The best things to do in Lucerne include must-see landmarks and stunning nature views of the picturesque town in one of Switzerland’s most inviting corners. This charming town sits on top of the magnificent Lake Lucerne, with the Swiss Alps in the background and the twinkle of cowbells providing the perfect soundtrack. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, take in the beautiful scenery, and treat your taste buds to a sprinkling of sugary heaven as you dip in and out of authentic Swiss chocolate shops.

    Lucerne might be small, but it’s full of diverse history and impressive architecture. From charming treasures such as Chapel Bridge and the ice-cool attractions of the Glacier Gardens to the impressive peaks of Mount Pilatus, Lucerne almost looks like your picture-postcard image of Switzerland. Whether you’re strolling through the Old Town or sitting among the swans at Schwanenplatz, you’ll find your own version of Swiss paradise in Lucerne.

    What are the best things to do in Lucerne?

    1

    Lake Lucerne

    Scenic splendour from a boat ride

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    Lake Lucerne – or the tongue-twisting Vierwaldstättersee, to the locals – is a shimmering 38-km stretch of serenity and tranquillity. It's a picture of overwhelming beauty and the best-kept secret in the Swiss Alps. Share this cobalt blue pool with the local swans and enjoy stunning views of the alpine mountains stretching out into the distance.

    Like something out of a fairy tale, the only way to appreciate the scenic splendour of this destination is to hop onto any of the several boat rides on the lake itself. Most boats depart from Lucerne, but you can board in other towns along the lake, even combining your trip with a visit to Mount Rigi or taking the hour-long round trip, from Lucerne to Meggen and back. Whichever journey you choose, each one will transport you through rolling hills, cascading waterfalls, crumbling castles and charming Swiss villages. Pack your camera – it’s going to be an Instagrammable occasion.

    Location: Vierwaldstättersee, Lucerne, Switzerland

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    2

    Lucerne Old Town

    Canals and a medieval centre

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    Lucerne’s quintessential Old Town has a crystal-clear canal flowing from its medieval middle, and the peacefulness and compactness of the area ensure an easy wander. It features winding cobblestone streets, though, so you’ll need to pull on some comfortable shoes before exploring the area. Allow yourself to be drawn in by the hand-painted murals on the impressive 15th-century buildings and step inside the welcoming doors of architectural wonders, such as the Old Town Hall and St Peter’s Chapel.

    Around every corner, you’ll discover delightful dining options and quaint shops selling everything from dazzling jewellery to delicious Swiss chocolate – a treat so tasty you’ll waste no time in enjoying a mid-stroll snack. From beautiful fountains to uncovered bridges, the Old Town harbours a romantic essence within its narrow passageways.
     

    Location: Kornmarkt 11, 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland

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    photo by Simon Koopmann (CC BY-SA 2.5) modified

    3

    Glacier Gardens of Lucerne

    A pleasant place to get lost in

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    The Glacier Gardens of Lucerne is proof that the town was once covered by glaciers. Want to get to grips with this impressive corner of the ice age? You can reach the gardens within a short stroll from the city centre. This eclectic museum houses a stunning natural monument, complete with potholes of impressive proportions, alpine plants and a fish pond fed directly by the Gorner Glacier. It’s a great spot for a little rest and relaxation.

    Once you’ve seriously gotten into the glaciers, for something a little extra, get lost inside the mirror maze – a room filled with 90 mirrors, inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada. Make your way around the bewildering twists and turns, then finish your visit with a climb up to the observation tower for sublime views over the city. And the best news? An adult ticket will cost just 15 francs.

    Location: Denkmalstrasse 4, 6002 Lucerne, Switzerland

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +41 41 410 43 40

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    photo by Leiju (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    4

    The Lion Monument

    One of Lucerne's must-see landmarks

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    The Lion Monument in Lucerne is spectacularly carved directly into the walls of a large sandstone quarry and tells a story of important Swiss history. Designed by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen in 1820, the monument is a memorial to the Swiss soldiers who lost their lives during the French Revolution. Above the lion is an inscription that reads, “HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI,” which translates as “To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss”.

    Known as the saddest stone in the world, this historical piece of art is easy to find, sitting directly next door to the Glacier Gardens. Take a short walk from the centre of town for a meaningful look into the lion’s mournful eyes. You’ll find it difficult not to be moved by its tragic gaze.

    Location: Denkmalstrasse 4, 6002 Lucerne, Switzerland

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    5

    Mount Pilatus

    A scenic adventure outside Lucerne

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    Mount Pilates and its snow-capped peaks beg to be uncovered on a scenic adventure just outside of the city of Lucerne. Viewing this breathtaking beauty from the city is one thing, but getting up-close and personal is another. Just take a breezy bus ride from Lucerne Station to Kriens, then ride a series of gondolas and a cable car to the top, enjoying impressive views along the way.

    An adult ticket will set you back 72 francs, but there are half-fare and rail pass options available. With exploratory paths perfect for trekking and biking, the cost will be well worth it. If you’re seeking something a little more unique, jump off at Fräkmüntegg station – one of the stops on your way to the top – for a ride down Fräkigaudi, the longest toboggan run in all of Switzerland. However you choose to discover your alpine paradise, make sure to wrap up warm as the wind can come with quite the kick.

    Location: Pilatus, 6010 Alpnach, Switzerland

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    photo by Dave Shafer (CC BY 2.0) modified

    6

    Chapel Bridge

    A famous landmark you can walk across

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    Chapel Bridge is Lucerne’s most famous landmark where you can grab a front-row seat to the city’s incredible history. Built initially as a way to link the Old Town on the north bank of the Ruess river to the new town perched on the south bank, Chapel Bridge is a one-of-a-kind wooden walkway serving as the symbol of Switzerland. It’s also Europe's oldest covered bridge and the world's oldest surviving truss bridge, so it's safe to say it’s a pretty big deal.

    As you look out onto the town, steeped in spectacular architecture, make sure to also look up at the pristine paintings covering the ceiling. Telling a story of Lucerne’s rich history, and dating back to the 17th century, these murals were created by local artist Hans Heinrich Wägman and make crossing this wooden bridge a truly unique experience. If you happen to pass through at night, the ambient lighting will ensure you snap the most perfect photographic moment for your social feed.

    Location: Kapellbrücke, 6002 Lucerne, Switzerland

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    7

    Mühlenplatz

    The heart of Lucerne’s Old Town

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    Mühlenplatz is a square in Lucerne’s Old Town that’s full of charm, character, and intrigue. As you set foot in Mühlenplatz, one of the first things you’ll notice are the beautiful buildings showcasing highly decorative and colourful designs. Another delight of this charming square lies in its population. Never too crowded, you can enjoy a relaxing morning stroll, stop by the central fountain and take a quiet moment of reflection before wandering in and out of the many boutiques.

    With cafés and restaurants spilling out onto the cobbled streets, this historic square is a great place to grab a coffee and pull up a beautifully decorated chair as you watch the local life walk by. Make sure to dig into the tempting pastries and homemade granola at popular café and meeting point Mill'Feuille, where you can also catch a view of the scenic River Reuss.

    Location: Mühlenplatz 1, 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland

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    photo by Paebi (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    The Bruch Quarter

    Lucerne's cool and quirky area

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    The Bruch Quarter is Lucerne is where to go if original cafes, bustling coffee shops and hip bars are your thing. Known for being a cool, cosy and quirky area, this former cattle market is now a fully converted trendy residential district brimming with diversity. From all-embracing eateries to ethnic supermarkets and small boutiques selling clothing and handmade crafts, this neighbourhood has a really intimate feel.

    Nestled in the west of Lucerne, between the main street leading out of town and the Gütsch hill, make sure you seek out Madeleine, a vibrant speakeasy-style venue housing a bar, gigs, comedy nights and a whole range of regular cultural shows. If you feel like treating yourself to a cocktail or 2, pull up a red velvet chair in glamorous café Aurum XLIV. Its gold interiors offer a little slice of Lucerne luxury.

    Location: 6003 Lucerne, Switzerland

    photo by Jordiferrer (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Kiri Nowak | Contributing Writer

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