Swiss train beside a lake
Lucerne Region Transport

How to Get from Zurich to Lucerne

April 26, 2024 Last Updated on May 14, 2024

First-time visitors to Switzerland often wonder how to get from Zurich to Lucerne. The two cities are popular destinations with much to offer the visitor and there are numerous ways to travel between the two.

In short: you can travel between Zurich and Lucerne by train, car or by bus on an organised coach tour.

Lucerne in central Switzerland is a charming city. In the centre, you have the Old Town – or Aldstadt – with its mediaeval architecture, the Reuss River, and ancient Chapel Bridge. The city also enjoys a spectacular setting, and makes the ideal base for taking excursions to nearby mountains. 

Lucerne also offers the Swiss Museum of Transport, the Rosengart Museum for art fans, boat trips across the lake, shopping, and much more. 

As the most populous Swiss city, Zurich also holds plenty of appeal for visitors. It boasts a waterfront promenade, the Limmat River, Lake Zurich, pretty parks, ancient architecture, and a vibrant arts scene, plus great shopping, dining, and nightlife. 

It’s no wonder that many visitors to Switzerland want to spend time in both of these attractive cities. Add that to the fact that there are many flights to Zurich airport from international destinations, and you can see why many people want to know how to get from Zurich to Lucerne or vice versa. 

Whether you’re wondering how to get from Zurich airport to Lucerne by train immediately after your flight arrives, want to book a private transfer, wish to drive, or are looking at taking a day trip with everything covered, this guide will show you how to travel between the two Swiss cities. 

If you want to know how to get from Zurich to Lucerne by train, car, private transfer, bus, or day trip, read on to discover all the options. By the end of this article, you’ll be well-placed to pick which mode of transport is just right for you. 

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Zurich to Lucerne transport comparison

TransportTrip timeFareBooking
Train from Zurich airport1 hour & 10 minutesFrom CHF 7 to city Buy at station
Train from Zurich city45 minutesFrom CHF 27 (one way, 2nd class)Buy at station
Rental car45 minutes to 1 hourVariesCompare rates
Private transfer from Zurich45 minutes to 1 hourPrice on requestBook here
Private transfer from Lucerne45 minutes to 1 hourPrice on requestBook here
Day trip9.5 hoursFrom CHF 60Book here

Zurich to Lucerne transport options

The good news for anyone thinking about travelling between Zurich and Lucerne is that the distance is minimal. Zurich and Lucerne are about 52 kilometres – or 32 miles – apart. 

Travelling between Zurich and Lucerne is therefore quick as well as easy, though exact timings will depend on how you get there. It is possible to reach Lucerne from Zurich in under 45 minutes.

This makes a day trip a realistic option, should you not want to stay overnight in Lucerne, though I do recommend doing so if you can.

All the transport options for travelling between Zurich and Lucerne are outlined below, you can decide which will suit your timings, budget, and preferences best. 

Couple about to board a train at Zurich main station
Image credit: Travel Switzerland

Train from Zurich to Lucerne

Taking the train from Zurich to Lucerne is a speedy and convenient way to travel. You can take the train from Zurich Main Station (Zurich HB), or from Zurich Airport (Zurich Flughafen). 

Lucerne train station is in the heart of the city. It’s very centrally located, with the old town only a few minutes away on foot. Lucerne is a very walkable city, with a number of traffic-free streets.

Wandering along the Lake Lucerne Promenade by the waterfront is also one of the most pleasant things to do in Lucerne. 

The Zurich to Lucerne train time is around 45 minutes from the main station. Add on around 15 minutes by rail if you want to travel from the airport, plus connection time.

In total, you can travel between central Zurich and Lucerne in around three quarters of an hour, or from the airport in a little over an hour once you factor in the added sector. 

🎧 Learn more about travelling by train in Switzerland on our podcast.

Routes and timings

Trains services from Zurich airport to Lucerne require a change at Zurich HB main station. Journey times range from an hour and three minutes to an hour and 10 minutes. The airport station is easy to access from Arrivals. 

Trains from Zurich main station to Lucerne take between 41 and 50 minutes. The fastest service stops only once, in Zug. If you also want to travel from Zurich airport to Zurich city, allow and additional 13 to 17 minutes for this train ride. 

There are frequent trains between Zurich main station and Lucerne, departing at least hourly throughout the day. Connections from the airport to the city centre run every 5 or 10 minutes during peak hours. 

The first train of the day generally departs at about 5.30 am, with the last leaving Zurich at around midnight. Below are the approximate travel times for each journey. 

Zurich HB to Lucerne

  • Zurich HB to Lucerne – 45 minutes direct

Zurich Airport to Lucerne

  • Zurich Airport to Zurich HB – 15 minutes
  • Transfer time – 10 minutes
  • Zurich HB to Lucerne – 45 minutes 
  • Total travel time – 1 hour and 10 minutes
Couple looking at a smart phone whilst travelling by train in Switzerland
Image credit: Travel Switzerland

Prices

If you want to take the train between Zurich and Lucerne and have purchased a Swiss Travel Pass, then your fare is fully covered.

Alternatively, you can buy a regular point-to-point ticket, purchase a SuperSaver fare, or buy a Saver Day Pass. For the latter you’ll need to plan in advance, as these are available to buy up to six months before travel. 

For guidance, the regular adult ticket price in first class is currently CHF 46 one way (about USD 50), or CHF 27 (around USD 30) in second class. If you have a Swiss Half Fare Card, then you’ll get 50% off these prices. 

Children aged five and under travel for free on Swiss train services.

Older children aged under 16 who are accompanied by a fare-paying adult travel for free, if you get a Junior Card for them. These cost CHF 30, and are available for children between the ages of six and 15 years and 11 months.

Kids aged 6 to 15 inclusive can also travel free when accompanying an adult Swiss Travel Pass holder who has obtained a free Swiss Family Card for the child/ren.

If the adult has a Swiss Half Fare Card, then children between their 6th and 16th birthdays are also entitled to travel without charge with the free Swiss Family Card. 

Zurich to Lucerne by bus

There is no current bus service between Zurich and Lucerne. The only way to take a bus is to book an organised day tour with bus travel included. You can find an option for this detailed below. 

Zurich to Lucerne by car

Couple looking at road map

The Zurich to Lucerne distance by car is around 52 kilometres, or 32 miles. On average, the drive between the cities takes between 45 minutes and an hour. This will of course vary according to traffic levels, particularly if you pass through the city centre.

You can travel between Zurich and Lucerne via the A4 and A14.

If you want to go directly from Zurich airport to Lucerne by car, your journey may take around 10 minutes longer. Again, this depends on traffic, especially when leaving the airport area. 

Renting a car with satellite navigation will make finding your way easier. Alternatively, use an app such as Waze, which uses GPS for navigation.

You can find places to park in Lucerne, including prices, on the Parking Luzern website. Options listed include multi-day passes as well as short-term spaces.

Click on each car park to find out opening times, payment methods, the number of spaces, and contact details, including the address. 

Zurich to Lucerne by private transfer

Private driver assisting passenger into vehicle

Booking a private transfer between Zurich and Lucerne can be the most convenient option. As you’ll travel by Mercedes V250, it’s also a more luxurious choice when you want to travel in style. 

Though prices can seem higher, don’t forget to factor in how many passengers there are. The cost per person is a lot more palatable if there are six or seven of you, for example. 

This journey between Zurich and Lucerne or vice versa is estimated to take between 50 and 55 minutes, though again traffic levels can affect trip times. 

The service includes a multilingual driver, who will meet you at the airport. As you can be dropped off at your hotel, you don’t need to worry about how to get there from the train station, or where to park a rental car. 

Water, WiFi, and charging points are all included in the vehicle. There is plenty of luggage space on board, too, with room for up to four large and three medium suitcases. 

> Click here to book a private transfer from Zurich airport to Lucerne

> Click here to book a private transfer from Lucerne to Zurich airport

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Zurich to Lucerne day trip

Dying Lion monument in Lucerne
The Dying Lion monument is a moving monument to fallen soldiers.

As mentioned above, Lucerne makes a great day trip destination from Zurich. The two cities are close and you can travel between them in about one hour.

Booking an organised day tour means everything is taken care of for you. I recommend this Lucerne day tour which is operated by the reputable Best of Switzerland Tours company.

The tour departs from Sihlquai Coach Terminal, close to the main train station in central Zurich. You’ll typically need to check in at around 9.15 am.

The tour usually departs at 9.30 am and lasts for around nine-and–a-half hours, so you should arrive back in Zurich by about 7 pm. 

This tour includes a short, guide-led tour of the city, including the Old Town. Sights such as the Lion Monument and Chapel Bridge are visited. 

You’ll then have around six hours of free time to spend as you wish, giving you the same freedom and flexibility as travelling independently. If you’re not sure how to spend your time, your guide can give you some local recommendations. 

En route you’ll also see various points of interest, including the scenic Albis Pass, and the shores of Lake Lucerne. Travel by modern, air-conditioned coach is included, as are the services of a multilingual guide. 

If you do need to cancel, you can do so up to 24 hours before, to receive a full refund. 

> Click here to book this Zurich to Lucerne day tour

Zurich to Lucerne FAQs

Chapel Bridge, Lucerne with the Jesuit Church in the background.
Chapel Bridge is a must-visit when in Lucerne.

What is the easiest way to get to Lucerne?

Most visitors fly into Zurich airport before travelling to Lucerne. There are good rail and road connections between the airport and the smaller city in central Switzerland. Hourly trains operate between Zurich airport, or the city centre, and Lucerne. 

Lucerne is 52 kilometres – or 32 miles – from Zurich. The trip takes around 45 minutes by train, and about 45 minutes to an hour by car. 

Is there a direct train to Lucerne from Zurich?

The Zurich to Lucerne train is SBB-operated. There are direct daily services offered between the two destinations. 

Is there a Zurich airport train station?

Yes, there is. Bahnhof Zürich Flughafen (or Zurich Airport train station) serves Switzerland’s main international hub. The station can be found at the airport’s main ground-side passenger terminal, beneath the Airport Centre.

Regular trains run between the airport and the city centre, departing every 5 or 10 minutes during peak times. 

Is Lucerne a good day trip from Zurich?

Due to the short distance – 52 kilometres or 32 miles – between the two cities, Lucerne makes an ideal day trip destination for those staying in Zurich. There’s lots to see and do in Lucerne, and it’s also easy to take a mountain excursion from there. 

Is it better to fly to Lucerne or Zurich?

As there is no airport in Lucerne, visitors from abroad should fly into and out of Zurich airport.

Can I travel from Zurich to Lucerne to Interlaken by train?

It’s fast and simple to travel from Zurich to Lucerne by train. Services depart frequently, and can take less than 45 minutes. There are also connecting trains from Zurich airport.

You can then travel on from Lucerne to Interlaken Ost by rail if you’d like to. This scenic route takes around an hour and 50 minutes and you’ll travel on the Luzern-Interlaken Express. 

Is there a Zurich to Lucerne scenic train?

There is no scenic train as such between Zurich and Lucerne. So, is the train from Zurich to Lucerne scenic? Although, at around 45 minutes, it’s a short trip, this route does indeed offer spectacular views. Expect to spot Alpine pastures, mountain peaks, and crystal clear lakes en route. 

Travelling from Lucerne to Zurich by train or car

Should you need to travel from Lucerne to Zurich instead of the other way around, the same fares and travel times mentioned above apply.

This is the case whether you travel by train or by car. 

Aerial view of Lucerne Switzerland
An aerial view of the medieval Swiss city of Lucerne with its Alpine backdrop.

How to get from Zurich to Lucerne | Final thoughts

If you’ll be spending time in the bustling Swiss city of Zurich, then it would be a shame not to visit Lucerne, at least for a day.

An overnight stay is recommended if possible, to make sure you make the most of your time in this lovely medieval city. 

The fact that the cities lie so close together also makes visiting both a no-brainer. With travel times of around an hour or less, it’s simple to spend all day – or longer – in Lucerne, without getting there taking up much of your precious time. 

Train fares are affordable, too, and can even be free if you hold a Swiss Travel Pass or are aged under 16. 

You can even travel by train from Zurich airport to Lucerne, thanks to the fact that the airport has a station offering frequent connections. What could be simpler? 

If you prefer, the other options for getting from Zurich to Lucerne include private transfers, car rental, and organised day tours. 

Once you’ve worked out how best to visit Lucerne from Zurich, all that remains is for you to have a fabulous time!

🇨🇭 For more practical tips to help you plan your Swiss vacation, see all our Zurich articles here and all our Lucerne travel guides here. 🇨🇭


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