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What you need to know about Lucerne, Switzerland: a travel guide

Updated: Mar 16

A cloudy morning in Lucerne overlooking the River Reuss you can see the Jesuit church, the chapel bridge and old town Lucerne. Lucerne, Switzerland travel guide. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel.
The heart of Lucerne, Switzerland and its famous medieval bridge, Kapellbrücke straddling the River Reuss. ©AlonzoWright

Lucerne, or Luzern in Swiss German, is beyond picturesque; it’s quaint, quiet, charming and just about every other cozy adjective you can find to describe this small Swiss city. You’ll wind through antique cobblestone streets, spilling out into small squares that are anchored by trickling fountains and hand-painted facades on each pastel building. Medieval bridges crisscross a glassy greenish-blue lake with jutting alpine peaks everywhere you turn. What’s not to love? For us, nothing.

But it should be noted that it’s also a little sleepy. We spent three days there, and honestly, we probably could’ve seen all the sites in a day or two. But the point of traveling isn’t to rush through your experiences, right? Lucerne is a strolling city, it’s a place to take your time and pop into the shops lining the River Reuss, to have a leisurely lakeside lunch or enjoy a chocolate tasting. It’s a perfect destination for people who want to take their time and savor their sublime surroundings, both natural and manmade.

Check out Things to do in Lucerne all year round.

A nighttime view of a river with the city lights reflecting off the water, fog rolling in, a bright full moon and navy blue sky with holiday lights draped along the antique buildings. Lucerne, Switzerland travel guide. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel.
An evening mist rolls through Old Town Lucerne, reaching up the River Reuss. ©AlonzoWright

Is Lucerne worth visiting?

Yes, Lucerne is absolutely worth visiting, but your personal interests will dictate how much time you spend there. Switzerland, as a country, has a bit of a reputation for being boring, which in our minds, is a little unfair. While it’s not exactly known for its riveting nightlife, fiery culture and passionate entertainment options, there are still plenty of things to see and do, especially if you’re an outdoorsy person.

Lucerne’s scenery and historical preservation alone make it worth visiting, even if you’re just passing through and stop by for one to two days. But if a slower pace that includes long afternoons filled with historical landmarks, shopping, cafés and walks along the promenade seems a little yawn-inducing, don’t stay longer than two full days.

Antique buildings including a Jesuit church line a choppy River Reuss on a cloudy day in Lucerne. Lucerne, Switzerland travel guide. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel.
The promenade along the River Reuss is a great place to see the sights and the Altstadt. ©AlonzoWright