My Honest Guide to Luzern, Switzerland

By WanderingMonkey | Mar 24, 2021
Europe > Switzerland > Lucerne

Rigi to the left of me, Pilatus to the right, here I am - Luzern, Switzerland.

When I first arrived in Luzern I was just coming off the back of a 4 year stint in Latin America and for the first year I have to say I completely struggled to adapt to life here. I didn't get the system, I hated the rules and regulations, I never understood why everything was ridiculously over priced and expensive and even the native speakers were painful to listen to. However, with a little help and a new found perspective, life here seems to be working out pretty well and below I can tell you why this little city and its surrounding features have kept me engaged for the past two years, but could I honestly live here for the rest of my life?

Luzern attracts nearly 10 million foreign visitors per year and that is without the influx of the local tourists passing through this beautiful city on a daily basis, although Zurich, Basel and Geneva are more populated cities, it is still a busy port of call and has a very metropolitan feel about it.
Being nestled in the centre of Switzerland it seems like everything passes through here and with that being said you do have some of the best access to all of the surrounding scenery that this Alpine country has to offer. With the Swiss all running like clockwork you can't deny they don't have a wonderful transport system here to, it is highly efficient to say the least and from experience the most you will ever be late anywhere is 30 seconds; it's that good.

Not only does Luzern have a great access point to its surroundings, but it can also hold its own with its natural beauty and life style dependent on what you are looking for. It's actually an easy going city and although I am not fond of the winter here, in the summer its like a flower in full bloom, with bars and restaurants bustling along the river Reuss and Vierwaldstattersee (Lake Luzern) the city centre becomes the focal point for shopping for all those looking for a Swiss Army knife, chocolate and cheese.

When you first arrive in Luzern I have no doubt that on your list of things to do here or first port of call is the wonderful and breathtaking
Mount Pilatus and at it's highest peak Tomlishorn. Sitting at 2,128 meters (6,983 ft) above Sea level this is the most spectacular view you will get of Luzern in all it's glory and the beauty that surrounds it's 80,000 inhabitants who live here. Not only is Mount Pilatus an adventure to hike up or down with a bottle of Tanqueray gin (which I highly recommend), but you can also take an amazing ride on what is the steepest cogwheel railway in the world from Alpnachstad or jump on a cable car from Kriens.

Secondly the Hammetschwand Elevator built in 1905, yes over one hundred years old and it still holds the record for the highest external elevator in Europe since its construction. Bringing you to the top of Burgenberg and giving you a 360 degree view of Lake Luzern, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Luzern. Not only is the Hammetschwand Elevator an experience on its own, you also have the famous Bergenstock hotel and Resort, as stated on their official website "Its a World of its own" with its four hotels, nine bars and restaurants and a wellness centre you will not be disappointed to take a break here and absorb the wonderful views of Lake Luzern.

Another wonderful place of interest that should be on the list whilst in Luzern is Verkehrshaus der Schweiz (The Swiss Museum of Transport). I found this personally fascinating due to the fact I could be a child for an hour or two whilst enjoying the many features it has here - including the Lindt Boutique chocolate tour, film theatre, planetarium and spectacular car show. This is great for families looking to entertain the minions or if you just want to fill your individual thirst of aviation and navigation, the transport museum offers a little for everyone here so its defiantly worth a look. Check out the Cube.

When in Luzern


Luzern is separated in two parts, the old town which is well known for its medieval architecture, historic sites and commercial shops and the new town, which will give you a delightful modern metropolitan vibe with its bustling cafes, restaurants and bars that are scattered throughout the area.
Below are a few of my favourite places of interest that I have found to be both interesting and beautiful during my time here in Luzern.

Kapellbrücke

Probably the main tourist attraction in the city, the Kapellbrücke (chapel bridge) built in 1333 is the worlds oldest surviving truss bridge and is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe. With beautiful 17th century paintings in the interior and spanning along the river Reuss its a must see. Also check out Spreuerbrücke further down the river.

Glacier Gardens

Go back 20,000 years and you will see what Luzern might of looked like during the last ice age and if you don't want to just look at kettle basins then you have a wonderful museum and viewing tower to keep you occupied. Suggestion: check out the glass maze and the Lion Monument.

Hofkirche St. Leodegar

Originally a monastery in 735 and being burnt to the ground in 1633 this church has a lot of history seeping from its foundations, defiantly worth taking a look around. Suggestion: Check it out during the Lilu Light Festival Luzern

Bourbaki Panorama Luzern

I believe this to be one of the gems here in Luzern, not only a library, a cinema and a rotating restaurant or even a night club on Christmas Eve. The biggest highlight is the panoramic art work by Edouard Castres that stretches 112 meters long and 10 meters high. Check out there website for events and some history. https://www.bourbakipanorama.ch

Museggmauer and Mannliturn

Built in the 14th century to protect the people of Luzern surprisingly this wall and its nine towers are in great condition even with the amount of tourists it attracts during the summer who all want to walk along the wall and check out the clock tower. Well worth a visit.

Jesuitekirche

Modelled on the Church of the Gesú in Rome the Jesuit Church was the first large Baroque church to be built in Switzerland with construction starting in 1666 it is a delightful treat.

KKL Luzern

The Luzern Culture and Congress centre not only hosts congresses, meetings and conferences, it also houses the cities Museum of Art and world renowned and esteemed concert hall.

Favourite eats and drinks


With so many Restaurants, bars and coffee shops in Luzern you are spoiled for choice as everything is on your doorstep, if you want Mexican, Italian, Thai, Swiss or Argentine cuisine then its all here.

Below is a list of my personal favourite places that I have come to love and would highly recommend.

Montana

Art Deco Hotel Montana offers one of the best views in the city over looking the lake, inside you will find the Hemingway Smoking Lounge. It boasts the largest selection of rums in Switzerland and the beautiful Louis Bar that also boosts over 130 different malt whisky in stock and with live Jazz, Soul and Funk music from Tuesday to Saturday its one of the delights of Luzern. Check out the amazing terrace for a picturesque sunset over the city.

Sunset bar

Located right on the lake Sunset Bar at Hotel Seeburg has one of the best views at twilight offering an amazing place to just chill and watch the Sun fade away over the Luzern.

Karel Korner

A beautiful, warm and welcoming cocktail bar nestled in the new town is a little treasure if you are a cocktail lover, Karel Korner is a must visit before leaving Luzern.

Suite

Suite Rooftop offers sophistication, ambience, small plates and tapas, but its the cocktails and views that seem to keep the people here. Personally one of my favourite places to watch the Sun go down.

Das Weisse Schaf (The White Sheep)

Stylish, relaxing and a perfect place to take it easy while you enjoy the huge cocktail menu on offer. Highly recommend if you are looking for a relaxed atmosphere with friends on a couch in the middle of the busy night that surrounds you.
Check out the crazy twin Das Schwarze Schaf.

Chateau Gütsch

Splendid, fancy and quality is what you will find at Chateau Gütsch and you would not be mistaken if you felt like you are in a fairytale due to its striking features, with a stunning view over the city of Luzern this is one of the best hotels, bars and restaurants the city has to offer.

Mill'Feuille

A favourite of mine Mill'Feuille is warm, inviting and friendly, offering a beautiful view of the historic river dam Nadelwehr Luzern and the Spreuerbrücke while you enjoy a nice breakfast or delightful dinner.

Bierliebe & Friends

Situated on the Reuss tourist trap this cozy little establishment is fantastic, offering a great selection of Swiss craft beers, burgers and bites Bierliebe & Friends is a great find so don't miss it.

Shamrock Irish Pub

Living in Ireland for so long its always hard to find an Irish pub that offers the same as what I call back home.
Shamrock Irish Pub is a little hidden gem and is as authentic as it can be, warm and cozy, friendly and joyful, proper pints and pub grub; there is no doubt you will feel like you have just been transported back to the Emerald Isle.

Also a worthy visit:

Joe & The Juice, Pastarazzi, La Bonne Cave and not forgetting Casa Tolone.

Walks and scenery


Sonnenburg

One of my favourite places to watch the sunrise over Luzern. A wonderful trek through the forest via the Chateau Güstch you will be delighted to see the stunning views of the lake and the city before you.

Rotsee

A beautiful 2,400 meter lake situated in the north of the city surround by trees the lake has no current and is protected from strong winds that make it the perfect condition for rowing and a nice morning run.

Meggen Forest

Meggen Forest offers a lush and diverse forest, beautiful reeded ponds and is a perfect getaway from all the noise of the city centre and is a protected nature park.

Meggenhorn Castle

Take a scenic walk along Lake Luzern towards Meggen and you will find this gorgeous castle hidden away from all of the tourists, with beautiful grounds and trails you could sit here in peace all day.

Final thoughts


Luzern is a very picturesque city, with an abundance of natural wonder surrounding its magnificent lake, but personally if you are on a once in a lifetime trip and just passing through then stick with the main attractions for the tick on the old bucket list and then get going. There is no need to stay longer than you intend to and if you are on a budget and don't have the money to just throw around then I would stick to backpacking around the rest of Europe and extend your stay throughout the continent. Although its beauty is not to be missed in truth, Luzern, like the rest of Switzerland, is very expensive so you really do need to watch your pennies.

Now if you are thinking of living here or are having an extended stay then Luzern can be a dream for some people as it offers so much, it is a clean and tidy city, it has a highly efficient transport system, the city is vibrant, it has a wonderful history and if you need peace and quite you only need to walk five minutes out of the city centre and you have it.
Depending what you define as a quality of life and what you are looking for I would recommend finding well paid employment before settling here. I feel Luzern can make or break you and as we all know every city in the world has its pros and cons, overall Luzern is a wonderful place to stay and experience for a few years, but I can not see myself living here for the rest of my life and I will dig a little deeper into that on later post.

Peace, love and travel.

Wandering Monkey

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Written by WanderingMonkey
Hello everyone I am Paul and now having over 20 years experience living, working and travelling this charming, engaging and magnificent planet, it is now the time to share my knowledge, experiences and stories of my life as a Wandering Monkey. ​

There are 2 comments
Paul Allen

Paul Allen
Oct 26, 2021 at 22:54

Personally! I would dress with warm clothing. Maybe you will have some beautiful days, but definitely wrapped up well.


Alonso Castillo

Alonso Castillo
Oct 26, 2021 at 18:53

I'm planning to visit in late November. Is the weather pretty bad and limits our options or is it still ok if you bundle up and dress warmly?


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