Lucerne Itinerary for 2 Days (City, Nature, and Adventure)

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After exploring Lucerne and discovering its beautiful sights, unique attractions, and landmarks that are free to visit, I’ve realized that any traveler simply needs more than one day in Lucerne. I would recommend at least two days.

Well, it’s because… yes, you may already see the highlights within a half day walking tour. Also, yes, just a day’s journey in Lucerne should be enough for you to explore what makes the city such a captivating place to visit. However, it takes a full two days to soak up all the fun, adventure, learning, and breathtaking scenery that Lucerne offers.

Actually, if you’re in leisure mode, two days may still feel short. You might like to extend your trip to 3 days if that’s the case! Not to mention, Lucerne can be a great home base for exploring central Switzerland. From Lucerne, you can have a day trip to Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus, Bern, even Interlaken!

But yeah, for most people, two days in Lucerne is ideal. You can pack in a city walking tour, mountain adventure, a museum visit, and relaxing sightseeing around Lake Lucerne within that timeframe. With that in mind, isn’t it exciting to think about visiting Lucerne for two days? This city is an all-in-one destination!

In the two-day Lucerne itinerary that I’m going to share with you, you’ll see how you can enjoy a well-rounded trip to Lucerne, encompassing all the aspects mentioned. Let’s begin.

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Summary of the 2-day Itinerary For Lucerne, Switzerland
Summary of the 2-day Itinerary for Lucerne
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Author’s notes for this 2-day Itinerary (tips + how to use this itinerary) — please read!

The season and weather are my primary considerations when planning my travels, particularly when visiting places with outdoor attractions like Lucerne. Not only do they look better in the sunshine, but fair weather is often necessary to fully enjoy and access them. Take cruising on Lake Lucerne, for example. It’s utterly impossible to appreciate the scenery from the boat when the surroundings are shrouded in fog and rain—it’s absolutely not worth it!

You see my point… That’s why in this two-day Lucerne itinerary, I’ve organized the points of interest into two categories: those that are enjoyable regardless of the weather, and those that are best experienced on a dry and sunny day.

  • Day 1 (any weather) – Old Town Lucerne + Museums
  • Day 2 (fair weather) – Mount Pilatus or Lake Lucerne

Now, you have a weather-flexible 2-day Lucerne itinerary!

What does this mean? The sequence of Day 1 and Day 2 during your trip to Lucerne doesn’t have to be fixed. You can switch the order depending on the weather. You can check the weather forecast a week or a few days before your trip to decide which activities to undertake first and which to follow. The crucial point is that Day 2 should occur on a day with better weather.

However, if you’re visiting Lucerne during the summer when the weather is typically pleasant and dry, the order of activities probably won’t matter as much.

If you haven’t secured accommodation in Lucerne yet, I recommend my partner’s hotel search and booking platform. It’s one of my go-to tools for trip planning due to its free cancellation feature and other benefits such as a loyalty program. Please note that this is an affiliate link. I may earn a commission when you book through this link at no additional cost to you. Consider it as your donation to WanderInEurope, letting me to create more guides like this one. Thank you for your support! 😍

First Day

For this day of your stay in Lucerne, we’ll focus on Old Town Lucerne’s landmarks and the museums in the city. These are the places of interest in Lucerne which are nice to see even if the skies aren’t so blue or when you need to stay indoors. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Morning:
    • Old Town Lucerne (Chapel Bridge, Jesuit Church, Spreuer Bridge, Musegg Wall, Lion Monument, Hofirche, and squares in the Old Town) 
    • Bourbaki Panorama
  • Afternoon: Swiss Transport Museum
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Morning: Old Town Lucerne 

Grab your most comfortable shoes because Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s most enjoyable cities to explore on foot. Especially the Old Town Lucernethere’s something to photograph at every corner! The Old Town is nestled at the heart of Lucerne, around the point where the Reuss River and Lake Lucerne converge. If you’re arriving in Lucerne by train, you’ll disembark directly at the Old Town. The tourist attractions are just minutes away on foot.

Boasting the most notable landmarks in Lucerne, the Old Town is unquestionably a spot in the city that shouldn’t be missed. If the weather forecast is promising for your two-day trip to Lucerne, start your visit here. It’s home to the city’s most significant landmarks. Expect a beautiful first impression that lasts!

Here are the points of interest you’ll find in Old Town Lucerne (click the names of the tourist attractions to learn more). They are arranged in a sequence that you can follow on a DIY walking tour of Old Town Lucerne.

  1. Chapel Bridge — the world’s oldest truss bridge and Europe’s oldest covered bridge. It’s Lucerne’s most iconic landmark! Take pictures. Walk through it. Marvel at its unique gable paintings.
  2. Jesuit Church — this church is the first large Baroque church to be built north of the Alps. It’s Lucerne’s “don’t judge the book by its cover” landmark. You’ll love the apperance of its interiors!
  3. Spreuer Bridge — another wooden bridge in Lucerne where the largest cycle of Danse Macabre paintings is located. 
  4. Musegg Wall — Switzerland’s most preserved wall! Walk on its ramparts. Climb the towers for 360-degrees view of the city. Discover old clock mechanisms.
  5. Lion Monument — a famous landmark described by Mark Twain as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.” Visit the monument to be moved by its emotion-filled lion sculpture.
  6. Hofkirche — Lucerne’s unique architectural landmark, mixed of German Renaissance and Gothic. Come to behold the ornate facade and portal.
  7. Hirschenplatz, Sternenplatz, Kornmarkt, and Weinmarkt — the squares in Old Town Lucerne where the most colorful houses in the city are located. You can see their exact location in my map of Old Town Lucerne.

For a more insightful experience, I recommend joining a tour or hiring a local guide who can show you the hidden gems/picturesque parts of the city.  

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Tips and other things to remember when exploring the Old Town

Starting your trip to Old Town Lucerne early in the morning is a great choice. You’ll find ample photo opportunities without interruptions, and you’ll enjoy a more serene experience without the crowds. It’s as if you have Lucerne all to yourself! The morning hours truly bring out the charm of Lucerne. Take a look at these photos of the Old Town captured in the early morning:

Serene morning in Lucerne, Switzerland
Serene morning in Lucerne

To be precise, consider starting your visit ideally on or before 8:00 am. This allows you to avoid the influx of tourists that typically begins after this time. During peak season, midday can be particularly crowded as visitors come in buses from other cities to popular landmarks such as the Chapel Bridge and Lion Monument.

Exploring the Old Town and its attractions at a relaxed pace can take about three to four hours. If you begin your tour around seven or eight in the morning, you should have ample time to visit the Bourbaki Panorama before lunch. This approach can enhance your experience and allow you to fully appreciate the beauty of Lucerne.

Late Morning: Bourbaki Panorama

Assuming you take the walking tour route in Old Town Lucerne that I’ve prepared, you’ll encounter Bourbaki Panorama as you journey from the Lion Monument to Hofkirche. Bourbaki Panorama is housed within a rectangular building featuring a glass facade and a circular roof, located on the left side en route to Hofkirche. Given its size, details, and historical significance, Bourbaki Panorama is undoubtedly one of Lucerne’s most noteworthy piece of art. It’s worth seeing for a few remarkable reasons.

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What to expect in Bourbaki Panorama? + tips

As far as I’m aware, Bourbaki Panorama is also one of the world’s most spectacular panoramas, alongside the Thun Panorama in Thun (Switzerland), the Tirol Panorama in Innsbruck (Austria), and the Panorama of the Battle of Racławice in Wroclaw (Poland).

Did you know that the Bourbaki Panorama stands 10 meters tall and stretches 12 meters long? My first impression: the artist behind this late-19th-century panorama, Edouard Castres, he must be incredibly talented. Even more, it’s rather clever how Edouard Castres signed his panorama — he painted himself into the scene!

Like most panoramas we create today with our cameras, the Bourbaki Panorama was made to capture a significant scene. What does it depict? The escape of the French army under General Bourbaki to Switzerland during the winter of the Franco-Prussian War. Today, the Bourbaki Panorama is considered a piece of European cultural heritage.

As your eyes sweep across the panorama, you’ll notice that the Bourbaki Panorama isn’t just a painting. There are three-dimensional objects in front of the panorama, creating a striking 3D effect. It’s so cool. Interestingly, from the scenes depicted, Switzerland’s neutrality and humanitarian tradition are clearly visible. The red cross wagon in the panorama is probably the most suggestive part of that tradition.

Tip: If you want to learn more about the history depicted in the panorama, I suggest borrowing books near the spiral staircase entrance. They reveal the significance of different parts of the Bourbaki Panorama. I encourage reading the book to get more value from the 12 CHF entry fee.

Admission is free if you have the Swiss Travel Pass, however. Overall, seeing and learning about the entire Bourbaki Panorama shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. You can find the latest visiting information on the Bourbaki Panorama from its official website, which I’ve linked at the end of this post.

Afternoon: Swiss Transport Museum

The Swiss Transport Museum is one of the finest museums in Lucerne and throughout Switzerland. I am overwhelmed by the epic experiences it offers that both kids and adults can enjoy! I’m not typically drawn to museums that don’t focus on history, architecture, or culture, but given fun and intriguing exhibits inside the Swiss Transport Museum, I highly recommend giving it a visit.

In essence, as its name implies, the Swiss Transport Museum is a vast display of all sorts of vehicles used for transporting people and goods. Every type of vehicle you can imagine is here, representing mobility on water, rail, air, and road. You can check the ticket price for Swiss Transport Museum here.

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What to expect in Swiss Transport Museum + Tips + Insights + and more!!!

Like the Old Town Lucerne, the Swiss Transport Museum is a place that transports you back in time. It showcases the evolution of transportation, and with vintage cars at the start of the timeline, it’s certain to send your imagination back decades.

Believe it or not, you can also find space rovers in the Swiss Transport Museum! I even saw kids peeking at its small circular door, looking utterly fascinated. And oh, if you haven’t seen a real-life astronaut costume, you’ll finally see one at the Swiss Transport Museum!

Speaking of space travel, the Swiss Transport Museum can also virtually send you to the stars. It houses a planetarium within an 18-meter dome that displays all the wonders of astronomy. You’ll feel as though you’re being toured through different nebulas, stars, and distant galaxies. It’s an experience kids shouldn’t miss!

You know, I think the Swiss Transport Museum should consider changing its name. Why? Because it offers more experiences than just “everything about transportation.” For instance, it features the “Swiss Chocolate Adventure” and the “Filmtheater,” which is Switzerland’s largest cinema screen. If you’re up for a virtual adventure, you can try “The Edge – Matterhorn VR.” It’s an interactive exhibit where you can virtually climb the Matterhorn, Switzerland’s iconic Toblerone mountain.

There’s so much to see and do at the Swiss Transport Museum that you can avail of a 2-day pass, which allows you to visit the museum for two consecutive days. However, for your 2-day stay in Lucerne, I suggest allocating four to five hours or half a day to the Swiss Transport Museum. I believe that should be sufficient. Any less than that, and you might miss out on some fun and interesting exhibits, making the relatively high admission fee less worthwhile.

If the weather isn’t so pleasant when you visit Lucerne, you can spend more time in the Swiss Transport Museum and still have an enjoyable trip to Lucerne. You can learn more about the Swiss Transport Museum and its visiting information at the end of this post (in the resources section).

With all that is said, it is not hard to understand why the Swiss Transport Museum is a popular tourist attraction in Lucerne. And you can expect long lines at the ticket counters, especially during peak season. If you buy tickets online, you can avoid these lines and enter the museum directly via the turnstile. Convenient entry! Access is possible with both printed tickets and your smartphone. Here’s the link where you can book your tickets to the Swiss Transport Museum.

Evening: Night Watchman Tour

Maximize your stay in Lucerne by filling your evening with more experiences. There are also activities available in Lucerne, even at night! One activity I highly recommend for history buffs and those seeking unique experiences is the historical tour of Lucerne with the night watchman.

It’s your best opportunity to discover different parts of Lucerne and the history behind them. Unlike some ordinary historical tours of Lucerne in the morning or afternoon, this one is special. A medieval personality, a night watchman, will accompany you to the most interesting parts of Lucerne and reveal the intriguing history of the city. You can learn more or book your Lucerne tour with the night watchman here.

Second Day

By visiting Lucerne, you bring yourself closer than ever to some of the world’s most spectacular landscapesthe Alps. What are the two most accessible natural attractions you can visit from Lucerne? Of course, they are none other than Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus. These will be the next absolutely spectacular places you’ll visit to complete your 2-day stay in Lucerne.

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There’s no need to explain how you can reach Lake Lucerne because it’s literally beside the Old Town. For Mount Pilatus, there’s a special way to get to the summit—it’s exciting, and we’ll talk about that later on.

Here’s what’s important: Lake Lucerne has more to offer than just calming scenery. By exploring the towns, villages, and resorts on its shores, you can find little gems that can turn your Lucerne trip into a memorable experience. Mount Pilatus, on the other hand, is packed full of fun, enjoyable outdoor activities. Of course, you can expect heaven-on-earth scenery from the top. If you are visiting Mount Pilatus during non-winter months, included in the trip to and from the summit is a ride on one of the most remarkable feats of engineering in the world.

Good news, you can have a combination of the two! And that is what I recommend more (Mount Pilatus Round Trip). However, you have the option to spend an entire day at Lake Lucerne or Mount Pilatus alone. If you want an epic but popular experience, pick Mount Pilatus. For unique and off-the-beaten-path destinations, try visiting the places around Lake Lucerne. Let’s get into the details!

Option 1: Whole Day in Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne, being an alpine lake, offers some of the most tranquil views to help you escape the stresses of daily life. The blue and glittering surface of the lake, the surrounding greenery, and the towering mountains create a scene in Lake Lucerne that truly brings inner peace and calm. Imagine yourself surrounded by this scenery, breathing some of the freshest air while relaxing on a yacht. Isn’t that fantastic?

Well, you can make it even more perfect! How? By visiting beautiful destinations around the lake, like Meggenhorn Castle and the Hammetschwand Elevator on Mount Bürgenstock. I believe they are also some of Lake Lucerne’s unique tourist attractions and noteworthy highlights of any trip within and around the lake.

In a nutshell, the Hammetschwand Elevator is the highest exterior elevator in Europe. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Lake Lucerne and the city. On the other hand, Meggenhorn Castle is one of the most magical places situated around Lake Lucerne. It was modeled after the magnificent Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley in France. Its stunning architecture, combined with the blissful scenery of Lake Lucerne and the Alps, is absolutely unmissable (at least for wanderers)!

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Visual summary of a day spend around Lake Lucerne (visiting Meggenhorn Castle and Mount Bürgenstock)

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Here’s how you can visit both Meggenhorn Castle and Hammetschwand Elevator in one day from Lucerne (Step by step instructions)
  1. Catch the first cruise to Kehrsiten-Bürgenstock from Lucerne (9:07 am first departure – 60 minutes interval). Travel time is 1 hour. 
  2. Climb to the resort through the funicular after the ferry ride. You can book Lucerne-Bürgenstock round trip tickets, including the funicular, from this link. 
  3. Enjoy the leisure facilities of the Bürgenstock resort. For your lunch, try international cuisine from one of the 12 bars and restaurants in Bürgenstock resort. 
  4. Hike (30 minutes) to the Hammetschwand elevator and proceed to the top for some epic views. Continue hiking to the viewpoints of Lake Lucerne. 
  5. After the viewpoint, continue walking on the trail passing Hotel Villa Honegg and Bürgenstock Alpine Golf, back to the Bürgenstock hotel. You can expect the eye-pleasing scenery of the Swiss countryside along the way. The total hike time from the elevator back to the resort is approximately one hour. 
  6. Return to Lucerne from Bürgenstock before 4 in the afternoon. 
  7. Then, have some refreshments in Old Town Lucerne or the train station before heading to Meggenhorn Castle. 
  8. From Lucerne train station, hop on bus #24 to reach Meggen Lerchenbühl Station. Once you arrive, proceed to the Meggenhorn Castle (a 15-minute walk). There is signage on the post at the bus stop, giving the direction of “Schloss Meggenhorn.” Overall, the travel time is 20-30 minutes. 
  9. You must arrive at the Meggenhorn Castle before sunset. If there is not much cloud cover, you should see a beautiful golden hour in the castle compound. 

Good to know: There’s an alternative to all these, and it’s an excellent (although a bit expensive) way to see Meggenhorn Castle and the rest of Lake Lucerne. There’s a day tour that allows travelers to visit some of the most gorgeous architectural gems, including Meggenhorn Castle, and lovely countryside villages around and near Lake Lucerne. It’s called the Full-Day Castles, Villages & Monasteries Tour From Lucerne.

If you want to learn more about Meggenhorn Castle and Bürgenstock Resort or you want to know the Lake Lucerne ferry timetables, you may check the websites linked in the resources section of this post.

Option 2: Whole Day in Mount Pilatus

For travelers staying in Lucerne for two or more days during non-winter months, taking a day trip to Mount Pilatus is a must. It is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful mountains and a top nature tourist attraction. Mount Pilatus is located just a few kilometers from Lucerne. It is so close to the city that you can photograph some landmarks in the Old Town with this mountain in the background.

Aside from the absolutely breathtaking panorama from its summit, another reason why I highly recommend visiting Mount Pilatus is because of the fun and memorable experiences you can have on the mountain. What experiences? The best ones I know are the funicular ride on the Pilatus Railway, the Frakigaudi Summer Toboggan, and of course, hiking on top of the mountain.

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There are many important things to know about Mount Pilatus and before you go there. For instance, the Silver and Golden Round trip that lets you experience Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus). So, I created a separate post for it: Mount Pilatus Day Trip from Lucerne (5 Reasons to Go + Tips). In that article, I thoroughly discussed how you can spend a day on Mount Pilatus from Lucerne, the two best ways to reach its summit, and other tips to help you enjoy your trip. 

More Information

And there you have it! That’s your two-day itinerary for Lucerne. I hope you have an enjoyable trip and remember to have fun. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment below. Also, I’ve included some links where you can find more information about some of the tourist attractions I mentioned in the itinerary.

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Still planning your dream trip to Switzerland? My 4-day Switzerland itinerary involves spending 2 days in the canton of Lucerne and another 2 days in the canton of Bern. It’s perfect for an extended weekend getaway to this beautiful country. My 6-day Switzerland itinerary, however, does not include Lucerne. Instead, it allows you to explore Bern, Thun, Lake Thun, and the Jungfrau Region. If you’re planning a week-long trip and still want to visit Lucerne, I suggest following this itinerary with a one-day visit to Lucerne. I wouldn’t recommend staying in Lucerne for 2 days if you’re visiting the Jungfrau Region, as some of the experiences might feel redundant. For instance, the scenery from Harder Kulm or Mannlichen is as awe-inspiring as what you can see from Mount Pilatus. Alright! That’s all for now. Happy travels! 😄

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