Lucerne is a gorgeous historic city & rail transport hub in Switzerland. And the one thing that makes an already gorgeous city even more beautiful, is a draping of fresh snow. Only a short train ride from Zurich & Engelberg ski resort, a few nights in Luzern should be part of every ski holiday to the Swiss.
Pros & Cons for Lucerne
- Vibrant city, even in winter – perfect for long walks exploring its many nook & crannies.
- Fascinating cityscape & historic buildings, bridges & castles.
- Arts & Light Festivals in winter are beautiful after dark & the Lucerne Carnival in February is a sight to behold.
- Wonderful accommodation in the ‘old city’ with excellent availability in winter (except during the Lucerne Carnival).
- Fabulous range of cafes, bars, restaurants & shops.
- Easy public transport access by train from & to anywhere in Switzerland.
- Several excellent Swiss Alps ski resorts are within one hour by train.
- There are no ski slopes in the city & most resorts are just far enough away that Lucerne isn’t quite useful as a base to explore them!
- Gets a little busy during the day on weekends.
Pro or Con (depending on your perspective!)
- You may fall in love with this city.
- Nightlife is quieter than expected, but you are in Switzerland so what exactly did you expect?
- Some parts of the city feel somewhat touristy - just keep walking – you are a tourist after all!
Skiing & Snowboarding near Lucerne
It is rare across the globe, even in Europe, to be in such an amazing city & have world-class ski resorts within a short train ride. Comparative cities might include the likes of Innsbruck, Salzburg, Bolzano & Montreux - fine company indeed. By train the likes of Engelberg is 45min, the quirky Klewenalp is also 45min (train-bus combination), Meiringen is 1hr 10 min, Interlaken (& hence the Jungfrau Ski Region) is 1¾hr.
One can use the train to do day trips to Engelberg ski resort , but most others are just a little too far away or convoluted (although Klewenalp is doable if the snow is good), so pack up & move deeper into the hills to go to them. If heading to Interlaken & the Jungfrau, take the scenic train route via Brünig Pass, Meiringen (ski the excellent Meiringen Hasliberg) & Lake Brienz. From Interlaken the brilliant combination of Grindelwald Wengen, Grinelwald First & Mürren Schilthorn are of course best accessed …… by train.
Things to Do in Lucerne
Lovely Lucerne provides the perfect fun, yet relaxing break during any Swiss ski holiday. The city’s classic sites include the two covered bridges Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) & Spreuerbrücke (Spreuer Bridge) plus the Wounded Lion monument but provide only a small part of the city’s overall charm. The old town and surrounding hilltop castle towers, walls & fortifications are great for strolling. They are packed with history, views, cafes & bars along the way. In winter there are Arts & Light Festivals adding to the cities many entertainment options. In February, the Lucerne Carnival is a sight to behold with a zanily costumed procession of drum bands being the standout. For fine beer & fare, try the charismatic Bistro Krienbrüggli.
Where is Luzern - Lucerne Switzerland?
The city of Lucerne is on the shores of the Reuss River & Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne) just 52km (47min) by road south of Zurich. But the road distance is of no use to most visitors because the local trains do the distance quicker & with less hassle all the way from nearest airport, which funnily enough, is at Zurich (ZRH). From the airport, trains travel direct to Lucerne in around 1hr 10min or just 45min from the Zurich city centre. Once in the city, we recommend walking to make the most of all the sites. A comprehensive network of local buses & trams can also be utilised.
Lucerne’s idyllic lake & riverside location lends itself to lingering long after dark, so staying overnight is a must. The old city straddles the river either side of the Chapel Bridge & is the place to stay. We can recommend to sensational (but terribly named) Tourist City & River Hotel. Great combination of awesome riverside location, funky rooms, good availability & affordability. There are plenty of other hotels to choose from to suit all budgets & tastes.
More Reasons to Visit Luzern
If flying in and out of Zurich, there no better way to start or end your Swiss ski holiday than with a few nights in Lucerne. The combination of location, culture & history is one of the best in Switzerland. Being able to take a train directly to or from the airport in a little over an hour is a bonus. Stay in the ‘old town’ centre, wander the streets, see the sites plus eat & drink to the marvels of this fine Swiss city.