Entering the land of cowbells, cheese, and chocolate? If you’re off to Switzerland soon and looking for the best things to do in Lucerne, we’ve got a list of our 10 can’t-miss activities. With history, beauty, and great food, you won’t be short on amazing experiences in this city.
Lucerne is a great destination in Switzerland, with plenty of things to do, places to eat, and shops to pop into. You can also enjoy some nearby outdoor recreation and easy day trips for other types of tours.
Must-do activities in Lucerne
Visit the Lion Monument
This moving work of art is built into the rock face and was designed in 1820 to honor the Swiss Guards and officers who were massacred while protecting King Louis XVI in the French Revolution. Notice the details in the work, such as the broken shield underneath the lion, representing France and then behind him lies the shield with the Swiss coat of arms. Notice the look of mourning and pain on the lion’s face. It’s quite a moving monument and is a must-see in Lucerne.
The Lion of Lucerne was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and done by Lukas Ahorn.
Cross the Kapellbrucke bridge
Join the tourists and locals as you cross the easily recognizable Kapellbrucke, or Chapel Bridge, right in the heart of the city. Talk a walk on this famous bridge, crossing the Reuss River, that was built to connect the Old Town and the New Town. Built in 1333, this bridge is also famous for the fact that 600 years later it was destroyed by a fire. In 1994, the bridge was reconstructed and reopened to the public. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the artwork on the bridge was ruined in the fire and prior to the disaster there 147 paintings depicting the city’s history and now only 30 are fully restored.
Fun fact: The bridge is the world’s oldest truss bridge!
Wander through Old Town
Take a scenic stroll through the town to see the impressive medieval architecture, the Museggmauer (or wall), and enjoy views out onto Lake Lucerne. Old Town is super picturesque and is a photographer’s dream if you love historic European cities. The inviting hues of the buildings, the variety of shops and restaurants, and amazing backdrop of the river or rolling hills is the perfect setting for a lovely walk!
See the swans
I swear there’s a damn swan in every one of my photos from Lucerne. As you make your way toward the Kapellbrucke, snap some photos of these elegant beauties as they relax on the river. They seem very used to the presence of people and would congregate into groups for even better photo opportunities.
Switzerland can definitely be a spendy destination with travelers dropping a few Swiss francs for souvenirs or activities, but especially when it comes to dining. When we went, we opted to buy groceries and have a picnic or find cheap sandwiches to go in Lucerne. But, if you want to do it up right, you cannot pass on the chance for a Swiss fondue lunch or dinner!
Take a scenic boat ride across Lake Lucerne
One of my favorite things to do in Lucerne was taking a boat ride across the lake toward Mt. Pilatus. It was so pretty, all the greens and blues, with the lakefront dotted with the colorful architecture of the city. It kind of reminded me of Kauai in a way, with the lush greenery rising up and the mountains spread out around us. You can hop off at any of the other nearby towns or just enjoy a full lap around the lake.
Head up to Mt. Pilatus
This was the highlight of our visit to Lucerne! We took the train up to the top and enjoyed the impressive panoramic views of Switzerland’s natural landscapes sprawling out below. The ride itself was scenic as you get to look back out over the lake and get lost in the trees as you climb higher and higher.
At the top, there are a few hiking trails and scenic lookout points, as well as informational markers with history and fun facts about the area.
Visit Mt. Rigi
Another option is to ride the cog railway up to Mt. Rigi. Ride in restored railway cars as you experience Europe’s first cog railway, with a termination at a beautiful lookout. If you’ve got a clear day, you can see all the way to Germany’s Black Forest.
For a truly beautiful experience, try to book a sunrise and brunch or sunset tour if you want the most enviable photos from your trip to the top!
Ride the alpine slide
Is it touristy? Yes. Is it fun? Yes! This quick alpine slide ride in Switzerland is a quick activity, but it’s so much fun and provides unforgettable views. While you can go fast or race others, I enjoyed a leisurely ride down the mountain to have more time to soak up the scenery.
Sample Swiss chocolate
You can’t visit Switzerland and not indulge in some decadent chocolate! Milk, dark, white, whatever you like! Swiss chocolatiers are known for taking their craft seriously and producing some quality products. Sure, you can get them imported back home, but why not try some wonderful creations in their home country?
Did you know that back in 2015, it was said that the average Swiss person consumed about 20 pounds of chocolate per year? Americans were eating less than half that!
What else would you recommend for things to do in Lucerne? Tell us in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook!