A Day trip from Basel to Lucerne: Best Things to do in Lucerne on a Day Trip

Home » A Day trip from Basel to Lucerne: Best Things to do in Lucerne on a Day Trip

Looking for the best day trips from Basel, Switzerland? Then look no further than this guide on a day trip to Lucerne which you can easily make from Basel via train! Bonus, I have highlighted the best things to do on a Lucerne day trip as well, just for your convenience.


Lucerne, a tiny Alpine town in Switzerland is a popular tourist draw and one that can be easily visited on a day trip from Basel, thanks to the amazing train service in Switzerland. In this post, you can read about what to do in Lucerne in a few hours on a day trip, to best utilize your time.

Day trip to Lucerne, day trip from Basel to Lucerne

things to do on a Lucerne day trip





Switzerland is extremely well connected by trains and if you are leaving from Basel for your Lucerne day trip, then the Basel SBB train station is the best option to catch direct trains to Lucerne on their way to Locarno. Download the SBB app on your smartphone and buy tickets electronically, at the kiosk or at the information center (if you do not have a debit card). I highly recommend utilizing the Swiss train network to plan a Switzerland road trip if you don’t drive.


The one advantage of buying tickets at the kiosk is that your round trip will be valid for one whole week and not simply for that day of purchase. Remember to wear sturdy shoes since the roads in Lucerne, like all other European towns, are cobbled and also try to get a map of the city to gauge local attractions. 

One day in Lucerne, Basel to Lucerne






Visit Lake Lucerne and Chapel Bridge

If you take the train for a day trip to Lucerne from Basel, the first thing that will greet you once you get out of the station is the glimmering waters of Lake Lucerne smack in the center of the city and the Chapel bridge, a wooden bridge spanning across it.


Although swarming with tourists busy taking selfies on the bridge, one look up will reveal a series of painted triangular wooden blocks dating back to the 17th century by local painter Hans Heinrich Wägmann, which depict events from Lucerne’s history. This is the oldest surviving “truss bridge” of Europe comprising of both strutted and triangulated trusses of moderate span, supported on stacked trestles.


The famous water tower of Lucerne is right next to the bridge and is a complete misnomer because it was once used as a torture chamber. Although closed to the public right now, it is home to a gift shop and an local artillery association.


Lucerne boasts of three wooden pedestrian bridges, all of which pretty much connect the new portion of the city to the old one. You can stand on any of these connectors and take photos of the Swiss Alps in the distance, the beautiful buildings lining up the waterfront and the minarets of castles peeking from far away.

things to do in Lucerne on a day trip: visit Lake Lucerne and Chapel bridge

What to see on a day trip to Lucerne

View of Lucerne old town from Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne





Explore the old town of Lucerne

Once you cross the Chapel bridge, you’ll be heading towards old town with its typical European city offerings of old building facades with painted murals, cobbled streets and bustling squares. Strolling through old town is one of the best things to do on a Lucerne day trip since there are quite a few attractions tucked in here.


Owing to the military roots of the city and Catholicism, (read more on Wikipedia here about the origins of Lucerne), many of the murals that you’ll encounter here depict holy figurines or war soldiers. The charming restaurant Mill’Feuille is a great place to grab a bite or refuel for exploring Lucerne on foot. Remember to make a stop by the town hall to admire its architecture and if you are in luck, you might even stumble upon a beautiful Swiss wedding as did I.

Old town of Lucerne
Lucerne day trip: visit old town
Day trip to Lucerne: what to see in old town of Lucerne
Explore Lucerne old town in Switzerland on a day trip from Basel
Murals in Lucerne old town
things to do in Lucerne on a day trip
Lucerne old town in Switzerland





Stop by the “Dying Lion” monument

The one thing that should absolutely be on your Lucerne day trip itinerary is a visit to the Dying Lion monument. The Dying Lion, which the famous American author, Mark Twain described as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world” is also known as the Lion monument /Lion of Lucerne.


This rock relief in Lucerne was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and sculpted in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It honors the valor the Swiss Guards who were killed in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.


Post the monument viewing you can walk along the fortified city walls, or climb up one of the many winding bylines to get a glimpse of the new part of the city from afar. If you are into museums, For museum lovers, there are several options (see here), one of them being the famous Kunst Museum of Art adjacent to the train station. 

dying lion monument in Lucerne

What to do in Lucerne on a day trip from Basel





Visiting museums in Lucerne

A day trip in Lucerne might not provide you much time to explore museums, but if you are one of those diehard museum lovers, then Lucerne has several options for you to spend some quality time for one day in Lucerne. The most accessible of these is the famous Kunst Museum of Art adjacent to the train station. 

Lucerne museums to see on a day trip

Old town of Lucerne





Shopping in Lucerne for souvenirs

Lucerne has some very beautiful local stores to pick up souvenirs on your day trip. I highly recommend avoiding the branded shops and stopping by “Changemaker” a small boutique in the city to pick up a Swiss/local souvenir (I sure did) or stop by any of the bakeries or Swiss chocolatiers (Laderach or Max) to pick up some yummy Swiss goodies for friends and family.

Lucerne old town, shopping in Lucerne





Other things to do on a day trip to Lucerne

If you head out really early from Basel to Lucerne, then you will have nearly one day in Lucerne to spend. And, that means you can be a bit more adventurous and embark on a trip to Mount Pilates which is a mere 45 minutes away. There are several options to get you there but the best one is the steepest train ride in the world via the cogwheel train-read this blog post by Everywhere Forward about her adventure.




Cities to explore in Switzerland besides traveling from Basel to Lucerne

With more time on hand, you can make day trips to other cities in Switzerland such as beautiful Geneva, with this handy guide on things to do in Geneva to get you inspired. Better yet, read these posts on things to do in Basel and 20 ideas for things to do Basel penned by my fellow blogger friends for ideas on exploring Basel.


For more on Switzerland,  explore these must visit places in Switzerland by train! For a stress free travel planning through Switzerland, read this excellent Switzerland travel planning guide! Besides  25 best things to do in Switzerland, here are some other beautiful countries to explore in Europe via the ultimate Europe Bucket list. 

How to see Lucerne on a day trip from Basel

Lucerne day trip


I hope you liked this post on things to do on a Lucerne day trip and have gotten inspired to do the same. Thanks so much for stopping by!




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Looking for things to do on a day trip to Lucerne? Then read this post on what to do in this beautiful Alpine Swiss town and how to get there from Basel via train. #Lucerne #daytrip #Europe #Trainride #Switzerland #Swisstown #summervacation

Looking for things to do on a day trip to Lucerne? Then read this post on what to do in this beautiful Alpine Swiss town and how to get there from Basel via train. #Lucerne #daytrip #Europe #Trainride #Switzerland #Swisstown #summervacation

Looking for things to do on a day trip to Lucerne? Then read this post on what to do in this beautiful Alpine Swiss town and how to get there from Basel via train. #Lucerne #daytrip #Europe #Trainride #Switzerland #Swisstown #summervacation



21 thoughts on “A Day trip from Basel to Lucerne: Best Things to do in Lucerne on a Day Trip”

  1. I’m in love with all the small details you photographed. This is how I like to ‘see’ a city, and not just capture the touristy images.

  2. Switzerland is one of the places on my wishlist to visit. Lucerne looks very beautiful and historical.I love the photos.

  3. Your pictures are really beautiful and I love how you capture the heart of the town. Very artistic! Your writing style also gives the article a nice, calming atmosphere. Makes me want to go to Switzerland!

  4. Lucerne looks so pretty! I’d love to visit Switzerland one day. I appreciate your advice for train tickets and to download the app, as I am not familiar with taking trains in Europe.

  5. I truly enjoyed looking at these gorgeous pictures. I was there as a child and definitely need to go back and fully appreciate all these wonderful sights!

  6. Wow! I love the way you write. It is an amazing idea to explore nearby places on a business trip.. Keep the traveller within yourself alive! 😀

  7. I haven’t been to Lucerne since I was a teenager. Your photos really brought me back to that visit. The Dying lion statue is really fascinating as well, I never knew the history.

  8. Your article brought me back to many years ago when I visited Lucerne as a teenager. I had no idea the history of the Dying Lion and really enjoyed all your information.

  9. I keep on hearing great things about Switzerland. It never was a place I wanted to visit. But little by little I keep reading about how many people love it. Your images are wonderful! Thank you for this post! i’m pinning it to my Europe board! Thanks

  10. I am hoping to use the Swiss rail pass next summer to explore Switzerland. The castle and lake are both on my list of things to see, but I am now intrigued by the train ride up the mountain. Sounds like so much fun!! Switzerland is definitely one of the most beautiful countries in Europe.

  11. I’m a big fan of adding some leisure time to a business trip. Basel looked like a fun city, from what I saw from the train (or maybe it was Bern?) but Lucerne is the one place everyone told me to go and I didn’t have time. I spent over 2 weeks in the Alps, in a different village each night, and yet still missed so much of Switzerland…a return trip is definitely in order!

  12. Such a beautiful town! I love the train system of Europe and wish we had something so useful here on our side of the Atlantic. I always take advantage of a quick train trip to see an additional city when I have the chance.

  13. When traveling, I like to have an idea of what there is to see or do in a city without too much planning for reasons like yours. Having some free time and generally knowing what is nearby.

    Those flamingo umbrella are so cute!

  14. I love taking advantage of work travels to explore something more than just the conference room! Loved the details in your photos, and looking at them almost took me back there. Went there in-between two work trips myself a few years ago 😉

  15. Love all your photos, the buildings look like they come from the back of candy boxes or postcards. Thanks for sharing all this info about beautiful Lucerne!


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