As you walk along the cobblestone streets of Lucerne on a typical winter’s day, you’re sure to come across the scent of mulled wine and roasting chestnuts as you approach Lucerne Christmas Market.
If you’re planning a visit, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Christmas markets in 2023. This includes dates, opening times and local specialties that are worth tracking down.
As the festive season descends on Lucerne, a truly magical transformation takes place. Snow-dusted Swiss rooftops are a common sight under the Christmas street lights.
Lucerne Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Lucerne is a lively hub at the heart of the city’s winter festivities. Countless wooden Christmas chalets are intricately adorned with twinkling lights and brimming with handmade crafts, fragrant wreaths and locally made gifts.
Dates and Location
Lucerne Christmas Market dates: 1st to 21st December 2023.
Opening times: 11am to 8pm. Food stands close at 9pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 1st December 2023.
Ice skating: Yes, at Kongresszentrum.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten-free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Beautiful setting amid historic architecture. Traditional Swiss goods on offer. A delightful blend of local and international cuisine.
Recommended tour: You might like this popular cruise on the lake towards Meggenhorn Castle.
Specialities: Hot Swiss Raclette. Freshly baked Nusstorte. Traditional Bratwurst. Roasted chestnuts. Swiss pastries. Local artisan chocolates. Swiss mulled wine. Hearty cheese fondue.
Where to stay: Hotel des Balances is an excellent hotel 3-minutes from the Christmas market.
Hotels near Lucerne Christmas Market
The Altstadt (Old Town) area in Lucerne, particularly around Franziskanerplatz, is ideal for staying close to the Christmas market. It’s steeped in history and charm and puts you in the heart of the city’s attractions.
To fully embrace this experience, consider staying at Hotel des Balances, a highly-rated hotel conveniently located near the Christmas market.
Location of Lucerne Christmas Market
City and Christmas Tours
Exploring Lucerne through a city tour is a brilliant way to appreciate its rich past and vibrant culture. With its charming old town, vibrant buildings, and striking architecture, Lucerne is a city with something to engage every visitor.
I recommend this lake tour in Lucerne as it provides an opportunity to witness many of the city’s highlights accompanied by a local guide, all at a reasonable price.
For a different approach, think about taking a food tour to understand local culture through their cuisine. Food tours are growing in popularity, and deservedly so; they’re a lot of fun.
This food tour includes tastings of 5 different types of Swiss chocolate, 3 types of Alpine cheese and a glass of Swiss wine. It also includes visits to some of the city’s main attractions, so it’s a great tour overall.
Read this Switzerland Christmas markets 2023 guide that can help you plan a festive trip filled with charm and tradition.
Christmas in Lucerne
Christmas Specialties in Lucerne
Here are some traditional Christmas food specialties you might want to try during your visit to Lucerne or elsewhere in Switzerland:
- Zürcher Eintopf: A hearty one-pot dish originating from Zurich, it contains a delicious mix of vegetables, bacon, and sausage. An excellent choice to warm you up on a cold winter’s day.
- Raclette: Named after the cheese it utilises, Raclette is a must-try for any cheese lover. It involves melting the cheese and then scraping it onto potatoes, pickles, and onions. A purely vegetarian version can be just as savoury without the traditional accompaniment of dried meats.
- Fondue: Probably the most well-known Swiss dish, Fondue consists of a pot of melted cheese into which you dip pieces of bread. It’s a communal dish, perfect for sharing and warming up during the winter.
- Lebkuchen: A type of soft gingerbread cookie, Lebkuchen is spiced with a mix of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg and often includes honey and nuts. These biscuits are a holiday staple and make for a delightful sweet treat.
- Grittibänz: This is a sweet bread man that is traditionally baked for St. Nicholas’ Day in early December. Grittibänz is often decorated with raisins to make the eyes, mouth, and buttons.
- Swiss Plum Pie (Zwetschgenwähe): A classic autumn dish that sometimes finds its way into Christmas menus, it features ripe plums baked into a flaky, buttery pie crust. The tartness of the plums balances the sweetness, making it a delightful dessert option.
These dishes, while quintessentially Swiss, do vary from region to region. Make sure to sample as many as you can to experience the rich diversity of Swiss cuisine during the festive season.
Food at the Christmas Market
The Christmas market stalls in Lucerne are brimming with a delicious array of local and international street foods, snacks and specialties. Here are some you might come across:
- Glühwein: A stroll through the Christmas market isn’t complete without sipping on a warming cup of Glühwein. This traditional festive drink in Switzerland is a mulled wine steeped with spices, orange peel and sugar.
- Bratwurst: An enduring favourite in Swiss street food, bratwurst is a juicy grilled sausage typically served with a crusty roll and mustard. It offers a convenient and tasty option to enjoy while wandering the market.
- Roasted Chestnuts: You’ll often smell the enticing aroma of roasted chestnuts as you wander through the winter air in Lucerne. Street vendors sell these warm, sweet nuts, making for a perfect snack while browsing the market stalls.
- Raclette Bread: A popular snack at Christmas markets, raclette bread is a slice of rustic bread topped with melted raclette cheese. This handheld treat brings a delicious twist to the traditional raclette dish.
- Swiss Pastries: The Christmas market offers a variety of Swiss pastries, including Nusstorte, a nut-filled shortcrust pastry from the Engadine region, and Mailänderli, a lemon-flavoured shortbread biscuit often crafted into festive shapes.
- Churros: Originally from Spain, churros have become a staple in many European Christmas markets. These fried dough pastries are typically dusted with sugar and accompanied by warm chocolate for dipping.
Sampling these festive delights will allow you to immerse yourself in Swiss Christmas culture while also trying some well-loved international Christmas market snacks.
What to Buy
The Christmas markets in Lucerne are a treasure trove of unique gifts and products. Many of the items you’ll find are distinctive to this region. Here’s a selection of what’s available:
- Swiss Chocolate: Swiss chocolate is world-renowned, and at the Christmas market, you’ll discover a wide array of artisanal chocolates. Look out for beautifully packaged assortments, ideal for gifting or treating yourself.
- Handmade Ornaments: A variety of stalls selling handmade ornaments, many crafted in the traditional Swiss style. They range from intricately carved wooden decorations to delicate glass baubles, each one capturing a piece of Swiss Christmas tradition.
- Swiss Watches: Known for their precision and quality, Swiss watches make for a special gift. At the market, you’ll come across stalls showcasing a range of these timepieces, from functional designs to more elaborate, decorative pieces. But you might find higher quality watches in the surrounding shopping streets.
- Local Art: Artists from around Lucerne and the wider region exhibit their work at the market. This gives you the opportunity to purchase unique pieces, from paintings capturing Swiss landscapes to handcrafted jewellery.
- Swiss Cheese: A variety of Swiss cheeses, such as gruyère and Emmental, can be found at the market. They’re often sold in gift-friendly assortments, providing an excellent opportunity to take home a taste of Switzerland.
- Wooden Toys: Reflecting the Swiss tradition of woodcraft, you’ll find stalls selling charming wooden toys. Ranging from simple puzzles to more complex models, these toys make a delightful gift for younger family members.
By choosing from these locally sourced and unique items, you’ll be bringing home more than just a gift – each purchase is a piece of Lucerne’s culture and Christmas tradition.
Rudolf’s Christmas Market
Rudolf’s Christmas Market in Lucerne is an annual attraction that adds to the city’s winter atmosphere.
Set against the stunning backdrop of the city’s historic architecture, this small Christmas market hosts a range of stalls selling an assortment of products, from handmade crafts and seasonal decorations to regional food delicacies.
The glowing lanterns and twinkling fairy lights create an enchanting ambience, making your visit to Rudolf’s Christmas Market a truly festive experience.
A visit here is sure to enrich your understanding of local Christmas traditions and culture.
Rudolf’s Christmas Market dates: 17th November to 23rd December 2023.
Location: Inseli Park on the waterfront.
Opening times: Monday to Friday: 9am to 7pm. Saturday: 8am to 6pm.
Rudolf’s Christmas Market
For more travel information, I recommend checking out Visit Luzern, as it’s designed to provide visitors to Lucerne with practical information, helping you make the most of your trip.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Making your Christmas visit to Lucerne more sustainable involves being mindful of the choices you make. Here are some ways you can help minimise your impact:
- Choose Renewable Energy-Powered Accommodation: Lucerne has a number of hotels that operate using renewable energy sources. When booking your stay, consider choosing an accommodation that’s committed to renewable energy as a way to lower emissions.
- Reduce Food Waste: When enjoying the delicious local cuisine at the Christmas market, aim only to purchase what you can eat. Many vendors at the market, such as bratwurst stands and raclette cheese stalls, prepare food to order, helping to minimise waste.
- Support Ethical Consumption: Purchasing products from local artisans and producers supports the local economy and reduces the carbon footprint of your purchases. For example, many stalls at the Christmas market sell handmade crafts and local food products.
- Adopt a Sustainable Diet: Opting for vegetarian options can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. The Lucerne Christmas market provides a variety of tasty vegetarian dishes, such as raclette and Swiss pastries.
- Use Sustainable Transport: Lucerne has an excellent public transport system, including buses and boats, which are an environmentally-friendly way to explore the city. You might also consider walking or hiring a bicycle, as many of Lucerne’s attractions are within a short distance of each other.
Being a sustainable tourist is all about making conscious decisions. These choices will make your visit to Lucerne more eco-friendly and enhance your experience of the city.
Lucerne Christmas Market typically begins on the 1st to the 21st of December 2023.
Lucerne Christmas Market is located at Franziskanerplatz, in the heart of Lucerne’s old town.
The market usually opens from 11am to 8pm. Food stands close at 9pm.
Yes, the weather in Lucerne during Christmas is typically cold, with temperatures ranging between -1 to 4 degrees Celsius. It’s a good idea to wear warm clothing.
While you cannot ski within Lucerne city itself, plenty of nearby ski resorts, such as Engelberg-Titlis, are easily accessible for a day trip.
Lucerne can be quite busy during Christmas due to the festive events and Christmas markets, but it’s also a very pleasant time to visit.
Absolutely. Lucerne is generally considered a safe city to visit at any time of the year, including winter. However, staying alert and aware of your surroundings is always advisable, especially in crowded areas.
Most shops, restaurants, and attractions remain open during the winter season in Lucerne. However, checking the official websites or contacting the establishments directly for the most accurate and up-to-date information is best. Most shops and restaurants are closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Warm clothing is essential for a winter trip to Lucerne. Think of thermal layers, a good-quality coat, waterproof boots, hats, gloves and scarves.
Yes, there are a number of stalls at the Lucerne Christmas Market that offer vegetarian food options. For instance, you can find vegetarian Raclette and various Swiss pastries.
A winter trip to Lucerne provides a unique opportunity to experience the city’s charm amid a sparkling snowscape. The Christmas markets, with the city’s beautiful architecture as a backdrop, create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Lucerne, Switzerland. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.