Switzerland! Whenever we think of Switzerland, naturally snowcapped mountains, gorgeous mountain lakes, chocolate and watches come to mind. If you are visiting Switzerland, then there are plenty of things to see in Lucerne. This trip has it all, every icon you could probably think of!
It took about an hour to get to Lucerne from Zurich as well as from Basel. Either you are taking train or driving, the views on the way to Lucerne are breathtaking. I saw lush mountains, rocks, waterfalls, cottages, fields. It is like cities and villages merged into one. We drove to Lucerne from Freiburg, Germany which was about 2 hour drive. One thing to remember if you are driving, you have to pay 40 CHF to get a toll ticket when entering Switzerland.
I was captivated by the wonderful panorama of Lucerne which surrounded by the Alps and Lake Lucerne where you can relax, along with Swiss historical sites. Whether you are staying in the city for a short weekend or a couple of weeks, here are the top five things to see and do in Lucerne!
Hiking to Mount Pilatus with the World’s Steepest Cogwheel Railway
We decided to start our day with seeing Mt. Pilatus. We really didn’t hike, we took the world’s steepest cogwheel railway to the top of the mountain and it is a lifetime experience! Spectacular views surrounded us as we climbed the mountain. Higher and higher we rose and it brought the full view of Lake Lucerne and the city around it.
There are two options to go on top of Mt. Pilatus. You can take the cogwheel ride from bottom of Mt. Pilatus or you can take the gondola ride from Kriens. Both rides will take about 30 minutes to the top. For the round trip of cogwheel ride we paid 72 CHF per adult. It is 36 CHF for the children and it’s free for children 2 years old and under. The same rate applied for the gondola ride. You can visit Mt. Pilatus Official Website for more info.
Crossing the Oldest Covered Bridge at the Chapel Bridge (KapellBrücke)
Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) is the symbol of the city! Built in the 14th century, this wooden bridge is the oldest covered bridge in Europe. In the 17th century, they added painted panels depicting life in Lucerne and its patron saints. Chapel Bridge was burnt down in 1993, but it was restored the following year. Some of the panel paintings there dating from the 17th century was damaged.
The city decided not to replace them, claiming that the empty spaces should be a reminder of the tragic event. But you can still see the remaining paintings while crossing the bridge. And the gabled modern roof is a modern reconstruction after a disastrous fire in 1994.
See Remarkably Well Preserved Lucerne Old Town at the Altstadt
This is an interesting and fascinating historical site that is well worth exploring. The old town is rather small but remarkably well preserved. The narrow streets, passages and murals on buildings are truly admirable.
You can also see Lake Lucerne and the Chapel Bridge once in a while thru those old building! Overall, the old town of Lucerne let you go back to past centuries and leaves you with a pleasant feeling.
Spot the Renaissance Style Building at the Lucerne Rathaus or Town Hall
In Switzerland, a Rathaus is a meeting place of local government. This beautiful and ancient building was built in between 1602 and 1606. The old town hall is designed in the Renaissance style and covered with overhanging roof. According to the history, Lucerne Rathaus was a watchtower. It houses the oldest clock in Lucerne which chimes one minute before the others!
The arcades which facing outwards the river are still used today as a weekly marketplace. Above the arcades is the Kornschütte hall, formerly a trading hall, but now is used as a concert and exhibition hall.
Go to the Most Touching Monument in Lucerne City at the Lion Monument (Lowendenkmal)
A long walk up to the Lion Monument educated us a little about Swiss history. Also known as the Lion of Lucerne, this is a mortally wounded lion sculpture. It is situated in a very calm and serene place shaded by lots of green trees. This mourning lion commemorated the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution. The inscription “Helvetiorum fade ac virtruti” means “To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss”.
This sculpture is 10 meters long and 6 meters high. This Lion Monument were praised by many writers. Mark Twain is one of them, who said “The most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world”. This is the most touching monument in the city!
Last but not least…
Eat and Stay at the Lucerne Neustadt (New Town)
I prefer to do some shopping and dining at the Lucerne New Town. Whether you are familiar with the city or a newbie, everything is convenient and easy to find! New Town is everything you need for an enjoyable stay within walking distance to restaurants and shops.
I adore the architecture in New Town because it’s a mix of old and modern architecture, and you get much better views of the lake and the mountains. You can see the traffic is more at the New Town.
To be honest, a weekend wasn’t enough time for me to fully see the city so I feel like I should go back!
What are your favourite things to see and do in Lucerne?