Lucerne is surrounded by lofty, snow-capped Alpine peaks and situated on the shores of Lake Lucerne. This historic city is also the gateway to central Switzerland and one of the country's most visited destinations.
Known for its well-preserved medieval Old Town (Altstadt) and quaint cobblestone streets, the city’s centerpiece is Chapel Bridge, which was built in the 14th century and is one of the oldest covered wooden bridges in Europe. The capital of the Canton of Lucerne is famed for its historic houses, which line its picturesque town squares and are decorated with frescoes. But Lucerne also embraces modernity, and is home to innovative structures as well, such as the Culture and Convention Centre, which is located on the shores of the lake and designed by world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel.
What to See
Chapel Bridge and Water Tower – The Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) is a covered wooden footbridge that spans the Reuss River and is the most iconic landmark in Lucerne and a symbol of the city. Built in the 14th century, the roof rafters of the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge are adorned with 17th-century paintings depicting events from the city’s history.
Old Town – Take a step back in time in Lucerne’s Altstadt (Old Town), where brightly painted timber-framed buildings line cobblestone streets. Here you will find St. Peter’s Chapel (Peterskapelle), the oldest church in Lucerne, which is located at the end of Chapel Bridge in Chapel Square (Kapellplatz); the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus), an Italian-Renaissance-style structure that is considered the most beautiful building in Lucerne; and the Old City Walls, which contain nine towers.
Lake Lucerne – Lucerne is located on the lake of the same name, and no trip to the city is complete without taking a boat ride on Lake Lucerne or ambling along its shores. Boat rides are offered year-round, but there are more tours available in summer.
When to Go
Because of its close proximity to the Alps, Lucerne experiences mild summers that are ideal. However, to avoid summer crowds, the best time to visit is during shoulder season, May to mid-June and September through October.