Things to Do in Lucerne in Summer: Unmissable adventures in the Swiss Alps

06 Apr 2024
In the heart of Switzerland lies the postcard-perfect city of Lucerne - a summertime sanctuary where the sound of alpine waters harmonises with the laughter of travellers. This Swiss gem casts a dreamy spell over any visitor, with its azure Lake Lucerne kissing the shores of historic architecture, and the majestic Swiss Alps standing as silent sentinels to adventure.
There’s a whirlwind of activity to savour, and if you're ready to paint the town red (and maybe a few other colours Switzerland has up its sleeve), we've curated a list of must-dos that will ensure your summer escape to Lucerne is as grand as the vistas themselves.
Hiking around Lake Lucerne © Iso Tuor, Pixabay


Conquering Trails atop the Swiss Alps

Tiptoeing through flower-strewn alpine meadows, feeling the wind whisper secrets through the pines, and getting lost in panoramic views - hiking the Rigi, Pilatus, or Stanserhorn tops your to-do list.

Why it’s Unmissable: These legendary trails offer a mix of challenge and charm, perfect for both seasoned mountaineers and leisurely walkers. The cable cars and mountain railways that lace the region make these summits accessible to everyone, ensuring breathtaking scenery without the need for an Olympian effort.

Cycling the Circumference of Lake Lucerne

Feel the rush of cool air as you pedal the shores of Lake Lucerne, a 68-kilometre loop packed with scenic beauty. This route introduces you to not only the city's enchanting landscapes but also the region's culture, passing through charming villages where you can pause for a refreshment or a sweeping Instagram shot.

Why it’s Unmissable: This activity offers a blend of physical activity and relaxed exploration, making it a perfect adventure for families or groups. With numerous spots to pause for picnics and going for a swim, this is how Swiss summers should be savoured - slowly and with a side of chocolate, preferably.
Lake Lucerne is the centre of the action during the summer months © Makalu, Pixabay

Splash into Watersports on Lake Lucerne

Perhaps you prefer your thrills wet? Lucerne's lake, a wonder of crystal-clear waters stretching over 44 square miles, is the canvas for a variety of water sports. From paddleboarding to sailing to the adrenaline rush of wakeboarding, there's bound to be an aquatic activity that floats your boat.

Why it’s Unmissable: The lake maintains a comfortable temperature in summer, adding a delightful dimension to your alpine vacation. The views from the water, framed by the city's skyline and the mountains beyond, create an unforgettable vista.


The Swiss Museum of Transport: More than Just Exhibits

Step into a world of locomotion - a place where history and future collide. The Swiss Museum of Transport is not your average museum. Live simulators and interactive exhibits make this a hands-on adventure for the whole family.

Why it’s Unmissable: Children and adults alike find themselves captivated amidst a world of planes, trains, and automobiles. The museum’s experience isn’t just informative; it’s transporting - giving visitors a genuine sense of the past and an exciting glimpse into the innovation shaping our future travels.
Lucerne's famed lion monument © Hans, Pixabay

The Lion Monument: A Tale of Sympathy and Strength

Carved in memory of Swiss Guards killed during the French Revolution, the Lion Monument is not only a breathtaking piece of art but also a solemn symbol. The depiction of a dying lion imparts a sense of poignant pride that resonates with all visitors.

Why it’s Unmissable: This work of stone is a masterclass in emotion, a must-see detail in the itinerary of Lucerne. It's a place that sparks reflection and offers a quiet moment in the midst of your summer vacay.

Swiss Chocolate Adventure: Discovering the Sweet Side of Trails

An activity to indulge in on a rainy day (or any day, really), the Swiss Chocolate Adventure is a narrated tour through the history, production, and joy of Swiss chocolate.

Why it’s Unmissable: You’re not just eating chocolate; you’re consuming a story. This adventure provides a sensory experience that leaves the whole family with a taste for both Swiss confections and the joyful history of chocolate's place in Swiss culture.
© Werner Sidler, Pixabay


Vibrant Festivals and Alpine Celebrations

Summer in Lucerne isn't just about the outdoors - it's a season of vibrant festivity. Whether it’s the Lucerne Festival, the Meiringen Hasliberg Trail Days, or the internationally renowned Blue Balls Music Festival, there's a spirit of celebration floating in the alpine breeze.

Why it’s Unmissable: These festivals are a fantastic blend of local and international culture, offering a chance to mingle with other travellers and to experience Swiss joie de vivre in all its lively, music-filled nights.

Strolling the Charms of Lucerne’s Old Town

Intriguing by day, enchanting by night, Lucerne's Old Town is a treasure trove of history and architecture. The Chapel Bridge, Water Tower, and Weinmarket Square are just a few reasons to meander through the cobbled streets of this yesteryear paradise.

Why it’s Unmissable: It’s like stepping into a static time machine; every corner holds another piece of history. The Old Town truly embodies the phrase ‘every street tells a story’ - so stroll, explore, and absorb the ancient tales spun into the city’s fabric.
Lucerne's Town Hall at night © Bruno Müller, Pixabay

The Sounds of Lucerne: A Symphony in Nature’s Grand Concert Hall

No visit to Lucerne is complete without experiencing its rich musical heritage. From classical concerts at the Cultural and Convention Centre (KKL) to the daily alpine horn performances cruising the lake, the region’s music matches the grandiosity of its landscapes.

Why it’s Unmissable: Lucerne’s music scene isn’t a standalone attraction; it’s like a thread woven into the entire city, enhancing every experience. It adds an unforgettable layer to your Swiss escapade, making every moment feel like a scene out of a beautiful movie.


Indulging in Swiss Gastronomical Delights

If you think Swiss cuisine is all about cheese and chocolate (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), think again. While classics like fondue and raclette will comfort your soul, upscale restaurants offering creative takes on traditional fare await to tantalise your taste buds.

Why it’s Unmissable: The richness and variety of Swiss culinary delights are perfect for a post-adventure feast. From Michelin-starred restaurants to rustic village settings, the country's culinary scene is an adventure in itself.
Raclette cheese © Hubertl CC4.0

Best Eateries for Every Taste and Budget

No matter your craving or your wallet thickness, Lucerne has a spot to sate your appetite. Street vendors offer quick bites for those in a hurry, while restaurant terraces by the lake serve up meals with a side of sensational views.

Why it’s Unmissable: Lucerne’s foodie scene is as diverse as its visitor profile. The melding of international flavours and Swiss staples means there’s always something new and fascinating to try.

Must-Try Dishes that Define the Swiss Palate

Culinary exploration begins with the local specials. Don’t leave Lucerne without sampling Zuger Kirschtorte, a Swiss cake garnished with lashings of local Kirsch liqueur, or classic Rösti, the Swiss version of hash browns which are sure to be a hit with the whole family.

Why it’s Unmissable: These dishes reflect the essence of Swiss culture through their simplicity and purity of flavor. When in Lucerne, letting the local cuisine guide your senses is an adventure that keeps on giving.
One slice of Zuger Kirschtorte, bitte! © kochtopf, Flickr CC2.0


Choosing the Best Time for Your Swiss Adventure

The sweet spot for exploring Lucerne is from June to August when the city and its surrounding areas are drenched in summer sun. This is the time when all the activities and attractions are open and the weather is just right for most outdoor adventures. Planning your travel dates is a critical first step, ensuring you don't miss out on anything the city has to offer during these vibrant months.

Exploring Lucerne - Getting There and Around

Lucerne is well connected by rail, road, and air. For most international visitors, flying into Zurich and taking the scenic train ride to Lucerne is the most convenient option. Once in the city, the public transport system is extensive and efficient, or you can choose to rent a bike to explore at your own pace. The Swiss approach to travel is as meticulous as their timepieces; getting around is straightforward, and every mode of transportation offers a uniquely Swiss experience.

Where to Stay - Choosing the Perfect Accommodation

Whether it's a luxury lakeside hotel or a cosy mountain inn, Lucerne has accommodations for every taste. Consider staying in the city centre if you enjoy the hustle and bustle, or opt for a lakeside location if tranquillity is your thing. The right hotel can be a haven in the Swiss summer, offering the chance to recharge after a day's adventure and prepare for the next.

Blending In - Local Customs and Etiquettes

Switzerland is a country of close-knit communities, and Lucerne, though a tourist hub, is no different. Politeness, punctuality, and a respect for the environment are deeply ingrained cultural values that are appreciated by locals and integrated into the traveller's experience. Understanding and adopting local customs enhances the authenticity of your travel experience. It's akin to learning a new language; it allows you to communicate and connect on a deeper level.


It's been quite the whirlwind; plunging into the clear blues of Lake Lucerne, cycling along the majestic Alps, tasting the sweetness of Swiss chocolate, and absorbing the cultural tapestry that adorns this magnificent city. You've laughed, learnt, and created memories that will warm your heart long after the sun has set on this Swiss chapter of your travel log.

Lucerne, with its medley of indoor exhibits and outdoor escapades, its gastronomic delights and cultural doses, has a way of mingling the grand with the intimate, the historical with the modern. It's a place that commands appreciation as much as enjoyment, and in that unique charm, it finds its immortality in the mind of those lucky enough to visit.

For those looking to add a dash of allure to their summer travels, to be lost in a city as much as in wonder, Lucerne beckons with open arms. Come, discover the magic of this Swiss jewel, and know that your Lucerne summer adventure is but a booking away.


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