Lucerne in winter

Lucerne City & Lake Lucerne in Winter – How to Get the Most of the Season

Although known as a summer getaway destination, Lucerne in winter is equally more beautiful (if not more so).

Situated on the lake of the same name, surrounded by snowy mountains and populated with cute little houses spreading warm lights from evening all the way into the night, winter Lucerne -also called the “City of Lights”- is one of those old cities that will make you feel like you are living in a real-life fairytale.

I have been to many cities in Europe in winter and can honestly say that Lucerne is one of the most beautiful ones. It is far from cheap winter destinations in Europe but well worth every penny if you plan it right. 

So let me share my best tips for winter in Lucerne as well as offer travel suggestions for spending Christmas in Lucerne and top things to do in Lucerne in winter so you can enjoy your holiday as much as I did! And if there is anything that you want to add, share your thoughts in the comments at the end of this post!

Thinking of Going to Lucern During One of the Winter Months?

To get the most out of your winter trip to Lucerne, get inspiration from these beautiful accommodation options and activities!

Places Where to Stay in Lucerne for a Cozy Winter Getaway:

  • Backpackers Luzern – (low-budget) hostel with independent rooms & private bathrooms
  • Art Deco Hotel Montana – (mid-budget) elegant luxurious property with lake and mountain views
  • Château Gütsch – (mid to high budget) have a romantic stay in a real castle of neo-Gothic style 

Excursions In & Around Lucerne to Take in Winter:

What Else You’ll Need When in Lucerne

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase or booking by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

What Is Winter in Lucerne Like?

Lucern waterfront in winter

It is, as one would expect, quite cold during the Winter (as I will be mentioning in the following sections in more detail) but don’t let that discourage you.

It only adds to the whole cozy feeling of the town, and there is a lot to do in Lucern in winter (not just city but around the lake as well), ranging from winter sports and checking out the magical Christmas market to discovering the city’s unique attractions with (even) hiking on lower trails in the majestic mountains that surround the city.

So long story short – winter indeed is a great time to be in Lucerne! Especially in December when the city is shining on each corner thanks to Christmas lights.

Is it going to be cold? Yes, it is and you need to prepare by packing the right type of clothes. But if you do, a winter trip to Lucern is going to be the one you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Does It Snow in Lucerne in Winter?

Yes, it does snow in winter in Lucerne, and it definitely adds to the City of Light’s magical quality! However, do not expect carpets of snow as in Lucern it often melts quickly.

The city is located in that part of Switzerland where winters are cold and snow is a very common occurrence, particularly from the second part of December through February. But with the latest global warming and weather change, the amount of snow in Lucerne also decreased. 

From my experience, the snow was even falling in the last days of November but at that time it didn’t stay on the ground for too long.

first snow in Lucerne

If you plan a trip to Lucern from December to February, you will first notice that the tops of the surrounding mountains are covered with snow -which provides a great view for photos- and there will be probably also a thin sheet of snow above every roof as well, adding a characteristic look to this lovely city.

This is certainly not to say that it will make your life harder there as it does not snow constantly in Lucerne, but more like from time to time. And when it is time, you will be grateful for the atmosphere it provides! 

Average Weather & Winter Temperatures in the Lucerne Area

Lucerne is, as one would expect, quite cold during winters.

In late November – early December, the temperatures might drop to as low as -1°C (30.2 F), which, actually should not be considered too bad as those lows are usually experienced during late nights and early mornings.

December though is considered the windiest month, so you need to pack smart and not to forget scarf to cover face when walking.

The lowest temperatures in Lucerne are seen in January, with an average of 0°C (32 F). Of course, some people can’t tolerate the cold well, but generally, unless you are really sensitive, some solid winter clothing should keep you as warm and comfortable in Lucerne in winter as you need to be.

Lucern waterfront

On the positive side – January in Lucerne sees an unprecedented number of sunny days for the winter season. In the mountains surrounding Lucerne, there are more sunny days, in the city and around it – less, but overall January weather in Lucerne will delight you with an optimistic glow and a certain warmth.

Lucerne’s temperature in February is unstable. The average daytime and nighttime temperatures during February are 1-2°C (34-35 F) and -5-6°C (23-21 F), respectively. In 2023, the highest daily temperature in February was 9°C (48.2 F). While the minimum temperature dropped to -14°C (6.8 F) at night. 

In fact, February is the worst month to travel to Lucerne as there is very little sun and temperatures often drop to their minimum level.

Lucerne in December for Christmas Holidays – What to Expect

Probably the best time to be in Lucerne during the Winter season is December as this is the holiday season with Christmas decorations and Christmas markets that give the city an even more enchanted look with their colorful, flickering lights while providing the visitors with an authentic shopping experience with their inviting individual attractions.

Lucerne at Christmas

Here you can go on a little “shopping spree” with a warm cup of hot chocolate in your hand, as in these individual stalls you will find a wide range of items such as clothing pieces, decorative items, hand-made souvenirs, and so on. Don’t forget to get something for your loved ones while you’re there!

There are also always a lot of festive events to get everyone in the holiday spirit (like a ferry wheel, street performances, music in pubs and restaurants, etc.) which won’t be too hard!  So, for those who are looking to spend a Christmas holiday in a cute little city with a magical atmosphere (if budget allows of course), Lucerne would be one of the best choices!

Although to be honest, even after the holidays when the Christmas tree and lights are taken off, Lucern still looks cute and so cozy. It’s all thanks to quaint designs of buildings, bridges, and cobbled streets surrounded by the beautiful nature that Lucerne has. 

Best Things to Do in Winter in Lucern City

Unfortunately, you cannot swim in Lake Lucerne during winter (unless you’re going for some sort of endurance record, but it is not recommended!) but still, there is a lot to do in winter in Lucern City. Here are some of your best bets:

Discover the Christmas Markets in December

Christmas market

If you like getting all festive, there are very few places where you will enjoy yourself as much as you will in Lucerne, the City of Lights!

During the holiday season, Lucerne will light up with Christmas markets (each having its own appeal) enhancing its ever-warm and cozy atmosphere even more! It is a pure joy to get some mulled wine, and walk among the stalls of these markets, checking out traditional gifts (and treats!) of Switzerland, all while listening to carol singers singing their beautiful songs.

Find the main market of the city in Franziskanerplatz in the old town with the Barfüsser Brunnen fountain, adorned with huge candles, bright garlands, and fir branches, transforming it into the largest Christmas wreath in Central Switzerland. This market also features a children’s carousel and numerous charming stalls offering a selection of treats and crafts. Additionally, there is a special stand where it is possible to wrap up gifts free of charge.

Another awesome Christmas market is set in the courtyard of the Château Gütsch hotel, offering stunning views of Lucerne and Lake Lucerne.

Experience the Lucerne Light Festival in January

If you are in Lucerne in January, you can experience its Lilu Light Festival, which truly lights up the city and its landmarks with light installations, and electrifies the atmosphere with various events.

Thanks to it, there is a feeling that the holiday season is extended as dazzling light displays enhance the holiday feel. The event lasts for 10 days and involves stunning light displays, projections, and interactive art installations, creating a magical experience for visitors. 

Check out the dates on the official website here and for photos and Lucerne January travel inspiration, see this account.

Take a Leisurely Walk Around the Old Town

Although not specifically a “Winter” activity, you can rest assured that visiting the old town in Lucerne is much more exciting during winter. Situated at the shore of Lake Lucerne, the old town will surely captivate you with its beautiful medieval buildings, narrow streets, beautiful cafes, restaurants, and its vibe.

old town Lucern

It is a priceless experience to just walk the streets during winter nights, surrounded by warm lights of the old buildings (and with almost no people!). It should take you around 20-30 minutes to walk around the entire old town, and while you’re there, make sure to check out the 17th-century Italian Renaissance Town Hall -which is just on the side of the river- where there is a market every week.

NOTE: Know that the old town is not open to cars. So you will not be able to park anywhere close and will need to walk quite a lot on foot, which is actually the best option anyway.

Walk By & On the Old Chapel Bridge

The famous Chapel Bridge, which spans the Reuss River, is the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe that dates back to the 14th century. It is one of the must-sees of the city of Lucerne in any season, including winter.

It (as one would have guessed) is even more atmospheric in December. When you are in the city, you should make sure to walk over this bridge, which is adorned with Christmas decorations and lovely paintings that depict certain scenes from Swiss history.

And to add, speaking of bridges, you can walk down the river and reach another lovely, covered bridge, which is called the Spreuer Bridge.

Lucerne waterfront

Take a Ride in the World’s Oldest Cable Car

Sounds exciting right? Well, it is actually more exciting than it sounds!

Lucerne is a gateway to Mount Titlis, which is the highest summit in central Switzerland. To take this special ride, you need to go to Engelberg first, which you can do with a joyful train ride of 45 minutes (or if you rent a car, you can just drive there too).

Once there, take the cable car, which will take you up the majestic mountains, to a height of 3000 metres. The ride takes about thirty minutes, and needless to say – you will be amazed by the views!

Before reaching the top, you will switch vehicles, and get on “the world’s first rotating cable car” enhancing the experience even more with breathtaking 360-degree views. Once up there, there are several things to do, such as sightseeing, or exploring a glacier cave!

NOTE: You can visit Mount Titlis on your own or with a tour. If you venture independently, you still need to purchase Mt. Titlis tickets. If thinking to go with a tour, keep in mind that it is a very popular activity from Lucern even in winter, so you want to pre-book it. Here is the best option with good reviews and a reasonable price.

Explore The Swiss Museum of Transport


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First of all, the Museum of Transport in Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s most prominent museums that showcases Switzerland’s transport history, including road, rail, water, and air transport. It is a must-visit for those interested in technology, transportation, and Swiss culture. 

And second of all, winter is really the best season when to go there. In summer (or even spring and fall) all you want to do is probably to spend more time outdoors in the Swiss beautiful mountains. But winter is just the perfect season for staying indoors and exploring the best museums this country has.

So when you go, don’t also miss its Planetarium with some captivating astronomy shows, and Swiss Chocolate Adventure, an interactive multimedia attraction explaining the journey of chocolate from bean to bar.

For admissions and schedule, here is the website of Transport Museum.

Pay a Visit to the Lucerne Culture & Congress Centre

The Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre (shortly KKL Luzern) stands as a cultural and architectural landmark of the city, designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel. It is a hub of artistic and intellectual activity which is also a testament to human creativity, seamlessly blending into its natural surroundings with an awe-inspiring sight.

Throughout the winter months, KKL Luzern comes alive with a plethora of cultural events. Concerts, operas, theater performances, and art exhibitions grace its halls, offering an array of artistic experiences.


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The concert hall, known for its exceptional acoustics, hosts various musical performances that enchant the audience. And if you are in Lucerne in December, you should check in advance (and possibly go to) Christmas performances. You’ll surely forget about the cold winter outside within the walls of this famous Concert Hall, known also as one of thr most impressive of its type if Europe and beyond.

Moreover, KKL Luzern’s prime location along Lake Lucerne guarantees breathtaking views. The combination of the serene lake, the snow-dusted mountains, and the modern architecture presents a picturesque tableau. 

It is possible also to join a tour of the Lucerne Culture & Congress Center which gives insights into its architecture and what stands behind its acoustic excellence. 

Get a Tour of the Brewery Brauerei Eichhof

Winter in Lucerne is also the right time of the year to head out to a brewery to indulge in beer-tasting sessions where you can sample a variety of beers and learn about different brewing styles and techniques.

Brauerei Eichhof is the most famous brewery in Lucerne that in winter often hosts events and live music. It has been open since the 19th century producing a range of beers, including lagers, ales, and other traditional Swiss-style beers. In winter, there is also a chance to try seasonal and special edition beers there.

But there are other breweries to try as well like Rathaus Brauerei (mainly a restaurant with its own brewery right in the city center) and LEUBRÄU GmbH a microbrewery that produces creative and innovative craft beers.

You can arrange your tour directly with the brewery.

Visit an Underground Bunker

Lucerne underground bunker

Lucerne, like many places in Switzerland, has a network of nuclear bunkers due to the country’s long-standing policy of civil defense and neutrality. And there are various historical sites that cover aspects of Switzerland’s civil defense and Cold War history.

Some of those sites are bunkers that offer a glimpe into Lucern’s past. Visiting one will be the most intriguing thing to do in Lucern in winter as you’ll be able to hide from cold weather and learn about incredibly interesting place in this city.

From my own experience, I can recommend Surviving Underground company which will bring you to the heart of the bunker which can fit up to 20,000 people, delving into its origins and tracing the evolution of its purpose and structure over time.

During the tour, the guide covers global historical events, such as the Cold War, the Syrian refugee crisis, and current world affairs and tells the story about the construction and adaptation of the bunker. See the sleeping quarters, dining areas, restroom facilities, laundry station, kitchen, detention area, hospital, and surgical suite and ask as many questions as you want!

The best part – the tour does not depend on the weather, so visiting in winter is a big plus! 

Best Things to Do Around Lake Lucerne in Winter

Lake Lucerne might be the best spectacle of the city, as it helps give it its unique, magical look in Wintertime. Here are the top things to do around Lake Lucerne…

Enjoy Snow & Do Winter Sports (Besides Skiing) 

If you are a fan of winter sports -or if you are considering giving them a try- there is a possibility to indulge in a lot of different sportive activities around Lucerne city during winter months.

Mount Titlis
On the top of Mount Titlis, it is fun to spend time for everyone, not only those who ski

First of all, there is a range of good ski resorts around the area, which are easily reached from the city itself by train or boat. The closest one is Engelberg but there is also Melchsee-Frutt best for families, Sörenberg great for beginners, and Klewenalp-Stockhütte with a range of winter activities accompanied by the views of Lake Lucerne.

Needless to say, there are lots and lots of slopes for skiing and snowboarding, as well as cross-country ski trails, snowshoe trails, sled runs, and more. But you can also go just to enjoy the winter atmosphere and a cozy lodge or just do ice skating as well!

Get on a Boat Trip

Yes, even in winter, hopping on a boat is possible as Lake Lucerne doesn’t freeze and is navigable from December through February. Although summer would be a preferable season for this, no one says you cannot enjoy the lake on a winter day as well! 

During winter though, there are usually fewer boat departures compared to the summer season. Boats that do operate often follow specific winter schedules and operate on reduced frequency.

While cruising, you will see Lucerne from the water and still enjoy the beauty of the lake with snow-covered mountains in the background which provides a different but equally captivating experience as in the warmer months.

TIP: Dress warmly, especially if you plan to be on the open deck, as it’s going to be cold! There are a lot of options for boat trips departing from Lucerne with different perks, but I found this cruise on the Lake with very good reviews that includes also a walk around old Lucerne and a cheaper one with an audio guide.

Take a Trip to Mount Rigi

A trip to the top of this gorgeous mountain is a valuable experience no matter what the season is. Surrounded by three lakes (Lucerne, Zug, Lauerz), Mount Rigi often referred to as the “Queen of the Mountains” is a steep mountain that is easily visible from the city.

Mount Rigi views
Titlis Engelberg

You can go there by cable car or cog rail (an experience in itself worth the time) and once there, go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or just enjoying the scenic winter landscapes.

There are also several eateries on the top of Mount Rigi where you can enjoy a meal while taking in the breathtaking views. These restaurants offer a variety of Swiss cuisine and provide large windows to allow appreciation of the alpine scenery. Don’t forget to leave space on your phone for the photos, you’ll take many!

Take a Cogwheel Train to Mount Pilatus

Cogwheel train to Mount Pilatus

If you are feeling adventurous, you can hit the road for Mount Pilatus, which towers over Lake Lucerne. Just like Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus is also accessible in winter and has its own Railway with cable cars (and cogwheel train!) that serve as transportation to the summit.

If going on your own, at first you need to reach Kriens (by public bus or train), and from there take the Pilatusbahn, a cogwheel train, to ascend to the summit of Mount Pilatus. The train station is easily accessible from the center of Kriens.

The journey in the cogwheel train is scenic on its own (as all trips of this type in Switzerland) and is an attraction on its own. But once at the summit, from December to February, you’ll have lots of opportunities there for snowshoeing, sledding, and enjoying the snowy landscape from above.

As with Mount Rigi, on the top of Mount Pilatus where are also several restaurants with Swiss food and views, views, views!

Have a Getaway to Hotel Vitznau 


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Hotel Vitznau is a very special place on Lake Lucerne which is a dream place for a winter escape in the Lucerne area. You can simply spend 3 full days in this part of Switzerland without leaving the property but having the best time of your life.

Vitznau Hotel is a luxurious five-star hotel located in Vitznau village on the shores of Lake Lucerne which is why it offers unbeatable views and serenity. 

There is also an in-house spa that offers a range of treatments and therapies, including massages, facials, and holistic wellness experiences. They all are aimed to bring full relaxation and rejuvenation.

But the hotel’s outdoor pool is probably the best thing for some people as it allows you to swim in warm water while enjoying snowy peaks of the mountains and lake views while catching snowflakes if it snows when you are there.

In winter, hotel Vitznau has special rates for dates outside the holiday and festival seasons. Check what they offer and if it fits your budget. 

Relax at One of the Spas With Exceptional Views of Lake Lucerne 


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Lake Lucerne and its surrounding areas offer a variety of spa options where you can rejuvenate and let all stresses go. Doing this in winter will be a fantastic experience (especially if there is no snow in Lucerne city) as you can combine a spa experience with the beauty of snow-covered mountains and serene lake views.

Among the top spas to visit on Lake Lucerne are:

  • Buergenstock Alpine Spa at BuergenstockHotel – perched on the mountain with scenic outdoor pools and spaces
  • Mineralbad & Spa Rigi Kaltbad – a cheaper spa with thermal baths

  • Walkhotel Spa – also part of the hotel with indoor and outdoor pools with views

FAQs About Lucern in Winter

Does Lucern Get Cold in Winter?

Yes, Lucerne gets quite cold in winter with temperatures often dropping below zero, creating chilly and crisp winter weather.

Snowfall is common during this time too, although it almost never snows to the extent that snow blocks city roads and paralyzes city life.

Lucerne at night

Is Lucerne Worth Visiting in Winter?

Lucerne is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe for a winter trip. Yet it is not a secret that Lucerne is very expensive.

So if your budget allows and you plan a city break in Europe that includes a visit to multiple cities in different countries, then yes, Lucerne is well worth the time and money.

Otherwise, if you are not a fan of cold weather and of course if your budget is low, better avoid it as a vacation here will break your bank.

Best Time During Winter to Visit Lucern?

If you were to ask me to recommend one specific timeframe for this city, I’d pick December (particularly its fourth week around the holiday season) and January (during those 10 days when the lights festival is on).

December is that time of the year when Lucerne is simply gorgeous with all its festive decorations, Christmas markets, and winter charm. And January is amazing for its light festival which resembles Christmas in some ways and creates a festive atmosphere even though the days are short and the weather is cold. 

Also, based on my own experience, I would try to avoid Lucern in late February or early March. This time of the year is common for rain and wet snow which can be not only frequent but prolonged. This can really spoil the mood and trip as a whole, especially when you have to spend a lot of money literally on everything.

If You Venture Outside Lucerne

More Places to Visit in Winter in Europe

Lucerne in winter

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