The Perfect 1, 2 or 3 Days in Lucerne Itinerary

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by Neota Langley

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A picturesque city in the heart of Switzerland, planning a 1, 2 or 3 days in Lucerne itinerary is a joy when mapping out a visit to this beautiful country.

Located where the Reuss River meets the northwestern shore of the picture-perfect Lake Lucerne, this charming city is surrounded by the stunning Swiss Alps, offering breathtaking views around every corner. Lucerne is known for its perfectly preserved medieval architecture, delicious Swiss cuisine and incredible snowcapped mountain vistas.

How Many Days in Lucerne?

With so much to discover, you may be wondering how many days to spend in Lucerne. This city is one of the most beautiful in Europe, and with so much on offer, you are guaranteed to fall in love with Lucerne and its beautiful surroundings.

If you are passing through and can only spend 1 day in Lucerne, don’t worry. You can still visit the central highlights, wander through the old town and sample some traditional Swiss Fondue.

However, 2 days in Lucerne will allow you to see the main attractions without feeling rushed and enjoy some of the hidden gems along the way.

Ideally, you would spend 3 days exploring Lucerne. This is the perfect amount of time to soak up the Swiss atmosphere, discover the best of the city and take a day trip to a nearby town, city or nature spot.

Town of Lucerne
Town of Lucerne

Getting To & Around Lucerne

Lucerne is located in the centre of Switzerland, surrounded by several major cities with excellent transport links. 

Although this city does not have an airport of its own, the closest international airport is Zurich Airport, which is around 65 km away. Zurich Airport offers a wide range of international flights, but if Zurich is inconvenient for you, Bern and Basel’s airports are also nearby. You can take a direct train, bus or taxi to Lucerne from the airport.

Switzerland has an excellent public transportation system. Trains are punctual, clean, and comfortable. You can purchase a Swiss Travel Pass, which allows unlimited travel on buses, trains, and even boats throughout Switzerland, including the trip from Zurich Airport to Lucerne.

Lucerne is well-connected by train to various cities in Switzerland and across Europe. Direct trains run from major Swiss cities such as Zurich, Bern, Basel, Interlaken and Geneva.

You can also take a train from other European cities such as Milan, Paris, and Munich – though there may not be direct connections. You can view train schedules here.

Lucerne is easily accessible by car via the motorway. However, if you are driving from outside Switzerland, don’t forget to purchase a vignette before driving on any of the toll roads. The vignette is a sticker placed on your windscreen that allows you to drive on the motorways.

They are available for a fixed price (around 40 CHF) and are valid for the year of purchase. You do not have to purchase a vignette to drive in Switzerland, but if you don’t, be prepared to take your time on minor roads and over mountain passes to get to your destination. 

Once you have arrived in Lucerne, the main attractions are easily walkable. By navigating the winding streets on two feet, you will discover hidden gems, local artisan shops and the best views across the lake. 

Centre of Lucerne
Centre of Lucerne

1, 2 or 3-Day Lucerne Itinerary

Whether you are visiting Lucerne on a day trip as you travel through Switzerland or want to spend 3 days exploring this charming city, this itinerary will provide you with an unforgettable visit to one of the most picturesque cities in the whole of Europe. 

Day 1 – Lucerne Old Town Highlights

The first day of this itinerary focuses on the Old Town of Lucerne. You can explore independently or with a guide such as on this city walking tour or this walking tour which also includes a cruise on Lake Lucerne.

Chapel Bridge

Our first stop is the iconic Chapel Bridge, the picture-postcard emblem of Lucerne. The world’s oldest Truss bridge, this is no ordinary river crossing. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Switzerland, dating back to the 14th century. 

Wander across the bridge, taking in the unique triangular painted roof panels depicting scenes from Swiss and local history. The paintings were added to the bridge in the 17th century and were restored after a major fire destroyed a large section of the bridge in 1993.

Walking across is free, and there is a gift shop on the lower floor of the tower for souvenirs. 

Not far from the bridge, you can also take in the beautiful Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche in German). This is an iconic 17th-century church with incredible baroque architecture.

Chapel bridge
Chapel bridge

Musegg Wall Towers

After viewing the city from the river, it’s time to discover a different perspective. Built in the 14th century, the Musegg wall was erected as a defence along the city’s edge. You can walk along the wall for free.

The entire stretch takes around 30 minutes and is well worth doing. Along the way, you can see the various towers and gates of the wall up close, as well as the historic wooden water conduits that run along the wall. 

There are nine towers in total along the Musegg wall. Four are accessible to the public and provide magnificent views across the city, out to Lake Lucerne and beyond to the stunning Swiss Alps. The most noteworthy of these is the Zyt tower, housing the oldest clock in Lucerne, dating back to 1535. 

Old Town 

After viewing the winding medieval streets from above, it’s time to weave through the cobbled lanes, artisan shops and tall painted houses on foot. The Old Town of Lucerne (Altstadt) is straight out of a fairytale, with picturesque squares linked by pedestrianised streets.

It’s a haven for architecture enthusiasts, avid shoppers and history buffs and wandering around here is one of the best things to do in Lucerne.

If you want to pick up an authentic Swiss souvenir to take home, this is the perfect place to do so. With plenty of Swiss knives, watches and chocolates on offer alongside local produce and crafts. 

Don’t miss the painted facades of some of the oldest buildings in Lucerne, depicting tales from the surrounding areas. The best place to start your tour of the Old Town is the Weinmarkt Square.

Formerly a fish market, this square is surrounded by painted buildings, once seats of the various guilds. On the first Saturday of every month, there is a craft fair where local artists and craftsmen gather to sell their wares. 

Several guided walking tours are on offer, where you can learn more about the facades, architecture and history behind the Old Town. 

Lucerne's Old Town
Lucerne’s Old Town

Lion Monument 

Head out of the city to see the renowned Lion of Lucerne. Just a short walk up a hill from the Old Town, the Lion of Lucerne is a sandstone monument carved into the rockface by Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish sculptor, and was in 1821 as a memorial to the Swiss Guards who were killed during the French Revolution in 1792.

Overlooking a serene pond, the sculpture depicts a dying lion lying on top of a shield bearing the fleur-de-lis, the symbol of the French monarchy.  The lifelike details of the lion’s fur and facial expression make the monument an incredibly poignant and emotional memorial. 

Not far from here is also the Glacier Garden Museum, which can be a worthwhile stop for those interested.

Lion Monument
Lion Monument

Sample Lucerne’s Cuisine

Head back into the Old Town to sample some of the regional dishes. The cuisine of Lucerne, like much of Switzerland, is influenced by the country’s alpine surroundings and neighbouring countries, Germany, France, and Italy.

Alpine cuisine is traditionally homely, comforting and hearty. The region’s most famous dish is most likely the cheese fondue, a big bubbling cauldron of cheese. Usually, a mix of Gruyere and Emmental served with bread and various charcuterie.

If you are not a cheese enthusiast, you may want to try a rösti instead. This hearty dish is made from grated potatoes, fried until crispy and golden brown. It is often served as a side dish with meat or eggs.

Day 2 – Mount Pilatus & the Transport Museum

Mount Pilatus 

If you are visiting Lucerne in 2 days, the second day of our Lucerne itinerary whisks you away, high up into the mountains. You can take regional transport there or organise a guided tour such as this half-day tour or this half-day tour.

An absolute must for any trip to Lucerne, the Mount Pilatus massif rises 2,132m into the clouds overlooking the city and the town of Kriens. Legend has it that this mountain range is home to dragons with healing powers, hence the mountain’s mascot, a dragon affectionately referred to as Pilu. 

The journey to the mountain is an unforgettable experience involving a steam-operated paddle boat, the world’s steepest cog railway and a gondola.

It’s best to head out early to avoid the crowds during the peak summer season. If you are visiting Lucerne in 3 days you may want to avoid the weekend and keep an eye on the weather forecast to ensure you get the best views from the summit.

The views from the summit are breathtaking. You feel as if you are on top of the world. But you can enjoy more than the panoramic views whilst you are here. Several activities are available from the gondola’s first stop, Fräkmüntegg and the summit, Pilatus.

If you are an adrenaline junkie, try out the toboggan run (only open in the summer), the ziplines at the rope park or for a real adventure, you can opt for an alternative descent by tandem paragliding. 

There are several cafes and restaurants available when you get peckish. Ibex bar is perfect for a quick bite, or head to the Panorama Grill for lunch with a side of unbeatable views. 

You can visit Mount Pilatus all year round. Visiting during the summer months can be busy but all of the activities are open and you are more likely to be able to experience the incredible views. The winter transforms these mountains into snow-covered wonderland.

If you are visiting during the winter months you can even order a fondue to enjoy in the gondola on the way up. There’s nothing more Swiss than melted cheese whilst you look out on mountains covered in snow.

Mount Pilatus
Mount Pilatus

Transport Museum 

After spending the first half of your day in the mountains, head back to Lucerne to visit one of the most famous museums in Switzerland.

The transport museum covers an area of over 20,000 square meters, making it one of the largest museums in the country. From water to air, rail to space travel, there is something for everyone to discover.

Some of the museum’s highlights include a replica of the first-ever steam engine, the world’s oldest surviving electric locomotive, and a full-scale model of a Concorde supersonic jet. You can also explore a helicopter simulator, a submarine, a planetarium, and an IMAX cinema. You can pre-book tickets here.

Enjoy Lucerne’s Waterfront

To round off your 2 days in the city of Lucerne, take an evening stroll along the waterfront. Lucerne feels particularly magical at night, with the glistening lights reflecting on the water. You can even take a short lake cruise.

There are plenty of lakefront bars and restaurants along the way, so take your pick and enjoy the sunset from a comfy terrace looking out on the lake. 

Lucerne waterfront
Lucerne waterfront

Day 3 – Day Trip to Mt Rigi, Interlaken, Zurich, Bern or Mt Titlis

If you have 3 days, you may want to consider taking a day trip to a nearby destination.

Mount Rigi

Take the train from Lucerne to Vitznau, then hop on a cogwheel train up to Mount Rigi, taking you on a scenic journey through the mountainside, passing by lush green meadows and forests, picturesque villages, and sparkling lakes. There are also guided tours available.

Alternatively, you can don your hiking boots, pack a picnic and hike up to the mountain. You can also enjoy winter sports during the winter season or enjoy a relaxing spa day at the world-famous Rigi-Kulm Hotel.


Take a direct train from Lucerne to Interlaken, a picturesque town located between two lakes and surrounded by the Swiss Alps. There are also guided tours available.

Interlaken is a popular destination for adventure enthusiasts all year round and is commonly referred to as the adventure capital of Switzerland.

Whether you are into paragliding, whitewater rafting, skydiving, bungee jumping, hiking or winter sports. There’s something here for everyone. 

Interlaken town
Interlaken town


In just one hour by train, you can reach Bern, the capital city of Switzerland. Explore the medieval Old Town,  a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visit the Zytglogge clock tower and the historic Bern Cathedral.

Take a stroll along the picturesque Aare River, or visit the Einstein Museum, dedicated to the famous physicist who lived in Bern. The city is also a food lovers paradise, with delicious Swiss cuisine and chocolate shops around every corner.


The train from Lucerne to Zurich takes just 40 minutes. Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, situated on the beautiful Lake Zurich. The city is renowned for its stunning architecture and vibrant cultural scene.

You can visit the Kunsthaus Zurich, one of Switzerland’s most important art museums, or stroll along the Limmat River.

Beautiful Zurich
Beautiful Zurich

Mount Titlis

Take a train from Lucerne to Engelberg, then take the Titlis Rotair, the world’s first revolving cable car, to the top of the mountain, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding Alps. There are also guided tours available.

The mountain is also a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts, with skiing and snowboarding opportunities available during winter.

The mountain is also home to the Glacier Cave, a fascinating natural wonder where you can explore ice formations below the glacier’s surface.

Where to Stay in Lucerne

Hotel Central Luzern – This 3-star hotel in the centre of Lucerne is perfect for mid-range visitors to this Swiss city. There are a number of bright and modern rooms available, breakfast on offer each morning and there is also on-site parking for those who need it.

Cascada Boutique Hotel – If you’re looking for luxury, then this boutique hotel in Lucerne is an excellent choice. Centrally located close to all of the city’s top sites, there are a number of plush rooms available and plenty of other amenities to ensure you have a wonderful stay.

KoBi Apartments Hirschenplatz – These apartments are great for travellers who would prefer to have their own self-catering accommodation rather than a hotel. There are a number of flats to choose from and all are fully furnished with everything you may need for your stay.

Backpacker’s Lucerne – Offering classic dorms along with private rooms, this backpacker hostel is a good budget choice in Lucerne. There are also kitchen facilities, a bar and table tennis and foosball for guests to enjoy!

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Lucerne hotels!

Lucerne is one of the most picture-perfect cities in the whole of Europe. With so much on offer, it’s easy to see why Lucerne is a must-visit destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Whether you have 1 day to spend in Lucerne or 3, this enchanting city will steal your heart and provide you with lifelong memories. 

Are you planning a visit to Lucerne? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Neota Langley

Neota is a writer for The World Was Here First. Born and bred in Cornwall, she can usually be found with hiking boots on, ready to embark on an adventure. For the last 6 years, she has travelled throughout Europe in her self-built campervan with her trusty canine companion, Ivy. She loves exploring France, the Nordics and spending time in Alpine destinations.

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