Walking Tour In Old Town Lucerne (Half Day Itinerary)

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As a wanderer, the historic centers or old towns of European cities are among the places I enjoy the most. Almost always, it is where I can find the things I look for most of the time: impressive landmarks, beautiful attractions, or unique experiences. After exploring Lucerne, I simply can’t emphasize enough how true this is.

Wandering in Old Town Lucerne is a delight, and I love its overall charming atmosphere. Imagine a place that blends cobblestone bridges, calming lake views, colorful murals, nostalgic buildings, cute fountains, and historical monuments. It seems there’s a picture-perfect scene at every turn in Lucerne Old Town. If you are going to explore Lucerne’s Old Town on foot, you should really be excited! Whether you’re staying in Lucerne for 1 day, 2 days, or 3 days and longer, this activity is what I suggest you have on top priority.

And if you’re only visiting Lucerne for a few hours, say half a day, the walking tour (be it DIY or guided tour) is what you must do. A walking tour in Old Town Lucerne is worth it, especially since most of the places you’re about to visit are free. Let me share with you how you can have a walking tour of Lucerne in only half a day. 🙂

Summary of the Walking Tour

For me, there are seven specific places in Lucerne’s old town that wanderers should see. They are:

  1. The Chapel Bridge — the most iconic landmark in Lucerne and Switzerland
  2. The Jesuit Church — an awe-inspiring architectural marvel
  3. Spreuer Bridge — a landmark with special artwork on its gable
  4. Musegg Wall — one of the best preserved intact medieval fortifications in all of Switzerland 
  5. Lion Monument — a meaningful artwork and landmark, described by Mark Twain as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”
  6. Hofkirche or the Church of Saint Leodegar — an eye-catching landmark, best to go for a selfie or a photo souvenir in Lucerne.
  7. Square(s) in the old town— the place(s) where you can find the beautiful little things in Lucerne.
Destination Time to Spend (Minutes) Travel Time On Foot (Minutes Approximate) To The Next Attraction
1. Chapel Bridge 30 5
2. Jesuit Church 15 10
3. Spreuer Bridge 10 5
4. Musegg Wall 60 to 120 10
5. Lion Monument 15 to 20 5
6. Hofkirche 15 10
7. Old Town 30 n/a
Table 1. How long to spend at each destination in Lucerne Old City — 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.

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.

Honestly, there’s no specific length of time required to spend in Lucerne’s Old Town. However, I recommend allocating at least half a day to see its most iconic landmarks and unmissable tourist attractions. If you familiarize yourself well enough with the location and the places of interest in Lucerne, along with the roads, you can be more efficient during your walking tour, allowing extra time to explore other attractions in Lucerne.

If you need help in exploring Old Town Lucerne and want a more insightful experience, consider a private guided tour. You’ll be accompanied by a local who can also share tips on interesting current events, the best restaurants, and more. I don’t usually hire a private guide because I rely on my GPS and various travel apps to explore. However, for those who aren’t as tech-savvy, there’s a lot of value to be gained from having a guide.

Below is the gallery showing the exact location of the must-see places in Old Town Lucerne during a walking tour. Walking route included.

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Full Details of the Walking Tour

During the walking tour of Old Town Lucerne, it’s not only the Chapel Bridge, Jesuit Church, Spreuer Bridge, Musegg Wall, Lion Monument, and Hofkirche which you’ll find along the way. You’ll also be able to see (if you like, visit) Rathaus, Historisches Museum Lucerne & Natur-Museum Luzern, Glacier Garder, and Bourbaki Panorama. These four are also worth checking out if you think you could finish the walking tour faster than what you have anticipated.

Now, let me share additional insights about the places I mentioned in the walking tour summary. You’ll discover what each location is all about and why it’s worth your time. We’ll also discuss the must-see experiences and attractions at each destination. Additionally, I’ve included links to the official websites of other attractions in Old Town Lucerne in the resources section of this post.

More Information: Rathaus, Historisches Museum Lucerne & Natur-Museum Luzern, Glacier Garder, and Bourbaki Panorama
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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. Here’s everything that you must know about the Chapel Bridge.

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Chapel Bridge during the golden hour in Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge during the golden hour
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What is Chapel Bridge? Why is it a must on a walking tour of Old Town Lucerne?

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!

Destination 2: Jesuit Church

The Jesuit Church is one of the landmarks in Lucerne that makes the view of the old town along the Reuss River so lovely and picture-perfect. Dominating the skyline with its twin onion-top towers, you should be able to see the Jesuit Church from anywhere along the Reuss River. You gotta see what’s inside the Jesuit Church — it is breathtaking!

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View of the Jesuit Church from Reuss River in Lucerne, Switzerland
View of the Jesuit Church from Reuss River (Rathausquai)
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What is so interesting about the Jesuit Church? (A summary)

The Jesuit Church, like the Chapel Bridge, is a notable landmark in Lucerne because it is the first large baroque church 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 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 are its rococo embellishments in the interiors. That is the reason why I think you should visit the Jesuit Church. 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.

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.

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Spreuer Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland
Spreuer Bridge
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Where is Spreuer Bridge and why include it on a walking tour of Old Town Lucerne?

Let’s say you are currently in Jesuitenplatz, the square in front of the Jesuit Church. From there, you can already spot the Spreuer Bridge. It is the second bridge next to Reussbrücke (the closest bridge) to the west.

I think you should visit the Spreuerbrücke because of the triangular paintings adorning its gables. These paintings are said to be part of one of the largest cycles depicting the Danse Macabre. They’re scary yet interesting artworks, as 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 Spreuerbrücke 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

As its name suggests, Musegg Wall is a medieval fortification of the old town of Lucerne, located in Musegg in the northern portion of the city. Back in the day, it was part of a two-layer fortificationthat safeguarded the old city since the 14th century. Today, Musegg Wall is a historical site worth visiting for many things you can discover.

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Luegisland Tower (left) and view of Museggmauer Weg (right) of Musegg Wall in Lucerne, Switzerland
Luegisland Tower (left) and view of Museggmauer Weg (right) of Musegg Wall
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Interesting things + summary of things to do in Musegg Wall

You should come and see Musegg Wall up close because it is an excellent example of medieval military architecture in Switzerland. Each of its nine 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 on the ramparts—a magical, time-transporting experience!

If you’re also a fan of movies or 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!

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). 

Note: The towers of Musegg Wall are open only during non-winter months. However, you can still explore 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. It serves as a memorial for the Swiss soldiers who perished while defending the last French Monarch during the French Revolution. It’s a very meaningful place.

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The pond of the Lion Monument In Lucerne, Switzerland
The pond of the Lion Monument
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Why is the Lion Monument a beautiful stop on your Walking Tour of Old Town Lucerne?

The Lion Monument 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 visit 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.

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. You must see the facade of the Church of Saint Leodegar up close, as its interiors are home to beautiful artworks.

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The facade of Hofkirche (Church of Saint Leodegar) in Lucerne, Switzerland
The facade of Hofkirche (Church of Saint Leodegar)
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Summary of what you can experience in Hofkirche

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.

Destination 7: Old City (Lunch or Dinner)

After hours exploring 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 the central area of Lucerne’s old town. It’s where you can find the best restaurants with alfresco seating, offering beautiful views of Lake Lucerne or the 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 that you can find the most beautiful houses and fountains in Lucerne.

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The most beautiful house in old town located in Sternenplatz, Lucerne, Switzerland
The most beautiful house in old town located in Sternenplatz
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More info about the beautiful houses in Lucerne + map with their exact locations

These beautiful artworks that 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. The same applies to the fountains in the city. Lüftlmalerei usually depicts the favorite saints and the occupation of the house owners. Sometimes, they simply serve as decorative ornamentation.

Regardless of what these Lüftlmalerei depict, they are among 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, such as Hirschenplatz, Sternenplatz, Weinmarkt, and Kornmarkt. Here is the map to guide you to find them:

Map of Old Town Lucerne where the murals and fountains are located
Map of Old Town Lucerne where the murals and fountains are located

What To Do Before or After the 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:

Boat Tour — Relax 😌🛥️

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.

Cruising in Lake Lucerne, Lucerne, Switzerland
Cruising in Lake Lucerne

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 — Discover, have fun! Best for family travelers. 👨‍👩‍👦‍👦🤩

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.

Swiss Museum of Transport, Lucerne, Switzerland
Swiss Museum of Transport

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.

Hammetschwand Elevator — Unique view of Lucerne 🗻😍

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, Lucerne, Switzerland
Hammetschwand Elevator

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

Meggenhorn Castle — Lucerne’s fairytale experience 🏰🪄

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.

Meggenhorn Castle in Meggen in the Canton of Lucerne, Switzerland
Meggenhorn Castle in Meggen in the Canton of Lucerne

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 — Adventure + stunning views 🤪🌄

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.

Beautiful views of Lucerne and Lake Lucerne from Mount Pilatus, Switzerland
Beautiful views of Lucerne and Lake Lucerne from Mount Pilatus

Learn more about Mount Pilatus and the 5 reasons why it’s a nice day trip from Lucerne.

Resources

For additional planning, the information provided in the links below will be very helpful! You’ll also find the exact locations of the attractions mentioned in this walking tour. Have a fantastic trip!

  1. Historisches Museum Luzern
  2. Natur-Museum Luzern
  3. Glacier Garden
  4. Bourbaki Panorama
  5. Meggenhorn Castle
  6. Route to Meggenhorn Castle
  7. Chapel Bridge (Google Maps)
  8. Jesuit Church (Google Maps)
  9. Spreuer Bridge (Google Maps)
  10. Musegg Wall (Google Maps)
  11. Lion Monument (Google Maps)
  12. Hofkirche (Google Maps)

Alright! Are you visiting Lucerne for a few days and explore its Old Town on foot? If you haven’t secured a place to stay for your trip yet, kindly check out my partner’s hotel and booking platform. It offers the best hotel deals, complete with free cancellations and other perks, which I believe you’ll find quite handy. Please note that the link provided is an affiliate link. If you choose to book through it, I may receive a commission without any extra cost to you. Consider it your kind donation to support me in creating more helpful guides like this. Your support is greatly appreciated ❤️

Blog Design Related Posts

If you enjoy wandering in beautiful cities, there’s another gem in Switzerland that I’d like you to know about. It’s Bern, the capital of this amazing country. Bern boasts an Old Town that you’ll love to explore, especially for its picturesque views, imposing landmarks, and charming fountains. Isn’t that a great idea? Perhaps you’d like to visit both Bern and Lucerne during a 4-day extended weekend getaway in Switzerland. Alternatively, my 6-day Switzerland itinerary could be helpful if you decide to explore the country on a week-long trip.

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