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Bern or Lucerne? (August trip)

Hi everyone,

We will be in Switzerland for a week in August, Torn between staying in Bern or Lucerne. Our goal is to stay somewhere central at one hotel and take day train trips to see the country. I've read a lot and the opinions on here are 50/50 for each city.

We fly out of Zurich around noon when we depart Switzerland, is there a benefit staying in Bern vs. Lucerne? Will take the train, depending on how much time we will need to get to the airport, check luggage, etc.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Posted by
5791 posts

We stayed in Luzern and day tripped to Bern. Bern is quite nice, but a day did it. Luzern is amazing. One of my favorite towns in Europe.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you so much, appreciate your feedback. Have a great day and thanks again!

Posted by
32228 posts

I've been to both and would most definitely recommend Lucerne.

Posted by
16489 posts

Whichever you choose, make sure your hotel has AC. It can be beastly hot in August in the low elevation areas of Switzerland.

Posted by
45 posts

Just back from visiting those 2 cities and for a different point of view….and noting (as always) it depends on what you like. We stayed in Lucerne and wished we’d stayed in Bern. Lucerne is beautiful, but we found it more touristy. Easy to see why with the lake and mountains! We liked Bern for just wandering the streets, having a beer, etc. You can’t go wrong either way, may also depend on where you want to go on your day trips.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you so much, both sound great. Looks like Bern is more reasonable for hotels. Lucerne seems expensive hotel wise. Again, thank you for the advice.

Posted by
16489 posts

It is not a popular opinion here, so I usually keep quiet, but we actually much prefer Bern to Luzern, for the lower hotel prices, better restaurants, and lower crowd/touristy factor. The Altstadt area is a pleasant place to stroll and stop for a beverage or dinner, with tables spilling out into the street from the restaurants lining the sides.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks Lola, yes been looking and hotels seem more reasonable in Bern. Does it have easy access to trains? We want to day trip to various parts of Switzerland and want to make our base just at one hotel/location.

Thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate it. Have a great day.

Posted by
6940 posts

Bern has excellent train connections. Better than Luzern, actually. And the city is super charming, I go there for work from time to time and it is always a pleasure!

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you Balso, appreciate your feedback re; Bern. I’m leaning towards that more and more. Again, thanks!!

Posted by
1 posts

Since you want to take day trips to various parts of Switzerland perhaps you might want to stay even more centrally located, like near Interlaken, for example. I have seen many people post that staying close to Interlaken (Maybe in Grindelwald, for example) gave them easy access to trains to speed them off to various areas. Interlaken is a major transportation hub.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks Kelly, I will look into it. Again thank you for your feedback!

Posted by
58 posts

I know this is a little late, but I LOVE Bern.
Stayed for a week in an apartment.
Beautiful exploring the old alleyways and ancient neighborhoods in the evening, when daytrippers are gone.
Great restaurants for Mittagsessen, the cathedral, Rosegarden view, Altes Tramdepot brewery.

Posted by
7926 posts

I am off in two weeks for my 5th trip to Switzerland. I've stayed in Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Wengen, and Bern.
I am staying again in Bern for the quiet evenings (outside of the mountains but with good transport to and from) with things to do in the evening. Luzern just feels too plastic touristy for my taste, though I will be passing through it on my way up Pilatus and Rigi.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks for the last 2 messages, to the Chicago traveler: when you get back; please let me know if you have any other suggestions. We are now leaning more towards Bern as hotels in Lucerne were almost $400/night (we are using points) but everything was so limited. Got a good deal through Bern, most likely staying there.

Again, thanks to all for the last replies! Have a good week!!!!

Posted by
4919 posts

We love Lucerne and it's just so beautiful, with so many scenic vistas, the lake and the mountains. Then there's the Chapel Bridge and the river views to appreciate. I found Lucerne to be even prettier in reality than in pictures.
Bern is a comfortable city but lacks the views of Lucerne, which most likely accounts for the differences in lodging prices. Obviously, budget is an important consideration when traveling, and you will have a wonderful trip exploring this beautiful country, with whatever decision you make.
Either city is an easy 1 hour train commute directly into the Zurich airport.
Perhaps find some u-tube videos to compare the two towns.
Safe travels!

Posted by
1469 posts

a best week in Switzerland for me would be to spend the whole week in Lauterbrunnen:). Sorry not much help. I liked Lucerne, but it is crowded and touristy. No way could I spend a week there.