The Perfect Day Trip from Basel to Lucerne
A day trip from Basel to Lucerne is a breeze. Take the A2 by car and you’ll be in Lucerne in an hour and a quarter. Lucerne is a stunning city in the German-speaking part of Switzerland that’s packed with attractions. But don’t be in too much of a rush to leave Basel, which also has much to offer.
For starters, there’s the Old Town. This is an area of ancient churches, gushing fountains and stone streets. The narrow side streets are home to artisans. They’re the perfect place to wander, while you dip in and out of coffee shops and gourmet restaurants.
Don’t set off on your day trip from Basel to Lucerne without checking out the Papiermühle (Paper Mill Museum). Sitting on a medieval canal, this ancient paper mill is now a museum of writing, printing, and paper. See how paper was made by hand, discover the history of paper and find out about book-binding.
Basel’s Minster is also worth hanging around for. After an earthquake in the 14th century, the Minster was rebuilt in a Gothic style. Watch out for 12th-century Romanesque carvings, the tombs of ancient bishops and the 15th-century double cloister.
Leaving Basel for your day trip to Lucerne, you’ll pass historic towns such as Sempach, with its lovely lake, and Sursee, great for boat tours and outdoor activities.
Lucerne sits at the top of Lake Lucerne. It boasts a beautiful medieval centre, elegant buildings and some unmissable summer festivals. Here are some of the highlights.
Don’t miss a trip up Mount Pilatus. Take the cable car from Kriens and then another from Pilatus-Kulm. After that, you’ve got a short climb to the summit. Take in the amazing Alpine views then take the half-hour walk to the Tomlishorn, the massif’s highest point.
Next up on your day trip from Basel to Lucerne, you’ll want to visit Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge). This is a covered bridge across the Reuss. It contains over 100 pictures that hang from the rafters and which date from the 17th century. The bridge was damaged by fire in the 90s, but totally rebuilt.
Adjacent to the bridge is the Wasserturm, an ancient water tower standing well over 30 metres tall. These sights are among the most popular tourist attractions in Lucerne.
Amazingly, Lucerne has another ancient bridge that’s survived the passing of the centuries. The Spreuerbrücke is also covered and was constructed in 1406. Under the rafters, you’ll find panels that contain 45 paintings of the Dance of Death framed in black. These were created in the 17th century by Kaspar Meglinger and his students.
Of course, it’s possible to explore Lucerne by boat. During the summer, you can take a
paddle-wheel steamer to Flüelen, while tucking into a three-course meal. Those with less time on their hands can take a one-hour panoramic sightseeing cruise on a 50-metre yacht. Sit inside, sit outside: wherever you sit, you’ll hear great commentary on the lakeside sights.
Lucerne has an Old Town, too, and it’s one of the loveliest in Europe. Wander the quaint streets and see burghers’ houses, squares with fountains and old timber-framed buildings. Watch out for the Altes Rathause in the Kornmarkt. This is the Old Town Hall, which dates from the early 17th century. The Weinmarkt next door has a lovely Gothic fountain. St Peter’s Chapel in Kapellplatz is Lucerne’s oldest church.
You can’t leave Lucerne without riding the cog railway from the lake to the 1800-metre heights of Mount Rigi. You’ll be riding Europe’s first cog railway in restored cars while being pulled by steam engines that date from the 1920s. On a clear day, you can see Germany’s Black Forest from the summit.
Enjoy Post-Impressionist art? Get along to the Museum Sammlung Rosengart on your day trip to Lucerne. It’s a fairly new museum containing work by Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee.
You’ll also find important pieces from more than 20 artists from the last 200 years. The museum’s founder, Angela Rosengart, knew the artists and had the museum built to showcase her own collection.
Also worth a trip is the Swiss Transport Museum. There’s a range of exhibition halls and outdoor exhibits here that deals with every form of transport. You can see train engines and rolling stock, and both models and real examples of planes, cars and rockets. Follow the evolution of transport from the earliest times. And enjoy an entire exhibit devoted to the building of the St Gotthard rail tunnel.
Before you head back towards Basel on your Lucerne day trip, there’s just time to catch the Bourbaki Panorama. This is a gigantic panoramic painting and sculpture that commemorates the evacuation of the French army to Switzerland during the Franco-Prussian War. Stand in the middle of the painting and be stunned when objects appear to become 3D.
The panorama was completed by Edouard Castres, a Red Cross worker who travelled with the army. The work stands ten metres high and is 112 metres long. It’s considered to be one of the greatest examples of panoramic art.
Let Traserbas organise your day trip from Basel to Lucerne. Sit back and enjoy the journey in spotlessly clean, premium vehicles. Find out more here.