I had visited Lucerne before during a whirlwind tour through Europe and while I spent just a couple of days in the city on that visit, it was the place that first inspired me to put a longer Switzerland trip on my bucket list!
We arrived in Lucerne via the GoldenPass Panoramic line and were able to check in to our hotel and drop off our backpacks before heading out to explore the city. Our hotel, the Alstadt Hotel Le Stelle Luzern was located in the Hirschenplatz, a charming square in the center of Lucerne’s Old Town decorated with historic facade paintings and other unique details. We had a beautiful view over the Hirschenplatz and very much enjoyed our stay in this comfortable and updated apartment-style hotel.
Since we rode into Lucerne on the earliest GoldenPass Panoramic train out of Brienz that morning, we were able to take advantage of the beautiful weather and make a morning trip to Mt. Pilatus. For our journey out, we opted to ride the train from Lucerne to Alpnachstad where we would catch the world’s steepest cogwheel train for our ride to the top of Mt. Pilatus.
While there are hiking and climbing paths, restaurants, and even a hotel once you reach the top of Mt. Pilatus, the ride on the historic cogwheel train may be the best part of the day for some! As you get closer to the top of the mountain, those who are afraid of heights prepare yourselves: you’ll be riding along impossibly steep cliff edges (or so my husband tells me as I was closing my eyes for the majority of this ride).
We disembarked from the cogwheel train, checking the posted schedule to plan our return ride down the track, and walked out onto the outdoor terrace. There were dozens of tables and chairs set out for those who wanted to sit and enjoy the view, indoor and outdoor dining options, and the beautiful Hotel Pilatus-Kulm.
We spent our time at the top of Mt. Pilatus climbing even higher along the mountaintop pathways and listening to the Alpenhorn musicians.
We looked in on the beautiful Hotel Pilatus-Kulm and Restaurant before climbing back into the cogwheel train for our return trip down the mountain.
If you’re visiting during peak seasons, you can ride gondolas from Mt. Pilatus all the way down to Kriens (or vice versa) with a stop in between at Frakmuntegg for a variety of different outdoor adventure activities. This was our original plan as it offers different views and a new perspective for the ride down Mt. Pilatus and back to Lucerne but we were disappointed to find that the aerial cableway at the top of Mt. Pilatus was closed down for routine inspection during our visit. We learned that these closures and inspections are regularly done during the off-season. You can easily find the schedules ahead of time to adjust your travel plans accordingly.
Rather than take the train back to Lucerne from the base of Mt. Pilatus in Alpnachstad, we caught one of the boats that regularly travel across the Lake. Our Swiss Travel Passes covered our entire trip this day–the train ride out of Lucerne, the cogwheel rides up and down Mt. Pilatus, and the boat trip back to Lucerne!
After our boat trip across Lake Lucerne we slowly wandered around the town visiting some of the most famous tourist spots: the Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge), the Lion Monument, Spreuer Bridge and the Nadelwehr (Needle Dam), and the 17th century Jesuitenkirche and Church of St. Leodegar. Lucerne is small enough that we would pass by these sites multiple times throughout our stay!
We opted to skip fondue for once and had dinner at La Fenice, an Italian restaurant in the Hirschenplatz. It was the perfect way to end our first day in Lucerne!
We started our second day in Lucerne with a rooftop breakfast at the Manora Restaurant. The restaurant is situated on the top floor of the Manor Shops and serves food and drinks buffet style for great prices. Plus, you get access to some incredible views of Lucerne!
Mt. Pilatus was hidden in the clouds on this particular morning–we were glad we took advantage of the clear weather to visit the day before!
Make sure to set aside at least one morning during your stay to get up early and explore the city before day-trip tourists arrive! You won’t regret seeing the city like this: calm and quiet!
Swiss Travel Passes in hand, we walked from our hotel to the Bahnhofquai (boat dock) where we caught a boat to the small village of Weggis. Again, thanks to our Passes, we didn’t have to worry about buying tickets or waiting in any lines–we were able to just hop on the first boat available!
The boat ride to Weggis was beautiful and we sat outside on the deck even though it was cold and a little drizzly. There are hiking opportunities and other, more luxurious, options to be reached from Weggis. The aerial cable car can take your from Weggis up to Rigi Kaltbad where you can find the Mineral Baths and Spa Rigi Kaltbad or journey on to the top of Mt. Rigi via cogwheel train. While Weggis was very quiet on this October weekday, we were glad we got the chance to wander through this small village!
The rain had picked up by the time we arrived back in Lucerne so we stopped in at the Rosengart Collection–a must-see for Picasso fans. The staff were helpful and knowledgeable, doing everything they could to ensure visitors had an enjoyable experience.
With the rain transitioning into more of a drizzle, we made our way to the Nine Towers of the Musegg Wall. Built in the 1300s as a part of the city wall, it was an incredible experience to be able to climb to the top of one of the three towers that are open to the public.
You’ll find beautiful views of the city up here as you walk from tower to tower.
At the end of this rainy day, we were lucky enough to get a table for dinner at Wirtshaus Galliker. It felt like we were the only out-of-towners in this warm, family-run, and thoroughly Swiss restaurant! We loved our meals and would wholeheartedly recommend you venture away from the most touristy locations in order to reach this restaurant!
We took one more walk through Lucerne as the sun set on our time in this beautiful city!