Why Lake Lucerne is the Ultimate Outdoor Destination in Switzerland

Imagine a scene from Lord Of The Rings with an idyllic lake surrounded by soaring mountains. The lush greens of the forested slopes offset the blue water and sky.

Now put a modern town at the north end of that lake, and you have Lucerne, Switzerland. With the mix of water and mountains, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Lake Lucerne is not only the ultimate outdoor destination in Switzerland but also one of the best in all of Europe.

Just about all mountain and water sports are available in the area. From hiking the peaks and ridgelines to paddling the sparkling water, you have a world of options at your disposal. All you need is time and fitness. For the more adventurous and experienced, there is epic rock climbing and mountain biking.

lake lucerne map

Located 50 kilometers south of Zurich, Lake Lucerne is the getaway spot for locals and a destination for international adventure seekers.

Best Outdoor Adventures to do Around Lake Lucerne

Walking Tour Of Lucerne

Once you get to Lucerne, a great way to work out the kinks from traveling is to walk around the town. Medieval architecture on the shore of a lake offers endless sights to see. From churches to the oldest covered bridge, which was built in 1333.

The Musegg Wall is part of the old fortification surrounding the original town. Nine towers still stand along the wall and can be accessed for tours during the warmer months.

As you tour the town, don’t miss the sculpture of the dying lion, which commemorates the Swiss Guardsmen who fell in 1792 defending the French King during the Revolution. This sandstone carving is breathtaking in its detail and emotion.

And no tour is complete without exploring the side streets and alleys of the Old Town, where artisans have crafts, food, and especially chocolate for sale.

Lake Lucerne Hiking

lake lucerne hiking trails
Photo courtesey Eurotreks

A lake surrounded by mountains with hundreds of kilometers of trails is a perfect destination for hikers. Hiking in the mountains may sound daunting from a technical and fitness level, but one of the great things about Lake Lucerne hiking is that the mountains are highly accessible.

Switzerland has a unique relationship with its mountains, with expansive rugged trails interspersed with restaurants and cable cars. The high mountains are more accessible here than almost anywhere else on earth. You will be walking on a trail that feels wild and isolated, only to turn a corner and find a spot for a gourmet meal and a glass of wine. Truly the best of both worlds.

The Lucerne hiker looking for a challenge can hike from the valley floor to the summit and back for an epic day, but that isn’t your only choice. Many mountains are accessible most of the way up by road, cable car, or train. This can save you thousands of feet of elevation. You will be able to enjoy the views and stunning scenery even if you aren’t ready to put in hours of ascending.

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Photo courtesy Eurotreks

Below in the post, you will find some of the best hikes around Lake Lucerne. We sample just a few as there are hundreds of options for all levels of hiker.

Mountain and Road Cycling

Mountains covered in trails are the perfect place to go for an epic bike ride. Whether you travel with your bike or rent one, there is a ride from everyone near Lake Lucerne.

If you are very fit, you can climb and descend the mountains on roads or trails, but if you are just into the thrills, you can take your bike up in a cable car or trail and let gravity do the work on the way down.

Check out the trails on Trailforks to see the various mountain bike option near Lucerne.

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And if you want to test your legs, you can ride around the lake and through the mountains on smoothly paved roads. The terrain is challenging in places, but the area is cycling friendly, so feel comfortable exploring.

While bringing your bike is possible, you can also rent high-quality road and mountain bikes from Bcyclet.

One of our favorite routes is the tour of the lake, which is a challenging 95 km route. While fast cyclists can do this in less than 4 hours, all the sights along the way will likely turn it into a full day’s outing. Along the route, there are many opportunities to fill your water bottles and get tasty snacks to fuel your ride.

If you’d like a more moderate to advanced hike with incredible panoramic views you can keep going from the mountain inn at Rigi Burggeist you can hike along a section of the “Tells Trail” to the cable car at Urmiberg Timpel. From there, take the cable car down to Brunnen. This extension make the hike approx. 12.5 km, ↑ 590 m ↓ 900 m.