Planning a short break and wondering how many days in Lucerne you’ll need to see the best of this historic city? Are 2 days in Lucerne enough to take in the beautiful scenery, medieval architecture, and captivating culture, or should you plan for a longer stay?
To answer this question you need to decide just how fast-paced you want your short break to be. If you don’t mind a busy schedule and very limited downtime, then you could certainly see the best of Lucerne’s attractions in a couple of days.
PSSST. Your travel medical insurance can now cover COVID-19!
If you grab SafetyWing Nomad Insurance, it’ll be covered just like other illnesses. I’ve been using it since 2019 and I can assure you it’s the perfect solution for nomads like you and me.
But if you like to spend a little longer at each of the sights and generally have a more relaxed and laid-back visit to the city, then I’d recommend planning for 3 days in Lucerne instead.
Here in this guide, I’ve included lots of information to help make this decision easier. I’ve listed all the things you need to consider when planning a short city break, plus a list of the best things to see and do in Lucerne.
This should help you put together an enjoyable itinerary for your visit at a pace you are comfortable with.
How To Decide How Long To Stay In Lucerne
When planning any short break, there are several different things to consider that might influence the length of your stay.
To help you figure out exactly how long you’ll need in Lucerne, make a list of the things you want to do in Lucerne, and consider the time of arrival and departure. Then, look at the distance between places to keep it realistic.
At the end of this exercise, you’ll know how many days in Lucerne you’ll need.
Time Of Arrival, Hotel Check-In Time, And Time Of Departure
When deciding how many days for Lucerne you’ll need, look at the times you arrive in and depart from the city.
Will you be able to do any sightseeing on those days? If not, then you might want to add on an extra night to compensate.
To save time on arrival, you could book a private transfer from Zurich to Lucerne.
Next, think about the times at which you check into and out of your hotel. If you plan to arrive in the city well before check-in time, you’ll need to arrange for the storage of your bags.
The same will apply if you’ll still be in Lucerne for several hours after checking out. In most cases, your hotel or accommodation provider will keep them for you, although some might charge a fee.
Be sure to check ahead, though, as not all hotels offer this service. If yours doesn’t have the facility for luggage storage, then you have other options.
The SBB travel center offers storage lockers at many of the city’s railway stations. If your luggage is too large or valuable for locker storage, you can use the SBB travel center manned desk instead.
Access to your bags will then be limited to the opening hours of the luggage storage counter. There are also lots of private companies through which you can arrange luggage storage.
You can book and pay online to reserve your spot, which might be a good idea if you are visiting at a very busy time of year.
Activities In Lucerne
There are lots of interesting things to see and do in Lucerne. So it’s important to plan ahead and make a list of the attractions you want to see the most.
You will then need to work out roughly how long you’ll need to spend at each, which will help you determine just how many days in Lucerne you will need overall.
Try to avoid overscheduling your days though. Your itinerary should allow extra time for traveling between destinations and for unexpected delays.
You should also allow for a little flexibility in your schedule, just in case you really fall in love with a particular attraction and want to spend longer.
Note that many travelers prefer to book tours and activities in advance to save time, skip the queues and make the most of their holidays.
Pace Of Activities
When planning how many days for Lucerne you’ll need, be realistic about the pace of activities you are comfortable with. It might be tempting to pack lots of sightseeing into one day – but if you are a laid-back person you might find a very busy itinerary quite stressful!
3 days in Lucerne might be better than 2 if you want to see the sights at your leisure. This would also provide extra time for simple pleasures like a long, lazy meal, or people-watching at a pavement cafe.
When planning your Lucerne itinerary, it makes sense to visit attractions that are close together on the same day. This will help keep travel time to a minimum.
But on the days where you will need to travel further afield, it’s important to plan in advance what sort of transportation you will use. You could certainly rent a car, although we wouldn’t really recommend this for a short stay.
The traffic can sometimes be heavy and parking isn’t always easy. Besides this, the public transport network is so efficient and reliable that it really makes sense to take advantage of it!
There are lots of buses, for which you can buy tickets using cash or credit cards at the ticket machines located at almost every stop. You can also pay for your journey using a simple app called Fairtiq, which is available in English.
Taxis are plentiful too and can be hailed from the streets or found at official taxi stands. They are, however, pretty expensive!
A popular and cheaper alternative is to rent a bike, which is a lovely way to see the city in good weather. For longer journeys, there are very punctual rail services, along with a system of intercity buses.
Lucerne’s Main Attractions
Here are our recommendations for the best things to see and do in Lucerne, along with how long you’ll need for each activity.
Enjoy A Self-Guided Tour Of Mount Pilatus
Made up of several peaks, Mount Pilatus overlooks Lucerne and is one of Central Switzerland’s most legendary places.
During this scenic tour, you will ascend to the mountain’s mid-way station on the Panorama Gondola then continue your journey to the summit on the Dragon Ride – an exciting 5-minute aerial cable car ride.
After enjoying the spectacular views, you’ll head back down via the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, before finally boarding a ship back to Lucerne.
Suggested time: 4.5 hours
Take A Cruise On Lake Lucerne
Enjoy Lucerne from another perspective throughout this relaxing cruise to either Vitznau or Küssnacht and back. The views of the Alpine landscape from the water are simply stunning, dotted with historical monuments and well-known attractions.
This experience includes a delicious set 3-course meal, freshly made with locally sourced ingredients.
Suggested time: Just under 2 hours
Visit Rigi – The Queen Of The Mountains
This beautiful mountain is surrounded by lakes on 3 sides and is said to offer some of the most stunning views in the region. This tour – suitable for either half or a full day – makes a great way to appreciate them!
Starting with a boat tour on Lake Lucerne, it takes you on an adventure by rack railway and cable car. From Rigi Kulm (the highest peak) you’ll enjoy views of the Black Forest, the Swiss Plateau, the Vosges Mountains, and the Alps.
Suggested time: Around 9 hours for a full-day tour or 5 hours for a half-day tour.
Stroll Through The Old Town
Located on the right bank of the Reuss, The Old Town of Lucerne is a delightful place to visit, dotted with pretty squares and still preserving many houses of the old burghers. It has a fairy-tale appearance, with the timber-framed buildings brightly painted and lots of charming side streets to explore.
Look out for the Italian Renaissance-style Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) at the Kornmarkt, along with the Kapellplatz – Lucerne’s oldest church.
Also not to be missed is the city’s iconic Chapel Bridge. This covered wooden footbridge was originally a part of the city’s fortifications and is lined with pictorial panels.
Suggested time: Around 3 hours
See The Attractions Inside Switzerland’s Most Popular Museum
The Swiss Museum of Transport is packed with fun and interactive activities for the whole family.
Telling the history of travel throughout the ages, it gives you the opportunity to ride battery-powered boats across the boating pool, try your hand at using excavators and bulldozers, and watch numerous educational films.
You can even visit the Swiss Chocolate Adventure inside the museum, with a sweet treat from Lindt’s master chocolatiers at the end!
Suggested time: Around 8 hours
Try Fine Swiss Wine At A Traditional Winery
This tour combines a 30-minute cruise along Lake Lucerne with a visit to the region’s most traditional winery. Professional photography is included, so you get some great memories of this trip to take back home.
You’ll have the opportunity to talk directly with the winemakers and try 4 to 5 different types of wine, along with some swiss cheese and fresh bread. Groups are kept small so the atmosphere is intimate and you’ll never feel rushed.
Suggested time: Around 4 hours
Final Thoughts On Lucerne Getaways
So just how many days do you need in Lucerne to see the best of its sights and soak up the city’s atmosphere? I hope that this guide has helped you make that decision and create the perfect itinerary for you and your fellow travelers.
Visiting Switzerland soon? Read one of the following guides: