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3 days in Lucerne

We will be visiting Lucerne for three days in the first week of May. There are so many places to see in and around Lucerne, so finding very difficult to come up with an itinerary. Could you share your valuable opinion/comments/suggestions on the following itinerary?

Day 1: Lucerne
Landing in Zurich around 8:30am, take the next available train to Luzerne, check-in at the hotel. I expect that it will take us at least until 12pm to start our activity in Lucerne. Walk around Lucerne, famous sights, dinner near the lake. We are not planning to visit any museums here.

Day 2: Day trip to Mt. Titlis
1. Catch a early train from Lucerne to Engelberg. Take the aerial ride from Engelberg to the Stand by Titlis express.
2. Go to the summit by Rotair, spend some time at the summit (glacier cave, cliff walk etc..)
3. Come down to Trubsee/gerschnialp by hiking or biking down.
4. Back to Engelberg by cable car.
5. Return from Engelberg to Lucerne

Day 3:
This is the most difficult to select.
Option 1: Day trip to Mt. Rigi
1. Boat ride from Lucerne to Vitzau
2. Vitzau to Rigi Kulm by cog wheel train.
3. Lunch at the peak, short hikes
4. Rigi Kulm to Rigi Kaltbad to Weggis
5. Weggis to Lucerne by boat

Option 2: Day trip to Mount Pilatus
Thinking of taking the Golden or Silver round trip.
Lucerne -> Alpnachstad-> Pilatus -> Krien -> Lucerne.
(The cog wheel train from Alpnachstad to Pilatus is not available until early May. So we may have to get to Pilatus by Krien only if the train services didn't resume by the time we get there).

Option 3: Day trip to Lauterbrunnen
1. Train from Lucerne to Interlaken OST
2. Interlaken to Laterbrunnen,
3. Cable car from Laterbrunnen -> Wengen -> Mannlichen
4. Return the same route
This is probably an overkill to do in the same day as we would have to spend at least 5 hours sitting in the train. But the train ride from Lucerne to Interlaken seem to be one of the best scenic routes.

Day 4:
Return from Lucerne to Zurich around 10am.

This is our first trip to Switzerland, so want to get a taste of the Alps mountains and the villages. We chose Lucerne as our base because we will fly in and out of Zurich. We definitely would like to spend some time in Lucerne city on our first day. We chose to visit Titlis because it gives the access to the mountain views and a taste of the Alps (fwiw, we don't have plans to ski anytime in this trip). We would like to hear suggestions in deciding the third day in our itinerary. Mt.Rigi or Pilatus? Will a day trip from Lucerne to Lauterbrunnen worth it?

Finally, a question on the transportation. There are quite a bit of train and boat travel involved in my itinerary. Will a Swiss pass save some money for this itinerary? Will I have to book all the train and boat tickets well in advance or can I just get the tickets at the station without any fuss?

Appreciate all your helpful inputs.

Posted by
1441 posts

Day 3 will be a long day but it could totally be worth it with good weather. Man, do I love hiking in the alps on a sunny day. However, if hiking is your bag, then some (most?) trails may still be closed above Wengen, Murren, and other towns on that altitude. This website has live pictures of that area. As you can see, it's mid-April and there is still snow everywhere. Before your Day 3 ask your Luzern hotel to call the tourist office in Wengen to inquire about the status of trails and any pertinent closures.

If the weather on Day 3 does not cooperate or there's still too much snow hanging around, you could spend Day 3 visiting Bern (2 hrs by train from Luzern). It has a cute medieval center, a Paul Klee modern art museum, and an Einstein museum dedicated to the famous patent clerk.

If you are flying home from Zurich, consider spending that last night in Luzern instead. Luzern has a direct rail link to the Zurich airport. Trains leave Luzern every 30 minutes or so and take about 70 minutes to get to the airport.