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12 Lucerne Switzerland Highlights, Walking Tour with Maps, and Podcast
Lucerne is a traditional Swiss city in central Switzerland surrounded by the Alps, only an hour from Zurich by train. The city has sights to explore, shopping, restaurants, a river, a lake, and easy connections via train to all of Switzerland. Lucerne is easy to explore on your own. Here is a suggested walking tour to follow. The podcast aligns with the tour.
Lucerne Walking Tour
1-A – Lion Monument (Lowendenkmal)
Begin at the Lion Monument (“Löwendenkmal” in German). Mark Twain called the depiction of the dying lion “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.” The sculpture is carved into a large sandstone cliff face. It was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and carved in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution at the Tuileries Palace in Paris. Some say the sculptor complained that he did not receive full pay for his work, so he assured that the outline of the carving looks like a pig. What do you think? The Lion Monument is open 24 hours. It is free to view. The exact address is Denkmalstrasse 4, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland. From Lucerne’s main train and bus station, take Bus 1 to the fourth stop, Wesemlinrain.
2-B – Glacier Garden
Walk up the stairway to the left of the Lion Monument if you would like to visit the Glacier Garden. This natural area shows the sandstone of Lucerne as it was when the glaciers receded. There are potholes, deep crevasses, and fossils from plants left in the sandstone. There is also a short film, a museum of the origins of Lucerne, and a fun mirror-maze that kids will enjoy. If you have a Swiss Pass, it is included, but otherwise it may not be worth the 15 CHF admission fee, depending on your interest. The Glacier Garden is open 9 am – 6 pm daily, except from November 1 – March 31 when it opens at 10 am and closes at 5 pm daily.
3-C – Old Swiss House Restaurant
Exit the Glacier Garden or the Lion Monument and walk a couple of blocks down the hill (south toward Lake Lucerne) on Denkmalstrasse until it ends at the beautiful square, Löwenplatz. Note the Old Swiss House restaurant on your left as you enter the square. The Old Swiss House, built in 1859, serves traditional Swiss dishes and wines from an extensive wine cellar. Its half-timbered façade makes it one of the most photographed attractions of the area. Most of the interior decorations date to the 17th century. The stained-glass windows date to 1575. The porcelain-tiled stove dates to 1636 and is initialled by Daniel Pfau. The wait staff dress in original Lucerne costumes.
4-D – Hofkirche St. Leodegar
Walk to the left with your back to the Old Swiss House and at the corner turn right on Weystrasse. Keep walking toward Lake Lucerne by veering to your left on Stadthofstrasse and continuing on St. Leodegarstrasse until you see Hofkirche St. Leodegar on your left. The Church of St. Leodegar is a Roman Catholic church built from 1633 to 1639 on the foundation of a Roman basilica that burned down in 1633.
5-E – Seebad Luzern Swimming Club
Turn right in front of the church to stay on St. Leodegarstrasse and then take the first left on Stiftstrasse. Walk one block toward Lake Lucerne and cross the main road, Haldenstrasse, to get to the pedestrian path along the lake. Turn left and walk along the path with the lake on your right. You will see the swimming club, Seebad Luzern, on your right in the water and the Hotel Palace Luzern just past it on your left overlooking the lake. Walk a little farther along the pedestrian path here, circling around the pathway in the little lakeside park, and then walk back toward the center of the city with the lake on your left.
6-F – Schiff-Restaurant Wilhelm Tell
As you walk back toward the center of the city with the lake on your left, you will pass the Grand Casino Luzern and the Grand Hotel National Luzern on your right overlooking the lake. The walkway along the lake will merge back onto the main road at Landungsbrücke, where you will see the ship that is also a restaurant, Schiff-Restaurant Wilhelm Tell, moored lakeside. This is a great place to watch people enjoying the lake.
7-G – Hotel Schweizerhof and City Train Luzern
Turn right on Landungsbrücke and cross the main road. Turn left on the main road, Schweizerhofquai, and just on your right you will see the Hotel Schweizerhof overlooking the lake. In 2016, the hotel was named the best historic hotel in Europe by the Historic Hotels Worldwide organization. The hotel has hosted many notable guests including Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Roger Moore, and Richard Wagner. From April through October, the Lucerne tourist train, City Train Luzern, begins and ends its 40-minute round-trip journey here, so you may see it parked in front of the hotel. The cost is 10 CHF per person.
8-H – Weinmarkt
Stay on the right-hand side of the main road, Seebrucke, until you get to Kapellplatz and turn right to walk through the old town of Lucerne. The main walkway, which begins as Kapellplatz, will change names to Kapellgasse and again to Kornmarkt and Kornmarktgasse before becoming Weinmarkt at the old wine market square. You may want to stop here to admire the Haus zur Sonne with its façade mural painted in 1928 of the marriage at Canaan by Eduard Renggli and the Weinmarkt fountain in the center of the square.
9-I – Spreuer Bridge
Follow Weinmarktgasse to your right as you exit the square and take a left when it ends at Kramgasse. Walk down Kramgasse and cross the Reusse River on the wooden Spreuer Bridge with its Dance of Death paintings with skeletons painted on every painting. Can you spot them?
10-J – Jesuitenkirche
When you step off Spreuer Bridge, turn left and walk with the Reuss River on your left until you reach the Jesuit Church, “Jesuitenkirche” in German. This was the first large Swiss church built in Baroque style. It was built between 1666 and 1677. If it is open, stop in to see the beautiful interior.
11-K – Kapellbrücke
Continue walking in the same direction until you reach the Chapel Bridge, “Kapellbrücke” in German, that extends diagonally across the river. This famous bridge was part of Lucerne’s fortifications. The paintings under the roof show scenes from Lucerne’s and Switzerland’s history. In a fire on August 18th, 1993, large parts of the bridge and 85 of the 110 paintings were destroyed. Some of the originals were in storage and have been added to the bridge, some are restorations, and others have been left in their burnt state to show the impact of the fire. Can you find the damaged paintings?
12-L – Altes Rathaus and Rathaus Brauerei
Walk across the river on Kapellbrücke and turn left. Walk with the river on your left toward the Altes Rathaus and Rathaus Brauerei. The flag of Switzerland and the blue and white Lucerne flag fly from the old town hall with its brewery overlooking the Reuss River. The building dates from 1606. The brewery is also a restaurant. It is open 9 am until 11 pm or later every day. This lively gathering place with a view might be a great place to stop as you end your walk.
Interactive versions of the tour and maps can also be found at the website www.walkli.com by searching on the city of Lucerne with your desktop or laptop computer. Soon Walkli will have mobile versions, as well. The sites are numbered below and the letters correspond to the Walkli map screen shots.
Just a note about the Swiss Pass – The Swiss Travel Pass is available only to non-residents of Switzerland or Liechtenstein. It includes unlimited access on the network of Swiss Travel System, including trains, boats, and buses throughout Switzerland as well as over 480 museums and exhibitions. It is quite the bargain, and also allows you not to have to worry about correct change or making reservations. The Swiss Travel Pass is sold for 3, 4, 8 and 15 days. Some special scenic trains and/or dinner cruise boats are offered at a 50% discount instead of no charge, but the regular trains and boats offer great views for free! For prices, an up-to-date list of what is included in the Swiss Pass, and to purchase your Swiss Pass, visit here:
This concludes podcast 3 of 4 of our trip to Switzerland. Let me know if I can answer any questions you have about our trip. Until next time, I hope all your travel days are just perfect!
Note: If you are reading this from the iTunes description, note that the website show notes contain screenshots of maps and pictures of highlights so be sure to check it out at