Visiting Lucerne and not sure which sights are worth your time? Then you are in the perfect spot – this guide of Lucerne’s 20 must-see places will help you spend your time wisely! After all, Lucerne is one of the true “must-sees” on an itinerary through Switzerland.
Lots of the places mentioned here are close to each other, so you can actually tick off 5-6 on the same day!
And this comprehensive guide has something for everyone – whether you’re crazy about arts, architecture, or people-watching, there’s at least one place here you will thoroughly enjoy!
The city of Lucerne lies on the shores of Lake Lucerne, the fourth-largest lake in the country. It is definitely something you should see in Lucerne, and if you can, take a boat ride on too
There are lots of different ways to experience this mammoth lake. You can get a boat ride or take a Lake Lucerne cruise., and you can also opt for a steam cruiser in the evenings. Many rides need to be booked in advance because they include dinner and drinks for the passengers.
It’s quite a romantic experience – gliding along the lake and admiring the views of the nearby mountains while enjoying some premium Swiss wine and cheese. Perfect if you’re traveling with your significant other.
I also love to use the ferries on Lake Lucerne just to get around. For example, if you are going to Mount Rigi, or Pilatus, sure, you could take the train or bus, but what better way to start a hike or cogwheel train trip than with a boat road first?
The Rigi is a mountain massif in Central Switzerland that is one of the home mountains of Lucerne and clearly visible from the town. It is quite a unique place because it is surrounded by lakes on three sides – Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug, and Lake Lauerz.
And you know what that means? Stunning, panoramic views wherever you look. You can get to the mountain by a cable car or cog rail, and combine it with a boat trip from the town itself. Of course, you can also get to the cable car by bus too, but that’s boring, right? After all, this is one of the most popular day trips from Lucerne.
This spot is a must for any photography lover, as they can take some of the most beautiful and stunning shots imaginable. And it’s also an amazing day trip for avid hikers – it is a mountain after all, and you can always try to get to the top! Or, if you want to get the best views in the least amount of time, try the Rigi Panorama Trail which is a 2-hour, easy walk. I take many people here when the visit and they always beam from ear to ear!
Regardless of what city you find yourself in, one of your first destinations should always be the old town. And when you are visiting Lucerne there are even more reasons to do so. Lucerne’s old town lies between the river, lake, and city walls, and it is full of gorgeous buildings, stunning monuments, and breathtaking bridges.
Lots of other attractions on this list are actually in Lucerne Old Town, so be prepared to spend at least a couple of hours there. If you ever get tired, you can always pop in one of the many restaurants or cafes in the area, or just load up on pounds of chocolatey goodness at a chocolatier shop.
I love to rest either in one of the squares or on the riverside when I am in the old town. That way, you can enjoy a coffee or glass of wine and soak up the stunning sights at the same time!
Unlike the long day trip to the Jungfrau, Mount Pilatus is another astonishingly beautiful part of the Swiss Alps that is right on the doorstep of Lucerne. Just like Rigi, there are a few ways up this beast of a mountain. You can catch the super-steep cog rail from one side, and then ride the cablecar down the other. Combined with a boat ride out there, they call it the Golden Route.
You can also get here a number of ways by foot, but unless you are fit, I don’t recommend hiking up. I have done it for training, and it’s tough. It takes at least 4 hours. And it’s all up. And up. And up. But for those who are avid hikers, walking up and catching the train down is a worthwhile day out.
The top of Pilatus offers an enchanting, scenic view of both the city and the lake below it. It is a must-see for any photographer or avid mountain climber. In addition to that, you can also enjoy a delicious lunch at the restaurant on top of the mountain, while admiring all of these views.
Musegg Wall is an iconic city wall that was built way back in the 14th century. It is a majestic sight that you cannot miss in Lucerne; just be prepared for lots and lots of stairs.
The wall is also known for the Nine Towers that you find along with it. Some of them are open to the public to this day and allow you to go inside and climb to the top. Just imagine the views from some of the highest points in the city – those stairs suddenly don’t seem like such a big challenge now, do they?
My favorite part of a visit to the towers is the Zytturm. It’s an ancient clock tower that dates back to the 16th century, and features a colorful clock face, as well as a museum of one-of-a-kind timepieces. However, the best part for me is taking friends or family here when the clock strikes the hour. Not only do you get to see the clockwork in operation, it tests your hearing too!
The Chapel Bridge is probably one of the most famous sights in the city. The iconic 14th century wooden bridge is best known for its tall stone water tower and restored paintings on the roof of the interior. There was a fire here some years ago that partially destroyed the bridge, but the Lucerne government did a fantastic job restoring it to its former glory!
This winding bridge is something you can’t miss even if you wanted to, especially when you’re in Lucerne old town. It’s right in the middle of it all, conveniently helping you cross the river too.
Plus, not only is the bridge mesmerizing to see, but it also offers stunning views of its surroundings. On one side you can see the Old Town along the banks of the Reuss river with the Nadelwehr dam, and on the other lies the vast lake disappering into the distance. And come back at night to see what it all looks like lit up!
The Spreuer Bridge is another very interesting pedestrian bridge to cross while you’re in Lucerne. The 15th-century bridge is covered, so it’s actually the perfect place to hide if you get surprised by a rain shower.
What makes this bridge so interesting are a series of paintings, many of them with a death motif. Lots of murals are originals, meaning that they were painted several centuries ago.
Spreuer Bridge is actually much smaller than the Chapel Bridge, so it will not be as crowded. This will allow you to take your time, and truly admire and take in all those gorgeous paintings.
The Lion Monument is easily one of the most fascinating sights in Lucerne. A dying lion is carved into the side of the cliff, and it is truly a beautiful work of art.
But the history behind it is heartbreaking. The lion lying inside the cliff is mortally wounded and is meant to commemorate Swiss soldiers who were tragically massacred during the French revolution.
There is an inscription below the monument, which lists the names of soldiers, as well as approximate numbers of how many of them died (760) and survived (350).
Kornmarkt is an Old Town square in Lucerne city. It will be on your way if you’re walking either to or from the Lion Monument, so it’s definitely worth it to stop by. It’s also really close to the train station and Chapel Bridge, so you really don’t have an excuse to miss it if you’re already walking around the Old Town.
It is a quaint little area, with plenty of shops and restaurants, and Kornschütte, the charming clock tower. Most buildings in this square are beautifully painted, so be sure to look up if you don’t want to miss those decorations.
Image courtesy of Lisa Stevens
The Swiss Transport Museum is ways away from the city’s Old Town, but it’s without a doubt worth a visit. This is actually one of the most popular museums in the region, so expect crowds and book your ticket in advance.
There is so much to see here, from horse-drawn carriages and old trains to aircrafts and even space rockets – this is one of the most unique museums in the city.
And not everything inside is about transportation. There is also a Media World where you can enjoy some 3D movies, several cafes and restaurants where you can pop in to recharge your batteries, and my favorite – the Swiss Chocolate Adventure, where you can discover how cocoa beans are magically transformed into delicious chocolatey goodness.
Glacial pothole in museum, courtesy of Michael Dawes
Glacier Garden is a museum in Lucerne, which was built around a glacial pothole that has existed since the Ice Age. That alone is something worth checking out.
But the museum is also very educational, as it can teach you a lot about the geology of Lucerne and Switzerland. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind museum in the city, so be sure to pay it a visit.
You can also go to the mirror maze, which will keep you occupied for at least a solid 15 minutes. And it is right next to the Lion Monument, so if you plan to go there, it will be on the way.
The Jesuit Church is a massive, 17th-century building with a charming exterior and jaw-dropping interior. It looks just a little bit plain on the outside, but don’t be fooled – once you go inside the Jesuit Church, you won’t know where to look.
You don’t even have to be religious to appreciate the Baroque and Rococo interior or the massive organ. And honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air – with so many dark and gothic cathedrals, the decorated white walls of the Jesuit Church truly stand out!
It is also something you will see while checking out the Chapel Bridge, I usually just cross over and visit both in one go.
Image courtesy of Christian Scheidegger
Bourbaki Panorama Lucerne is a museum, which is home of the 1881 cylindrical painting of the Franco-Prussian war by Edouard Castres. The painting is a remarkable work of art, and it is definitely something you need to see for yourself to truly grasp the size of it.
You don’t even have to be an art connoisseur to be able to enjoy and appreciate this museum. Just sit there and try to pay attention to all the little details or discern what the characters in the painting are doing. Before you know it, security will come to throw you out because it’s closing time!
If you like trains and did not get enough of them at the Swiss Museum of Transport, head over to the Lucerne main station. The two-story building is something you can’t miss due to its humongous size, and it is an interesting sight, whether you’re actually getting on a train or just exploring.
There are lots of shops and restaurants there, so it’s also a good spot to grab a quick bite and do some people watching. As long as you don’t mind the crowds; the station is huge and it tends to get really busy on workdays.
You will find the Rosengart Collection very close to the railway station, and you should definitely pop in. This neo-classical building was remodeled at the beginning of the 21st century, specifically to accommodate this art gallery.
Angela Rosengart is an art dealer in Lucerne, and she displays her private collection in this art gallery. With work from renowned painters like Picasso, Monet and Matisse, a visit to the Rosengart Collection is bound to be an interesting and culturally fulfilling afternoon.
If you’re dying to explore more of Lucerne’s culture and art, I recommend you head to the Lucerne Culture And Convention Center. The large hall is home to the city’s concert hall, convention center, art museum, and a couple of restaurants. Plus, there’s usually some sort of concert going on here, and if you get the opportunity definitely stay for one.
I have been here twice for concerts during the summer festivals and not only is the inside humming with people, the food trucks outside are a fun place to hang out and eat dinner before you go to a show.
The exterior of the building itself is remarkable, and it will really make you stop and admire the architecture. The KKL building is right next to the lake, so the views all around it are truly wonderful.
Hofkirche is a charming 17th-century church you absolutely have to visit. It is unmistakable in Lucerne landscape, due to twin bell towers.
The exterior is Gothic and gorgeous; so much so that it will take your breath away even if you don’t step foot inside the church. And if you do, you can admire the rich, Baroque interior.
If you’re interested in attending a mass in Lucerne, this is perhaps the best church for you. They hold masses in both German and English, and it’s not ridiculously crowded because it is ways away from the Lucerne city center.
The Richard Wagner Museum lies far away from the city noise and crowds in a peaceful little area right next to the lake. The museum is actually a three-story manor where the 15th-century composer used to live and work for six years.
You don’t have to be musical to appreciate what the museum represents, or to enjoy it. But it certainly helps to have some background knowledge of the famous German composer, so brush up on your musical history before heading off to the countryside manor!
If you want to learn more about the tradition and culture of this region, then you must stop by the Lucerne History Museum. It is close to both the Jesuit Church and the Spreuer Bridge, so if you’re exploring this side of the city definitely don’t skip it.
This is a small museum, but it has several fascinating exhibitions, which include medieval artifacts like a 15th century Gothic fountain and Italian infantry shields. And you don’t even have to get a tour to learn all about Lucerne’s history – just have your phone handy, and get ready to scan all the QR codes that are placed instead of information stands!
Schwanenplatz is a square outside Lucerne’s old town, just 10 minutes away from the train station. The square is located right next to Lake Lucerne, where you can frequently spot swans enjoying themselves – that’s where it gets its name.
And if you’re by any chance a watch fanatic, then this is the spot for you It’s swarming with high-end shops that sell watches like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega and others. If you’re looking to spice up your watch collection, this is a great shopping spot. Plus, you’ll find lots of chocolate shops here, as well as some amazing restaurants that are perfect for a quick bite.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!