2-Day Lucerne Itinerary (With Options for Day 3)

2 day Lucerne itinerary

Set on the shore of the namesake lake, Lucerne is one of the best cities to visit in Switzerland. With excellent museums, historic landmarks, and easy access to towering summits, the city has something to offer to anyone, whether they’re looking for a city break or outdoor adventures. 

If you’re in Lucerne for only 2-3 days, you can still have loads of fun in the city and explore virtually all of its attractions. This detailed itinerary will help you figure out which Lucerne landmarks are a must for you, and which you can leave for the next trip. A mountain excursion is in the cards for anyone staying in the city for at least two days, and it might just be the highlight of your entire trip to Switzerland! 

Day 1: Exploring the Heart of Lucerne

lucerne
Lucerne

Your first day in Lucerne should focus on all the best-known sights in the Swiss city. From famous bridges to iconic fondue restaurants, here’s what to do on your first day in Lucerne! 

Cross the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke)

chapel bridge lucerne
The Chapel Bridge in Lucerne

Kick off your trip to Lucerne with a walk across the Chapel Bridge, starting at Rosengart Platz. Along with its Water Tower, it’s the most famous landmark in the entire town, famous for the beautiful paintings hung just below its roof. 

The pedestrian bridge across the Reuss River is an iconic attraction in Lucerne, one which you can not miss while you’re in town. It almost burned down in 1993 when the entire bridge was engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes. 

It takes less than five minutes to walk the bridge, but that’s if you rush it. Take your time to admire the paintings and the views of Lucerne on either side of the river. 

I also recommend coming back to the bridge at night, because it’s an entirely different experience when it’s illuminated. 

Visit Jesuit Church 

Jesuit Church Lucerne
Interior of the Jesuit Church in Lucerne

Once you’ve crossed the Chapel Bridge, you’re minutes away from the Jesuit Church. Walk along the bank of the river admiring the scenic views until you stumble upon this magnificent building. 

The Jesuit Church is one of two famous religious buildings in Lucerne. Set on the south bank of the Reuss River with splendid views of Lucerne’s Old Town, the 17th-century church is known for Baroque architecture and stunning painted ceilings. 

The interior of the Jesuit Church is so mesmerizing that you won’t even notice the time passing. Try to spot all the details on the impressive ceiling, and don’t forget to look down at the painted organ. 

Swans can often be observed in front of the church, and you might get to see them when you exit. Head north towards the other famous bridge in Lucerne, to continue the exploration of this charming city. 

See Spreuer Brucke

Spreuer Bridge in Lucerne

Spreuer Brucke is another famous bridge over the Reuss River, similar to Kapellbrücke. It’s not quite as famous, so it generally has fewer crowds. 

Just like the iconic Chapel Bridge, Spreuer Brucke features paintings under the roof, all with a Death Motif. It was constructed in the 13th century and at that time, this was the only bridge where it was allowed to dump chaff and leaves into the river. Chaff is Spreu in German, hence the name Spreuerbrucke.

It’s shorter than the Chapel Bridge, so it’s quicker to cross. And once you cross it, you’ll be in Lucerne Old Town, which is one of my favorite historic centers in Switzerland. 

Discover Lucerne Altstadt (Old Town)

Lucerne Old Town
Lucerne Old Town

With pastel houses, gorgeous murals on the walls, and some of the best fondue restaurants in the entire country, it’s extremely difficult not to fall in love with Lucerne’s old town after your first visit. 

Do a guided walking tour or just allow yourself to get lost in the city’s cobblestone alleys – explore Lucerne old town in any way you like, just make sure you don’t miss the City Hall and its iconic Clock Tower. 

The city’s public squares are also a must during a walking tour of Lucerne. Hirschenplatz, Kapellplatz, Muhlenplatz, and Weinmarkt are all lined with gorgeous houses and feature a fountain at the center. 

Roam around Lucerne Altsdadt, allowing yourself to get lost in the narrow alleys. When you’ve sufficiently explored the heart of the city, head to the northern city walls for epic views. 

Walk the City Walls (Museggmauer)

Lucerne city walls path

Begin your first afternoon in Lucerne with a tour of the historic city walls. They’ve been protecting the city since the 14th century and it’s incredible just how well the walls are preserved. 

Out of nine towers on the wall, four remain accessible to the public. I recommend you climb the Männli Tower and follow the walls east. Climbing the Männliturm is a bit of a challenge because it’s a steep uphill ascent, but the view at the top is out of this world. You see the river, Lake Lucerne, the Jesuit Church, and all the rooftops of Altstadt’s beautiful buildings.

The other towers that are accessible to the public are Wacht, Zyt, and Schirmer, from west to east. Zytturm is even more special for its painted clock face and a small museum inside with a collection of antique timepieces.   

Climb down the walls at Schirmerturm and pass through the Old Town of Lucerne again, just in time for lunch.  

Lunch in Lucerne Old Town 

Fritschi Restaurant Lucerne Old Town
Restaurant in Lucerne Old Town

A nice, filling meal is in order after you’ve spent most of the morning and early afternoon walking around and burning calories. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to places to eat in Lucerne, but I think it’s best to choose a local cafe for lunch and go all out for dinner. 

Maybe even go to Lowenplatz to explore this part of the city a little. The Old Swiss House is here, which is one of the best (and most expensive) restaurants in Lucerne. A solid alternative is Restaurant Caravelle, which is perfect if you’re in the mood for pizza, pasta, or just general Italian food. 

Café de Ville, Rathaus Brauerei, and Stadtkeller are all solid options for lunch in Lucerne Old Town. 

Stroll Along Lake Lucerne Promenade

Lake Lucerne Promenade
Lake Lucerne Promenade

Lake Lucerne Promenade is a walking path along the north shore of the lake. It starts just below St. Leodgar Church, and I highly recommend you pop inside the church first and then head down to the lake. 

Lined with trees and benches, the walking path offers scenic views of Lake Lucerne and the boats docked at the piers. Walk past the Grand Hotel Lucerne, the Casino, and the Lavish Mandarin Oriental. I recommend walking until you reach at least Carl Spitteler Quai, a serene lakefront park. 

The Europe bus stop is close, and you can catch a bus to be back in Lucerne in about 5 minutes. Or you can walk all the way back if you like, preferably to the harbor. 

Sunset Lake Lucerne Cruise

lake lucerne cruise
Lake Lucerne Cruise

Boat cruises are the best way to discover Lake Lucerne, and there’s absolutely no shortage of options for scenic cruises in the city. Boats are an important mode of public transport in Lucerne, allowing for quick travel between the towns and cities on the shore. 

A standard cruise takes at least 2 hours, usually even longer. Tickets are expensive, generally more than 60 CHF for the round trip. But you can ride the boat ferries for cheap, and do a quick round trip to Weggis in an hour and some change. 

Enjoy the sunset on the boat and you’re back in Lucerne just in time for dinner. 

Swiss Fondue for Dinner

Fondue House in Lucerne

Get dinner right after the boat trip, or even instead of it. Head to a traditional Swiss restaurant to get a taste of the local cuisine. Fondue is my favorite option for a dinner in Lucerne, especially because the city has some of the best fondue restaurants in Switzerland. 

Fondue House du Pont is always a good choice, especially if you can get one of the outdoor tables with river views. The restaurant serves only fondue, and you can choose from a few different versions of the iconic dish. The Old Swiss House is also an excellent option if you want to experience fine dining in Lucerne, as is the restaurant at Hotel des Alpes with waterfront seating.

Day 2: Mountain Excursions and Local Culture

Two stunning Swiss mountains are easily accessible from Lucerne. Spend day two of your trip visiting either Mount Pilatus or Mount Rigi. 

Visit Mount Pilatus OR Mount Rigi 

Mount Pilatus

Lucerne is surrounded by tall mountains and a trip to the city is the perfect opportunity for a mountain excursion. The two closest summits to town are Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi, each with its own special attractions. 

Mount Pilatus is the better destination for outdoor adventurers. It offers more trails for hiking and mountain biking, and it’s even a popular destination for paragliding. 

The trip to Mount Pilatus is also scenic, and I highly recommend doing the Golden Route if it’s in season. It includes a boat trip, mountain train ride, and a gondola, so you get to experience Lake Lucerne from all the different angles. 

The summer toboggan run is another fun experience at Mount Pilatus, as well as the rope park. A climbing course is set up in between the trees on the summit, offering both kids and adults the opportunity for some fun and adventure. 

Mount Rigi
Mount Rigi

A trip to Mount Rigi includes a ride on Switzerland’s oldest cogwheel train. That experience alone is a special adventure, and it only gets better once you reach the summit. 

Hiking trails, a cheese dairy, and panoramic views all await at Mount Rigi. The Rigi Kaltbad Spa Hotel is also at this mountain, and it’s a great destination for travelers who want to be pampered while enjoying some of the best views in Switzerland.

Mount Rigi doesn’t offer as many hiking trails as Pilatus, and they’re generally a bit easier. With several observation decks accessible by easy walks, Rigi is the better summit for non-hikers who want to have the experience of walking atop a Swiss mountain. Or for travelers who just want to enjoy panoramic views, preferably from a warm pool. 

Mount Pilatus, on the other hand, is generally the better destination for those seeking adventure. If you want to roam around a mountain, hike on different trails, climb, and have all sorts of mountain fun, Pilatus won’t disappoint.  

Explore More of Lucerne City Center

The Lion Monument in Lucerne

When you get back to Lucerne, take the time to explore even more of the city, especially if you spent the bulk of day one roaming around the old town. 

Head to Lowenplatz to see a few more famous landmarks in Lucerne. The Lion Monument is here, and it’s one of the best-known statues in the city. It depicts a wounded lion, as an homage to Swiss soldiers who were killed in the storming of the Tuileries Palace. 

Lucerne Glacier Garden is also here, and it’s a good place if you’re interested in natural history. The city was once covered with a sheet of ice, and the exhibit at this museum explores Lucerne’s glacial history. 

If you like the idea of a museum tour, just wait to hear what I’ve got on my mind next! 

Tour Even More Museums 

Wagner House Museum in Lucerne

Lucerne is home to some awesome museums, so why not spend the afternoon touring one (or five) of them? Sammlung Rosengart is the most popular art museum in Lucerne, with a collection heavily focused on Picasso’s works. 

The Swiss Transport Museum is one of the best in the country and offers the opportunity to see trains, airplanes, and even gondola cabins up close. The exhibit is fascinating, with old timers, F1 cars, and an astronaut’s suit! 

The Wagner Museum is a good alternative for travelers who are more interested in the arts. It’s set in the former home of the famous composer, in a vast green space. Period furnishings and Wagner’s actual piano are exhibited at this museum. 

Gameorama Spielmuseum is another place I would recommend, especially if you’re into any sort of game. The interactive museum houses some of the oldest arcade games, as well as loads of board games that you’re welcome to play. It’s very interesting and perfect for travelers who want to spend an hour or two having fun. 

Ride the Funicular up To the Gütsch Hotel

Gütsch Hotel is a great alternative for travelers who aren’t really interested in museum tours. It’s accessible with the funicular and offers a fabulous view of Lucerne’s rooftops and the namesake lake. 

The funicular ride is short and you’ll be at the top of the hill in no time. If you can manage to experience the sunset here, it might just be the highlight of your trip. Then head back into town for a fun evening. 

Experience Local Culture at KKL Luzern 

KKL Luzern northeast of the Chapel Bridge

Situated at Europlatz, a stone’s throw away from the main train station in Lucerne, KKL is a vast culture and congress center in the city. It’’s the place to be for classical music concerts and any other type of cultural event in Luzern. The center is known for excellent acoustics, so it’s truly wonderful to experience any type of live music event here. 

One of my favorite events they do is screenings of popular movies, while an orchestra plays the theme live. It’s a special experience and a great way to have fun while you’re in this city. There’s at least one screening a month, and it’s usually some classic films like The Holiday, Star Wars, or even Harry Potter. 

Optional Day 3: Nearby Attractions

If you happen to have a third day in Lucerne, you’re in for a treat! There’s loads more to discover in the Swiss city, and I’ve got you covered. 

Burgenstock, Hammetschwand Lift, & Felsenweg

Hammetschwand Lift on Burgenstock
Hammetschwand Lift on Burgenstock

Another mountain excursion is the perfect option for travelers in Lucerne who enjoy being outdoors. Head to the Burgenstock summit to enjoy spectacular panoramic views, hiking trails, and some of the best Swiss landscapes. 

Take a boat from Lucerne to Kehrsiten Bürgenstock, where you can take the funicular up the mountain. The top station of the train is at the start of the Burgenstock Felsenweg, a hiking path that takes you to the summit.

At the top of the Burgenstock is the Hammetschwand Lift, a must for anyone who loves panoramic views. The elevator takes you an additional 500 feet in the air, to an observation deck with the absolute best views of Lake Lucerne. 

Engelberg and Mt. Titlis

Titlis Cable Car
The cable car from Engelberg to Mt. Titlis

Another option is to take this time to travel to Engelberg and up to Mount Titlis. The lovely Swiss village features direct gondola access to the tall summit, which is one of the top tourist destinations in Switzerland. It’s also famous for the Engelberg Abbey, a 12th-century monastery with a Baroque church. 

Titlis is a top destination for winter sports enthusiasts with snow from October until May and a glacier park that allows you to have winter fun in the summer. Don’t miss out on the Ice Flyer chair lift, which allows you to soar above a glacier and experience some truly magical views. 

Interactive Museum Glasi Hergiswil

Glasi Hergiswil
Glasi Hergiswil

Situated just 15 minutes from Lucerne by train, Glasi Hergiswil is an excellent interactive museum on the shore of Lake Lucerne. It’s very entertaining for both kids and adults and an excellent destination for a fun afternoon. 

This is a glass factory, shop, and museum, where glass is hand-blown. You can see the professionals blow glass, and you can even join a workshop and try your hand at the craft. 

Tour the Formed by Fire museum to learn more about the history of glass-blowing in Hergiswil and how it developed over the years. Then enter the Glass Labyrinth, and try to find the way out without bumping into anything. It’s not as easy as you might think. 

For travelers with children, the Glasi Park is a must-stop. With a dragon, marble games, and a sand pit, the youngest visitors will have the most fun here. In the summer months, visitors to the museum can also engage in water games at the pier. 

Meggenhorn Castle

Meggenhorn Castle
Meggenhorn Castle, image courtesy of Kurt Stocker

Meggenhorn Castle is 25 minutes from Lucerne by bus and an excellent place for a quick half-day trip. The historic castle is set in a vast park with hiking trails, panoramic views, and historic landmarks. 

If you’re in Lucerne in the summer, the best way of traveling to Meggen is by boat. Enjoy a scenic lake cruise while you approach the Meggenhorn pier, which is just a few minutes from the famous castle. 

The famous Swiss castle was modeled after the Châteaux Chambord in Loire Valley, which is one of the most important castles in France. Every Sunday afternoon from April to October it’s possible to visit the living quarters inside the castle and marvel at the opulent decorations. 

The castle gardens are accessible at any time and are a great spot for a picnic or just some relaxed lounging. A playground is situated close to the lake shore, and it’s the perfect place to take your kids. 

Enjoy The Views at Dreilindenpark

Lucerne’s Dreilindenpark is a hidden gem that not many people know about. Well, the locals know about it, but tourists usually miss it because it’s away from the city center and not really that famous. 

That’s a benefit in my book because it means that the park is rarely crowded. If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, ride the line 14 bus to the Konservatorium and walk the rest of the way to the park. 

It offers some of the best panoramic views in Lucerne, and it feels like a place out of a fairytale. With small castles, statues landscaped walking paths, and trees that are hundreds of years old, the park is wonderful. It’s a great destination for a sunset picnic in Lucerne, especially if you want to spend your last few hours in the city in a stunning, serene place. 

Map for a 2-Day Lucerne Itinerary

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *