Most Famous Hike
The 35-km hike called “Swiss Way” (Weg der Schweiz in German) was a gift from the government to the Swiss for its 700-year anniversary. It is the most famous circular hiking trail in Switzerland.
What makes the Swiss Way hike so special? The Swiss Way leads you back to the historical roots of Switzerland. The way traverses six communities of Uri and two from Schwyz. The historical communities awaken the memory of the struggle for freedom of the Swiss ancestors, Wilhelm Tell, and the founding of the Swiss Confederation.
With the Lake Lucerne ship, you can choose from a variety of starting and destination points. However, the path begins on Rütli, a particularly unspectacular meadow in Seelisberg. However, it is relevant for the Swiss due to its historical symbolism, being the location of the oath called Rütlischwur marking the foundation of the original Swiss Confederacy. Again and again, there is a wonderful view of the lake and the surrounding mountains along the Swiss Way. Sometimes, the path leads high up on the mountain or directly to the shore around Lake Uri.
3. Visit Europe’s Largest Transport Museum – Verkehrshaus
This well-known Transport Museum called Verkehrshaus is one of the most visited museums in Switzerland and the largest Transport Museum in Europe. It is a big hit for kids.
Verkehrshaus exhibits various forms of transport in Switzerland, including automobiles, ships, submarines, aircraft, trains, trams, and cable cars. Aside from the transport exhibits, there is also a Planetarium, the Swiss Chocolate Adventure, a Communications area, and a Film Theater (Movie House) in 2D or 3D.
Verkehrshaus is open 365 days a year.
It costs CHF 32 per Adult to get into the museum. A day pass for the entire area costs more at CHF 56. The day pass covers the entrance to the Museum, a visit to the Swiss Chocolate Adventure and the Media World, and the daily screenings/shows in the Film Theater and Planetarium. Discounts are available from Coop Hello Family Club, KulturLegi, Raiffeisen (MemberPlus), SBB RailAway combi deal, Swiss Museum Pass, Swiss Travel Pass, and TCS Touring Club Schweiz.
4. Pay homage to Heroes in the Lion Monument
«The Lion of Lucerne (is) the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.»Mark twain
The Lion Monument created by the Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen in 1821 pays tribute to the hundreds of Swiss Guards who died during the revolutionary siege of Paris on the 10th of August 1792. The Swiss Guards tried to protect the life of King Louis XVI in vain and paid the price for their bravery by dying. The monument portrays a dying lion lying across broken symbols of the French monarchy.
The man behind the vision, an officer named Karl Pyffer, eventually returned to Lucerne after years of service abroad. He raised funds necessary in order to erect a monument to pay tribute to the fallen heroes, his comrades-in-arms. It was completed with the help of the most high-profile sculptors at that time – Bertel Thorvaldsen and a German stonemason named Lukas Ahorn.
If you would like to know more about the story behind the Lion Monument, check out our article The Story Behind the Lion Monument in Lucerne.
5. Be Inspired by Art from Pablo Picasso in Rosengart Collection, Lucerne
Be inspired by the stunning Art Collection presented by Siegfried and Angela Rosengart located in what used to be the Swiss National Bank building built back in 1924. The Rosengart Collection proudly presents many works of Pablo Picasso. Other artists include Paul Klee, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, and Claude Monet.
The Rosengart Collection is open daily except during the Fasnacht carnival season. Adults pay CHF 18 to access the collection.
6. Walk on the Chapel Bridge
One of Europe’s oldest wooden bridges – the Chapel bridge connects both sides of the Reuss. It was built in 1300 and is part of the city wall. Though it burned and got badly damaged, it was rebuilt in 1994 true to its original form.
The pictures found on the ceilings of this 200-meter-long bridge were created in the 17th century in the style of the late renaissance.
7. Discover Glaciers from the Past in Lucerne Glacier Garden
Impressive glacier potholes located in the Lucerne Glacier Garden are witnesses of the last ice age 20,000 years ago and prove that Lucerne was covered by glaciers at the time. On the other hand, fossils of shells and palm leaves show that there was a subtropical sea beach here 20 million years ago.
Interactive information systems and a multimedia show bring the exciting history of the earth closer in an entertaining way. The museum houses the world’s oldest large mountain relief in Central Switzerland. Another highlight is the Alhambra mirror labyrinth.
The Lucerne Glacier Garden is only a few steps away from the famous Lion Monument. It is open 364 days a year and costs CHF 12 to visit.
If you would like to read more about Glacier Garden, check out our article Glacier Garden Lucerne – An Honest Review.
8. Plan an Excursion to the Bürgenstock Resort
Enjoy a beautiful day by cruising on the lake by taking the fast ferry from Lucerne to Kehrsiten-Bürgenstock on the way to Bürgenstock Resort.
Right at the Bürgenstock Resort, one can hike on the rock path built between 1900 and 1905. There is a learning path on which twelve questions about geography and geology, history of tourism, technology, forest and nature conservation are asked.
The path soon leads to the Hammetschwand Lift, which with its 152.8 meters height is the highest, freestanding outdoor lift in Europe. The Hammentschawand Lift was built at the beginning of the last century and is one of the most daring tourist facilities of the Belle Époque. In less than a minute, you can go up to the observation terrace of Bürgenstock. This is the highest vantage point in the city of Lucerne. There is also a mountain restaurant in Hammetschwand.
9. Go to Engelberg and Mount Titlis
Engelberg is the largest mountain village in Central Switzerland located in canton Obwalden. It has a famous Benedictine monastery where monks still continue to live, work, and teach. There is also a cheese factory, a museum, and a number of old chapels.
In summer, the village is known for diverse options for hiking, biking, golf, and mountaineering. It is also popular for families with the summer toboggan run, an adventure playground and the Globi (a popular Swiss cartoon character) themed trail.
From Engelberg, one can go up to the Titlis massif by the cable car. Titlis has one of the highest peaks in the region at 3,238 meters (10,623 feet). In Winter, Titlis mountain is known for its diverse ski and free ride area.
Here’s a quick video from MySwitzerland about the city of Lucerne. Go check it out. I find it sums up the city quite well.
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- Glacier Garden Lucerne – An Honest Review
- The Story Behind the Lion Monument in Lucerne
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- How Long Does the Goldenpass Train Take?
- When Is the Best Time to Visit Lucerne, Switzerland?