Soaring majestic mountains, a pristine lake and stunning natural beauty; Lucerne has all the makings of an exciting holiday destination. But that is not all that Lucerne offers. Add to it a long, eventful history, colourful traditions and flavourful food, and you have the perfect place to spend your holidays. But the best part of Lucerne is that it is a year-round destination that will never turn you away, regardless of the season.
You will see and experience different sides of this ancient city depending on the season you choose to visit. The Lucerne of summers is a different playground from the Lucerne of winters. All seasons can be enjoyed in their own ways but some activities, like skiing, are season exclusive. What remains consistent throughout the year is its bewitching natural beauty and the warmth of the people. This is a place where history lessons are found all over the city and traditions are treasured and revered.
The Lucerne Altstadt is a gorgeous time machine that will take you back hundreds of years to give you a taste of life as it existed back then. Life moves at a different pace inside the Old Town. You will find tiny squares with fountains and quaint little shops and cafes, that have been run by the same families for generations. On the other end is Lucerne’s vivacious night life that will keep you entertained during long winter nights.
Lucerne is a treat for the aficionados looking to traverse the arts and culture trail. The Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre is home to a concert hall and a museum. Though it is the hub of all cultural activities happening in Lucerne, the building itself is a wonder of modern architectural design. Another art display worth visiting is the Rosengart Collection which is a permanent exhibit of paintings by 19th and 20th century masters. You can also enjoy theatre and concerts in Lucerne all year long. The Piano Festival is a musical bonanza that brings in piano masters from all over the world. If you want to see some of the world’s best bands in action, head to the World Band Festival.
Now that we have seen Lucerne’s culture, arts, music and nature, it is time to talk about its food. The Alpine cuisine is a medley of regional influences that satiates and replenishes the soul. In this Alpine region, meat is a staple while veggies are enjoyed on the side. From simple open-air cafes to avant-garde restaurants, you will find all types of eating experiences Lucerne.
If you’re all set to begin your holiday here’s a season-wise look at Lucerne’s weather to help you decide the best time to visit this wondrous city.
Lucerne experiences summer between mid-June and mid-September and this is the peak season in the city. After a chilly spring, tourists take advantage of the warmer summer to make the most of their holiday. July and August are especially crowded as Lake Lucerne, Jungfraujoch and Mt. Titlis see a surge of visitors. Though it rains a lot, it won’t affect your sightseeing plans. Be prepared for crowds and lines at most of the tourist attractions in and around the city. Book your hotels, tours and travel in advance as this is the busiest season in Lucerne.
Spring (mid-March to mid-June) and Autumn (mid-September to mid-December) are the in-between seasons that do not see many tourists around. Some of the snowfall spills into March and most ski slopes are still in perfect condition. The warmer weather and lack of crowds are two more reasons that make early spring an excellent season to go skiing. The early autumn months are still great for outdoor activities before the snow blankets everything in white. You can enjoy Lucerne in relative peace as the summer rush is over by this time.
A snowy winter (mid-December to mid-March) transforms Lucerne into a pristine white wonderland, but there are no visitors around to appreciate the beauty. With sub-zero temperatures, winter is a low season in Lucerne. The last of the tourists leave by the end of November as the city prepares for a cold Alpine winter. If you’re looking at a restful holiday with no outdoor activities, this is the perfect time to visit Lucerne. There are no tourists to disturb your peace, and hotel and travel rates are at their lowest. On the flip side, most of the tourist attractions will be closed for winter.
|3 to 22°C
|Cool, with rainfall
|11 to 22°C
|Pleasant, with rainfall
|-2 to 19°C
|Cool, with rainfall
|-6 to 11 °C
|Cold, with heavy snowfall
Temperature - In spring the temperatures range between 3 to 22°C. The winter snow continues into March and keeps it chilly. However, the later months see some warmth as summer approaches.
Weather - After March, the rising temperatures are accompanied by intermittent rainfall. Though the temperatures stay mostly in the teens, the days are sunny. The mountains remain covered with snow well into April, but it releases its grip on the city after March.
Significance - Lucerne is surrounded by greenery as the snow melts away. The snow-capped Alps make the perfect background for the picture postcard called Lucerne. As the city wakes up from its winter slumber it gears up for a busy summer. The hotels open their doors towards the end of spring and hiking trails get ready to welcome hikers around the same time.
Why you should visit now - Spring is the perfect time to enjoy Lucerne without the usual rush of tourists. Though you won’t be able to enjoy outdoor activities, like hiking and trekking, there are enough things to be explored indoors. Although the Panorama Trail on Mt. Rigi opens early, the only one, if it’s not covered in mud or snow. You can check the hiking conditions online using the webcams installed along the trail.
Among other things to do, you can take a relaxing cruise on Lake Lucerne. It offers some wonderful sights along the way as the cruise makes its way slowly over the calm blue waters of the lake. With no crowds around, take a leisurely drive around Lucerne and explore some of the most amazingly scenic driving routes. Spring is also the perfect season to explore Lucerne’s artistic and cultural sides.
Start with the centuries-old Chapel Bridge that features colourful paintings on the inside. The old Jesuit Church built in the Baroque style is a thing of beauty on the inside as well as outside. But perhaps the most exciting place to explore is the Sonnenberg Nuclear Bunker which was built during the 60s or 70s to protect Lucerne’s residents in the event of a nuclear attack.
Things to know before the visit - The spring may be the time for fresh beginnings, but the chilly weather delays the onset of true spring by around a month. So, enquire ahead of its status if you’re planning a certain activity. Since the tourist traffic is low, you will find some excellent deals on your travel and living.
Tips - The early spring temperatures are cold enough to warrant heavy woollens. The evening and nights are colder than the day, so carry a heavy jacket along if you plan to be gone the whole day. Take along a good cold cream and lip balm to prevent dryness.
Temperature - Summer in Lucerne sees the temperatures go up and average between 11 to 22°C. Even the mountains warm up enough to lose their snow cover.
Weather - Despite sunny days, the heat rarely gets uncomfortable. Flowing breezes around Lake Lucerne and the mountains cool things down even further. Summer is the wettest season, but the rains won’t play spoilsport.
Significance - Summer is the busiest season in Lucerne and the best one to experience the city in all its glory. All the hiking trails are open and mountain tops offer great visibility all around. The mountains reverberate with the strains of music as arts and cultural festivals abound.
Why you should visit now - This is the season when you can go all out in your pursuit of a perfect summer vacation. Start your holiday with a refreshing dip in Lake Lucerne in the specially designated bathing area. Enjoy your swim with spectacular views of Mt. Pilatus and the city’s beautiful convention centre. The lake even has a sandy beach at Ufschötti Park complete with a lawn, barbecue and ball games. If you fancy a bite after a refreshing dip, you’ll find many bars and cafes around the park.
Lucerne offers you an adventure that combines sightseeing with the pure, unadulterated joy of gliding hundreds of feet into the air. There are a number of paragliding operators around Lake Lucerne that will give you the thrill of a lifetime. A visit to the Glacier Garden will make you realise how old our earth really is and how drastically it has changed over millions of years. The region where Lucerne now sits was once a sub-tropical seashore!
But the most popular summer activity in Lucerne is hiking. The trio of Mt. Rigi, Mt. Pilatus and Jungfraujoch presents an irresistible challenge that must be answered. Though challenging, these treks are not dangerous. So, if you’re in Lucerne in summer, step out and explore!
Things to know before the visit - Do not attempt the trails on your own if you’re not used to hiking. Wear sturdy hiking boots for the comfort and safety of your feet. In the mountains, the weather can change in an instant. So, keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to turn back or seek shelter.
Tips - Carry light summer clothes and a pair of your best hiking boots. Take a light jacket on your hikes and dress in layers. Keep a water bottle handy and stay hydrated. Do not litter the trails, carry a trash bag to collect all your trash.
Temperature - Autumn sees the mercury dip and temperatures plunge below zero toward the end. Average temperatures stay between -2 to 19°C.
Weather - The summer rains continue in autumn and snowfall starts around October. Continuing from the summer highs the mercury begins a gradual descent towards sub-zero levels. Though the plains remain snow-free, the mountains start building their snow cover to prepare for the cold winter.
Significance - Autumn bids farewell to the last tourists as the weather starts cooling down. Free of the tourists again, Lucerne starts winding down. Outdoor activities begin shutting down one by one as snow begins to claim the land. But museums, art exhibits and theatres thrive in autumn.
Why you should visit now - Autumn is a peaceful time when you can still enjoy most of what Lucerne has to offer. The greenery around the city is replaced by varying shades of reds, gold and oranges. The chill creeps back into the winds encouraging you to explore the city’s cultural side. You can pursue your passion for arts and history without the distractions of touristy crowds. The Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre is good place to embark on your culture trail.
Your next stop should be the incredible Bourbaki Panorama which makes you a part of the exhibit with its three-dimensional artistry. It uses sound and lighting to create an immersive experience. The Swiss Museum of Transport chronicles the development of different modes of transport in Switzerland. The museum has 3000 objects which also include interactive presentations, multimedia shows and simulators. This is a great place to visit if you have children along.
Take a themed tour of the city to explore its history in close quarters. Of special note is the ‘Stay of Execution’ tour which gives you access to the Water Tower, otherwise not open to the public. The ‘Hear, Smell and Feel’ tour gives you a sensory experience of Lucerne, where you are guided around in a blindfold. Certainly, a unique experience!
Things to know before the visit - If you pre-book your tours, you are most likely to get discounts. Also, do note that the hiking trails remain open in the earlier part of the season, but shut down when snowfall starts.
Tips - Dress warmly and dress in layers. If you haven’t pre-booked your tickets, reach online for discounted prices.
Temperature - Winter means business in Lucerne as average temperatures hover between -6 to 11°C.
Weather - The winter here, though not as harsh as some other places, is definitely cold. February is the coldest month of the year.
Significance - Other than skiing, no other outdoor activities are possible in Lucerne. But you can spend the winter months exploring the city under a cover of snow. This would be a good time to indulge in the local culinary flavours.
Why you should visit now - Winter is the time of Christmas markets, theatre and the city’s light festival. Lucerne’s Christmas markets spread warm cheer amidst the biting cold and are places where families and friends get together for shopping and a good time. Not to be missed if you want to take a close look at the local culture. Other than taking long walks, this is a good time to take guided tours on Mt. Titlis and Mt. Rigi. Use the cogwheel railway to reach the summit and take in the magical wonderland views from the top.
The Lucerne Concert Hall is a great place to immerse yourself in an evening of soaring music or a moving performance. After February you can hit the ski slopes for an exhilarating escapade down the mountain sides. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you will find a slope to ski down. Lucerne doesn’t disappoint anyone. The joy of hot meal after an exciting ski run or a brisk walk has few equals. Head into the Old Town and enjoy your meals in centuries-old taverns in tech company of locals.
Things to know before the visit - Other than the locals and a few other tourists, you’ll have the city all to yourself. Plan and purchase concert or theatre tickets in advance as they tend to get sold out fast.
Tips - Pack your heaviest woollens and carry a thermal suit. Wear shoes with a good grip to avoid slipping on the snow. If your socks get wet, remove or change them immediately. Wear a good pair of sunglasses to protect against the snow’s glare. Always keep a water bottle with you and do not forget your lip balm and cold cream.
Even within Switzerland, there’s no other destination like Lucerne. Bustling in the summers and peaceful in winters, you won’t suffer a dull day in Lucerne. This ancient city with a modern veneer will steal your heart with its warm reception, regardless of the season. So, pick your season and book your holiday online. If you’re looking for a personalised holiday, drop into your nearest Thomas Cook branch.