Lucerne (or Luzern) is a place in central Switzerland. The city of Lucerne is the capital of the canton by the same name (canton of Lucerne). The population of the city is about 82,000 people and it is an important hub for culture and transportation. The languages spoken in Lucerne are German and a localized version called Lucerne German. As a traveler, you will be fine with English as a language for communication as well.
Here’s a list of the 15 Best Things to do in Lucerne, Switzerland.
- 1. Old Town, Lucerne
- 2. The Reuss River
- 3. Lake Lucerne
- 4. Mount Pilatus
- 5. Swiss Museum of Transport
- 6. Chapel Bridge, Lucerne
- 7. The Lion Monument
- 8. Rosengart Collection
- 9. Hofkirche
- 10. Glacier Garden, Lucerne
- 11. Musegg Wall
- 12. Richard Wagner Museum
- 13. The Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre
- 14. Jesuit Church, Lucerne
- 15. Bourbaki Panorama
Best Things to do in Lucerne, Switzerland 1-10
1. Old Town, Lucerne
Old town Lucerne is an old town located in lucerne city of lucerne canton Luzern in Switzerland. It has been inscribed in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1983. In this old town, you will find castles and cathedrals as well as the famous bear pit where bears used to fight against dogs for entertainment purposes long ago until they became extinct because hunting them was prohibited.
The Old Town of lucerne offers many sights, among them the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge). The origin of Lucerne is unknown; it may date back to Roman times. lucerne became important through the migration period because an important route went through its territory. lucerne was held responsible for safeguarding this major road and built a castellum (fortification) on the left shore of Lake lucerne at Brunnen. lucerne is first mentioned in 741 as Luciaria when Saint Meinrad passed through with his companions during his pilgrimage to Italy. lucerne’s importance grew because it controlled one end of the Gotthard Pass (the other end being the fort of Bellinzona), and lucerne became a place where tolls were paid on traded merchandise. lucerne grew into a small town in the early 16th century, mainly as a result of pilgrims passing through to Italy.
In 1612 lucerne was granted certain privileges by the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf. lucerne was a town of considerable standing with a population of more than 5000 by the 17th century, but it declined in importance after the opening of the Gotthard Pass. lucerne was one of five directorial cantons and therefore became federal capital during the creation of the Swiss confederacy (from 1387 until 1803 lucerne was one of the six directorial cantons).
The Old Town lucerne today is a large tourist attraction, including many restaurants and souvenir outlets. lucerne also offers interesting nightlife and is popular with domestic and international visitors. An amusement park and a casino can be found lucerne as well. lucerne was voted as the seventh top tourist destination worldwide in a survey of 2000 international congresses and conventions held between 2005 and 2010. The Old Town lucerne has been named as “UNESCO world cultural heritage” as it offers a great many architectural works from the Middle Ages, such as the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), lucerne’s symbol.
Lucerne is also known for its very early medieval construction, with the oldest still existing buildings being from around 1100. Lucerne is located on the right bank of Lake Lucerne, in central Switzerland. lucerne can be reached easily by train or by plane. lucerne’s airport lucerne Kloten is Switzerland’s busiest international airport, with connections to many major airports worldwide. lucerne also has a train station lucerne Baden which is well connected to the Swiss rail network. Lucerne is located in the heart of Switzerland, only one hour from Zürich.
2. The Reuss River
The Reuss River is a river in Switzerland that starts near the country’s capital city of Zurich. The river runs over 100 kilometers through many small towns and villages and is crossed by many bridges. The river is also very popular for kayaking and canoeing.
Here are some facts about Reuss River sights in Lucerne, Switzerland.
- The Reuss River flows through the city of Lucerne, Switzerland, making some very popular views for tourists and locals alike. Along this river, there are twenty-one bridges – including the world’s oldest wooden bridge – and many other structures, such as the Kapellbrücke.
- The Reuss River has been used for trade and travel since at least the Middle Ages.
- The city of Lucerne is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.
- The first bridge across the Reuss River was built in the 13th century.
- The Kapellbrücke is a bridge that was built in the 15th century, with two towers.
- There are a number of activities one can do on the Reuss River, including kayaking and canoeing.
- Hitchhiking is also a common activity on the Reuss River, as some people prefer to travel this way.
- The first wooden bridge across the Reuss River was built in 1333.
- There are many restaurants that can be found along the Reuss River in Lucerne.
3. Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne is a lake in central Switzerland, stretching across the cantons of Lucerne and Aargau.
- Lake lucerne has a length of 62 kilometers (39 mi), a width of up to 4 kilometers (2.5 mi), and a depth of . The culminating point of the lake’s drainage basin is the Tödi at 3,614 meters above sea level.
- Lake Lucerne has been controlled by means of five dams: Grynau Castle Dam built in 1842, Wolfenschiessen Dam built from 1845–1850, Kastanienbaum Dam built in 1853–1857, Furka–Oberalpstock dam built in 1935, and Ramersberg dam built in 1951.
- The water level on Lake lucerne is usually controlled between 186 and 195 meters above sea level. If the water rises above this level, four hydroelectric power plants become active to generate electricity.
- Lake lucerne has several islands: Ufenau (the largest), Käsnuß, Heiligenschwendi, Dorenburg with the famous ruin of Dornburg Castle, Bürglen in Uri and Gersau in Schwyz.
- The most distant parts visible from lucerne are located at opposite sides of Lake lucerne: Pilatus and Rigi situated southwest of lucerne respectively northeast of lucerne across the lake.
- One may take a boat trip, which is a great experience on Lake lucerne. There are boat trips from lucerne that cross the lake to all its surrounding cities and towns.
- The main train station lies on the opposite side of lucerne, with rail connections to not only Switzerland but also Austria, Germany and more via InterRail tickets.
4. Mount Pilatus
Mount Pilatus is a mountain massif in central Switzerland, overlooking the city of Lucerne. At 2,132 meters above sea level it’s one of the highest peaks in Central Switzerland. Mount Pilatus is popular with tourists who take to enjoy great views over Lake Lucerne and the Alps from the summit. Mount Pilatus also features an iconic mountain railway that first opened in 1889.
Mount Pilatus first opened as a tourist resort around 1855 when visitors climbed Mount Pilatus on foot or horseback. Mount Pilatin was first ascended by Horace-Bénédict de Saussure (1740–1799). de Saussure noted that he could see Lake Lucerne and three other lakes from the summit. Mount Pilatus is mainly composed of gneiss and granite, the peak is a common point between the northern and southern Swiss Alps.
5. Swiss Museum of Transport
The Swiss Museum of Transport Lucerne (Volkhochbibliothek lucerne) is the largest transport museum in Switzerland. It is based at Lucerne railway station, lucerne being located on one of Europe’s major travel routes and having a long tradition as a rail center.
The Lucerne transport museum was founded in 1897 as an initiative of the Lucern society for public exhibitions dedicated to promoting all aspects of local and national transport history. The Lucern tramway system was chosen as its first means of transport, part of it now forming a key exhibit at the lace museum. In the early years, it used the upper floor of lucerne city hall to display vehicles from 1900. After several relocations, it opened in Lucerne railway station in 1963, since it has been known as the Swiss Museum of Transport Lucerne. In 1990 lucern society for public exhibitions changed its name to the Lucerne Transport Museum.
In 2008 a new building was erected at lucerne station by the firm bodenbender from Ebnat-Kappel, Lucerne being a key rail junction. It provides 3,000 meters of exhibition space and is used for temporary exhibitions on all forms of transport. A major exhibit in Lucerne railway station opened in 2010 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Lucerne tramway system.
6. Chapel Bridge
Lucerne is a city in north-central Switzerland, in the German-speaking portion of that country. Lucerne has about 40000 citizens and is located on the Reuss River which flows into Lake lucerne. The Chapel Bridge (German: “Kapellbrücke”) is a covered wooden footbridge spanning diagonally across the Reuss River in Lucerne, Lucerne Canton, Switzerland. For more than five centuries it has been lucerne’s most famous attraction and one of its symbols. The bridge consists of two rows of covered spruce wood arches for pedestrian use, with three larger arches to allow carriages to cross without slowing down traffic on the bridge itself.
- The painting ‘Chapel Bridge in Lucerne’ by lucerne artist Alexandre Calame (1810–1864) shows the bridge in 1838.
- The painting ‘Lucerne with the Chapel Bridge in Lucerne’ by Lucerne artist Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918) was painted in 1899.
7. The Lion Monument
The Lion Monument lucerne is a memorial to the Swiss Guards who were massacred during the French Revolution. It is situated on one of Lucerne’s hills, the Lindenhof.
The Lucernian regiments of the Swiss Guard were regarded as among the finest in Europe. Since 1792, they had been stationed at the Palace of Versailles, where they were in charge of security and where they guarded the royal family. When a mob from Paris, France invaded on September 5, 1792, hundreds of guardsmen were killed in the palace, including many more who died when they attempted to get back to lucerne. A few survived and returned to lucerne.
About 400 Swiss Guards were killed during this event, which came to be known as the September Massacres. By then, the Lucernian government had already decided to establish a monument in memory of those who died. The commission for its design was awarded to the architect Melchior Paul von Deschwanden.
A monument was erected at lucerne to honor the dead Swiss Guards from the September Massacres. The monument was unveiled on August 1, 1821, on the Lindenhof hill in Lucerne. It is designed in the form of a lion, resting on his left hind leg.
8. Rosengart Collection
The Rosengart Collection Lucerne is the only collection of art glass in all of Switzerland that has been designated a National Monument. Furthermore, it’s one of the leading and most visited museums in Lucerne where approximately 100 000 people visit each year.
The lucerne museum was founded by Samuel Werenfels, who [had an idea to establish lucerne] [assembled artistically important works together] [founded lucerne]. To create the lucerne art collection meant for him to travel personally to renowned museums in Europe and acquire single pieces or portfolios with artwork from famous artists such as Paul Klee and Henri Matisse.
In 1990, after Werenfels’ death, his heirs decided to donate the lucerne art collection as a whole to the lucerne city museum.
In order for all of these works from various different eras and from differing styles to be afforded a worthy location, the Rosengart Collection lucerne was erected in 1998 after designs by Swiss architect Livio Vacchini. The lucerne art hall is said to be so well-constructed that even people feeling dizzy will enjoy this building. It’s shaped like an upside-down pyramid and consists of several levels and rooms so that visitors can admire each piece at their own leisure. Furthermore, there’s no obligation to read any associated information about each artwork as it isn’t sorted according to artist or period but rather thematically such as everyday life, religion, or scenery. Therefore, this lucerne art collection is more like a walk through the history of Lucerne and its inhabitants.
Today, You will find Hofkirche Lucerne to be one of the most beautiful churches you have ever seen. Years before the church was actually built, lucerne was the most important place in Switzerland. lucerne was one of the seven Catholic cantons and lucerne was the religious center of Switzerland. lucerne had seven churches, among them Hofkirche lucerne.
In the city of Lucerne, there were two main churches: St. Leodegar and Hofkirche lucerne.
- Hofkirche lucerne was the church where all of the Swiss bishops, priests, and abbots were ordained.
- The church was built in the mid-1300s.
- Hofkirche Lucerne is a hallmark for Switzerland and is known all over the world.
- Hofkirche Lucerne is the only remaining Catholic church of the former seven churches in lucerne.
- Today, Hofkirche lucerne sits on a small hill overlooking the city of lucerne and is one of the most important buildings within its skyline. The name Hofkirche roughly translates to “court church”.
The church was built in the Gothic style and has remained largely unchanged throughout the years. Hofkirche lucerne features several Gothic architectural elements, including beautiful stained glass windows of many different colors, paintings on stunning gold backgrounds, and beautiful carvings of all kinds. The building is divided into three naves, which are separated by columns. The interior of the church has intricate carving on every surface including the walls, ceilings, windows, and pillars. While Hofkirche lucerne has been around for many centuries it retains its beauty throughout all of the time.
- Hofkirche or Court Church is a catholic cathedral in Lucerne, Switzerland. It was built in the Gothic style between 1300 and 1350.
- Hofkirche Lucerne is one of the most important buildings within the skyline of Lucerne.
- It has remained largely unchanged throughout the years.
- Hofkirche or Court Church is divided into three naves, which are separated by columns.
- The building is decorated with beautiful stained glass windows of many different colors, paintings on stunning gold backgrounds, and carvings of all kinds.
- Hofkirche Lucerne was built in the Gothic style and has remained largely unchanged throughout the years.
10. Glacier Garden
The Glacier Garden, lucerne is a garden near Lucerne, in Switzerland. It is an interactive garden where the plants growing are chosen so they can survive even in harsh conditions of ice and snow. Suitable lucerne plants for this garden are: Bistort and Glacier lucerne. The Glacier lucerne flowers between May and July, and has lucerne flowers which are white, pink, or purple.
The Glacier Garden Lucerne opened in 2014, after three years of construction. The lucerne plants in the Glacier Garden Lucerne are chosen for their ability to survive tough climates and harsh conditions of ice and snow. This lucerne plant garden is located in the Lucerne region and it is open for visitors all year round (except some national holidays). The lucerne garden is open from 10.00 am until 5 pm.
Best Things to do in Lucerne, Switzerland 11 and beyond
11. Musegg Wall
The Musegg Wall lucerne is a fortification located in lucerne, switzerland. It was built from 1344 to 1346 and was used, at the time of construction, as an additional defense for lucerne against enemy armies.
- The Musegg Wall lucerne covers about 1 kilometer around lucerne’s old town and was built with eight gates that allowed entry into lucerne. It had a depth of up to 10 meters and includes a 20-meter wide moat.
- In 1965, lucerne authorities had the Musegg Wall lucerne declared “listed building” in order to preserve lucerne’s historical heritage.
- After lucerne was conquered by the Swiss confederates in 1375, lucerne’s medieval fortifications started to lose their function and many of the lucerne gates were walled up.
- The lucerne authorities had the lucerne gates of the Musegg Wall lucerne re-opened again in 1966 and the Musegg Wall Lucerne regained its function as a fortification.
- In 1968, lucerne authorities had the moat of the Musegg Wall lucerne filled up with earth again in order to create a public space.
- As lucerne’s Musegg Wall was built using limestone, this stone was used as lucerne’s building material for many years.
- The lucerne authorities have had the limestone quarried from the Musegg Wall lucerne for lucerne’s building projects since the end of the 20th century.
12. Richard Wagner Museum
The Richard Wagner Museum in Lucerne, Switzerland is dedicated to the life and music of German composer Richard Wagner. The museum includes displays on Wagner’s life and the history of the festival theater in Lucerne where Wagner’s operas are performed.
A collection of Richard Wagner memorabilia from a fan is housed in a museum that shares his name located in Lucerne, Switzerland.
The Richard Wagner Museum was founded to house the collection of the Swiss writer Max Feuerstein from Zürich. His systematic approach and his deep knowledge of Wagner helped build one of the most significant collections about the composer. In 1932, Feuerstein purchased the house where Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig, Germany on 15 May 1813. The house was dismantled brick by brick and brought to Lucerne.
The museum first opened its doors to the public on 24 August 1945, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of Richard Wagner’s death. It was extended in 1985–86 and again in 2001.
The permanent exhibition presents the life and work of Wagner as well as his influence on political events such as Germany’s Third Reich, with its obsession with Germanic culture, and the history of anti-Semitism. The museum holds one of the most important collections of autograph scores and letters by Richard Wagner and has an outstanding collection of paintings, drawings, caricatures, and sculptures.
Organized chronologically, the exhibits begin with Wagner’s life in Leipzig where he composed his earliest works. It continues with displays of his inspiration by the operas of Carl Maria von Weber, his membership in the circle around Ludwig Tieck, Novalis, and Clemens Brentano. The influence of King Ludwig II on his music becomes apparent before moving to Munich where he was appointed conductor of the Bavarian State Opera House. The final exhibits focus on his cooperation with the Dresden Hofkapelle and his work on “Der Ring des Nibelungen” (The Ring of the Nibelung), “Parsifal”, and his death in Venice.
13. The Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre
Situated by the water’s edge in Lucerne, the architecture of the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre was designed to maximize views of Lake Lucerne and the Alps. In addition to a range of public spaces, the building houses three concert halls and an open-air arena used for cultural performances during the summer months.
The building was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who is also responsible for the city’s new railway station. The most prominent feature is a 15,000-square-metre metallic roof measuring 100 meters at its highest point. The roof forms a sweeping arc over the main entrance and is supported by three steel pillars that extend from the edge of the waterside plaza to within 15 meters of the opposite bank.
The main entrance leads into a large foyer with two small auditoriums and reception and catering facilities. A large outdoor plaza is located to the rear of the foyer, leading to a large congress hall with an adjacent exhibition area.
The second concert hall is situated underground after descending a flight of stairs from ground level. The third auditorium sits above this building, reached via two sets of climbing walls or by stairs.
Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre is in Lucerne, Switzerland. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and completed in 2005 for Pro Helvetia. The materials used include steel, aluminum, concrete, and glass.
3 Facts about the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre:
- Santiago Calatrava is the architect of the building.
- The architectural design is a mix between geometrical and organic shapes with an emphasis on straight lines and curves.
- The materials used include aluminum, concrete, steel, and glass.
14. Jesuit Church
The Jesuit Church in Lucerne, Switzerland is the only Baroque church built on Swiss soil.
It can be found at Kirchgasse 16 and was built between 1649 and 1669 by plans made by Giovanni Pietro Tencalla. The construction of this church began during a time when the Jesuit order was not allowed to spread its teachings in Switzerland. The Jesuit order had been founded over a century before the construction of the church but it wasn’t until 1622 that they were founded as an official sect by Pope Gregory XV. Because of this, even though the Jesuits had orders from the Vatican to build their churches on Swiss soil, two full centuries passed before they could fulfill those orders.
The first stone of the Jesuit Church was laid on May 25, 1649, and construction continued even though the Jesuits were not allowed to proselytize until 1653. The church was finished in 1669 and consecrated by the Bishop of Milan, Giovanni Ambrogio Mezzabarba. On the outside of the church, an inscription reads “VOCATUM PROBAVIT DEUS” which means “God called and it was established.”
Inside the church a few of the many artworks include a painting by Sebastiano Ricci titled The Martyrdom of St. Andrew, a painting by Giovanni Battista Guidotti called The Glory of the Martyrs, and a painting by Filippo Balbi called The Triumph of the Name of Jesus.
The altar contains sculptures by Hans Leu depicting Mary Magdalen and Saint Ignatius while the side entrances hold paintings by Johann Rudolf Byss depicting The Triumph of the Holy Name and The Way to Salvation.
In front of the church is a monument built as a thank you to the city of Lucerne for being so welcoming and allowing the construction of the Jesuit Church. It was built in 1672 and is a replica made of red sandstone. The original was made of marble but it deteriorated over the years and had to be replaced with a replica made of sandstone.
The Jesuit Church in Lucerne, Switzerland is a beautiful architectural example of the great work done by the Jesuits in the name of God.
- The Jesuit “Church” (more like a cathedral) is the only Baroque church built on Swiss soil.
- The Jesuit Church’s first stone was laid May 25th, 1649 and construction continued even though the Jesuits were not allowed to proselytize until 1653.
- In front of the church is a Monument built as a thank-you to the city of Lucerne for being so welcoming and allowing construction of the Jesuit Church. It was built in 1672 and is a replica made of red sandstone. The original was made of marble but it deteriorated over the years and had to be replaced with a replica made of sandstone.
15. Bourbaki Panorama
The Bourbaki Panorama is a “realistic” depiction of the Battle of Berezina during Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in 1812. It is a cylindrical painting, 221 feet in circumference, showing the battle from a birds-eye-view.
- It was created by Émile-Antoine Bayard, an artist in Napoleon’s army.
- Bayard wrote that he chose to depict the battle at night because “in this way, one could make things more dramatic”.
- The painting was completed in 1905 after ten years of work.
- It was installed at the Camp de Monte-à-Regret, a French military camp in Paris.
- By 1897, the Camp de Monte-à-Regret was used solely as a training area for the French military.
- The Bourbaki Panorama is a cylindrical painting, 221 feet in circumference.
- The Bourbaki Panorama is one of many “panoramas” depicting events from Napoleon’s Russian campaign in a cylindrical fashion.
- The Panorama is named after the French general whose army it depicts: Michel Ney, Duke of Elchingen, Prince de la Moscowa.
- The painting is meant to be viewed while walking around the entire circle, in a clockwise fashion.
- The painting is housed in a round rotunda, 80 feet in diameter and 35 feet high.
- The rotunda features a golden mosaic in the floor and windows that let sunlight in.
- The Bourbaki Panorama is one of three panoramas housed at the Camp de Monte-à-Regret.
- The other two panoramas are titled “The Bombardment of Genoa” and “The Battle of Montebello”.
Out of the list of the Best Things To Do in Lucerne, Switzerland, you can pick and choose which ones you want to cover depending on your preferences and how much time you have available on hand. We’d recommend doing all of them!
Lucerne is a Beautiful Place in Switzerland. One must add this place to their travel bucket list and visit all the attractions available in and around Lucerne.
Read: Plan a Trip to Florence
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