Zurich, Bern, or Luzerne

I will be spending 3 days in Switzerland on a European trip. Two of those days will be spent in small towns in the Alps, but if I am going to spend one day in a city, which city would you most recommend? Thank you!

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
499 posts

Not sure what you like to do, if it's me Luzern hands down. When do you plan to go??

Posted by Carla
Holbrook, NY, USA
20 posts

We plan to visit summer of 2012. I love quaint village towns, lots of shopping that is particular to that region, waterways and boats, and most of all, I love hiking!

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
499 posts

Early morn excursion to Mt. Pilatus via ferry, cog-wheel train, and then down on gondola. Get details from RS guidebook. Book a Hotel on waterfront. Easy rail connection.

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

Lucerne all the way. Wonderful down town area and can also do lake and mountain trips friom there. OOPs- i see you only have one day- definitely Lucerne, lots to see

Posted by Byron
Redlands, Ca, USA
358 posts

Luzern would be my first choice as I love lakeside cities along with dining along the river. Shopping is decent and plenty of things to do. This past june spent 4 days in Luzern. Bern is a nice place to visit for 1-2 days however I would chose Luzern above Bern.

Posted by Lawrence
New York, NY, USA
258 posts

I'll be the odd-man out here and vote for Zurich! Loved Lucerne and have spent a lot of time in the Bernese Oberland....but as a city-person, I've got to say that I really liked Zurich. Does it warrant a great deal of time? No. But if you have a night or 2 to spare, I suggest allocating some for Zurich. It's small (VERY easy to navigate, walk around, etc.), charming, pretty, very clean (in that typical Swiss way!), cosmopolitan and just a very enjoyable place to wander around. There are very pretty views around the water, cobble-stone streets, etc. And it's fun to stroll down the legendary and swanky (although prohibitively expensive) Banhofstrasse (if for only the novelty of saying that you did!). Fact is, you can't go wrong with any of these cities; and if you end up in Lucerne, you'll really enjoy it. Lucerne IS a very pretty town, especially near the water-front. Good luck w/ the trip planning and enjoy your time in Switzerland.

Posted by Carla
Holbrook, NY, USA
20 posts

Thanks, Lawrence. Great ideas. I can almost see Zurich in my head now, you painted such a nice picture of it. I have seen videos and it looks nice. I guess you can't go wrong in Switzerland anywhere!

Posted by Tom
Newport Beach, CA, USA
756 posts

Lucern for sure in a short trip. But if you want ALPS go to Lauterbrunen. Take an early train from Zurich and get out hiking a bit in the early afternoon -then the next day.
or else just go to Luzern and up PILATUS (full package of cable car, train and boat ride!) and explore that area. Should be find for 3 days. Bern is nearby great for a 1/2 day if based in Luz.

Posted by Ted
Marietta, GA, USA
6 posts

We just returned from Switzerland yesterday. We went to all three cities you mention, but Luzern was hands down the best of the three. Take a lake cruise, it was fantastic. One thing to watch out for, Swiss cities seem to be DEAD on Sundays, we were in Luasanne one Sunday and Zurich the next, and just about everything but restaurants are closed.

Posted by Susan
Atlanta, Ga, USA
1537 posts

Agree with others regarding Lucerne. We were recently in Switzerland and since we had already spent time in Lucerne, spent a day in Bern. It was worth a day and we enjoyed the main sights but it would not be worth an overnight IMO. Zurich is okay for a short visit if you are flying in/out. It is super expensive and not a place I'd ever spend much time.There are some nice daytrips out such as Stein am Rhein and Rapperswil. And, yes, the Berner Oberland is the real Switzerland and the area to stay in for fantastic views, hiking, etc.