Welcome to Lucerne

Guide to Lucerne, Switzerland
"As soon as I opened the window facing the lake, the beauty of the sheet of water, of the mountains, and of the sky, at the first moment literally dazzled and overwhelmed me." Leo Tolstoy

Lucerne was named, according to legend, when a fisherman saw a light glowing on Mount Pilatus, and believed it to be an angel. If celestial beings were planning a holiday from trumpeting and harp-playing, it seems entirely likely that they would have picked the wide shores of this lake, where the air is as pure as an nun's thoughts, and the mountains stand guard like ancient disciples. Most places described as ‘beautiful’ fail to live up to expectations. Here, there is nothing to prevent superlatives crowding forth, like swans at the water’s edge. And Lake Lucerne is the focus of the town, its soft water rippling like spilled bales of silk, ice-white boats sliding peacefully across its broad expanse. “I do not know of a more beautiful spot in this world,” said composer Richard Wagner, who wrote his opera Tristan and Isolde in a house near the lakeside, firmly adding, “nobody will get me out of here again.” 

Few could argue- the mountains form a protective ring about the town, their chartreuse slopes, shaded by dense pines in Summer, becoming vast monoliths of ice and snow in Winter. So sheer are the drops that most can only be traversed by cable car; silhouettes passing over the trees like regimented swarms of insects, their windows glittering wings in the sunlight. For while in Lucerne, clouds can mass within seconds, blanketing the mountains and lowering over the lake, they pass just as swiftly, leaving the neat buildings and bridges as clean and bright as a child’s book illustration. Though Lucerne is full of tourists, they are easily absorbed amongst the old buildings, the wooden bridges, and the elegant restaurants which line the waterfront. The town functions as efficiently as any clichéd Swiss watch, with modern hotels, gleaming shops and swift public transport, yet it retains the enchantment of a fairytale, its 13th century octagonal watchtower and the shrines and hanging baskets marking out the way across the covered, crooked Chapel Bridge. Just an hour spent strolling on the shores of the lake is a long drink of water for the soul.

Guide to Lucerne, SwitzerlandGuide to Lucerne, Switzerland


Mount Pilatus

This is the mountain that watches over Lucerne, romantically wreathed in mist more

The Lion Of Lucerne

"The Lion of Lucerne is the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world,” wrote Mark Twain more
Denkmalstrasse 4 6006 Lucerne 041 410 43 40 Bus Lowenplatz

The Chapel Bridge And Water Tower

The Chapel Bridge over the Reuss river is the most famous of Lucerne’s medieval wooden bridges more
CityCentre 6003 Lucerne


Bam Bou

The French-Thai food is presented as beautifully as a nest crafted by bower birds more
Sempacherstrasse 15 6002 Lucerne 041 226 86 86


Prices that don’t require a plunge into the lake to calm down, and the views from the rooftop are spectacular more
Top Floor Weggisgasse 5 6002 Lucerne 041 419 76 99

Restaurant Olivo

In the old Casino of Lucerne, this is glamour distilled as pure as lake water more
Haldenstrasse 6 6006 Lucerne 041 418 56 61

Guide to Lucerne, SwitzerlandGuide to Lucerne, Switzerland



This immensely glamorous bar offers an opulent collison of Oriental minimalism and Louis XV1 embellishment. more
Pilatusstrasse 15 6002 Lucerne 041 226 87 87


The Montana Hotel’s whisky bar keeps over 90 single malts in stock more
Adligenswilerstrasse 22 6006 Lucerne

Penthouse Bar

The Penthouse is a favoured meeting spot for locals more
Pilatusstrasse 29 6002 Lucerne 041 226 88 88



This Art Deco hotel is perched above the town, and offers such sweeping views of Lake Lucerne and the mountains, it’ is a miracle guests ever leave their balconies more
Adligenswilerstrasse 22 6006 Lucerne

The Hotel

Contemporary and cutting edge, the rooms are closer to hip loft apartments than traditional hotel rooms more
Sempacher Strasse 14 6002 Lucerne 041 226 86 86

Hotel Pilatus Kulm

Schlossweg 1 Kriens / Lucerne 6010 Lucerne 041 329 12 12

Guide to Lucerne, Switzerland

In The Mood


A Tramp Abroad- Mark Twain


On Her Majesty's Secret Service (partly filmed on Mount Pilatus)


The Siegfried Idyll- Wagner, (composed in Lucerne)


The currency is Swiss Francs, and currently, the exchange rate is 1.5 CHF. This means that prices are high- if budget is an issue, order wine by the glass, rather than the bottle, and be sure to ask for a menu which lists prices.

It's easy to walk around Lucerne, though there are plenty of efficient buses and taxis. The bus station is by the train station, opposite the lakeshore.

Things do run on time in Switzerland, and officials tend to stick to the rules- so make sure you always have the correct tickets for your boat trip or excursion to hand.

The cable cars are safe and exhilarating- but if you dislike heights, be warned that on Mount Pilatus, the drop from the summit is almost 3000 feet. There is also a cogwheel train, which may be a more relaxing option.

Dress for changeable weather- while the sun can be blazing by the lake, in the mountains, the temperature may plummet, so be prepared.

German is largely spoken, but the majority of hotel staff speak excellent English, and most good restaurants have an English version of the menu.

Buy a Lucerne card- from 19 CHF for 24 hours, it offers unlimited travel on public transport in the city and a 50% discount on major attractions including the Glacier Garden, Museum of Art and Transport Museum.

Getting Around

 Public Transport: Boats can be taken from the front of the central railway station to reach the Swiss Transport Museum or Lido beach, while the Verkehrsbetriebe Luzern is the bus service that runs regularly through the town, where tickets are priced at around 2€ per single journey. The central bus station is outside the main railway station, located at: Central Station (HBF) Main Entrance Bahnhofplatz, Luzern LU 6003.

Bike: The central railway station offers  bicycles for 31 CHF a day – you drop them back off at the station at the end of your allotted time.

Car: Parking in Lucerne is expensive in private lots, and hotels tend to cater privately. The Parkhaus Luzern Zentrum is a hotel car park that offers public parking for a lower price than most others, at 32 SFR for two days.

A LuzernCard can be bought for 37.50 CHF, which grants you 72 hours of free public transport and half-price museum visits, among other discounted attractions. They can be bought online from Swisspass. Purchase either a Swiss Pass or a LuzernCard, as it grants you free access to the boats on Lake Geneva and Lake Lucerne; two of Switzerland’s highlights. A day should be devoted to one lake, visiting other neighbouring towns.

Lucerne (Luzern) Tourist Information Centre Zentralstrasse 5, 6002 Lucerne, Switzerland Phone:- 41 227 17 17

More Switzerland

Holidays in Lucerne

Lake Lucerne To The Grand Canal

A Long weekend in Lucerne.

A Long Weekend by the Swiss Lakes

French Roads To The Alps

The Golden Pass - London to Interlaken by train via Montreux