Lucerne is a beautiful and vibrant Swiss city that has become a popular destination for tourists due to its proximity to Zurich, Bern & Basel. Visitors have no shortage of things to do in Lucerne, like admiring the medieval architecture of Old Town and enjoying picturesque strolls along the lake.
10 Best Things to Do in Lucerne, Switzerland
The fact that this city is so pedestrian friendly will help visitors see the most popular tourist sites with ease. Wondering what places to put on your must-see list?
Here are some of the best things to do in Lucerne that will make your visit truly unforgettable:
This market served as the place to buy & trade grains between the 14th & 19th centuries.
Here you will find Furren Tower, which was home to the town’s Night Watchman. You can actually do a Night Watchman tour at night to learn about life in the middle ages.
Attached to the tower is The Rathaus, or Town Hall.
Built between 1602 and 1606 in the style of the Italian Renaissance, this building is one of the most photographed in Lucerne.
Its dark red roof and tall tower make it hard to miss from the water, but make sure that you also see it from land, in the Kornmarkt.
This square, once a pig market, is filled with ornately painted buildings that feature all different sorts of motifs.
While the frescoes here are from the 18th & 19th centuries, the idea of hand-painting local buildings dates back centuries earlier.
Many of the buildings are painted to either indicated historical events or the type of shop that is inside the structure.
3. Gooseman Fountain
Located in Hirshenplatz, the Gooseman Fountain is just one of the many fountains in Lucerne.
This one has a cheeky story behind it: The man’s wife sends him to town to sell his geese. Returning home much later than anticipated, his hands and pockets are empty, but his belly is full.
Just like Hirshenplatz, the Weinmarkt square is also adorned with hand-painted buildings and it wasn’t always a wine market. This square was the place to buy fish!
In an attempt to clean up the dirty fish market in the 1900s, the square was renamed and a Biblical mural showing Jesus turning water into wine was commissioned.
The fountain found in this square features the patron saint of Lucerne, Saint Moritz. This one is a replica; the real one can be found in the local history museum.
5. Fritschi Fountain
Probably the most famous fountain in Lucerne, The Freischi Fountain is in the center of the Kappellplatz square.
This fountain is also referred to as the Carnival Fountain as it is adorned with various carnival masks and marks the starting point of the Carnival parade.
One of the masks is that of Brother Fritschi and his wife. Legend has it that when this jovial man died in the 15th century, he left money so that the poor could have their fill of wine during carnival. The fountain is said to mark his grave. Whether true to not, he is the central figure during carnival!
6. Chapel Bridge
As the name suggests, this bridge once reached all the way to the Chapel. Built during the early 1300s, it was also part of the town’s fortifications.
While just looking at the bridge is nice, take time to walk on it and you will get to see the 17th-century paintings inside the roof rafters.
Each of the paintings depicts the lives of various saints and the town’s history.
7. Spreuer Bridge
The original wooden covered foot-bridge was built in 1400 but was destroyed by a flood in 1566.
Spreuer Bridge as it stands today was built in 1568 and has some of the most interesting medieval art inside the triangular frames of the bridge.
Each features a scene in which death, represented as a skeleton, has come to collect figures from society.
The overall theme is that no one can escape death.
8. Jesuit Church
Lucerne’s Jesuit Church, dedicated to St Francis Xavier, was consecrated in 1677 with the towers added in 1893.
While the outside of the church is quite beautiful, the inside is what will really blow you away.
The Baroque architecture of the Nave, filled with marbled & stucco decor, is spectacular.
Take time to look closely at the murals on the ceiling.
The ever-present theme of mission work is consistent in the imagery.
9. Musegg Walls
The Musegg Wall and its nine towers were constructed in the 13th century and served as part of Lucerne’s historic fortifications.
It is considered one of the longest, best-preserved defensive walls in Switzerland and provides visitors with some of the best views of Lucerne.
9. Glacier Garden
While in Switzerland you will spend a great deal of time looking at the top of mountains, but at this exhibit, you get to go well below them!
Discovered when a homeowner was putting in a wine cellar, this is one of the few chances that you will ever get to actually see the Glacial holes that date back to the Ice Age that lies well below the surface.
In addition, you can see a beautiful garden area in the middle of Lucern that is filled with alpine plants and the famous Lion Monument.
10. Lion Monument
The lion was carved into a former sandstone quarry wall from a design by Bertel Thorvaldsen.
It commemorates the bravery of the Swiss Guard who were defeated in 1792 while trying to protect Louis XVI when French revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace.
11. Boat Cruise on Lake Lucerne
Overall, Lucerne is a wonderful place to explore on foot. But if you have the time, you might also want to consider seeing it by water as well.
Take a scenic 1-hour cruise on a panoramic yacht. It will take you to see Meggenhorn Castle and admire the views of lakeside architecture & mountain backdrop.
Lucerne is such a beautiful city and worth a stop if you are visiting any of the larger cities that are nearby in Switzerland.