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Basel to Lucerne Train: All You Need To Know 

Last Updated on December 11, 2023 by Darla Uhl

Lucerne is one of the most popular destinations in Switzerland. The majority of first-time visitors choose Lucerne as their destination. The choice is excellent. A beautiful, easily accessible town with good tourist infrastructure and great information, Lucerne is sure to impress. Going from Basel to Lucerne is one of the best day trips that you can do in Switzerland.

Image of Lucerne by TouringSwitzerland.com

Logistical concerns come up inevitably. Particularly for those who want to travel by rail in Switzerland, there are several specifics concerning train travel. What is the best way to get from point A to point B? Does it offer scenic views? So on and so forth.

As one of the most populous and visited cities in Switzerland, people who are in Basel might consider visiting Lucerne by train. Traveling by train in Switzerland is an easy, comfortable, and impressive journey. So I would definitely recommend traveling by train between Basel and Lucerne.

This article will answer all your questions about the train journey from Basel to Lucerne. 

Overview: Navigating Swiss Trains

You can start by visiting the SBB website: www.sbb.ch. Using the website, you can type in your departure and arrival destinations. It will then guide you to where and when you need to be. An app is also available for iOS and Android devices.

If you wish to pay half the fare for all your train rides in Switzerland, a Half Fare Discount Card (1-month validity) is available on www.sbb.ch. This allows you to travel for half the price on all SBB routes and most other railways during the duration of your discount card.

Using the Swiss Pass, you get unlimited travel by train, bus, and boat in Switzerland. Over 500 museums are also free or discounted, and there are free or discounted excursions to mountain summits.

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Getting tickets from RailEurope is convenient while traveling within Europe and/or visiting multiple countries. Having been in operation since the 1930s, RailEurope‘s extensive history, user-friendly website and mobile apps, flexible currency payment options, commitment to customer satisfaction, and strategic partnerships with leading rail operators, collectively establish it as a reliable and trustworthy platform for booking European train travel.

You can obtain from RailEurope the following travel passes:

  • Swiss Travel Pass – choose between continuous or flexible Swiss train passes for 3, 4, 8, or 15 days. The perks? unlimited use in over 90 Swiss cities, free admission to more than 500 museums, and discounts on mountain railways and cable cars. You also get discounts on high-speed Lyria trains between France and Switzerland as well as Nightjet trains that go through Switzerland. See RailEurope for more information.
  • Eurail Global Pass – unlimited train travel to 40,000 destinations in 33 European countries for non-EU residents
  • Interrail Global Pass – access to 40,000 destinations in 33 European countries for citizens and permanent residents of the EU

How To Get From Basel to Lucerne

Image of Basel Train Station where you can go from Basel to Lucerne
Image of Basel Train Station by TouringSwitzerland.com

It’s best to take the direct train from Basel to Lucerne. These two cities are connected by several trains (Eurocity, Interregio, Intercity).

If you are coming from Basel EuroAirport, you will first have to take the bus which will bring you to the Basel Train Station. From there, you can proceed to take the train to Lucerne.

There are direct trains from Basel to Lucerne. I highly recommend taking the direct train that leaves once per hour from either place.

You can also travel via Olten if you miss this direct train. However, it does take longer compared to taking the direct train.

How Long To Get From Basel to Lucerne

Visiting from Basel to Lucerne
Image of Lucerne by TouringSwitzerland.com

You can get from Basel to Lucerne by direct train in a little over an hour. If you are coming from the airport or you decide to go via Olten, it will take you around 1.5 hours.

The following table shows the train ride duration from Basel to Lucerne (updated December 2023):

RouteEstimated Travel Time (Fastest)
Basel – Lucerne1 hour 2 minutes
Basel – Olten – Lucerne1 hour 27 minutes
Basel EuroAirport – Basel – Lucerne1 hour 24 minutes

Is the Train From Basel to Lucerne Scenic?

Unfortunately, the Interregio train from Basel to Lucerne is not the most scenic train route. It is a fast, commuter train connecting major cities.

In case you would like to check out other scenic trains, then there are more scenic trains recommended below. These are the Golden Pass Line, the Glacier Express, and the Bernina Express. Another interesting train is the Historical Train that goes from Davos to Filisur.

Image of Bernina Express by TouringSwitzerland.com
Image of Bernina Express by TouringSwitzerland.com

Your other options in detail are the following:

  • Golden Pass – The Golden Pass departs from Lucerne. You would take a train from Basel to Lucerne, then change to Interlaken. This is sometimes referred to as the east end of this route. The Golden Pass has panorama coaches and is scenic.
  • Glacier Express – Glacier Express is a long journey that starts from Zermatt, home of Matterhorn. It then traverses 291 bridges and 91 tunnels before stopping in St. Moritz. Zermatt and St. Moritz are beautiful mountain resorts worthy of a longer stay. The Glacier Express passes by several idyllic mountain villages.
  • Bernina Express – Bernina Express is another train route that begins in Chur. Chur is the oldest alpine city in Switzerland and is worth visiting. This train route spans 196 bridges. It goes through 55 tunnels and passes 20 beautiful villages in Switzerland. For you to go on this scenic train, you will have to go from Lucerne to Chur first.
  • Historical Train Davos to Filisur – May through October, vintage carriages are pulled by the century-old crocodile locomotive from Davos Platz to Filisur. The train line covers a total length of 4,200 meters through 14 tunnels and 28 bridges. Its scenic highlights include the Wiesen Viaduct and the Zügen Gorge.

How Much Will the Train Ticket From Basel to Lucerne Cost?

Image of Lucerne
Image of Lucerne taken by TouringSwitzerland.com

As of the time of publishing the article (updated December 2023), a single journey ticket from Basel to Lucerne costs the following:

RouteFull Fare (CHF)Half Fare (CHF)
Basel – Lucerne36.0018.00
Basel EuroAirport – Basel – Lucerne42.6021.30

Do You Need a Seat Reservation on the Train?

No, there is no need to reserve a spot on the train. But you can always add this option if that is your wish.


Recommended Hotels in Lucerne

Image of Hotel Schweizerhof Lucerne by TouringSwitzerland.com

Looking for a hotel in Lucerne? We’ve got some great options below:

  • Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern (5-star) – Directly on the lake, this refined hotel is located in the old town of Lucerne. You’ll also find a gym, a spa, and modern furniture amid elegant interiors. A 10-minute walk gets you to the train station.
  • Grand Hotel National Luzern (5-star) – A luxurious hotel built in the 1870s. Close to the train station and the historic old town, this hotel has elegant interiors, fantastic lake views, and a swimming pool.
  • Hermitage Lake Lucerne (4-star) – Set on the shores of Lake Lucerne, this tranquil hotel is a great place to relax. While it’s a little outside of the city, it has stunning views and refined restaurants. There’s also a beach club with daybeds, lounges, drinks, snacks, and cool music. Party boats are available to rent or you can take public boats that stop right outside the hotel. My family has stayed here and has loved it. I highly recommend it. 
  • AMERON Luzern Hotel Flora (4-star) – Near the train station and the Chapel Bridge, this hotel has chic rooms and a great breakfast.  
  • Hotel Rebstock (4-star) – A historic, half-timbered hotel dating from the late Middle Ages, Hotel Rebstock is one of the 16 Unique and Historical Hotels in Switzerland. It is ideally located near the Hof Church, the Lion Monument, and the Glacier Garden.
  • Hotel Central Luzern (3-star) – In a central location near the train station, the chapel bridge, the old town, and the Rosengart Collection, Hotel Central Luzern offers bright, clean, recently renovated rooms, as well as a delicious breakfast. The rooms are reasonably priced. As a result of the hotel’s central location, you might hear some noise at night.
  • Backpackers Luzern (Hostel) – The Backpackers Luzern is on the shores of Lake Lucerne, in a quiet area. Besides free kitchen facilities and WiFi, this charming hostel has a common lounge area with table tennis and table soccer. Each room has comfortable beds and a balcony. Walking to Lucerne’s train station takes less than 15 minutes.

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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.