Whenever someone asks me, “which place in Switzerland I shouldn’t miss?” I never miss suggesting Lucerne. It’s a unique and beautiful city, mainly because of its charming old town and breathtaking location in the Alps. A trip to Lucerne entails a mix of travel experiences like no other!
And if you are looking for something different to do for a memorable Lucerne trip, are interested in trying new activities in Lucerne, or craving for an authentic/immersive travel experience, I’m glad to offer you ideas! Come along as I uncover the lesser-known gems of Lucerne.
In a quick summary, I’ll mention 5 unique things to do in Lucerne—the activities that can make your Lucerne trip different from what typical tourists do. You will also find 5 tourist attractions unique to Lucerne—the points of interest you must visit to see what makes Lucerne special.
Lucerne offers a wide range of tourism activities, from outdoor adventures to cultural activities, cuisine to wellness. It is most likely that there is something unique in each category. You can check the official website of Lucerne’s tourism for proof (see the sources section).
To be honest, it is hard to say which activities are truly unique, as everyone has different experiences, perspectives, and interests that may change over time. So, all of my suggestions in this post will be based on my own judgment, even though they may not be unique to everyone.
However, you may find this post helpful if you enjoy taking photos, learning about history and culture while traveling, and visiting scenic attractions and tranquil places.
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Are you looking for ways to visit Lucerne? Do you want to know how much time you must spend? My posts below can help. (Links open in a new tab)
5 Unique Things To Do In Lucerne
Although Lucerne is one of the top destinations in Switzerland, most visitors only know and visit the highlights and renowned tourist attractions, such as the Chapel Bridge, Lion Monument, and Mount Pilatus. I have noticed this when browsing social media platforms and using travel applications and services like Google Maps, Komoot, GetYourGuide, Viator, and Klook.
Like the rest of Switzerland, Lucerne has developed tourism programs that offer great experiences, but many visitors are unaware that they exist. Sometimes, I feel sad when these visitors go to Lucerne without realizing that they could have made a unique trip. It’s such a missed opportunity for a memorable trip!
What activities and tourist attractions can make your trip to Lucerne unique? See them below.
1. Visit Mount Bürgenstock
Aside from being a beautiful historic city, another reason why I think people should come to Lucerne is because of the remarkable structures and engineering feats in the city, such as the Chapel Bridge and Pilatus Railway.
The Chapel Bridge is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe and the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge, while the Pilatus Railway is the world’s steepest cogwheel train. These extraordinary characteristics give Lucerne visitors a unique experience.
However, they are not the only “greatest” structures in Europe or the world that you can visit in or from Lucerne. Another is the Hammetschwand Elevator, the highest exterior lift in Europe.
You can find the Hammetschwand Elevator on the Bürgenstock mountain, overlooking Lake Lucerne. If you are on the promenade on the shores of Lake Lucerne near the Hofkirche, it is one of the mountains that you will find across the city and lake.
Visiting the Hammetschwand Elevator is often included on a day trip to the Bürgenstock mountain, where the Bürgenstock resort is located. It is an expansive mountain top resort with scenic trails, swimming pools, a spa, bars, and restaurants. Last time I checked, there were 12 restaurants and bars at the Bürgenstock resort that offer international cuisine.
To get to the Hammetschwand Elevator, you must hike for 20 to 30 minutes from the resort. There is a restaurant/beer garden next to the Hammetschwand Elevator where you can have refreshments after the hike. Make sure to bring cash to order food.
What can be so lovely about visiting the Hammetschwand Elevator or the Bürgenstock resort is that you can already enjoy your trip even while on your way to the mountain. First, you will cruise on Lake Lucerne on a modern catamaran. Next, you will ride on an iconic funicular railway.
With all of the experiences that you can have while visiting the Hammetschwand Elevator or the Bürgenstock resort, I think it is an excellent option if you want to have a unique and relaxing experience during your trip to Lucerne.
2. Explore The Villas & Castles Around Lake Lucerne
For me, Bern is the most beautiful city in Switzerland in terms of city architecture (check out these stunning views in Bern), but Lucerne is the most charming. Lucerne is a destination straight out of a fairytale because of its time-transporting structures that we only see in fairy tales – a medieval wall, towers, and a castle.
Did you know that Lucerne has a castle? Yes, there is one called Meggenhorn Castle, and it is a hidden gem in Lucerne.
Meggenhorn Castle is located outside the city, in the municipality of Meggen (within the canton of Lucerne). It is a 15-minute bus ride (bus #24) + a 15-minute hike from the Lucerne train station.
This is why fewer tourists come here and why this castle can make your Lucerne experience unique compared to the usual tourists. Here’s what the Meggenhorn Castle looks like:
If you have been to the Loire Valley in France, you might recognize Châteaux Chambord from the Meggenhorn Castle. That’s because Châteaux Chambord was the inspiration for Meggenhorn Castle – an absolutely gorgeous castle.
While Meggenhorn Castle may not be as grand as Châteaux Chambord, it undoubtedly has better scenery. Perched on the Meggen peninsula, castle visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of Lake Lucerne, including Mount Rigi, Bürgenstock, and Pilatus.
That is why this castle is a beautiful destination, especially on a sunny day. The gorgeous appearance of the castle and the idyllic lake and mountain views create the most paradisiacal scenery you can find in Lucerne.
In addition to the main castle, the Meggenhorn Castle compound also has a neo-gothic chapel, which any architecture enthusiast like me would be glad to see. If you have your lover with you during your trip to Lucerne, the stroll in the vineyards and French and English gardens will surely be one of the most romantic moments of your journey in Switzerland.
If you want to visit Meggenhorn Castle, please don’t forget to check the visiting information on the official website of the castle, linked in the sources section of this post. However, the last time I checked, Meggenhorn Castle visitors were free to roam outside the castle all year round.
Alternatively, you can join a tour of Lucerne’s countryside. The two tours below include not only Meggenhorn Castle but also other rustic and magical places around Lake Lucerne. Check them out:
- Lucerne Lakeside and Villas Private Walking Tour
- Lucerne Full-Day Castles, Villages & Monasteries Tour
3. Join The Night Watchman
Back in my school days, I really did not like our history classes. But my attitude changed instantly when I started traveling and learning, discovering history in person. For me, history is the story that explains the current state of the world, and I’m fascinated by understanding the world.
Do you also like history travel? If so, then you shouldn’t miss a tour of Lucerne’s old town.
Before you join any tour, make sure you check out the most unique and “most medieval-way” tour of the old town Lucerne – the 1-Hour Historical Tour with the Night Watchman. During the tour, you’ll discover life, art, and law and order in Medieval Lucerne.
Coming from the other side of the world, the Night Watchman was a completely strange person or thing to me. If you also wonder what or who it is, here’s how I can describe it:
During the medieval ages, the night watchman was responsible for patrolling the streets and providing security during the night in towns and cities. Their duties included keeping an eye out for fires, thieves, and other dangers and sounding an alarm in the event of an emergency.
You will know who the night watchman is if you see a person carrying a lantern or torch to light their way and sometimes wearing a uniform or carrying a weapon to deter crime.
So, yeah, basically, during the tour, a “medieval” policeman will accompany you to the different historical places in the old town. You can check more information about the 1-Hour Historical Tour with Night Watchman to learn the itinerary and the topics covered by the tour.
You might want to join to maximize your Lucerne trip, especially if you are staying in the city for a few days. Like, you spend the day on a cruise in Lake Lucerne, or in a museum, or a day trip to Mount Pilatus. Then at night, it’s time to explore the old city with the Night Watchman.
4. Photography Walk
Traveling entails learning, but it is not always necessarily about discovering new pieces of history and introspection. It can also be about improving or learning new skills. For example, there is a photography walking tour in Lucerne, and you know what that means!
On the photography walking tour, you’ll have the chance to learn how to take better photos of Lucerne and the Swiss Alps with the help of a professional photographer guide.
The guide will not only bring you to the most scenic spots in the city but will also give you an opportunity to see the landmarks of the city up close. Plus, you’ll get to experience Lucerne like a local as you explore the off-the-beaten-path and discover some of the most picturesque and lesser-known spots in the area.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer, you’ll benefit from the guidance and expertise of a professional photographer guide. This is an excellent opportunity to capture the beauty of Lucerne and the Swiss Alps through the lens of your camera.
During the tour, you will also see some of the most beautiful things you must see in Lucerne, including the frescoes in the facades of the houses in the old town. Art and architecture enthusiasts will love them! Learn more about the photography walking tour.
5. Discover Swiss Museum of Transport
Lucerne is a city known for its beautiful alpine scenery and historic old town, but did you know that it also has a remarkable attraction that is unique for the different experiences it gives to its visitors? That attraction is the Swiss Transport Museum.
For me, the Swiss Transport Museum is a must-see destination for travelers interested in transportation and technology. This museum offers a unique and comprehensive look at the history and evolution of all forms of transportation, from trains and automobiles to ships and aircraft.
In addition to its impressive collection of vehicles and technology, the museum also features a planetarium and a stunning 1:20,000-scale aerial photograph of Switzerland. Whether you’re a history buff, a tech enthusiast, or just love seeing excellent exhibits, the Swiss Transport Museum has something for everyone.
The museum is divided into four areas, each with a specific theme: aircraft, cars, trains, and boats. These areas feature a range of exhibits related to transportation, such as vintage vehicles, interactive displays, and educational displays.
One of the highlights of the museum is the model of the Saint Gotthard railway, which is absolutely a must-see! In addition to the model of the railway, tourists will also learn about the role of SBB, the Swiss Federal Trains, in the country’s transportation system.
There is a lot to see in the Swiss Transport Museum, and half a day is not enough to fully see everything inside it. In fact, I even think that it shouldn’t be called a museum because it is more than just a museum! You’ll see why when you visit.
If you are interested in learning more about the Swiss Museum of Transport, here’s a link where you can find a summary of its overall experience and where you can get your full day pass.
5 Tourist Attractions Unique To Lucerne
Did you find my handpicked activities in Lucerne unique?
Well, before you do any of those, make sure you don’t miss the landmarks and points of interest that make Lucerne a unique destination. I’ll mention five places/things to do in Lucerne that you can’t find/have anywhere else in Switzerland.
1. Chapel Bridge
The Chapel Bridge is the most famous landmark in Lucerne, renowned for being the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge and Europe’s oldest covered wooden bridge.
It is the bridge spanning diagonally across the Reuss River, starting in Bahnhofstrasse and ending at Saint Peter’s Chapel, which the Chapel Bridge is named after.
With its location that is close to the train station and openly visible in the Reuss River, there is no chance you will miss it.
Although there are several bridges in the Reuss River, and there is another wooden bridge, you can still quickly identify the Chapel Bridge because of the tower (called the Water Tower) standing beside it.
Undoubtedly, the Chapel Bridge’s wooden truss structure and the Water Tower beside it give it a unique appearance. But what makes it uniquely special are the triangular paintings on its gables.
Learn more about this landmark from my post, Visiting Chapel Bridge: The Famous Wooden Bridge in Lucerne. In that post, you’ll see what is inside the bridge and where the photography spots of the Chapel Bridge are.
2. Lion Monument
A visit to Lucerne is not complete without seeing the Lion Monument. It is another famous landmark in the city and also a meaningful memorial and impressive work of art.
If you have traveled to different parts of the world, you may have already seen a copy of the Lion Monument. But even if that is the case, I still think that the Lion Monument in Lucerne is unique for several reasons.
The first reason is that the Lion Monument has a powerful and meaningful message, which only makes profound sense if you are in Switzerland or Lucerne.
Because the Lion Monument in Lucerne commemorates the Swiss soldiers who died while serving as mercenaries in the French Revolution. They died with bravery protecting the last King of France.
When you visit the Lion Monument, you can see an inscription that reads “Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti,” which translates to “To the Loyalty and Courage of the Swiss.” You can ask yourself how you can be a more loyal and courageous person.
The second reason why it is unique is that it is a gigantic and imposing artwork carved out of a rocky cliff. I think there is no other thing in Switzerland similar to the Lion Monument.
But most importantly, the Lion Monument is an impressive artwork to behold. From its size (10 meters in length and 6 meters in height) to the details, it is something you’ll take note of! You’ll indeed feel the mournful emotion emanating from the face of the lion sculpture.
The last reason why the Lion Monument in Lucerne is unique is simply its tranquil location. The lion sculpture is above a calming pond and surrounded by trees. If you are the introspective type of traveler like me, I think it’ll be a nice place to hang around while we think about our place in the universe. (That’s deep, though!)
Do you want to know what you can expect to see/experience during a visit to this landmark? Check out my post dedicated to Lucerne’s Lion Monument.
3. Musegg Wall
If you are looking for a truly time-transporting place in Switzerland, the Musegg Wall is the landmark to see.
Musegg Wall is a 14th-century fortification that makes Lucerne a unique destination because it is the most preserved medieval wall in all of Switzerland. It was part of the 2-layer city defenses that protected Lucerne from invaders from the north.
Today, it spans 900 meters from River Reuss to the eastern portion of the old city, and you can see it gloriously forming the skyline of Lucerne with its 9 towers having different styles and appearances.
You’ll marvel at some of its towers as they’re remarkable medieval military architecture, most especially Luegisland tower. The roof of this tower, aside from being pointy tall, has a fascinating irregular form. Its base is square/rectangular, twisting into an octagonal shape.
Zytturm is another impressive tower of the Musegg Wall. It is a beautiful mural-decorated clock tower that has an exhibition about different clock mechanisms inside.
If you want, you can climb some of these towers and walk along the ramparts of Musegg Wall to see some scenic views. The scenery from Musegg Wall includes overlooking sights of the old city, Lake Lucerne, and the surrounding mountains.
Check out my post about Musegg Wall to see the view from its towers/ramparts, discover why you should visit it, and learn how you can visit it.
4. Mount Pilatus (Golden/Silver Round Trip)
Visiting Lucerne, you come to the city closest to one of Switzerland’s most beautiful mountains. This mountain is called Mount Pilatus, and it’s a fantastic day trip destination from Lucerne.
The scenery from Mount Pilatus is absolutely splendid – you’ll marvel at the varying landscape of Switzerland from its summit.
A 360-degree panorama of the Swiss Alps plus the Swiss Central Plateau awaits you there. And, of course, there’s the overlooking view of Lucerne and Lake Lucerne!
But you may wonder, how does the experience of visiting Mount Pilatus differ from visiting other mountains in Switzerland?
In addition to the scenery, which is unique to all mountains, the experience of visiting Mount Pilatus differs because of the routes going to and from the summit. In the case of the Mount Pilatus-Lucerne round trip, the routes are called the Golden Round Trip and Silver Round Trip.
Unlike other mountain destinations in Switzerland, these “round trips” involve different transportation types (cable car, cogwheel train, boat) that were designed not only to bring people to the summit of Mount Pilatus but also to awe and give a memorable experience. For me, the most notable parts of the Golden Round Trip are the summit and the Pilatus railway.
Did you know? Pilatus railway is the world’s steepest cogwheel train. It has a whopping maximum gradient of 48%. With the sound of the screeching metal and breathtaking views, I’m sure this will also be one of your favorite parts of the round trip.
I have so much to tell and show you about Mount Pilatus. However, I can’t write everything down here. If you’re interested in visiting Lucerne and Mount Pilatus, I recommend reading my post about the reasons why you should visit Mount Pilatus from Lucerne.
In that post, I’ll also discuss some tips and ways on how you can visit Mount Pilatus and more!
5. Old Town Lucerne
The old town of Lucerne is unique by itself, at least when compared to other city centers in Switzerland. How? It’s because of the big and small charming details that Lucerne has.
A few of the beautiful things you can find in the old town of Lucerne are the mural-adorned houses in the town squares. I think they are called Lüftlmalerei. As far as I know, Lucerne’s old town has the most houses decorated with this artwork in all of Switzerland.
By the way, what is a Lüftlmalerei? It is a folk art originated in southern Germany that depicts scenes from folk tales and legends, religious themes, and historical events. The murals may also feature images of animals, plants, and other natural elements.
People believe these murals are thought to bring good luck and protection (if a saint is depicted) to the houses they adorn. They’re a spectacular cultural discovery you can have in Lucerne.
If you are interested in the unmissable and beautiful things and places in Lucerne check these articles: Lucerne Is A Beautiful City: 10 Beautiful Things To See and 10 Must-See Landmarks In Lucerne (Free Things To Do).
Sources: Unique Things To Do In Lucerne
So, that’s all! That’s my list of unique things to do in Lucerne. You can learn more about Lucerne and some of its points of interest mentioned in my list from these links:
- The Official Lucerne & Lake Lucerne Region Guide
- Lucerne (Wikipedia)
- Meggenhorn Castle (official website)
- Swiss Transport Museum
Aside from the tourist attractions and landmarks in Lucerne mentioned previously, you might also want to check other points of interest in the city, like the Jesuit Church and the Church of Saint Leodegar. These are the two most beautiful churches in Lucerne, and you would not like to miss them if you’re also an architecture enthusiast.
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