Lucerne is one of the best cities in Switzerland to visit for its walkability and charming atmosphere. Its old town has narrow cobblestone streets, calming lake views, beautiful murals, cute fountains, and tourist attractions that are all just minutes away from each other on foot. Eye pleasing, You will find that strolling through the old town of Lucerne is an enjoyable experience.
Are you in need of an idea for how to explore the old town of Lucerne on foot? Consider this your lucky day, as I will provide you with a sample itinerary for some of the best attractions, including the charming small details I think you should also see. This itinerary is perfect for spending half a day in the old town of Lucerne.
This post will cover descriptions and tips for the top tourist attractions in the old town of Lucerne, as well as estimates on how long to spend at each destination. You will also find an estimated travel time between the current and next point of interest in the itinerary. Let’s get started!
Is it just me, or does anyone else love making spontaneous trips? I love wandering, and oftentimes it’s enough for me to enjoy the place I’m visiting.
As much as I hate planning, it seems necessary to meticulously prepare for a trip to Switzerland because it’s an expensive country to visit. We want to maximize every minute of our journey by visiting as many places as possible, without sacrificing the quality of our experience.
That’s what we aim to achieve in today’s post—to make your time in Lucerne’s old town maximized and worth it. We all also want a relaxing, leisurely trip, right?
So, perhaps we can start by answering the question, “how much time do you really need in Lucerne’s old town?”
There’s really no specific length of time required to spend in Lucerne’s old town, but you should at least allocate half a day to see its most iconic landmarks and unmissable tourist attractions. If you can at least be familiar with the routes and have an idea of what to do at each point of interest, I think you can have a laid-back journey in Lucerne’s old city.
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So, let’s now get into the details.
Summary: Half Day In Old Town Lucerne
For me, there are seven specific places in Lucerne’s old town that all travelers should see. They are:
- The Chapel Bridge — the most iconic landmark in Lucerne and Switzerland
- The Jesuit Church — an awe-inspiring architectural marvel
- Spreuer Bridge — a landmark with special artwork on its gable
- Musegg Wall — one of the best preserved intact medieval fortifications in all of Switzerland
- Lion Monument — a meaningful artwork and landmark, described by Mark Twain as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”
- Hofkirche or the Church of Saint Leodegar — an eye-catching landmark, best to go for a selfie or a photo souvenir in Lucerne.
- Square(s) in the old town— the place(s) where you can find the beautiful little things in Lucerne.
Based on my estimates, you can see the top attractions in the old town of Lucerne in about 4 hours. About 3 hours will be spent visiting the actual sights, and the remaining time can be used for traveling between them within the old town.
Here are more details:
|Time to Spend (Minutes)
|Travel Time On Foot (Minutes Approximate) To The Next Attraction
|1. Chapel Bridge
|2. Jesuit Church
|3. Spreuer Bridge
|4. Musegg Wall
|60 to 120
|5. Lion Monument
|15 to 20
|7. Old Town
The tourist attractions listed above are in a sequence that, if you follow, you won’t be retracing your steps. Essentially, it follows a round trip path (assuming you will be arriving in Lucerne by train) from the train station to the Reuss River area, then the Musegg Wall, the eastern old town, the central old town, and back to the train station.
Below is a map showing their exact location and the route for this half-day Lucerne old town walking tour itinerary.
Their location in Google Maps is linked at the end of this post (resources).
Destinations Half Day Lucerne Walking Tour
For this part, you’ll get more ideas about the seven places I mentioned in the summary of the walking tour. You’ll learn what they are all about and why they are worth your time. The location and the unmissable experience/things you must see for each destination will also be discussed here.
Note that these destinations aren’t only landmarks and interesting places you will see along the route of this walking tour. Some of them are:
- Rathaus — is the town hall of Lucerne, a landmark with notable architecture and a clock tower. You can find it between the Chapel Bridge and the Jesuit Church.
- Historisches Museum Luzern & Natur-Museum Luzern — A nice place to visit if you want to learn more about the local history and flora & fauna in the region. They are just beside the Spreuer Bridge and are a nice alternative destination when there is bad weather.
- Glacier Garden — is a geological and botanical park that features a series of exposed rock formations and plant specimens from various geological periods. The rock formations were created during the Ice Age when glaciers covered the area and left behind a series of grooves and ridges in the rock. You can find it just beside the Lion Monument.
- The Bourbaki Panorama — is a circular painting located in a circular building, and it depicts the retreat of the French army during the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. The painting is over 100 meters in length and nearly 10 meters in height. You can find the panorama between the Lion Monument and Hofkirche.
I linked these tourist attractions’ official website in this post’s resources section. Okay! Let’s now talk about the seven must-see tourist attractions in Lucerne for your half-day walking tour.
Check out my other itineraries (and maps) about Lucerne. They should give you idea to enjoy Lucerne in different ways. You can read them here:
Destination 1: Chapel Bridge
If you travel to see bucket list destinations (or the world’s greatest places), arriving in Lucerne by train means you can check one off your list right away.
That’s because of the Chapel Bridge, the most iconic landmark of Lucerne. You can literally see this bridge from the square in front of the train station, particularly in front of Torbogen (Archway) Luzern—the archway and the remaining part of Lucerne’s old train station.
The Chapel Bridge is the long wooden bridge that diagonally crosses the Reuss River. I mentioned that the Chapel Bridge is a bucket list tourist attraction because it is the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge and Europe’s oldest wooden covered bridge.
You should visit the Chapel Bridge because it’s indeed a unique and beautiful landmark, especially with the Water Tower that stands beside it. The Chapel Bridge also has special triangular gable paintings that depict the history of Lucerne. Surely, a visit to the Chapel Bridge will be an experience like no other!
If you like taking photos, the Chapel Bridge is the most compelling place to fill up your camera’s storage. That is especially true during warmer months when the Chapel Bridge is decorated with beautiful colorful flowers.
And oh, watch out for the lovely swans that linger below the bridge!
Read my full article about the Chapel Bridge, where I discuss everything you need to know when visiting it.
Destination 2: Jesuit Church
Jesuit Church is one of the landmarks in Lucerne that makes the view of the old town Lucerne with the Reuss River so lovely. Dominating the skyline with its twin onion-top towers, you should be able to see the Jesuit Church anywhere in the Reuss River.
So, what’s the Jesuit Church in Lucerne all about?
The Jesuit Church, like the Chapel Bridge, is a notable landmark in Lucerne because it is the first large baroque church that was constructed north of the Alps. It dates back to the 17th century, which is also the time when the Protestant church spread in Europe.
It was built with a baroque style, chosen in order to emphasize the traditions of Catholicism, particularly through its visual culture and the veneration of saints. Although it was primarily baroque, the most eye-catching features of it are its rococo embellishments in the interiors. That is the reason why I think you should visit the Jesuit Church.
For me, the Jesuit Church is an architectural gem, and it’s worth visiting for the grandiosity you’ll behold. For Catholics like me, the Jesuit Church has small chapels on the side where you can find artworks and relics of saints. I believe they can help you meditate and pray.
See what it is like inside the church and discover where you can photograph it from my post about the Jesuit Church.
Destination 3: Spreuer Bridge
Aside from the Chapel Bridge, the Spreuer Bridge is another covered wooden bridge you can find in Lucerne. It is the shorter version of the Chapel Bridge and has triangular gable paintings with a different theme.
Let’s say you are currently in Jesuitenplatz, the square in front of the Jesuit Church, then you can already spot the Spreuer Bridge. It is the second bridge next to Reussbrüke (the closest bridge) to the west.
I think you should visit the Spreuerbrüke because of the triangular paintings it has on its gables. These paintings are said to be one of the largest cycles of the painting depicting Danse Macabre. For me, they’re scary yet interesting artworks because they remind us of the truth that death can come at any point in our lives or to anyone, regardless of status and wealth.
A visit to Spreuerbrüke usually lasts only for a very few minutes. What may make it a little longer is the small chapel in the middle of the bridge. You may want to check its stained glass window and different figurines depicting biblical characters.
Destination 4: Musegg Wall
If you’re also a fan of movies/series set in the medieval ages like me, perhaps Musegg Wall will also be your favorite destination in Lucerne. It’s where your fantasies come to life, your imagination stimulated: scenes of soldiers marching, arrows flying, dragons breathing fire!
As its name suggests, Musegg Wall is a medieval fortification of the old town Lucerne in Musegg in the northern portion of the old city. Back in the day, it was a part of a 2-layer fortification that safeguarded the old city since the 14th century.
You should come and see Musegg Wall up close because it is an excellent example of medieval military architecture in Switzerland. Each of its 9 towers has its own unique style! Most importantly, Musegg Wall is the most preserved medieval wall in the country that still stands in one piece.
Of course, you wouldn’t want to miss a unique experience from Musegg Wall: climbing the towers and walking in the ramparts—a magical time transporting experience!
There are four towers open to the public. Among the four, you should at least try climbing Männliturm (the only tower with an open roof deck) and Zytturm (a mural-decorated clock tower with clockwork exhibits inside).
Do you want to see what’s inside Zytturm? Or what’s the view from the ramparts? Discover everything you need to know from my other post dedicated to Musegg Wall.
Note: The towers of Musegg Wall are open only during non-winter months. However, you can still check the wall through the hiking trails beside it.
Destination 5: Lion Monument
On the hilly east side of the old city, we can find the Lion Monument, another famous tourist attraction in Lucerne. Of the places that you’ll visit (following this itinerary), the Lion Monument is the newest that you will find. The monument was built in the early 19th century.
The Lion Monument is a memorial for the Swiss soldiers who perished while defending the last French Monarch during the French Revolution.
It is a very meaningful sculpture of a lion, full of emotion. You can see it on its face, which depicts excruciating pain—symbolic of the experience that the Swiss soldiers and their family members had.
I think the Lion Monument is unmissable for several reasons. Aside from being a meaningful landmark, it is also a beautiful work of art. It may not be so apparent in the photos, but the Lion Monument is gigantic!
Believe it or not, the Lion Monument is 10 meters long and 6 meters tall.
If you also love introspecting while you travel, the Lion Monument can be a fantastic place you can go within the city. The Main Lion monument is above a calming pond inside a park covered with trees. You can sit by the benches and reflect on the message that the monument implicitly represents: loyalty and bravery.
Learn more about the Lion Monument and the things you must know before coming from my other post.
Destination 6: Hofkirche
Hofkirche, or the Church of Saint Leodegar, is the most noticeable landmark in the old city when sightseeing from the shores of Lake Lucerne. Its pointed twin spires are an eye-catcher across the skyline of Lucerne.
Yet, indeed, Hofkirche is more than a landmark in Lucerne. It is a religious structure that has both historical and architectural significance. Although its original appearance is no more, it’s mind-blowing to think that this church has already been there for over a thousand years.
For architecture enthusiasts like me, Hofkirche’s most notable attribute is its mix of German renaissance and gothic styles. It’s a unique find, which I think is a reason why you must visit it.
You can already see its eclectic style before entering the church—right on its facade and main portal. Gorgeous reliefs, intricate murals, and beautiful wood crafts await you there. Those and the pointed spires make Hofkirche one of the best places in Lucerne to take selfies and capture photo souvenirs.
Aside from marveling at Hofkirche’s gorgeous facade, you may also come inside the church to see impressive altarpieces and wrought iron gates. Check what else you can find inside this church from my post about Hofkirche or the Church of Saint Leodegar.
Destination 7: Old City (Lunch or Dinner)
After hours in the bridges, walls, monuments, and churches of Lucerne’s old city, I’m sure you’ll be hungry. That’s why it’s only after you visit them that you must come to Lucerne’s central old town. It’s where you can find the best restaurants with alfresco seating, offering beautiful views of Lake Lucerne or Reuss River.
Not only will your tummies be satisfied, but also your eyes! Aside from the calming and scenic views of the lake and river, it’s here in the central part of the old city, you can find the most beautiful houses and fountains in Lucerne.
Have a look:
These beautiful artworks you can find on the facades of the houses in the old town of Lucerne are called Lüftlmalerei. As far as I know, they are cultural art originating from Bavaria and Austria. It is the same with the fountains in the city.
Lüftlmalerei usually depicts the favorite saints and the occupation of the house owners. Sometimes, they just serve as decorative ornamentation. Regardless of what this Lüftlmalerei depicts, it is one of the beautiful things you can find in Lucerne that will fascinate you as you explore the city.
You don’t have to worry about where these houses and beautiful fountains are in Lucerne’s old town. They are located in the old town’s squares like Hirschenplatz, Sternenplatz, Weinmarkt and Kornmarkt.
Here is the map to guide you to find them:
What To Do Before Or After The Half Day Walking Tour?
So, that’s it! That’s how you can efficiently explore Lucerne’s Old Town on foot in a few hours or half a day.
Since the walking tour can be completed within a few hours, you may still have a lot of spare time in Lucerne if you plan to stay in the city for a day or two. If you need ideas on where to go or what to do to fill that time, I have five suggestions for you:
If you need more relaxation after l strolling in the Lucerne old town for a few hours, perhaps it might be the boat you need. For a special experience, try not the ordinary boat tour but the 1-Hour Cruise on a Panoramic Yacht instead.
During the 1-Hour Cruise on the Panoramic Yacht in Lake Lucerne, you’ll marvel at the picturesque landscapes and famous attractions this region has to offer.
You’ll experience the beauty of the lake from a unique perspective as you sit on the water terrace suspended above the surface. Relax on the upper deck with an adjustable roof, where you can take in the fresh air and sunshine while enjoying a multi-sensory experience in nature.
As you cruise along the lake, you’ll have a personal audio guide to give you insights into Lake Lucerne and its rich history. It’s a unique way to discover new things as you’ll be, at the same time, taking in the stunning mountain views and charming towns and villages that line the shores.
With the peaceful surroundings, you’ll surely be transported to a world of relaxation and tranquility. You can learn more about the 1-Hour Cruise on the Panoramic Yacht in Lake Lucerne here.
Swiss Museum Of Transport
In the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne, you can unravel the fascinating history behind all forms of travel. From road, rail, and water up to the air, this museum covers it all.
Step inside and discover an array of exhibits and interactive displays that explore the evolution of transportation over the years. Learn about the advancements and innovations that have shaped how we move from place to place, and see a wide range of vehicles and artifacts up close.
For a sweet and memorable experience, take a ride on the Swiss Chocolate Adventure, where you can catch glimpses of the chocolate-making process and get sweet treats from master chocolatiers.
In addition to the exhibits, the museum also has a Film Theatre and a Planetarium, where you can catch daily screenings of numerous educational films.
Make the most of your visit with a day pass, which allows you to immerse yourself in a fully interactive experience at the Swiss Museum of Transport.
Did you know that the Chapel Bridge isn’t the only bucket list destination around Lake Lucerne? Another is the Hammetschwand elevator—the highest exterior elevator in Europe.
Hammetschwand Elevator is located on the Bürgenstock plateau, directly opposite the city of Lucerne across Lake Lucerne. On the top of the elevator, visitors are rewarded with stunning views of Lake Lucerne, Lucerne, and the Central Plateau.
This elevator is often visited on a day trip to Bürgenstock resort, where you can find scenic hiking trails, ride funicular trains, and dine in fancy restaurants having a wide selection of international cuisine. Going to Bürgenstock resort involves a round-trip boat ride across lake Lucerne, as well.
If you are interested in visiting Hammetschwand Elevator and Bürgenstock resort? Check out this tour package to Mount Bürgenstock by Ferry and Funicular.
Like most lakes in the Alps, Lake Lucerne also has castles and beautiful villas. If you want to see a magical scene of the Swiss countryside before/after the half-day tour, these castles are the place to be.
Imagine a place where you can see a castle, lake, and mountains combined together—it’s a scene straight out of a fairy tale, isn’t it?
Let’s say you’re already in Lucerne, and you just finished the walking tour. Wherever you are in the old city, you are now less than an hour from Meggenhorn Castle.
It’s one of the castles on the shores of Lake Lucerne. And as described, it’s a magical place—we can consider it a hidden gem in Lucerne.
A hidden gem because only a few tourists know Meggenhorn Castle. (You can learn more about the Meggenhorn Castle and the route to this castle from the links in the sources section of this post)
But in a nutshell, Meggenhorn Castle is a 19th-century castle perched on a peninsula overlooking views of Lake Lucerne and has a panorama that includes Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus, and the city of Lucerne. It’s an ultimately picturesque place, and I think you’d not regret coming there, particularly if you come during warmer, sunny months.
You can get to Meggenhorn Castle with a single bus ride (bus #24) from Lucerne train station and hike for 15 minutes.
But if you want, you can join a tour of Meggenhorn Castle. It’s a 4-hour trip, perfect before and after the half-day old town Lucerne tour. It includes visiting a 14th-century settlement in Lucerne, seeing old chalets, and more. Learn more about Lucerne Lakeside and Villa Private Walking Tour here.
Mount Pilatus is another destination in Switzerland that “may” match your schedule with the half-day walking tour in Lucerne’s old town. However, to fully enjoy it, you must visit it on a laid-back day trip. This is why I don’t fully recommend it.
Learn more about Mount Pilatus and the 5 reasons why it’s a nice day trip from Lucerne.
Do you need more ideas where to go in Lucerne? I can help you with that! You can try reading: 10 Must-See Landmarks In Lucerne (Free Things To Do), 10 Unique Things To Do In Lucerne and Lucerne Is A Beautiful City: 10 Beautiful Things To See. (Links open in a new tab)
Sources: Walking Tour In Lucerne
- Historisches Museum Luzern
- Natur-Museum Luzern
- Glacier Garden
- Bourbaki Panorama
- Meggenhorn Castle
- Route to Meggenhorn Castle
- Chapel Bridge (Google Maps)
- Jesuit Church (Google Maps)
- Spreuer Bridge (Google Maps)
- Musegg Wall (Google Maps)
- Lion Monument (Google Maps)
- Hofkirche (Google Maps)
Looking for different ways to travel in Switzerland? Check my itineraries below.
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