Located in central Switzerland, the geographic and historic center of the country, Lucerne is one of those cities taken straight out of a fairy tale.
It’s the biggest of central Switzerland, situated in the margins of Lake Lucerne.
Started as a fishing village, but from 1220 it had an important role in economy and commerce with the opening of the Gotthard Pass.

Mainly Catholic, marked by its history in leading the Catholic resistance during the Reformation period. Currently, and since the XIX century, tourism is the main economic activity.

One of the many reasons millions of tourists are drawn to Lucerne is the Classical Music Festival.
Lucerne is one of those cities you can easily see walking around, being able to explore it in a day. Two days well spent are enough, three to four days if you also want to explore some more cities around the Lake Lucerne.

The city is divided into North and South by the Reuss River. In the North margin is the medieval Old Town and in the South margin the train station, where you’ll probably arrive in Lucerne.

Focusing on this last item, how to arrive in Lucerne?

Flying to Zurich and taking the train to Lucerne is the simpler and quicker way.
Train tickets should be bought in advance (see), and brace yourselves ’cause they’re expensive!
If you intend to visit several cities in the country, one of the options is flying to Zurich or Geneva (depending on the cities you want to see) and rent a car or travel by train.

What to do in Lucerne?
There are some mandatory places in Lucerne, and whether you like it or not, you’ll have to accept there will always be tourists in the must-see spots. Well, what are we anyway? Tourists! Can’t fight with that. You can always visit and explore the less seen side of the city but you must have to see the ex-libris as well! Right?

To see

South Margin

Right next to the train station arises an imposing modern building, entirely built of glass. The KKL or Kultur-und Kongresszentrum Luzern, aka, Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre.
Here you can find, besides conference and showrooms, the Kunstmuseum with Swiss paintings from the XVIII century to the XX century, as well as temporary exhibits that regularly change.

Around 400 meters to the left (facing the river Reuss) and if you wish to maintain the Art environment, you have the Rosengart collection, where many of the works collected by Siegfried’s art negotiators, and his daughter, are exposed; it also has works of Picasso, Cézanne, and Monet.

But museums aside, let’s discover another type of art, in a very specific style, religious art.

Lucerne Jesuit Church

Also on the south bank of the river, we have symbols of religion, the Jesuit Church, from the XVII century, with its onion topped towers built later in the XIX century. The interior is baroque and on the ceiling is possible to enjoy the apotheosis of Saint Francis Xavier.

Very close is the Franziskanerkirche, an older Franciscan church, from the XIII century, initially built in a Gothic style but altered throughout time with baroque and renaissance.

The Lucern History Museum is also on the Southside, in a renaissance building, and here you can see all the history of the city. Beside it, there is a great option for families and kids, the Natural History Museum, with highlight to Zoology, Paleontology, and Geology.

North Margin

Crossing to the North side of the city, we immediately get to see two of its spotlights, the SpreurerBrücke and the KapellBrücke, the most emblematic bridges of Lucerne.
The first, the oldest wooden bridge in Europe, dating from the XIV century, crossing the river sidewards. It was a part of the old fortifications. In the middle, the bridge is connected to the Wasserturm, an octagonal tower, that once has been a lighthouse, a prison, and treasury!

Walking along the tower take a good look at its ceiling, you’ll find paintings about the history of the city, as well as the life of St. Leodegar and St. Mauritius (martyrs who became patrons). Some are very worn out, and some of the panels were destroyed during a fire in 1993.

The SpreurerBrücke, also made of wood, is a bit more recent, from the beginning of the XV century, and crossing it is also staring at its ceiling panels of Kaspar Meglinger that showcase the Dance of Death culminating in Crist’s triumph (North-South way).

But let us now focus on the Old Town!
This was my favorite area, staying at the Hotel des Balances we were right in the old town, and each time we stepped outside the hotel and walked around, we kept finding new details, a new alley to explore, a new story!

The Old Town managed to stay well preserved and real until today. The facades of the historical buildings are painted with frescoes and provide beautiful moments of wonder to those watching. The historical neighborhood of Lucerne is a vibrant place, full of stores, bars, and restaurants.
A place where you can truly feel and experience the life of its inhabitants and the essence of the city.


One of the most beautiful squares is Weinmarkt, the old square where wine was sold, its composed of lovely houses, mostly former guilds. Another interesting square is the Kapell-Platz even more vibrant in the market days. It’s named due to the Peterskapelle, a chapel built in the place of a church from the XII century.

The beauty of Lucerne is to just walk around it, without any worries, nor looking for something specific, just let yourselves go by your curiosity and be amazed at each alley, each detail, and enchantment of this little medieval town.

Above the Old Town is the imposing Museggmauer, the well-preserved north section of the medieval wall that surrounds around 850 meters of the city, from the north of River Reuss to the North Margin of the Lucerne Lake. The wall has nine towers, but only three of them are open to the public, and only during summer.

Northwest of the old town there are some highlights to be seen, the Bourbaki Panorama, one of the few left panoramas in the world, that portrays the marching of the French army against Switzerland at the orders of the General Bourbaki during the Franco-Prussian war; the Richard Wagner Museum – the composer lived in Lucerne for a period of time where he composed some of his works; and lastly, the emblematic Löwendenkmal, the figure of a giant dying lion pierced by a spear, to pay homage to the Swiss guards of Louis XIV of France, who defended the Palais des Tuilerries in 1792 when it was attacked by revolutionaries. This sculpted lion, in a sandstone cliff over a small lake, emanates drama! (Much more exciting than the Manneken Pis in Brussels!).

If you have more time to visit the city, you should also take time to enjoy the Swiss Transportation Museum. An excellent option for a family trip. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to go there.

Another option if you have the time, is to visit other cities around Lake Lucerne.

But, if like us you only have two days, the ideal is to just walk around town, absorbing the best Lucerne has to offer, its authenticity, the medieval beauty, the history and natural beauty.

Waking up in the morning and getting to see the sun reflecting in the lake while rivaling with the white from the snow on the Alps is an unforgettable privilege.

See you soon Lucerne!

Where to stay
Hotel Des Balances

Versão Portuguesa 

Photos: Flavors & Senses

This entry was posted in Cities and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




    Seeing the World with

    Travelling with

    In the Company of

  • Meta