Lucerne is undoubtedly one of the best destinations in Switzerland for several reasons. But the first and foremost reason are the many various things to do in Lucerne; whether historical-architectural attractions, fascinating museums, or leisure-nature destinations, there’s one for you.
One day should be enough to see Lucerne and its surroundings. However, two days in Lucerne is a must to fully enjoy its best experiences: breathtaking views and time-transporting landmarks.
Today, you’ll learn how to spend two days in Lucerne with the itinerary I’ll share in this post. You’ll find out how much time you’ll need to visit each place of interest, their visiting information, and other actionable tips.
As a historically and culturally-rich city in the Alps, I think Lucerne has everything a wanderer/visual traveler would look for in a destination. Lucerne’s stunning vistas, eye-catching architecture, colorful street scenes, and impressive museums are so wanderlust-satisfying.
I’m saying that because they’ll be the focus of this two-day Lucerne itinerary. Nevertheless, this itinerary should be helpful for everyone wanting to have the most memorable experiences in Lucerne.
Before we get started with the itinerary, you might want to be familiar with Lucerne first using my articles linked below:
- Unique experiences to have in Lucerne
- Landmarks in Lucerne (free things to do in Lucerne)
- Beautiful things to see in Lucerne (the reasons why you should visit Lucerne)
- Map of Old Town Lucerne (tourist spots and vantage points)
Looking for different ways to travel in Switzerland? Check my itineraries below.
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2 Days In Lucerne Itinerary
The season and weather are my top considerations whenever I plan my travels, especially if I visit a place with outdoor attractions like Lucerne. Not only do these tourist destinations look better when the sun is shining, but sometimes fair weather might be needed to enjoy and access them.
Like, cruising in Lake Lucerne. It’s totally impossible to appreciate the scenery from the boat when the surrounding is covered with fog and it is raining—not worth it, absolutely! You get the point…
This is why in this two-day Lucerne itinerary, I’ve grouped/organized the places of interest by which are nice to see no matter the weather and which are best on a dry & 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 or adaptable 2-day Lucerne itinerary!
What do I mean?
Day 1 and Day 2 don’t have to be done in a specific order during your trip to Lucerne. You can switch the sequence depending on the weather.
You can check the weather forecast a week or a few days before your trip to decide which activities to do first and which to do next. The important thing is that Day 2 must take place on a date with fairer weather.
Nevertheless, suppose you’re visiting Lucerne during the summer when the weather is usually pleasant and dry. In that case, it probably doesn’t matter as much in which order you do the activities.
Alright! If you haven’t booked accommodation, you can find a place to stay in Lucerne here. The link will lead you to a hotel browser page featuring a map which conveniently shows where the hotels are.
Let’s say you have a change of mind to stay in Lucerne for only a day. If that is the case, you can check my article, How To Spend One Day In Lucerne.
Day 1 in Lucerne
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:
- 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
Old Town Lucerne
Grab your most comfortable shoes because Lucerne’s is one of Switzerland’s most enjoyable cities to explore on foot. Especially the Old Town Lucerne—there’s something to photograph for every corner you see!
The Old Town is located at the heart of Lucerne, sitting around the point where the Reuss River and Lake Lucerne meet. If you’re coming to Lucerne by train, you’ll arrive directly at the Old Town. The tourist attractions are only minutes away on foot.
Having the most notable landmarks in Lucerne, its Old Town is definitely the place in the city which shouldn’t be missed. Here are the points of interest you’ll find in the Old Town Lucerne (click the names of the tourist attractions to learn more):
- Chapel Bridge — the world’s oldest truss bridge and Europe’s oldest covered bridge.
- Jesuit Church — this church is the first large Baroque church to be built north of the Alps.
- Spreuer Bridge — another wooden bridge in Lucerne where the largest cycle of Danse Macabre paintings is located.
- Musegg Wall — Switzerland’s most preserved wall
- Lion Monument — a famous landmark described by Mark Twain as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”
- Hofkirche — Lucerne’s unique architectural landmark
- Hirschenplatz, Sternenplatz, Kornmarkt, and Weinmarkt — the squares in Old Town Lucerne where the most colorful houses in the city are located.
You can check my other post, Half Day in Lucerne: Walking Tour of the Old Town, to see where they are exactly and the routes you can follow. It also contains a thorough description, tips, must-see parts, and visiting information for each mentioned tourist attraction.
Suppose you want to have an insightful tour of the Old City. In that case, I recommend joining a tour or hiring a local guide who can show you the hidden gems/picturesque parts of the city. However, if it’s the history of Lucerne you want to learn, reserve that experience for later at night with the tour of Lucerne with the Night Watchman.
What more can I suggest?
Well, one of the best decisions that you can make when visiting Old Town Lucerne is starting your trip early in the morning.
Not only will you find many photo opportunities without photo bombers, but also you’ll have a more enjoyable experience without the crowd. Like, you own the entire moment you’re in Lucerne!
Most importantly, it’s in the morning that you can really feel the magic of Lucerne. Have a look at these photos of the Old Town taken early in the morning:
As much as possible, begin before 9:00 am. By starting your trip early in the morning, you may ditch these crowds and have a much better experience of Lucerne.
Note that 9:00 am is when group tours and day trips to Lucerne from other cities begin. Especially during midday of the peak season, tourists from other cities come in buses, swarming the landmarks—the Chapel Bridge and Lion Monument, to be specific.
It can take you three to four hours to leisurely visit the tourist destinations in the Old Town mentioned in the list. If you can start exploring by seven or eight in the morning, you’ll still have time for Bourbaki Panorama before lunch.
Suppose you follow the route of the walking tour in the Old Town Lucerne I prepared. In that case, you’ll pass Bourbaki Panorama on your way to Hofkirche from the Lion Monument.
Bourbaki Panorama is within the rectangular building with a glass facade and circular roof on the left side going to Hofkirche. In terms of size, details, and historical value, Bourbaki Panorama is definitely the most notable artwork in Lucerne.
Believe it or not, Bourbaki Panorama is 10 meters tall and 12 meters long! The artist, Edouard Castres, behind this late-19th-century panorama must be really talented.
It’s kinda smart how Edouard Castres signed his panorama, though. He painted himself into the scene!
Anyway, as far as I know, it is also one of the world’s most spectacular panorama in parallel with the Thun Panorama in Thun (Switzerland), Tirol Panorama in Innsbruck (Austria), and Panorama of the Battle of Racławice in Wroclaw (Poland).
Like most panoramas we create today with our cameras, the Bourbaki Panorama was also made to capture an important scene. What does it depict? The escape of the French army under General Bourbaki to Switzerland during winter in the Franco-Prussian War.
Today, Bourbaki Panorama is considered a European cultural heritage.
And from the scenes depicted, you can clearly see Switzerland’s neutrality and humanitarian tradition. The red cross wagon in the panorama is probably the most suggestive part of that tradition.
As your eyes sweep the panorama, you’ll notice that Bourbaki Panorama isn’t just a painting. There are three-dimensional objects in front of the panorama, creating an eye-grabbing 3D effect. Cool.
If you want to learn more about the history depicted in the panorama, I suggest borrowing books near the spiral staircase entrance. They unveil the meaning of the significant parts of the Bourbaki Panorama.
I encourage reading the book to get more value with the 12 CHF entry fee. Admission is free if you have the Swiss Travel Pass, however.
Overall, seeing and learning about the whole Bourbaki Panorama wouldn’t last more than 30 minutes. You can find the latest visiting information on Bourbaki Panorama from its official website, which I linked at the end of this post.
A while ago, I mentioned Thun Panorama and Thun. If you want to learn more about them you can check my posts:
- Thun Panorama: Why You Must See It & How to Visit
- Best Way To Spend One Day In Thun (Day Trip Itinerary)
- Lake Thun Itinerary: How To Spend One Day (Detailed Guide)
Swiss Transport Museum
The Swiss Transport Museum is probably one of the best museums in Lucerne and all of Switzerland. It is packed with epic experiences that kids and adults can enjoy!
I’m not completely into museums that aren’t related to history, architecture, or culture, but with all the fun and cool things inside the Swiss Transport Museum, I recommend you give it a try.
In a nutshell, as its name suggests, the Swiss Transport Museum is a giant exhibition of all kinds of things used to transport people and objects. Every type of vehicle that you can think of is here: mobility on water, rail, air, and road.
Like the Old Town Lucerne, the Swiss Transport Museum is one time-transporting place. It shows the development of transportation, and with the vintage cars at the start of the timeline, it’s sure your imagination will be sent back decades to the past.
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 so fascinated. And oh, if you haven’t seen a real-life costume of an astronaut in the Swiss Transport Museum, you’ll finally see one!
Speaking of space travel, the Swiss Transport Museum can also virtually send you to the stars.
It has a planetarium housed in an 18-meter dome that shows all the marvels of astronomy. You’ll be like toured into the different nebulas, stars, and faraway galaxies. It’s an unmissable experience for kids!
You know, I think that the Swiss Transport Museum should change its name.
Why? Because it offers more experiences other than “everything about transportation,” such as the “Swiss Chocolate Adventure” and the “Filmtheater,” which is Switzerland’s largest cinema screen.
And if you want a virtual adventure, you can try “The Edge – Matterhorn VR.” It’s an interactive part of the museum where you can virtually climb the Matterhorn, Switzerland’s iconic Toblerone mountain.
These are a few of the reasons why I don’t completely suggest the Swiss Transport Museum when visiting Lucerne only for a day. Not only the main essence of visiting Lucerne lies in the city’s historical sites and natural attractions, but you will just need a lot of time to have the full experience of the museum.
One day isn’t just enough to see Lucerne’s highlights and explore the Swiss Transport Museum in a relaxing/fun leisure mode.
Actually, some visitors even spend one whole day in the Swiss Transport Museum! Also, in fact, there’s so much a visitor can have in the Swiss Transport Museum that you can avail of a 2-day pass which will allow you to visit the museum for two consecutive days.
But, for your 2-day stay in Lucerne, I suggest allocating four to five hours or half a day to the Swiss Transport Museum. I think that should be enough. Less than that, you might miss some fun & interesting things, and the relatively high admission fee wouldn’t be worth it.
You can learn more about the Swiss Transport Museum and its visiting information at the end of this post (resources section).
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 Lucerne trip.
That said, it’s not hard to understand why the Swiss Transport Museum is a popular tourist attraction in Lucerne. You can expect long lines at the ticket counters, especially during peak season.
If you buy tickets online, you can avoid long lines and enter the museum directly via the turnstile. Access works both with printed tickets and with your smartphone.
Here’s the link where you can book your tickets to the Swiss Transport Museum.
Night Watchman Tour
Maximize your stay in Lucerne by filling up your evening with more experiences. There are also activities available in Lucerne, even at night.
One I greatly recommend to history buffs and unique experience hunters 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 be the person who will accompany you to the most interesting parts of Lucerne and unfold the intriguing history of the city.
Day 2 in Lucerne
Visiting Lucerne, you bring yourself closer than ever to some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes—the Alps.
And what are the two most accessible natural attractions you can visit from Lucerne? Of course, there’s no other than Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus—they will be the next absolutely spectacular places you’ll see to complete your 2-day stay in Lucerne.
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 is exciting, and we’ll talk about that later on.
The thing is, Lake Lucerne has more to offer than calming scenery. 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. And if you are visiting Mount Pilatus during non-winter months, included in the trip to/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. However, you definitely have the option to spend an entire day in Lake Lucerne or Mount Pilatus Alone.
If you want an epic but everyone-else-is-talking-about 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!
Lake Lucerne, being an alpine lake, has some of the most tranquil views to help you get away from the stresses of daily life. The blue and glittering surface of the lake, the greenery surrounding it, and the towering mountains make up a scenery in Lake Lucerne that truly brings inner peace and calm.
Imagine yourself surrounded by that scenery and breathing some of the freshest air while relaxing on a yacht. Isn’t that fantastic?
Well, you can make it even more perfect!
It’s by visiting beautiful destinations around the lake, like Meggenhorn Castle and Hammetschwand Elevator in Mount Bürgenstock. I think they are also some of Lake Lucerne’s unique tourist attractions and noteworthy highlights of any trip within and around the lake.
You can check the previous link to learn more about them.
In a nutshell, the Hammetschwand Elevator is the highest exterior elevator in Europe, located in Mount Bürgenstock. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with an overlooking view of lake Lucerne and the city.
Meggenhorn Castle, on the other hand, is one of the most magical places situated around Lake Lucerne.
It was modeled after the magnificent Châteaux Chambord in Loire Valley in France. Its stunning architecture and the blissful scenery of Lake Lucerne and the Alps are absolutely unmissable.
Here’s how you can visit both Meggenhorn Castle and Hammetschwand Elevator in one day from Lucerne:
- Catch the first cruise to Kehrsiten-Bürgenstock from Lucerne (9:07 am first departure – 60 minutes interval). Travel time is 1 hour.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hike (30 minutes) to the Hammetschwand elevator and proceed to the top for some epic views. Continue hiking to the viewpoints of Lake Lucerne.
- 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.
- Return to Lucerne from Bürgenstock before 4 in the afternoon.
- Then, have some refreshments in Old Town Lucerne or the train station before heading to Meggenhorn Castle.
- 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.
- 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.
If you want to learn more about the 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.
Do you know there’s a really excellent way to see Meggenhorn Castle? There’s a day tour that lets travelers visit some of the most gorgeous architectural gems (Meggenhorn Castle included) and lovely countryside villages around and near Lake Lucerne.
Discover the tour from this link: Full-Day Castles, Villages & Monasteries Tour From Lucerne
For travelers staying in Lucerne for two or more days during non-winter months, having 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 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 Pilatus Railway, Frakigaudi Summer Toboggan, and of course, hiking on top of the mountain.
There is too much to know about Mount Pilatus, so I created a separate post for it. Here’s the link to the article: The Best Reasons Why Mount Pilatus is a Worth It Day Trip From Lucerne.
In that article, I thoroughly discussed how you can spend a day on Mount Pilatus, the two best ways to reach its summit, and other tips to help you enjoy your trip.
And if you don’t have a hotel yet, you can find a place to stay in Lucerne here.
So that’s it! That’s how you can spend two days in Lucerne. I hope you enjoy your trip and don’t forget to have fun. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. 😀
Sources: 2 Days In Lucerne
Here are the links where you can find more information about the some tourist attractions I mentioned in the 2-day itinerary.
- Bourbaki Panorama Visiting Information
- Swiss Transport Museum (Official website)
- Lake Lucerne ferry timetables
- Bürgenstock resort official website
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