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Lucerne hotel costs vs Zurich

Planning our trip for September. Going back to Wengen for four nights. Last time we went it was in March, so we're looking forward to doing some hiking. When we leave Wengen, we are going to meet friends in Italy, so we are planning on taking either the Bernina Express or local trains heading in that direction.

Plan is to go to Zurich for 4 nights to see the old town and do some day trips, then take train from there to Italy. Lucerne and Basel will be day trips.

Most folks on this forum recommend staying in Lucerne rather than Zurich. I understand that it is a beautiful city, but many people say to stay there because the hotels are cheaper. I'm not seeing this.

Are we making a mistake by staying in Zurich? Can someone give me recommendations on less expensive hotels in Lucerne around the 200-225 range that are comfy and clean? We have Motel One in Zurich booked for 210 a night, but it can be changed.

Sorry if this is rambling. Thanks for your help

Posted by
12868 posts

What are your precise dates? You may be hitting the time of some sort of special event in Lucerne. Under normal circumstances, I would expect the business city (Zurich) to be considerably more expensive on weeknights. However, I haven't been to Switzerland recently.

Have you tried a website like

Posted by
5104 posts

Ibis in Luzern is comfy and clean. Most people say stay in Luzern because there is more to see or do there compared to Zurich.

Posted by
6591 posts

Lucerne is definitely beautiful and probably more fun for a tourist...but Cheaper??? I've neither heard nor experienced that. One of the most affordable hotels we found was the Hotel Magic which is in a group of several hotels and apartments. You might look into an apartment for your needs.

Posted by
10575 posts

You mentioned the Bernina Express or a local train on that route. Neither Luzern nor Zurich is convenient for that. And I cannot imagine spending 4 nights in Zurich simply because the hotels are cheaper. Take a look at Hotel Stern in Luzern. A double room with King bed is 190 CHF in June.

Where in Italy are you meeting your friends?

Posted by
371 posts

Thanks all. We weren't staying in Zurich simply because hotels are cheaper, but because of a couple of side trips we want to do. One is to a small town my Grandfather was from, 30 minutes from Zurich. In looking at train schedules, it is an hour from Lucerne, so very doable. We would like to go to Basel, which would also work from Lucern.

So - I am now searching hotels. Will look at the one suggested. Thanks for putting us on the "right track".

I read a post here about train from Lucern to Milan via Arth-Goldau and Chiaso. OP said it was very scenic. Anyone traveled this route?

Thanks again

Posted by
10575 posts

Most trains from Arth-Goldau to Milan will take you through the long and deep Gotthard Basistunnel, which is not at all scenic. If you want to stay out of the tunnel, you need to force the route on the old Gotthard Pass route by building in a stop at Göschenen. This adds 2-3 changes on the way.

Or you can take the Gotthard Panorama Express, which runs once a day from Luzern ( in summer).

Posted by
2595 posts

I wouldn't stay in Zurich. I really love Luzern. The Ibis is inexpensive and close to the train station. I haven't stayed at that Ibis but I have in other cities when I couldn't find reasonable local places. The Ibis chain seems very clean and reliable. In Luzern, we stayed at Drei Koenig. I would say it is a 2 or 3 star. It's a local, small inn and we enjoyed our stay. The price also included an extensive breakfast. It was January, so I'm thinking the rates were lower. I paid about 130USD for 3 people. I usually book thru the hotels directly but in this instance I got a much better rate on You can use and/or tripadvisor to sort out various places by price.

Posted by
4563 posts

My experience from this last summer was that generally hotels in Lucerne were cheaper than Zurich. Also IMHO Lucerne as a city and its surroundings are more beautiful.

Posted by
362 posts

Without question, stay in Luzern. I used to work in Zurich and frankly its not nearly as beautiful or as central as Luzern. In terms of hotels, I've always stayed at the Renaissance Luzern (its generally in your price range or I book with Marriott points). The included breakfast is also awesome. Another place I've stayed is at the Hotel Tourist along the river. Great quiet location and if you get lucky your room will have a view of the Pilatus or the Grutsch and the river - good breakfast as well. You might also poke around on Tripadvisor in the area between the station and the Jesuitenkirche. Its a nice, quiet area away from the Altstadt.

In terms of getting to Italy, the old Gotthard Line is really scenic. You're going to have to change trains in Erstfeld and Bellinzona but its worth it. If you have bags, train changes on that route will most likely be on the same platform so its really no big deal. Yes, doing the Bernina route is scenic, but its hugely out of your way and will take you all day to get to Milan with three or more changes vs 4 hours via the Gotthard.