While you could easily spend multiple days in Lucerne, Switzerland, it’s also a great city to enjoy as a day trip. This scenic town features lots of easy-to-see attractions that are all within walking distance of each other.
During your Swiss vacation, be sure to plan a day trip to Lucerne, and include these top adventures on your itinerary (you’ll be glad you did!)
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!
Table of Contents
How to Get to Lucerne
You’ll likely use Switzerland’s train system to reach Lucerne. The railway station is located in the city center near Old Town. There are train arrivals from various cities every hour.
Once here, the best way to see Lucerne is on foot. We’ve included the best things to do in Lucerne below. If you prefer, you can book a guided tour for a personalized experience.
You can also rent a bike or use the public bus system to reach most of the main attractions in Lucerne. Public transportation is a breeze.
City Tours to Book on a Lucerne Day Trip
What to Do on a Day Trip to Lucerne
1. Lion Monument
One of the top attractions in Lucerne is the Lion Monument. This carving of a dying lion sits above a tranquil pond. It honors the Swiss guards who gave their lives serving Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Mark Twain called it “the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world.”
We were surprised by how large the monument looks in person – it’s worth the short walk to reach it. Make this one of the first things you do once you arrive in Lucerne. It’s a great place to start your day.
Located just outside of Old Town, The Lion Monument is free to visit. You’ll likely spend under 30 minutes reading the information boards, enjoying the tranquil setting, and admiring the work of art.
It’s about a half mile uphill from the train station.
2. Old Town
Old Town is Lucerne’s most popular and distinct area. You’ll want to spend much of your day here. Marked by its scenic waterfront setting and swoon-worthy architecture, this area has excellent shopping and dining for all kinds of visitors.
Your main destination will be Old Town Boulevard. The street stretches between the town hall and Chapel Bridge. It’s the perfect place to walk along the water and immerse yourself in Lucerne’s beauty.
Plan to spend 1 to 3 hours in the Old Town of Lucerne, which is within walking distance of the train station. It’s where you can start your adventure, enjoy a nice meal, and relax before you leave the city. If you’re lucky enough to spend the night in Lucerne, we recommend getting a hotel right in Old Town. This allows you to be steps away from some of the best experiences.
3. Chapel Bridge
Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) is one of Lucerne’s most picturesque landmarks and is a must-visit during a day trip here. The covered bridge connects the northern and southern banks of River Reuss. Honestly though, it’s more than just a way to get from one place to the next.
This is the oldest covered wooden bridge in the world, and it’s super photo-worthy. Take your time here since you’ll be looking at the great vantage of the city AND the artwork painted on the panels.
The bridge stretches about 0.12 miles, but you’ll want to spend at least a half hour crossing it and taking in its sights. If you can fit it into your itinerary for a day trip to Lucerne, visit it in the daylight and after dark for two distinct experiences.
4. Spreuer Bridge
Chapel Bridge may get all the glory, but it’s not Lucerne’s only historic timber bridge. Many visitors favor the smaller, more quaint Spreuer Bridge (Spreuerbrücke).
Like Chapel Bridge, the Spreuer Bridge features artwork in the panels under the roof. Allow for time to see both the interior and scenery surrounding the landmark.
It’ll take less than a half hour to fully enjoy Spreuer Bridge. We recommend including both Chapel and Spreuer bridges in your day trip to Lucerne.
They run somewhat parallel over the River Reuss and are about a third of a mile apart. You can cross from Old Town on one bridge and return on the other. This makes for a great loop through this beautiful part of the city.
5. Jesuit Church
Lucerne’s Jesuit Church sits on the south bank of River Reuss, halfway between Chapel and Spreuer bridges, so it’s easy to include in your one-day in Lucerne itinerary. But this beautiful church is worth going out of your way for too.
This 17th-century Jesuit Catholic church is a marvel from the outside, but you’ll want to go inside to admire its Baroque design and incredible artistry.
It’s open to the public (though you’ll want to respect holidays and events), and you’ll likely spend less than 30 minutes here unless you settle in to fully take in the gorgeous artwork and details inside.
6. Visit Lucerne’s Best Christmas Markets (Winter Activity)
It’s easy to get into the Christmas spirit in Lucerne. After all, the weather and architecture here are rich with holiday warmth. If you visit during the winter months, don’t miss Lucerne’s Christmas markets, which are located right in the town center.
The top Christmas market to visit in Lucerne is the one by Franziskanerplatz (The Franciscan Church), located in Old Town. It’s got all the classic Christmas vibes: gingerbread, handmade crafts and gifts, and a festive carousel. What really puts this market over the top is the stalls. They are artfully designed to look like colorful wooden houses.
Want even more Christmas fun during your winter trip to Lucerne? Rudolfs Weihnacht is the largest Christmas market in the city, and it’s famous for its mulled wine and cheese fondue. Visit after dark for the best experience here. It’s located near the train station and the KKL concert hall and sits on the shores of Lake Lucerne.
Note: Most of Lucerne’s Christmas markets and events begin in December, but Rudolfs starts in mid-November, making this a great way to get into the spirit during an earlier visit.
Located in Old Town’s historic wine market, the Luzerner Handwerksmarkt only allows handmade crafts and is open on the weekend. It runs throughout spring, summer, and fall, but it feels extra festive in December when workers present pieces that are perfect for gift-giving.
This is a great market to visit during daylight hours to enjoy the architecture and beauty of this scenic square.
7. Go for a Cruise on Lake Lucerne (Summer Activity)
If you’re visiting Lucerne during the summer months, you’ll want to hop aboard a catamaran to see even more of the city comfortably and easily. Cruises through Lake Lucerne leave from Old Town and feature some of the best views of architecture, Mt. Pilatus, and glistening water.
We recommend choosing a boat trip that lasts between one and two hours to make this a part of your Lucerne day trip.
Pro Tip: These short cruises are a great way to see the city and force busy travelers to slow down. If you’re worried you’ll feel pressed for time to see everything in Lucerne, you may need to take it down a notch, book a boat ride, and enjoy the sights at a slower pace.
8. Musegg Wall and Towers
Musegg Wall and Towers offers historical and cultural insight in one place. This wall and nine towers were once part of the city’s fortification systems, and walking along its well-kept remnants is like stepping through time.
This is a great place to enjoy panoramic views of Lucerne and the classic scenery of central Switzerland. The wall also serves as a sanctuary for endangered plants and animals, so nature lovers will enjoy visiting this popular destination.
While visiting Musegg Wall, be sure to check out Hinter Musegg, an urban farm that features fruit trees, mini pigs, alpacas, and cows. Their onsite restaurant serves homemade beer and baked goods in a unique setting.
You’ll likely spend a little over 2 hours in the area if you visit the Musegg Wall, the gift shop, and the urban farm. They are located just north of Old Town, about a third of a mile from Chapel Bridge.
9. Lucerne Lakeside Promenade
If you love taking peaceful strolls, you must walk along the Lake Lucerne Promenade. This pathway stretches for miles along the water’s edge, but you don’t have to commit to a multi-hour stroll. It begins where the Reuss River meets Lake Lucerne. Find a shady spot to watch the boats sail in and out, or grab a bite to eat in a waterside cafe.
There are even spots for swimming along the Promenade, plus a concert pavilion and spectacular views of Mount Pilatus, Mt. Rigi, and the Swiss Alps.
If you do find yourself wandering far along the Promenade, you can always catch a bus to make the return to Old Town quick and comfortable.
10. Swiss Museum of Transport
Visitors of all ages will love the interactive exhibits at the Swiss Museum of Transport. This is the largest transportation museum in Europe, and it highlights the history and future of planes, trains, cars, and boats.
In addition to its many mobility exhibits, there is also a planetarium, a Swiss Chocolate Adventure, a play area, and a theater.
You’ll likely spend a little under two hours enjoying this fun spot. The Swiss Transport Museum is about a mile east of Old Town along the lakeside Promenade.
Enjoy Lucerne’s Great Dining Scene
Of course, you’ll want to enjoy Lucerne’s many restaurants while in town for a full day. And since you’ll likely be here from morning through night, you can enjoy three great meals (and endless snacks) while you sightsee.
Breakfast/Brunch: Restaurant Galerie
The Restaurant Galerie at Hotel Schweizerhof uses locally sourced ingredients to present elegant meals all day. It’s located halfway between the train station and the Lion Monument, so it can easily be your first stop during your day tour.
Lunch: Restaurant Balances
Restaurant Balances features excellent food on a scenic terrace that overlooks the river. It’s located in Old Town, making it a great place to stop in for a delicious lunch while exploring the city.
Dinner: Old Swiss House
The Old Swiss House restaurant features an expansive wine list, incredible food, and great service all in a beautiful historic building. We love its strong sense of place and convenient location in the Lucerne City Center.