Lucerne (or Luzern) is a beautiful town with easy access to the mountains. It’s just a quick train ride away from Zurich, and it basically has everything that there is to love about Switzerland all in one city! If you’re looking for the quintessentially Swiss experience, then look no further than Lucerne. These are the things to do in Lucerne Switzerland that will make all of your friends back home (and your Instagram followers!) green with envy!
The 8 Quintessentially Swiss Things to Do in Lucerne Switzerland
1 | Mt Rigi
Naturally, the list of quintessentially Swiss things to do in Lucerne Switzerland must begin with a mountain. Switzerland is defined by its mountainous landscape! But traveling into the Alps can be more expensive and necessitates a longer trip. So if you’re just hopping over to Zurich for a quick trip, then a side trip to Lucerne opens up the option of exploring some great mountains! Surrounded by lakes and spoiled by resplendent views, Mt Rigi is the perfect spot for a hike or cogwheel train ride up to the summit.
2 | Medieval Covered Bridges
Besides the Swiss Alps, Switzerland is also known for being just absolutely filthy with medieval architecture. Okay I couldn’t even find a way to make it sound bad. It’s so pretty! All of the cities and towns you’ll come across in Switzerland have this fantastic architectural charm. It gives the impression that this country has stayed the same for hundreds of years…and rightly so because they seem to have hit the nail on the head! The characteristic medieval style of Switzerland’s cities is at its absolute finest in Lucerne, with the covered bridges spanning the River Reuss, the most noteworthy of which is Kapellbrucke. Walking across the covered bridges flanked with flower boxes is surely one of the top quintessentially Swiss things to do in Lucerne!
3 | Claim your Castle
Sitting high upon the mountaintop is Chateau Gutsch, a rather grand-looking castle that dates back to 1888. I would say you should go and claim it as your own, but I already did that, and there’s no way I’m letting you poach my castle! But I’ll gladly have you over for a dinner or a ball perhaps! The castle is gorgeous and so are the views from the property, looking over Lucerne. You can take the inclined railway up to the top and access both the castle and the views. Though technically I should mention that the castle is now a 4-star hotel so you won’t make it past the restaurant without a reservation!
4 | Mt Pilatus
Of course the mountains have to make the list twice! Every mountain is unique, and every time you climb a mountain it is a different experience from the last. Mt Pilatus is accessibly by hiking, cable car, or cog railway, depending on your style. It’s the more popular mountain for those visiting Lucerne, but the views are really worth it!
5 | Walk the Fortress Walls
In keeping with the medieval architectural theme running throughout Switzerland, the medieval fortress wall surrounding Lucerne makes for an excellent diversion. There aren’t many places remaining that you can actually walk the fortress walls surrounding a city! You can access this Museggmauer at a few points along the wall. Look out for Mannliturm, Zeitturm, and Schirmeturm, the towers that are open to the public along the wall.
6 | Cruise on the Lake
Any Swiss city worth its salt will have a lake right next to it. It’s as if the mountainous backdrop to the perfectly-maintained medieval architecture wasn’t enough. They also needed to put these cities next to lakes. And then put flower boxes on every window. We can all agree that Switzerland is showing off a bit, but it’s so darn gorgeous I just can’t complain! Take a cruise around Lake Lucerne, it promises to be a relaxing ride, complete with lovely views back over the city as well as of the mountains surrounding it. And you’ll likely cross wakes with a few swans, which is just too idyllic for me to bear.
7 | Visit the Lion
One of the more obscure things to do in Lucerne is to visit the Lion Monument. It’s a monument carved into stone that depicts a fallen lion. This representation of the fallen Swiss guards of the French Revolution is a famous monument in Lucerne. Even Mark Twain visited the Lion Monument, and later wrote of it, “His size is colossal, his attitude is noble…The Lion of Lucerne would be impressive anywhere, but nowhere so impressive as where he is.”
8 | Search for Chocolate
After you’ve had your fill of the mountains and the lake and walking the fortress walls, it’s time to wander about the old town in search of chocolate. Swiss chocolate is quite simply unlike any chocolate I’ve tasted before. It’s hard to say why exactly, perhaps that it’s creamier, fresher, richer…all this to say it’s just better. Try to eat as much chocolate as you can while you’re in Switzerland (because you only live once!). And bring home as much as you can fit in your bag (because you’re going to crave this next week and also your friends will raid your supply!). Lucerne has more chocolate shops than you could know what to do with. Try Laderach, Max Chocolatier, and Backerei Bucher Confiserie for starters!