Visiting Lucerne, Switzerland CAN be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are the Top 13 Cheap and Free things to do in Lucerne.
If we haven’t met, we’re Jana and Brett, and we love helping you stretch your budget so you can travel Switzerland with confidence. Lucerne is our favorite city in Switzerland, and there are endless things to do here. Today we’re sharing 5 historic sights to see, 4 foodie items to taste, and 4 unique things to do — that are all friendly for your budget.
By the way these cheap and free experiences are all located within Zone 10 of the Lucerne transportation network, which means that if you’re an overnight guest here, you can reach all of them for free using the Lucerne Visitor card — or by walking of course!
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SIGHTS TO SEE
If you’ve Googled “things to do in Lucerne” then you’ve definitely heard of these first 5 Lucerne points of interest. They’re iconic symbols of Lucerne, and they’re all free, so naturally we had to include them in this list! But even if you’ve heard of these places, stick around because the final 8 items on this list are a bit more off the beaten path!
1 | Lucerne Bridges (FREE)
First up are the traditional covered wooden bridges and their unique triangular paintings.
Chapel Bridge is like a gateway to Lucerne. It’s the oldest and the second-longest wooden bridge in Europe. But even with such an impressive history we personally think Spreuer Bridge is even more beautiful.
Both bridges are free and open 24 hours a day, although the Water Tower on the Chapel Bridge is not open to the public. As you walk along the bridges, don’t forget to glance up at the interesting triangular paintings, and see if you catch onto a theme. (HINT: it’s DEATH!)
2 | Old Town Lucerne Painted Squares (FREE)
Now that you’ve walked along the river, head into the Old Town of Lucerne to see the famous painted squares.
Weinmarkt is deemed as the prettiest square, even though it used to be a fish market.
Hirschenplatz is smaller but very traditional.
Kornmarkt is home to the Town Hall and clock tower.
Kapellplatz centers around a colorful fountain.
And you can’t miss Sternenplatz, the one with the flames.
The nice thing is that all 5 of these squares are, well, free, and they’re near each other in Old Town Lucerne, so you can easily wander to all of them in less than 30 minutes.
3 | Musegg Walls and Towers (FREE)
Time to march up to the best-preserved defensive wall in Switzerland! The wall itself is 800 meters long and has 9 towers. But if you only climb up one tower, we think Männliturm has the best views.
This free activity is only open from April 1 to November 1. But if you’re here between November and March, it’s still worth walking up to the garden below the Zytturm clock tower to catch the views over the city, the lake, and even Mt. Pilatus.
4 | Lucerne Churches (FREE)
There are 2 churches in Lucerne we recommend visiting. The first is the Jesuit Church which sits right between the 2 covered bridges. This was the first baroque religious building in Switzerland. It also just looks really pretty in the background of your photos 😉
The second is Hofkirche St. Leodegar, the parish church of Lucerne. The building is impressive from the outside, but the organ is really the star because it can mimic the sound of rain!
5 | Lucerne Lion Monument (FREE)
Our final free historical sight is the Lion Monument, the most well-known statue in Lucerne. More than 1.4 million people visit this peaceful garden every year to admire the lion, which honors the 1000 Swiss Guards who died protecting King Louis XVI of France in 1792.
It’s a peaceful place in the middle of the city. But all this deep contemplation has made me hungry…let’s go eat!
FOOD TO TASTE
Traveling without sampling the local food is like going on vacation without a suitcase — it just doesn’t make sense. So we narrowed our list down to our 4 favorite cheap and free things to eat in Lucerne.
6 | Chäs Chüechli (2 CHF)
As you probably know, Swiss cheese is one of the must-try foods in Switzerland. And in Lucerne, we recommend the famous chäs chüechli from Chäs Barmettler, also called ramequin in French-speaking Switzerland, or cheese pie in American-speaking Switzerland 😉
In fact, you’ll probably smell it before you even reach the shop since it’s cooked in an oven outside. So follow your cheese radar and grab one to go!
7 | Äss Bar (<5 CHF/item)
Before I even introduce the Äss Bar, let me explain that äss means edible. It’s not a bad word here 😉
The Äss Bar prevents food waste by selling day-old sandwiches, salads, and pastries from local shops for approximately 50% off. In reality, 1-day old leftovers are still fine to eat, which means you can snag some take-out food in Lucerne on a budget.
You never know what you’ll find, but if you go early in the day, there are usually plenty of options.
8 | Eichhof Beer (<5 CHF)
If you have our 1-Week Guide to the Jungfrau Region, then you already know about the #1 rated dark beer in Europe. Now, you can try another award-winning Swiss beer that has been brewed in Lucerne since 1834.
You can reach the Eichhof brewery for free with the Lucerne Visitor Card, but a brewery tour is 20 CHF/person, which isn’t exactly a cheap activity. So thankfully you can enjoy an Eichhof beer at restaurants and bars all across the city.
And this really is a popular local beer. Not long ago, more than 1600 people toasted each other with an Eichhof beer at the Lucerne City Festival…and they set a world record! Cheers to that!
9 | Gelato at 10’ Dieci Gelati & Cafe (4 CHF)
I can’t resist finding good gelato everywhere we travel. And this is legitimately the best gelato in Lucerne. It’s handmade using traditional methods with all-natural ingredients, and it’s centrally located right on the Reuss River near the Chapel Bridge.
Although Switzerland is usually expensive, the prices here are pretty comparable to my favorite gelaterias in Italy. A small cup or cone comes with 2 flavors and is only 4 CHF.
If you wanna sample more of these tasty cheap eats while you’re in Lucerne, then you will love our 1-Day City Guide to Lucerne — which includes a curated list of our favorite restaurants, cafes, and bakeries!
UNIQUE THINGS TO DO
As much as we love traveling and exploring, our favorite way to get a feel for a new place is to head just to the edge of the city. And that’s how we discovered our next 4 suggestions of things to do in Lucerne.
10 | Gütsch (FREE)
Let’s start with Gütsch, since that’s one of our favorite spots. First, you get to ride an automated funicular, which is pretty unique. It takes 90 seconds to deliver you to Gütsch, and the ride is free with your Visitor Card. Right away you’ll notice a few things: you can see far beyond the rooftops of Lucerne, there’s a stunning castle hotel that probably reminds you of Disney, and you can’t help but feel invited into the forest.
We love coming up here to take a walk through the hills or sit in the hotel bar for a drink with a view. Either way, Gütsch is an easy retreat from the hustle of the city.
11 | Rotsee (FREE)
But if water is more your thing, you’ll love this peaceful oasis right next to the city. Rotsee can be reached by bus, or it’s just a 30-minute walk from town (or an even shorter 15-minute walk from the lion monument). The 6.5km path around the lake is a great spot for walking or jogging, and there’s even a small ferry that crisscrosses the lake from April to October.
12 | Meggenhorn Castle (FREE to enjoy the castle grounds)
Calling all castle lovers! Don’t skip Meggenhorn! It’s modeled after Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley of France, except it’s set beautifully in the hills above Lake Lucerne.
You can only go inside the castle on Sundays, although there’s a bistro open on the weekends and the grounds are free to visit year round. It’s just a 15-minute bus ride from Lucerne, but it can also be reached by boat (although the boat ride is not included in your Lucerne Visitor’s Card.
13 | Bireggwald
If you just can’t get enough of these views, then you won’t want to miss Bireggwald. This secluded wooded area is nestled between the mountains and lake. And when you’re here, it’s hard to believe you’re just 1 bus ride and a short walk away from the city!
If you’re up for a long stroll, you can visit Bireggwald, walk down to the lake, and then all the way back to Lucerne in under 2 hours. Or multiple bus stops along the lake offer the chance to shorten the walk.
There’s a lot more to traveling with confidence than just knowing these cheap and free things to do in Lucerne. Check out our Lucerne Itinerary for 1 day in the city!