With romantic lakes, magnificent mountains, adventurous activities, and historic old town centers, dreamy Switzerland reigns at the top of many winter travel bucket lists. Our family loved our 2 days in Lucerne this past winter, especially our day trip to the Alpine peak, Mount Titlis.
If you have one day in Lucerne, you can explore the city’s charming center, family-friendly museums, and awe-inspiring lakeside scenery. If you have two days in Lucerne, prepare to experience heaven on earth, Mount Titlis. This centrally-located Swiss city is also an ideal base for day trips to other Swiss gems, such as Zurich, Mount Rigi, Jungfraujoch, Interlaken, and Mount Pilatus.
This step-by-step itinerary will walk you through how to make the most of a visit to Lucerne in winter and inspire you to start researching flights to Switzerland!
2 Days in Lucerne Itinerary
DISCLAIMER: The author was provided with one meal and some complimentary attraction passes so that she could experience them and review it for your information. All opinions are her own. Images are courtesy of Lisa Grabelle. This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.
Day 1: Fall in Love with Lucerne
Morning: Explore the Lake and Old Town
Kickstart your stay with a cruise on the lake with Lake Lucerne Navigation Company. Relax on the boat’s outdoor deck and soak in all the surrounding natural beauty as you glide on a one-hour Catamaran Cruise around Lake Lucerne. If your schedule permits, consider a cruise that features breakfast, lunch, or dinner with some of the best vistas in the world.
After disembarking, you will want to spend some time getting lost in Lucerne’s charming old city (or you could take a walking tour.) Depending on your interests, you can shop the boutiques, stroll the cobblestone streets, grab a coffee by the riverfront, or snack on scrumptious Swiss chocolate and baked goods.
Don’t skip a walk under Lucerne’s most visited sight, the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) and check out its water tower. This almost 700-year-old bridge, spanning diagonally across the River Reuss, caught fire in 1993. Luckily, the bridge has been rebuilt and many of the destroyed paintings adorning it have been restored. The paintings depict the good fortune of the Old Confederacy and its many accomplishments.
Just a few steps away, you can cross under the lesser-known Spreuer Bridge, which boasts a series of original overhead paintings dating from the early 17th century, telling the tales of the Dance of Death.
For those who appreciate beautiful churches, visit a few of Lucerne’s most famous ones, Peterskapelle (St. Peter’s Chapel), St. Matthäuskirche (St. Matthew Church), and Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church).
As you wind through the twisty narrow lanes, look for intricately carved water fountains and beautifully painted building facades. Head up a hill to the larger-than-life iconic sandstone monument, the Lion of Lucerne— a world-famous memorial that honors the self-sacrifice of the Swiss Guards during the French Revolution.
Nearby you’ll find the Glacier Garden (Gletschergarten Luzern). This family-friendly attraction includes an outdoor topological display of potholes formed by Ice Age glaciers, a quirky museum of curiosities, a Moorish-inspired Hall of Mirrors (we all enjoyed wandering through this maze multiple times), the Sandstone Pavilion featuring a short film, an Arctic Exhibition, and other things to do.
Climb up to the “Alpenblick” platform, which provides a panoramic backdrop for a photo looking over the cityscape and majestic mountains.
Afternoon: Transportation, Chocolate and Adventure!
By this time, you are going to be hungry for lunch. For convenience, both the Glacier Garden (small cafe) and the Swiss Transport Museum (small cafe, cafeteria, or full-service brasserie) offer onsite options. You can also choose from many restaurants in nearby Old Town.
With full bellies, you should then head to the Verkehrshaus (Swiss Transport Museum) and you will quickly understand why this is the most visited museum in the country! In addition to the transportation exhibits, this mammoth complex features a planetarium, theater, art museum, Swiss Chocolate Adventure, and more.
If your gang is into planes, trains, automobiles, boats, space travel, and all things transport, you will have a hard time deciding what to do first. With interactive experiences, kid-friendly exhibits, and educational opportunities everywhere, you can easily spend a few hours or a whole day.
Ready to rest your feet? The thirty-minute multi-sensory Swiss Chocolate Adventure ride will teach you all about the chocolate-making process and ends with a sweet treat.
TIP: Book in advance to avoid long lines and consider saving money with a combination ticket.
In the middle of the Verkehrshaus courtyard, you’ll find Red Bull the Edge. You will get a real adrenaline rush from this unique virtual reality attraction while equipped with VR glasses, hand and foot tracking sensors, and a safety harness. The state-of-the-art VR technology, accompanied by a soundscape and wind simulations, will make you feel like an expert mountaineer as you ascend a 14.7-foot real life rock climbing wall! The VR experience provides breathtaking views and the realistic feeling of scaling the 14,691-foot-high Matterhorn peak.
TIP: Book in advance online since this attraction can sell out. Read all the warnings and restrictions to be sure your crew is up for the challenge and dressed appropriately.
Across from the museum, you’ll find the lake. We enjoyed walking along the Promenade, watching the lake sparkle with the snow-covered Alps shimmering in the distance.
Evening: Stroll Under the Stars
After a long day, we were happy to eat paella and tapas at our hotel’s top-rated Spanish-inspired restaurant, Bolero. If you crave traditional Swiss food accompanied by a cultural show, we heard Stadltellier is a good option (it was closed when we visited). Lucerne abounds with restaurants of every cuisine, with some enjoying romantic lakeside views.
Lucerne at night is much quieter than other larger, more bustling European cities. Walking along the Chapel Bridge and meandering through the softly lit Old Town after sunset is magical.
Looking for an evening activity? For those of legal age, tempt lady luck at the opulent lakeside Grand Casino Lucerne or check out the trendy bar scene, with some located on scenic rooftops.
Day 2: Adventure in the Alps
When you imagine vacationing in Switzerland, images of azure blue skies and snowy white mountains usually fill your mind. You don’t have to be a skier or snowboarder to enjoy a day in the Bernese Alps! We took this trip in late December, and our visit was postcard perfect.
To make your plan for the day, start with the TITLIS website, which explains how to reach the area by car or train and allows you to purchase tickets and organize your day based on the open attractions (dependent on weather and maintenance). The website also provides tips on where to eat and other helpful information.
TIP: Your day’s itinerary will vary greatly depending on the time of year. The website’s live webcam will help you dress appropriately for the weather at the summit. If you plan to ski or snowboard, advance tickets are often cheaper and help avoid lines. Ski and snowboard equipment are also available to rent. Mount Titlis is easily reachable from both Lucerne and Zurich.
Morning: Journey to the Peak
We opted to take the easy forty-five-minute train ride from Lucerne’s central train station directly to Engelberg. Once we arrived at the Engelberg train station, we followed the crowds and hopped on a free bus to the TITLIS Valley Station (you can also walk there in about ten minutes). Once at the TITLIS valley station, purchase your tickets for the day.
Next, enter the TITLIS Xpress eight-seater gondola, which whisks you to Stand Station located in Trübsee (the “middle station”). Depending on the season, Trübsee offers plenty of options for dining, snow tubing, a gorgeous mountain lake, hiking trails, mountain biking, bungee jumping, zip-lining, and much more.
We skipped exploring Trübsee, instead opting to continue seated in our gondola until arriving at the next station, where we deboarded and then immediately got in line to board the TITLIS Rotair, the world’s first revolving cable car.
After a thirty-minute stunning journey, we reached the mountain’s summit, approximately 10,000 feet above sea level.
Reserve in advance to eat lunch at the recently renovated Panorama Restaurant Titlis. This cozy full-service sit-down restaurant boasts an expansive menu featuring regional and international specialties, excellent service, and a cozy table with a million-dollar view of the mountains and glaciers. Panorama Restaurant is committed to local suppliers and lists where they source ingredients on their menu.
Our family’s highlights included Alpine Cheese-Filled Smoked Pork with Rosti, Tagliatelle alla Monique with a tasty blend of zucchini, basil peanuts, and creamy tomato and bell pepper sauce, Pizza Verdura (vegetables), and the sweetest way to finish our meal, scoops of local Mövenpick ice cream. The summit also offers an ice cream bar, a snack bar, and a self-service restaurant.
Afternoon: Choose your own Adventure
We started our exploration of the summit by walking through the station to the glacier cave (free), an almost 500-foot-long icy tunnel through a 5,000-year-old glacier. With colorful lights and places to sit and pose for photos, this chilly cave brought smiles to all the kids we saw walking through it.
TIP: The cave is a somewhat slippery surface, but offers a railing. Plenty of visitors wore sneakers, but boots with tread may give you a better grip for traversing the cave and outdoor snow.
Next, we set out to cross Europe’s highest suspension bridge—the Cliff Walk (free). Slightly swaying 1,640 feet off the ground, traversing this steel catwalk is a truly exhilarating experience. And the views on a clear day of the Alps and the Black Forest are otherworldly!
A few short steps away from the bridge, you’ll find the Ice Flyer glacier chair lift station (fee). Whether you plan to ski or snowboard during your visit, brave your fears and ride the Ice Flyer. We all thought that whizzing over the pristine snow fields and watching skiers glide down the glacier beneath our dangling feet was a “must-do” activity.
Depending on the season, a variety of activities are available. Families can rent free “sledges” (the name of sleds in Switzerland) and have fun letting loose in the snow. Other options to build into your winter visit include tobogganing, snowshoeing, and glacier hiking.
After working up an appetite, consider stopping in the quaint towns of Trübsee or Engelberg on the way back to Lucerne. You can dine at one of the many mountain restaurants featuring menu items such as traditional cheese fondue, Swiss specialties, pizza, and BBQ.
Where to Stay in Lucerne
Just a few minutes’ walk from the train station and the Old Town, we enjoyed our stay at the centrally-located Cascada Boutique Hotel. This modern clean hotel creatively names each room after a different Swiss waterfall. Choose from among nine room categories varying in size and amenities. The friendly staff was available at all hours to help us plan our stay and provide detailed directions for our journey. The front desk had a particularly good rapport with young kids, gifting them with tiny stuffed animals. Start your day with a visit to the hotel’s vast breakfast buffet in Bolero.
TIP: Ask your hotel if they provide a free bus pass during your stay and a visitor’s card that offers discounts to some museums and businesses. Depending on your family’s plans to visit attractions, consider whether the Lucerne Museum Card would be cost-effective.
Our two days exploring Lucerne and nearby Mount Titlis set the stunning backdrop for our family, creating some of the best memories of our European vacation. Lucerne and Mount Titlis are waiting for your family—the perfect mixture of jaw-dropping natural beauty, family-friendly adventure, and delicious cuisine.
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About the Author
This guest post was written by Lisa Grabelle. Lisa, a travel writer for Hilton Hotels, has been traveling all her life…30 countries and loving it! Originally from the sunny skies of Miami, Lisa, a former lawyer, lives near Philadelphia with her husband and has two daughters who are in college. Travel is her passion. As soon as one vacation ends, Lisa busily plans her next adventure for her non-stop family of adventurers. Lisa’s motto is “don’t just visit the destination…live it!” You can follow Lisa on Twitter or Instagram.
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