Hi everyone! Now that we’ve shared the start of our Swiss adventure in Interlaken, it’s time to talk about our second destination: Lucerne.
Lucerne is a short 2 hour train from Interlaken and about a 1 hour train ride from Zurich (the nearest airport). It’s known for it’s old town and stunning views of Lake Lucerne. It is also at the foot of the Alps so it is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a balance of nature and city life on your trip.
We stayed in an Airbnb in old town, so we were able to walk everywhere. There are actually a lot of things you can do in Lucerne for free, which we learned about while researching for our trip.
The first area we visited was Chapel Bridge along the river. This is a famous landmark in Lucerne and is the oldest covered bridge in Europe. Everyone visiting Lucerne should walk across the bridge at least once to observe the 17th century paintings on the inside and take in the views of old town from the river. Some of the paintings were actually damaged by a fire so you’ll notice a few are missing, but some can still be seen!
Another free area to visit in Lucerne is the Lion Monument. This dedication is carved into a large piece of stone with a small park around it. It was constructed between 1820-1821 and is a memorial to remember the Swiss Guard who died trying to protect the King of France and his family during the French Revolution. You can see on the shields of the monument the fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy and the Swiss crest.
If you have time in the morning (before the sun gets too high or it gets too hot), we also recommend walking Musegg Wall for some amazing views of Lucerne. This is another free activity to do. Musegg Wall and the nine towers connected by it were fortifications built around Lucerne in the 13th century to protect the city. Today, it offers amazing views of Lake Lucerne and downtown. There are only 4 towers that can be accessed by the public (and climbed to the top). I was able to make it up a few of the towers but some aren’t great if you can’t do heights.
The Zytturm tower is the most famous because it’s home to the oldest clock in Lucerne, built in 1535. This clock actually strikes the hour one minute ahead of the other clocks in Lucerne as its privilege for being the oldest!
Another recommendation we have (though sadly not free), would be to grab a beer and some food along the river. Many of them have plenty of outdoor seating with views of Chapel Bridge. One of our favorites was Rathaus Brauerei. We had read some good reviews about this place before visiting and it did not disappoint. The menu was reasonably priced (for Switzerland standards) and they have some authentic Swiss options available. We would recommend the Lucerne wasserturm pastry (good vegetarian option) or braised rump beef if you’re feeling a bit more traditional. Both were delicious! To view their menu online, click here.
If you’re looking for something different, you can also check out the Italian restaurant, La Terrazza. We had a very delicious dinner and bottle of wine here one evening while in Lucerne. We were able to snag a seat outside on their terrace but I recommend making reservations if you’re going on a weekend since it seemed like a popular place. (I think we were lucky to have gotten an outside seat). The food was great but the prices were a little high, so beware. It’s great if you’re looking for a nice dinner on the town.
On our last full day in Lucerne, we wanted to spend a bit more time relaxing (since most of our trip had been pretty busy). We had been dying to take a dip in Lake Lucerne since first laying eyes on the water. We decided to plan a beach day! When doing some research, we determined it would be best to go to Lido, a public beach that offers lots of amenities (including a pool, playground, cafe and bathrooms). There is an entrance fee but it’s worth it if you’re looking for a clean and comfortable experience. The cost depends on the time of day you enter the beach. Since we arrived in the afternoon, we only had to pay the half day rate.
If you have time, we would recommend pairing your beach day with a visit to the Swiss Museum of Transport (since they’re so close to each other). We didn’t have the time to go inside but was able to take a picture of the device used to create tunnels for subway systems. (To put into perspective–Mark is 6’3 and this thing makes him look small!) To get more information about tickets and visiting, click here.
Overall, Lucerne was an easy city to visit. With so many free activities to do, it’s fun simply getting lost in old town or strolling along Lake Lucerne in the evening.
Check out our video blog below documenting our time in Lucerne & Zurich!