Wondering if there’s anything fun you can do in Lucerne for free? Then you’re in the right place because the answer is yes, and I’ve got a list of 14 things you can do in the city without spending a dime.
The thing I love about Lucerne is that all of its most iconic landmarks are entirely free of charge. It costs nothing to walk around the old town and see the most famous buildings, bridges, and statues.
And if you’ve already bought a Swiss Travel Pass, you’ll be able to enjoy other perks for free like a cruise and museum tours. So, let’s dive into all the best free things to do in Lucerne!
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Chapel Bridge is the most iconic landmark in the city of Lucerne. The wooden footbridge was constructed in the 14th century, and since then it has been one of the most famous attractions in the city. It nearly burned down in the August of 1993, when a fire broke out on the bridge and enveloped the entire structure in minutes.
Many of the original artworks that adorn the roof of the Chapel Bridge burned down in the fire. Some were salvaged and are still visible beneath the roof.
Walking the Chapel Bridge is an absolute must for anyone in Lucerne. It’s a free attraction that takes 10-15 minutes, and that’s only if you stop to admire the pictures and take photographs. I recommend walking the bridge in the evening because it looks better when all the street lights turn on. Also, the crowds are smaller in the evenings.
The Lion Monument is another famous Lucerne attraction. Situated in the northern part of the city, just a 10-minute walk from the Chapel Bridge, this landmark statue has been a staple in the city since the early 19th century.
The statue is carved into the rock face, and it depicts a wounded lion. It represents an homage to all the Swiss Guards who were killed during the storming of the Tuileries Palace in Paris back in 1792.
It’s an incredibly sad monument to observe, especially when you know what it stands for. But it’s also a stunning work of art and a staple landmark of Lucerne, one that you must see while you’re in the city.
Situated on the south bank of the Reuss River, the Jesuit Church in Lucerne is undoubtedly one of the best attractions you can visit in the city for free. The imposing church is stunning inside and out, boasting impressive Baroque architecture.
This was actually the first Baroque church built in Switzerland, back in the 17th century. Although the church was consecrated in 1677, the construction wasn’t entirely completed until the late 19th century.
Go inside the Jesuit Church to see the ornately painted ceilings, a sizeable organ, and multiple statues. And when you exit the church, you’re treated to a wonderful view of the Reuss and Lucerne’s old town. Swans usually hang out on the square in front of the church; if you’re lucky, you might see them.
Hofkirche St. Leodegar
Hofkirche St. Leodegar is another impressive church in Lucerne. It’s on the north bank of the Reuss River, just a short walk outside Lucerne’s old town. The Gothic church dates back to the 17th century and it is best known for its vaulted ceiling, white stone interior, and ornate decorations.
The twin Gothic towers make this church easily recognizable from a mile away. Entrance to the church is not charged and discovering its opulent interior won’t cost you a dime. Also, once you’ve climbed up the stairs that lead up to the church, turn back and admire the pretty view of Lucerne’s houses, winding streets, and tall mountains in the background.
Old Town Lucerne
Lucerne has one of the prettiest old towns of all the cities in Switzerland, characterized by pastel buildings with artworks on the facades and cobblestone alleys. Roaming around the streets of Lucerne Altstadt is a wonderful experience, which will make you fall in love with this spectacular city.
Exploring the old town of Lucerne is an entirely free activity anyone can do on their own. You won’t learn the backstory behind all the special buildings and monuments as you would on a guided tour, but with a bit of research, you can easily figure out all the top spots on your own.
Tip: Lucerne has some of the best fondue restaurants in Switzerland. If you’re ever in the mood for the delicious Swiss delicacy, this is undoubtedly one of the best cities for a night out in a restaurant.
Most people who travel to Lucerne arrive by train to the main Lucerne Station. The imposing building dominates the northwestern edge of the lower Reuss River bank, and it’s a busy hub for tourists in the region. There are a few iconic landmarks close to Luzern station, the most notable of which is Torbogen Luzern.
The iconic city gate greets tourists who arrive in Lucerne and serves as a wonderful preview of the type of architecture that awaits in the city. But there’s another reason why Lucerne Station is one of the best places to visit for free.
Tourists who stay in an approved accommodation in Lucerne get the Lucerne Visitor Card, which provides discounts for many city attractions and free public transport in Zone 10 of the city. You can travel for free on all the trains and buses in the main city area, which is great for thoroughly exploring the region.
Musegg Wall is a medieval landmark in Lucerne and a remnant of the city’s historic fortifications. Anyone can walk along the historic wall for free, and it’s one of the best things to do in Lucerne if you like seeing medieval architecture and panoramic city views.
The wall has nine towers, and four of them are open to the public every day. Visitors can tour the Wacht, Männli, Schirmer, and Zyt towers from 8 AM until 7 PM, every day from the beginning of April until November.
In addition to the historic importance of the wall and its towers, this area is also great for panoramic photographs of Luzern. A view of the city’s rooftops stretches from the panoramic terrace, and it’s a place where you must stop for a moment to take in the sights.
Spreuerbrücke is a covered pedestrian footbridge over the Reuss River, very similar to the Chapel Bridge. Even if it’s not quite as iconic as the latter, it’s a tourist attraction not to be missed in Luzern.
Walking across the bridge is entirely free, and it’s the best way to quickly cross the river in the western part of the city. Spreuerbrücke also features pictures under the roof, and the dominant theme among them is death.
Crossing the bridge takes just a couple of minutes, but it’s best to take your time and admire each painting. Just like the Chapel Bridge, my favorite time of the day for the Spreur Bridge is night, when it gets illuminated and you can see the bright lights along the banks of the Reuss.
Set in a grassy park southeast of the city of Luzern, Meggenhorn Castle is one of the most spectacular landmarks on Lake Lucerne. And it’s one of the best places you can visit for free in the city because it won’t cost you a cent to travel to the castle.
It’s situated in Meggen, a town that’s included in the Lucerne Zone 10 and which you can access for free with public transport. The entire area of the castle grounds is fabulous, with landscaped gardens, beautiful flowers, and scenic views of the lake and towering mountain summits in its background.
Access to the castle grounds is free of charge, but entrance to the castle building is paid. It’s only 5 CHF though, which is honestly a good price for a tour of the ornate rooms with period furnishings. But you can still have a good time here even if you don’t go inside the castle.
Swimming in Lake Lucerne is one of the best things you can do in the city for free. It’s a popular summertime activity and there are loads of places throughout Lucerne where you can just jump in the water.
Avoid the designated bathing areas because those often charge an entrance fee and tend to get pretty crowded on warm days. There are plenty of places along the shore where you can be entirely alone, and have a small slice of heaven all to yourself.
Hiking is also a great way to discover the lake. Walk around the shore, admiring the lovely vista and discovering some hidden gems of this spectacular lake. Also, you can rent a bike for a couple of hours free of charge with the Luzern Visitor Card and cycle along the shore.
With the Swiss Travel Pass, you can even enjoy a free boat cruise on the lake.
Rathaus Stadt Luzern
In the heart of Lucerne Old Town lies the Rathaus (city hall). The building was constructed in the early 17th century in Italian Renaissance style, and it’s one of the most important buildings in the city. Famous for its tall clock tower, the city hall is one of Lucerne’s landmarks that you will eventually stumble upon during any walking tour.
The Rathaus often hosts events and exhibitions, so it’s rarely open to the public. But its covered arcade hosts local merchants (on the side of the building facing the shore), where you can shop for unique souvenirs from Lucerne.
The architecture of Lucerne’s city hall stands out, which is what makes it such a special place. The Bern-style roof is very much reminiscent of Switzerland’s capital, while the various statues on the facade are reminiscent of buildings in Rome.
Inseli Park is a small public park near the central train station in Lucerne. It’s one of my favorite places in the city to relax, especially on nice, sunny days. The park features interesting sculptures, beautiful flower beds, and many benches where you can sit down and rest for a while.
The views of the lake from Inseli Park are fabulous, and you can even dip your toes in the water if you wish. Also, this park is particularly fun in December, when it’s adorned with wooden stalls that are traditional for Advents in European cities.
Countless fairy lights and other Christmas decorations also get set up in Inseli Park, turning this green space into a spectacular winter wonderland. If you happen to be in Lucerne in December, Inseli Park in the evening is not to be missed.
Glacier Garden of Lucerne (Free With Swiss Travel Pass)
The Glacier Garden of Lucerne is only free if you have the Swiss Travel Pass, the Swiss Museum Pass, or the Lucerne Museum Card. Otherwise, there’s an entrance fee of 22 CHF for adults. It’s situated close to the Lion Monument, and just a short walk from the heart of Lucerne.
If you have one of those travel passes, take advantage of the free entrance and tour this museum. With six separate exhibits that range from fossilized shells to a maze of mirrors, the Glacier Garden is all sorts of fun.
My favorite exhibits at this museum are the Glacial Pots. After all, if it weren’t for their discovery, the Glacier Garden would never exist in the first place. They’re evidence that Luzern was once covered with a sheet of ice, and as you walk through the garden you can read all about their excavation.
Richard Wagner Museum Lucerne (Free With Swiss Travel Pass)
The Richard Wagner Museum is another gem you can tour for free with the Swiss Travel Pass or the Lucerne Museum Pass. Otherwise, it costs 12 CHF for adults to visit the museum.
Situated in a house once inhabited by Richard Wagner, the museum is outside central Lucerne but easily accessible by public transport. The composer’s former home is decorated with period furniture, which includes one of his pianos. For me, it was fascinating to look at this piano, which was once played by Wagner and which he must have used to compose some of his masterpieces.
I think it’s worth it to come see the house even if you can’t enter for free. You don’t have to go inside the museum; instead, you can roam around the vast green space that surrounds it, and just enjoy the stunning Swiss nature.