Lucerne is undoubtedly a beautiful city but in the city, a day or two is just about enough especially if you like to see most of the attractions and enjoy their food and nightlife. If you have the chance to venture out of the city I would highly recommend that there are many places to bewildered by and another opportunity to fall in love with the marvellous country of Switzerland.
Lucerne makes a great base for day tours as it has a great location in the heart of Switzerland, making day trips pretty easy from this part of the town. Be it to Zurich, Interlaken, Bern or Mt. Titlis these are all easily accessible from Lucerne.
Some of my suggestions for day trips from this city are:-
Mt. Pilatus – The most convenient trip from Lucerne to enjoy the mountains is Mount Pilatus. It’s super closeby and the view from the peak is admirable. It takes less than 20min to reach here by car or train and once there you can take a cogwheel or the gondola to the summit. In the winter months, it’s a real delight to head up in the chilly mountains to witness the snow, there are even wellness resorts around, and restaurants to make your trip romantic. Plenty of hiking trails too and the option of sledging.
A popular way to see the best of Pilatus from Lucerne is by buying a Golden round ticket. It’s basically seeing the finest surroundings of Mount Pilatus. If you are up for this trip you are in for a real joy ride, start by taking a boat from Lake Lucerne (Pier 2) and the good thing about the boat tour is it departs every hour, so you don’t have to rush. Once you reach Alpnachstad from the boat take a Pilatus train or a Cogwheel up to the Pilatus Kulm mountains. Nevertheless, whichever mode of transport you decide to take, the view is fabulous.
Interlaken – Not far from Lucerne is the alluring town of Interlaken, you can either drive to take in some breathtaking views or take a train to reach here. Walk around the town, see the 12th-century monastery or the 14th century Gothic Bell Tower. If you are interested in seeing a ruin castle, Unspunnen is just a 3km away from Interlaken. Another touristy place here is the Harder Kulm, it’s a viewing point which provides fantastic views of Interlaken or you can even head to Schynige Platte for the skyline view of Interlaken.
Hohenmatte is the favourite park of the locals and you can get the view of Jungfraujoch mountain from here. If you like to unwind take a cruize down Lake Brienz.
Läuferbrunnen, 18min by car and 20min by train from Interlaken is a pleasant village, it’s known as the valley of 72 waterfalls and you will surely be awestruck, don’t miss out on the picturesque Staubach Waterfall.
Activities such as canyoning, paragliding, bungee jumping, and skydive are also very popular around here. Interlaken is also the gateway to Mount Titlis.
Basel – Pretty much on the border of France is Switzerland’s vibrant city, Basel. An hour away from Lucerne but completely different from each other. It has a lot of French and German influence due to its location proximity with the two countries but it still retains the Swiss charm. Take a romantic stroll around the old town and make it a point to visit the Basel Munster (Cathedral) here. Admire the characteristics of the city hall building, wander across the Marktplatz, the Basel zoo especially if you have kids and the Bottmingen Castle. Marvel at the iconic Mittlere Brucke (bridge) here, its a symbol of the city.
An unusual fun museum to visit is the Toy Worlds Museum Basel, over 6,000 toys on display and even adults will enjoy the collection.
Grindelwald – Over an hour away from Lucerne, this is a town most loved by me, surrounded by three stunning mountains especially the popular Jungfrau and having access to the Jungfraujoch railway this is a splendid place to spend a day or few nights. You can even visit the Top of the Europe point from the Jungfrau Railway, see the snow-covered peaks and take in the chilling Switzerland breeze. This town is famous for skiing and what better place then this, there are tons of winter activities to take part in and you won’t be disappointed.
The town centre has some great restaurants, hotels, shops and options for numerous sports activities. By taking a 35min walk or a small bus ride you can even reach the Glacier Gorge which is marvellous as it showcases the beauty of mother nature. Bachalpsee Lake is a place many suggested especially if you are around Grindelwald. This town is a world-famous destination as its home to some superb festivals like World Snow Festival in January, Ski Races, Triathlon and Snow Bike Championship.
Lake Thun – Around an hour’s drive from the city of Lucerne is this serene Lake Thun, its shore is surrounded by adorable chalets and houses, including the Thun Castle. You can even take a cruise tour on this lovely lake and see some wonderful attractions like the town of Spiez, St. Beatus Caves, Beatenberg and Interlaken. It takes around two hours to reach both the ends of the lake without taking any stops on the cruise. My recommendation would be cycling around, as it seems absolutely energetic and fun or you can even challenge yourself and follow a hiking trail.
Mt. Rigi – Overlooking the city of Lucerne is this phenomenal mountain of Rigi. You can reach here by taking a boat from the centre of Lucerne or decide to drive or take a train. All the options are easy but the prettiest view you get is from the boat ride. Once you reach Vitznau from the boat you have the option to take the Gondola or the train, the train ride is more exhilarating as it’s steeper, depending on your preference.
There are hiking trails as well if you are up for a challenge. Mt. Rigi is known as the ‘Queen of Mountains’, from here you can marvel at the Swiss Alps and able to witness the beautiful 13 lakes too.
Zurich – If you like to experience the hustle and bustle of a real city then Zurich is the place to be. Not too long from Lucern, you can reach here easily by car or train in less than an hour. Zurich, being one of the major cities of Switzerland has a lot to offer be it terms of food, shopping, hotels, spas and more.
Start by taking a stroll in the old town or by seeing a show in the famous Zurich Opera house. You can even opt to spend the day at the famous Rieterpark or get enlightened by visiting one of the many museums here. If any of you are animal lovers Zurich Zoo is your place to visit too.
Lucerne, no doubt is pretty but surely do set out to see the nearby towns and cities as it will leave you spellbound and you would love to come back again in this magical heaven called Switzerland.