Lucerne

Lucerne (Luzern in German, Lozärn in Swiss-German) is a beautiful small city in the heartland of Switzerland, across the lake from Altdorf, where legend has it William Tell shot an apple off of his son's head. In addition to being a fine place to visit in and of itself Lucerne is a great base from which to explore famous Swiss sites such as Mount Rigi, Pilatus, Titlis and the Rütli Meadow.

Kapellbrücke (covered bridge) and Watertower

Understand

The first city to join the Swiss Confederation, today Lucerne is a lovely small city with a thriving tourism industry, owing mainly to its status as a gateway to Central Switzerland. The city became a center of Swiss history and legend.

Tourism in Lucerne has a distinguished history dating from the mid 19th century, with Mark Twain among them. In "A Tramp Abroad" he recalls the nascent souvenir business, and other budding examples of the tourism trade.

"The commerce of Lucerne consists mainly in gimcrackery of the souvenir sort; the shops are packed with Alpine crystals, photographs of scenery, and wooden and ivory carvings. I will not conceal the fact that miniature figures of the Lion of Lucerne are to be had in them. Millions of them." Mark Twain

Climate

Lucerne has cold, dry winters and warm/hot summers.

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 2 5 10 14 19 24 25 24 20 15 7 3
Nightly lows (°C) -3 -2 2 4 7 12 14 13 11 6 2 -2
Precipitation (mm) 59 52 66 88 116 158 156 149 109 78 65 59

Get in

Lucerne at night

By train

Thanks to its central location Lucerne can be reached easily from nearly every other city in Switzerland using the Swiss Federal Railway. There are hourly trains from Olten and Zürich Airport and half-hourly trains from Zürich, and a direct train every hour from Berne. There is also an hourly service from Bellinzona in Ticino, and Pfäffikon and St. Gallen in the North East. The "Zentralbahn" branch of the Swiss Federal Railway provides also hourly trains between Interlaken and Lucerne during daytime.

By bus

There are no intercity buses in Switzerland as the train system provides ample connections to many destinations in Switzerland. To make trips to the countryside in the mountains where there are no trains, refer to postauto.ch Buses are available from some nearby places, such as Rotkreuz

By boat

Lucerne sits at the north end of the Vierwaldstättersee, one of the busiest waterways in Switzerland, for travel information from Schwyz, Flüelen, Weggis, and outbound points see the schedule at the Schifffahrtsgesellschaft Vierwaldstättersee.

Get around

Able-bodied travellers will find Lucerne a complete joy to get around in on foot. The Old-Town is tiny, and most other interesting sites are within 20 minutes or so walk, there is also a city bus system, as well as assistance for disabled visitors on request from Mobility International Switzerland. The Lido beach and the Swiss Transport Museum are a bit further out and can be reached by bus or by one of several boats per hour from just in front of the central railway station.

Lucerne also makes a very good base for discovering the rest of Central Switzerland, using the Swiss Federal Railway, the Schifffahrt Vierwaldstättersee, or any one of several private rail or boat companies.

Bicycles are available for rent at the central railway station, at ticket window 21 on the lower level. For 31 CHF per day, you can rent a 24-speed, sturdily-built bike with a baggage clamp. Electric bikes are also available. Bike pick-up and drop-off are around the left side of the train station, at a kiosk across the street from the Swiss Post building. Bike lanes are present on most secondary streets, and Lucerne drivers are generally aware of and polite towards bicyclists.

By bus

Lucerne has an efficient bus network: Verkehrsbetriebe Luzern (German only). It covers the city and the suburbs.

See

The Lion Monument of Lucerne is always busy with tourists - no matter the weather or time of year.

Do

A marching band parading to exactly where they feel like parading
A café in one of the many small old town squares in Lucerne

Events

Theatre

Buy

The shopping in Luzern has improved somewhat since Mark Twain's visit. You'll find several good department stores with acceptable prices for most items, as well as pricy specialty shops.

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Bars

Clubs

Lucerne has lots of clubs for lots of different tastes. the place to be at the moment is Baselstrasse where a new nightlife strip is emerging out of a kinda redlight district. There are also raves in industrial buildings that require you to join their "club" as they're not legally allowed to sell alcohol to the public.

Cafés

The three bakery chains Hug, Heini and Bachmann have several good cafés spread all over the city.

Sleep

For its size, there are quite a few places to stay in Lucerne, in all price ranges.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Camping

Stay safe

Lucernce is a heavily touristed destination, and where there are tourists there are pickpockets, con artists, and other sorts of folks up to no good. As with everyplace else keep your passport and other valuables where people can't get to them. However, Lucerne is a friendly and safe city. Women can move safely almost anywhere also at night. There are few areas that should be avoided, including the area around the Basel street, where you will find a colorful and exciting cultural mix is relatively harmless. According to the police it can be dangerous at night in the neighborhood "Tribschen" (Inseli-Ufschötti-Weinbergli-Tribschenstrasse). Most violent crimes and robberies happen in this neighborhood. But compared with other cities in Europe it's a safe area.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, January 15, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.