How to Spend 24 Hours in Lucerne

If you’re blitzing past Lucerne on a Swiss rail adventure, then you’re probably wondering whether it’s worth a stop in this beautiful city. The answer is most definitely yes. This lakeside town is famous for its stunning natural beauty and fascinating architecture, many of which are free to view and explore. If you only have 24 hours in Lucerne, here are some suggestions.

Why Lucerne?

This famous lakeside haven is about more than just impressive natural beauty. The pristine lake, fringed by snow-capped mountains, may indeed be the central attraction, but the history, culture, and well-preserved Old Town make this an ideal stopover during a Swiss rail journey. Consider the fact that Lucerne’s main station is in the heart of the city, and that it’s the starting point for the epic GoldenPass line to Lake Geneva, and you’ve got a winning combination.

24 hours in Lucerne | Couple outside Lucerne train station, Switzerland

What you can do with 24 hours in Lucerne

9:00 am | Walk the wooden bridges

Lucerne’s famous wooden bridges are just a short walk away from the city’s railway station. They’re centuries old and incredibly photogenic. Chapel Bridge was partially destroyed by a fire and Spreuer Bridge was destroyed by a flood, but both bridges were reconstructed and continue to add a mythical charm to the city.

24 hours in Lucerne | Chapel Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland

9:30 am | Visit the Lion

Continue walking across the covered bridge and head to the Lion Monument. It’s on the other side of the lake up a pretty steep hill, but the large, moving statue is worth the energy you’ll exert getting there. It commemorates the 800 Swiss mercenaries who died while defending Louis XVI during the French Revolution. You can access the monument for free.

24 hours in Lucerne | Lion monument

10:30 am | Walk the Musegg Wall

Walk a mile southeast from the Lion monument until you reach the Musegg Wall (Museggmauer). Some of the best views of Lucerne, the lake, and the mountains can be seen from here. These are part of the rampart walls built in 1386. If you’re feeling energetic, then you can scale the stairs up the four famous towers of Schirmer, Zyt, Wacht, and Männli. Each offer impressive views, and Zyt tower also houses the oldest clock in the city.

24 hours in Lucerne | Museggmauer (Musegg wall)

12:00 pm | Explore the Old Town

Head down from the walls and walk the Old Town. You can easily spend a few hours soaking up the atmosphere and classic architecture throughout the network of small streets and bustling squares. There are also several stores, cafés, and restaurants that add to the charm, although the best high-end window shopping is still in newer parts of the city.

24 hours in Lucerne | Historical city center of Lucerne

2.00pm | Visit Jesuit Church

This is one of Lucerne’s most famous and photographed buildings. It dates back to the 16th century and has played an important role in the city over the years. It’s beautiful inside and out, though some of the best views of it are from across the river.

24 hours in Lucerne | View of Jesuit church

2.30pm | Get your museum fix

There are several museums in and around Lucerne that are well worth a look, particularly if bad weather rolls in. The Museum of Art Lucerne, Glacier Garden, and Richard Wagner Museum all feature highly on travelers’ itineraries, but seeing as you’re in the midst of a train-based journey, you could also visit the hugely popular Swiss Museum of Transport.

24 hours in Lucerne | Old train in museum of transport in Lucerne, Switzerland

3:30 pm | Take a hike

If you’re looking to get the most out of Lucerne’s scenic beauty, then make time for a walk or hike through the dramatic nearby landscape. There are dozens of options suitable for everyone from the avid long-distance hiker through to the time-pressured weekend warrior. The Lucerne Tourism website best resource for hikes and walks in and around Lucerne.

6:30 pm |  Go back to the bridge

Looking for the ultimate snapshot? Head back to the Chapel Bridge in the evening. The light that reflects off the river Reuss will have you proudly typing #nofilter on your slew of Instagram posts.

24 hours in Lucerne | Chapel Bridge at sunset

Eating and drinking

At some stage during your 24 hours in Lucerne, you’ll need to stop and refuel. Dining out in the city is a real treat, but it can be expensive. If you’re on a budget, then consider stocking up at one of the city’s supermarkets – they offer a wide range of tasty regional treats at reasonable prices. Take your supplies, head to a nearby park, and find a spot to eat. Inseli Park is adjacent to the train station and offers a dramatic view of the lake.

Golden Pass Panoramic scenic train Switzerland

If you’re planning an epic rail trip through Switzerland, then there’s a good chance you’ll pass through the beautiful city of Lucerne. It’s also the start – or end – point on the GoldenPass Line, perhaps one of Switzerland’s most scenic rail routes. Either way, don’t make the mistake of overlooking this fine old city With 24 hours in Lucerne, you’ll cover some pretty amazing highlights!

For more on Switzerland:
Lucerne to Montreux on the Golden Pass Train
How to tackle Switzerland on a budget
4 gorgeous cities in Switzerland (by train)