Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s most popular destinations, and it has many charms to enchant the visitor.
Even with just two days in Lucerne, you can still soak up the beauty of this stunning city.
From the medieval Old Town with its oriel windows and painted frescoes to beautiful old bridges and churches, there is lots of history to discover.
Some of the lesser-known sights are also equally captivating, and the city also has some superb museums to explore.
Whether you’re into art or music or are more interested in why Swiss transport is so efficient, there is a museum to enthrall you. You can even visit the Swiss Chocolate Adventure at the Transport Museum.
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This 2 days in Lucerne itinerary takes in a whistle-stop eTukTuk tour to see the sights before exploring the Jesuit Church, Chapel Bridge and the Old Town in more depth.
Then you can explore the Glacier Garden or Bourbaki Panorama before going to the Swiss Transport Museum.
Day 1 is nicely rounded off by having dinner at Rathaus Brauerei between the Old Town and the river.
On the second day you can choose to take a trip up to Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus for panoramic views that stretch as far as France and Germany. This involves scenic journeys by boat, cogwheel train and cable car.
You can then take in the ancient Musegg Wall before visiting a Picasso or Wagner museum.
Day 2 ends with schnitzels cooked by your table at the traditional Old Swiss House restaurant.
This itinerary can of course be altered to suit your precise timings and interests, but includes what we consider to be the highlights of Lucerne and the surrounding mountains.
Read on so you can start to plan your perfect two days in Lucerne.
Lucerne Day 1 Itinerary
The first day of this Lucerne two day itinerary involves taking a tour of the city to get your bearings.
You’ll travel by eTukTuk, taking in an overview of the key sights along the way, before wandering by the river to see the Jesuit Church. Then, take a stroll across Chapel Bridge to discover the Old Town.
After a lunch stop, take in the Bourbaki Panorama and/or the Glacier Garden – the latter is located close to the Lion Monument. You can then explore the Swiss Transport Museum before dinner in the evening.
Details for each of these activities are covered below.
eTukTuk tour of Lucerne
Start your Lucerne two-day itinerary by joining a highly rated TukTuk tour. This is an eco-friendly way to get to know Lucerne, and is the ideal way to familiarise yourself with the city. We suggest you kick off your 2 day Lucerne itinerary with a 9am eTukTuk tour.
The tour departs from the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre (KKL), which is located by the lake, right next to the Lucerne train station.
Your personal, local guide will introduce you to this charming Swiss city with its incredible lake and mountain views, with stops en route for photos and shopping.
The tour lasts between an hour and 90 minutes, and you’ll have time to see the Löwendenkmal (Lion) Monument and grab a glimpse of the Old Town.
When you alight from the eTukTuk, take a walk along the River Reuss towards Lucerne’s striking Jesuit Church. The twin towers with their elegant, pale green onion domes make it simple to see where you’re heading for.
The Baroque style church may seem rather uninspiring from the exterior, but head inside and you’ll find a stunning frescoed ceiling, an abundance of shining white marble and opulent side altars.
The church dates back to 1673, and was Switzerland’s first large Baroque style house of worship.
While you may have caught a brief preview during your eTukTuk tour, taking a more leisurely stroll across Chapel Bridge allows you to see the structure more closely.
Your starting point is the 34 metre-high Water Tower close to the Jesuit Church, which is named for its position rather than the function. It once helped to fortify the city, and has a red octagonal tiled roof.
By the Water Tower is Chapel Bridge, a medieval footbridge that originated in 1333. Sadly, a 1993 fire destroyed much of the bridge and its decorative, 17th century pictorial panels.
Some of these artworks can still be seen, however, beneath the eaves of the bridge.
This historic bridge and the Water Tower – that has in the past been used as a prison, treasury and archive – are not to be missed.
They look particularly attractive with a light dusting of snow in winter, or when the flower boxes are in bloom during spring and summer.
Once you leave Chapel Bridge you’ll end up on pedestrianised Rathausquai which runs by the river.
From here a series of cobbled alleyways and charming squares lead to the centre of Lucerne’s Old Town, which is packed with fascinating boutiques, appealing cafes and attractive restaurants.
Original oriel windows and frescoes are a particular feature of the Old Town, so don’t forget to look up or you could miss out.
Another highlight is Weinmarkt Square, the name of which stems from the fact that wine was once traded here.
The historic homes lining the square are very photogenic, and many now house smart shops and stylish hotels. Formerly many of these were guildhalls, and the intricate facades pay homage to their former status.
If you want to do some shopping while in Switzerland, the Old Town is the perfect place to browse. From local souvenir shops to international brands, you can find them all in this historic part of Lucerne.
On Weggisgasse, the Manor department store is worth stopping at – there is a great value top floor restaurant serving high quality food. This has a pleasant outdoor terrace, giving guests unparalleled views over the city.
On Tuesdays and Saturdays, a fresh produce market is also held in the Old Town.
After all this exploring, a lunch break will be most welcome and we recommend stopping at the HEINI cafe close to the main train station to rest and refuel.
To find it, cross the main traffic bridge of Seebrucke to reach the cafe at Bahnhofplatz 3. It’s right opposite the railway station.
HEINI cafe serves various light meals, plus a range of delectable treats such as freshly baked cakes and sweet Swiss pastries.
During the afternoon of your first day in Lucerne you can choose to take in the Bourbaki Panorama, a commemorative mural, or stroll around the natural surroundings of the Glacier Garden. Depending on the weather and timings, you may even like to do both.
Then, you should visit the incredible Swiss Transport Museum.
The Bourbaki Museum on Lowenplatz pays testament to 87,000 French soldiers who escaped to Switzerland – and safety – during the winter of 1871. Circular in shape, the mural is 10 metres tall and 112 metres long.
A commentary and sound effects help bring the story to life. The museum also has a restaurant, an art gallery and other exhibits.
Located on Denkmalstrasse, the Glacier Garden is a natural phenomenon that was first discovered during the late 19th century. Its formation dates back to the Ice Age.
At the site you can see highly polished glacial rock and over 30 potholes that were formed when ice melted and tumbled onto the rock via waterfalls. You can also see fossils of palm fronds and shellfish that are, incredibly, over 20 million years old.
The Glacier Garden also has an observation tower for views over Lucerne, a mirror maze and interactive exhibits that clearly demonstrate the effects of climate change.
Swiss Transport Museum
The Swiss Transport Museum on Lidostrasse is popular with families, and it’s a fascinating place for visitors of all ages. This lakeside museum also offers rides, interactive displays, simulators, a planetarium and an IMAX theatre.
If that – and the chance to learn all about trains, planes, cars and more – isn’t enough, perhaps you’ll be tempted by the fact that the Swiss Chocolate Adventure can also be found here.
It’s easy to spend the whole afternoon or even the entire day at the Swiss Transport Museum if you have the time. The museum is open until 6pm daily, and is the most popular museum in the whole of Switzerland.
> Read our Swiss Museum of Transport Visitor Guide
After a busy day of sightseeing, it’s time to kick back and relax. We recommend having dinner at Rathaus Brauerei, which is located by the river and Chapel Bridge on Rathausquai, on the edge of the Old Town.
This restaurant and brewery serves a range of Swiss specialities, soups, sausage dishes, salads and vegetarian options as well as local beers.
The building was once the Town Hall, and its waterside position makes it a lovely spot for winding down while reflecting on your first day in Lucerne.
Read more – Best things to do in Lucerne
🇨🇭 Find the ideal Lucerne hotel in which to spend the night in our Lucerne Hotels Guide.
Lucerne Day 2 Itinerary
Today’s the day to head out of the city to experience what Switzerland is probably best known for – the mountains. We recommend you choose to visit either Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus.
Not sure which mountain to visit? Click here to compare Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi.
During the mid-afternoon, you can return to the city to visit a museum – or take a walk along the Old City Walls before dinner at The Old Swiss House restaurant.
Once you’ve decided which mountain you want to visit most, it’s time to make your ascent to either Mount Pilatus or Mount Rigi.
We suggest setting off straight after breakfast to ensure you have adequate time at the summit to enjoy the various activities that are available.
Below are your options:
Classic Round Trip to Mount Rigi
The Classic Mount Rigi round trip is an all-inclusive ticket that will take you from the city to the summit of the mountain. It includes travel by boat, cogwheel railway and cable car, so getting there is a major part of the experience.
The first sector is a relaxing cruise across Lake Lucerne. The pier can be found right next to the train station, and here you will board a paddle steamer or lake cruiser for an hour’s journey across the water to Vitznau.
Once you reach Vitznau, you can take a seat on the charming, historic cogwheel railway for your mountain ascent. This is Europe’s oldest mountain railway, and the 150th anniversary took place in 2021.
At the summit at Rigi Kulm, you’ll have free time to explore – though first of all you may wish to marvel at the panoramic views from 1,798 metres above sea level. It’s easy to see why this peak is known as the ‘Queen of the Mountains’.
When the weather’s clear, you may be able to see all but one of the 26 Swiss cantons, plus 13 lakes and up to 620 alpine peaks. In the far distance, Mont Blanc in France and the Black Forest in Germany may even be visible.
Should you ever have your fill of those views, there is lots more to do once you’re on Mount Rigi. The Rigi Kulm Hotel Restaurant can provide you with refreshments or a meal, or you can explore further via various hiking trails.
If you feel like taking a little exercise, you could take the half hour hike from Rigi Kulm down to Rigi Kaltbad. There you can use the thermal spa or enjoy a meal or snack.
When it’s time to travel back to Lucerne, your classic round trip ticket includes a brief ride on the rack railway to Rigi Kaltbad, which you can then use if you chose not to hike down here.
At Rigi Kaltbad you’ll then board the cable car for a scenic, 10-minute trip to Weggis before transferring to the boat for the 40-minute return journey to Lucerne.
Golden Round Trip to Mount Pilatus
Like the all-inclusive Mount Rigi option, the Golden Round Trip for Mount Pilatus is a self-guided tour ticket that includes various forms of transport to get you to the summit and back.
Tip: The entire journey from Lucerne to Mt. Pilatus is fully covered for Tell Pass holders. Swiss Travel Pass holders receive free travel on trains, boats and buses and 50% off the cogwheel train and cable car.
To start your excursion, you board a bus at Lucerne bus station for the trip from the city to Kriens, where you can board the cable car bound for the summit.
This scenic journey will take you to the top, from which there are of course sweeping views over the Swiss mountains and lakes.
Hiking is just as popular at Mount Pilatus as it is at Mount Rigi during the summer season. There are about 20 trails to choose from, and the shortest takes around an hour and a half to complete.
Some trails are closed during the colder season.
You may also wish to take the famous Pilatus toboggan run. This operates during summer and is located close to the cable car station. It’s Switzerland’s longest seasonal toboggan run and makes for a thrilling ride through the landscape.
When it’s winter, lots of visitors take part in snow sports. Adrenaline activities like parasailing may also be available, and there is also a rope park and an adventure playground on Mount Pilatus.
If you’d rather simply relax, both the Pilatus-Kulm Hotel and the Hotel Bellevue have good restaurants to dine at while enjoying the unparalleled views.
Once it’s time to head back to Lucerne, you will board the steepest cogwheel railway in the world bound for Alpnachstad.
After the exciting descent, a boat trip across the serene waters of Lake Lucerne will take you back to the city.
Read more about Mt. Pilatus in this complete guide
Listen: Mt. Pilatus – The mythical mountain on Lucerne’s doorstep
After your mid-afternoon return to Lucerne, you can choose whether to walk the Old City Walls or visit one of the city’s fine museums.
Old City Walls
If you visit between April and November, a section of the medieval city wall is open to the public. This northern part of the wall is known as Musegg Wall, and comprises an 850-metre section complete with nine towers that are very well preserved.
Four of these ancient towers are open to visitors, and the superb city views make it well worth the effort.
As well as the impressive Swiss Transport Museum, Lucerne has several other noteworthy options. Art buffs will love the Picasso and Rosengart museum, while those who prefer music may like to visit the Richard Wagner museum.
Richard Wagner Museum
Located on a street named after the composer, this museum occupies a villa set among parkland in the Tribschen district. Inside you can learn all about his life, including his exile from Germany.
A piano Wagner used while composing can be seen at the museum, as well as other artefacts such as furniture, letters, paintings, photos, and original musical scores.
Also known as the Sammlung Rosengart, the Rosengart Collection can be found on Pilatusstrasse in Lucerne. This museum features works by the likes of Cezanne, Monet, Klee, Matisse and Picasso.
The whole ground floor of the museum is devoted to Picasso, and as well as his works there are also about 200 photos of the artist to see. For Klee fans, there are around 125 drawings and paintings on display.
In total the museum holds more than 300 Impressionist and Classic Modernist works from 23 different 19th and 20th century artists.
Guided tours are available for those who wish to find out more about the artworks and the lives of their creators.
Having dinner at the Old Swiss House restaurant in Lucerne is a must, as they cook the Wiener schnitzel at the table right beside you. The restaurant is also housed in a traditional Swiss building dating from 1859.
Inside, the restaurant is richly decorated with luxurious fabrics, wooden panelling, gilt-framed paintings, antique furnishings and crystal glassware.
It’s the ideal venue for a final night dinner date in Lucerne.
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2 days in Lucerne itinerary – Final thoughts
As you can see, there is so much to do in and around Lucerne that two days may not seem like quite enough.
We really hope you enjoy following this two day Lucerne itinerary. It can of course be as flexible as you like to suit your plans, so do feel free to switch things around.
Whatever you get up to, Lucerne is an unforgettable city and is sure to leave you with lasting memories for many years after leaving Switzerland.
🇨🇭 Need a place to stay in Lucerne? Read our guide to the best hotels in Lucerne here.
You can also read more about Lucerne in our Lucerne Travel Guide and hear all about Lucerne’s many attractions on episode 57 of our podcast.
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