Lucerne is 33 miles from Zurich and 77 miles from Switzerland’s capital city Bern. Nestled between Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alpine peaks, Lucerne offers a harmonious blend of natural beauty, old world charm, and modern design wizardry.
Known as Luciaria, meaning lights in Latin since 840 A.D., today this City of Lights is the seventh largest city in Switzerland and the world’s sixth most frequently visited city. Wondering what there is to see and do? Here are five hard to resist things to do in Lucerne:
1. Walk Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge)
Kapellbrucke or Chapel Bridge is the oldest covered bridge in Europe. The original was built in 1333, partly reconstructed several times before it was destroyed by fire in 1993. The current Chapel Bridge was restored within eight months after the devastating fire. This historic Swiss landmark has an octagonal water tower or Wasserturm and 17th-century painted panels hung from the arched roof of the bridge. These paintings depict Lucerne’s history and the patron saints of Lucerne, Lager and Maurice. Only a third of the painted panels are original.
This 670-foot pedestrian bridge crossing over Reuss River is one of the most photographed tourist spots in Switzerland.
2. Pose in front of Lion Monument
Mark Twain described the dying Lion of Lucerne or Lion Monument as ‘the saddest and most moving piece of stone in the world.’ It has an inscription that reads Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti or ‘to the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss.’
It was carved on a natural rock above a pond in memory of over 600 Swiss guards who died at Tuileries in 1792. This 10-meter long dying lion sandstone sculpture is a must-see for anyone visiting Lucerne.
3. Take the Lucerne-Interlaken Express train
Take a two-hour (43 miles) scenic train ride from Lucerne to Interlaken. The train from Lucerne leaves every hour from 6:05 am to 6:05 pm. It departs Interlaken every 90 minutes from 11:04 am to 8:04 pm.
Either go for a day tour or stay a night in the picturesque city of Interlaken. This journey passes by the foot of the Pilatus mountain, Lake Lucerne, Sarneersee and Lungernse, Brunig Pass at 1008 meters above sea level, Meiringen valley, Hasli valley and Lake Brienz.
According to MySwissAlps.com, it’s best to sit on the right side of the train for the best views of the lakes and view while descending from Brunig Pass to Meiringen.
4. Cruise on Lake Lucerne and visit Mt. Pilatus
There are 20 boats offering cruises on Lake Lucerne throughout the year. Out of the 20, five are over 100-year-old restored paddle steamers.
This is one of the most popular cruises known as the “golden round trip” providing a combination of a Lake Lucerne cruise and tour of Mt Pilatus. This almost five-hour cruise/tour includes an hour cruise on Lake Lucerne, a ride on the world’s steepest cog railway to the summit of Mt. Pilatus at 6,995 feet above sea level, heads down on a cable car for a short visit to Frakmuntegg, takes you on a gondola to Kriens and a bus ride back to the city.
5. Visit the Musegg Wall and Towers
The Musegg Wall will bring you back to the Middle Ages of Lucerne. Built in 1386, the wall has nine towers, and four (Zyt, Mannli, Schirmer, and Wacht) open to the public. Mannli tower offers the best views of the city. The clock tower, Zyt houses the oldest clock in the city. According to MySwitzerland.com, the old clock has the right to chime one minute before all the other public clocks in Lucerne. There are nine historic clocks on display inside the tower.
You can walk from tower to tower or climb on to the top of the tower for the magnificent views of Lucerne and the surrounding mountains. Comfortable shoes are necessary to climb the steps to the top. And some of the steps are quite steep and may not be suitable for young children and those with limited mobility.
Lucerne or Luzern is a compact, walkable city with many neat places to enjoy a meal or a drink. Try a real Swiss fondue while you’re there. And if you happen to be there on Tuesdays and Saturdays, visit the Wochenmarkt or Weekly Market by the Reuss River for freshly baked bread and local cheese.
Have you been to Lucerne?