A Travel Price Comparison for Switzerland Lucerne vs. Basel for Attractions, Nightlife, Old Town, and Families

Should you visit Lucerne or Basel?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Lucerne and Basel. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Lucerne

Lucerne is a cultural, historic, and vibrant city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Basel

Basel is a easily accessible, beautiful, and vibrant city. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Lucerne and Basel: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less popular for students
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Lucerne or Basel?

Travelers will generally find more things to do in Lucerne than Basel. While Basel is larger than Lucerne, Lucerne has more sights and attractions for tourists. Lucerne is more touristy than Basel and is popular for it's wooden bridge, its waterfront setting, and the many nearby alpine day trips. It is also home to The Chapel Bridge. Basel is popular for its many museums and its nice old town.

The Chapel Bridge
The Chapel Bridge

How is Lucerne different from Basel?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Basel and Lucerne. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Lucerne or Basel?

Lucerne
Basel

You'll find a number of great museums and attractions in both Basel and Lucerne.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Lucerne. Top sights in town include the famous Chapel Bridge, the Lion Monument and the town walls and towers. There are also a number of museums including the Swiss Transport Museum and Museum Sammlung Rosengart.

Basel offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. The city is filled with history. Head to Minster Hill to see the beautiful historic church and Münsterplatz. There are also several unique museums around town including Jean Tinguely Museum, the Paper Mill Museum, the Historical Museum, and the Museum of Art.


Is the Food Better in Lucerne or Basel? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Lucerne
Basel

Both Lucerne and Basel offer good local cuisine and restaurants.

Lucerne is becoming an appealing option for foodies. Food is expensive around town, but there are some unique specialties like fondue, brätwurst, and of course, chocolate. It's nice to sit out by the river and enjoy a hearty meal while you soak up the view.

Basel offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. Food around town can be expensive, but there are some outdoor markets where you can buy fruit and a bratwurst for a reasonable price. The city is known for its breads, soups, and pastries, which are all delicious.

Is Lucerne or Basel Better for Nightlife?

Lucerne
Basel

Lucerne is notable for nightlife and partying. Also, Basel is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its evening party scene.

Lucerne has plenty to do after the sun goes down. The city has some of the best nightlife in Switzerland, with many lively clubs, bars, and pubs. There are also many local events that are hosted in town and bring in a crowd.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Basel. The city's nightlife comes alive as the sun sets. There are bars, pubs, and dance clubs that stay active until the early morning hours.

Is Lucerne or Basel Better for its Old Town?

Lucerne
Basel

Visitors enjoy the great old town areas in both Lucerne and Basel.

There are many historical things to see in the old town of Lucerne. Sitting on the water's edge, this old town has a number of historic buildings and the beautiful Chapel Bridge.

Many visitors explore the old town while visiting Basel. The charming old town is fun to explore on foot with its quaint streets and meandering alleys. The beautiful architecture and ornate fountains give the area a unique personality. On the hottest days you may even see locals swimming in some of the fountains.


Is the Shopping Better in Lucerne or Basel?

Lucerne
Basel

If you're looking to go shopping, Lucerne and Basel both offer plenty of great spots.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Lucerne. The city is filled with high end shopping opportunities with everything from boutique shops to major chains. Popular items to purchase in town include chocolate, watches, jewelry, and Swiss army knives.

Basel is an extremely popular place for shoppers. The old town is filled with shops that you can wander through as you explore. Popular shopping streets include Freie Strasse and the area around Marktplatz, where you'll find boutique shops and interesting trinkets. You can also head to the city's oldest department store - Manor.

Is Lucerne or Basel Better for Families?

Lucerne
Basel

Basel is great for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Lucerne is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Basel. The city has an impressive zoo, a really unique toy museum, as well as Aquabasilea with its pools and slides. It's also compact enough that little legs can explore and enjoy everything that it has to offer. If the weather's warm, head for the river to cool off.

Lucerne is a family-friendly place to visit. The city is filled with history and there are a number of playgrounds around town. Also make sure you pop in a chocolate shop so that everyone can enjoy a sweet treat. If the weather's warm, you can also take a swim in Lake Lucerne. Many kids enjoy escaping the city and doing a day trip to the amazing Mt. Titlis, or other peaks that are nearby.

Is Lucerne or Basel Better for Couples?

Lucerne
Basel

Lucerne is notable for its romantic activities. Also, Basel is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for couples.

Lucerne is a very popular place to visit for couples. The city has many pleasant squares, excellent restaurants, and a romantic atmosphere that makes for a great couple's getaway. There are a number of nice hotels to choose from as well.

Basel is a good city for couples to visit. Nice restaurants, interesting museums, and several great spas make this a nice place for a romantic trip.


Is Lucerne or Basel Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Lucerne
Basel

Basel is a good destination for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Lucerne is not a good destination for backpackers.

Plenty of backpackers visit Basel. There are a few hostels and a really useful City Pass that make this city an option for backpackers and budget travelers. It's also a major transit center so accessibility is convenient. If you're traveling around Europe by train, you'll likely pass through Basel at some point.

Lucerne is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. Prices are high everywhere in the area but there are a few hostels that attract backpackers. It's also possible to find free activities like swimming in the lake or simply wandering around town. Prices at restaurants are very high, so you'll do best to pick up food at supermarkets and prepare your own meals. Because it's a larger city, there are options that you might not find in smaller towns around Switzerland.

Is Lucerne or Basel Better for Students?

Lucerne
Basel

Basel is great for its student-friendly activities. However, Lucerne is not a good destination for students.

Many students visit Basel. The University of Basel brings in international students from around the world. The city makes a nice base for exploring Europe, but it's also a bit expensive which can be challenging on a student income.

Lucerne is a decent spot for students. Most people don't think of the city as a student town but there are some good opportunities for international students. The prices are high, but the city is surrounded by stunning natural beauty that is fun to explore.

Is Lucerne or Basel Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Lucerne
Basel

Basel is great for times when you don't have a car. Also, Lucerne is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its public transit.

Many visitors use the public transit system in Basel. Trams and buses make it easy to get around town.

Lucerne has a few public transit options. There's a comprehensive system of buses around town.


Is Lucerne or Basel a more walkable city?

Lucerne
Basel

Basel is very popular for its ease of walking around. Also, Lucerne is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its walkability.

Basel is a very easy city to get around on foot. The old town and most of the major attractions are easily accessible on foot.

Lucerne is somewhat walkable. The major tourist areas are fairly walkable if your hotel is in a convenient location.

For even more information, also check out Is Lucerne Worth Visiting? and Is Basel Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Basel or Lucerne?

How long in Lucerne or Basel?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Lucerne and Basel. In our opinion, Basel has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Basel than Lucerne. However, 1-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Basel than Lucerne. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Basel, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Lucerne than Basel. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Lucerne that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Basel than Lucerne if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Basel.


  • How many days in Lucerne or Basel? Ideal Length of Stay
    Lucerne 1-3 
    Basel 1-3

One day in Lucerne or Basel?

In Lucerne, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this active destination offers. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Because of this, one day is usually enough time for a trip here.

In Basel, you'll find nightlife and food. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. This city offers something for everyone. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A weekend in Lucerne or Basel?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Lucerne. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

In Basel, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Visiting the old town is also a must. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Basel has to offer.


Five days in Lucerne or Basel?

Lucerne is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the destination of Lucerne. Visiting the old town is also a must. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

Basel is a great place to explore. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Lucerne or Basel?

You'll find food and shopping around the active destination of Lucerne. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Basel. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Basel. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in Switzerland, The Best 2-Week Tours in Switzerland, The Best Bicycle Tours in Switzerland, and Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in Switzerland.


Which place is cheaper, Basel or Lucerne?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Lucerne is $212, while the average daily cost in Basel is $234. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Lucerne and Basel in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Lucerne $136
    Basel $142
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Lucerne $272
    Basel $284
Compare Hotels in Lucerne and Basel

Looking for a hotel in Lucerne or Basel? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Lucerne


Hotels in Basel


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Lucerne Hotel Prices and Basel Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Lucerne $12
    Basel $45

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Lucerne

Also for Lucerne, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Bad Ragaz Resorts to Zurich Airport ZRH - Departure Transfer: $126
  • Zurich Airport (ZRH) to Bad Ragaz Resorts - Round-Trip Transfer: $251
  • Private transfer from Lucerne to Zurich Airport: $278
  • Lucerne to Zurich Airport Private Transfer (Local drivers): $297
  • Private Transfer between Lucerne & Grindelwald/Lauterbrunnen: $329

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Basel

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Basel:

  • Private Transfer: Basel Airport BSL to Zurich in Luxury Van: $265
  • Private Transfer from Basel to Zurich with 3h Sightseeing Stops: $255
  • Private transfer from Basel to Strasbourg with a local driver: $236
  • Private Transfer From Basel To Bern With a 2 Hour Stop in Olten: $228
  • Private direct transfer from Basel to Lucerne with a local driver: $194
  • Private One-way Transfer From Basel to Zurich, English Speaking Driver: $189
  • Basel Airport Transfer: EuroAirport (BSL MLH EAP) to Basel in Luxury Car: $160
  • Basel Airport Transfer: Basel to EuroAirport (BSL MLH EAP) in Luxury Car: $160
  • Private direct transfer from Basel to Colmar with a local driver: $128
  • Departure Private Transfer: Basel to EuroAirport (BSL MLH EAP) in Luxury Van: $121
  • Arrival Private Transfer: EuroAirport (BSL MLH EAP) to Basel in Business Car: $110
  • Basel Airport Transfer: Basel to EuroAirport (BSL MLH EAP) in Business Car: $110

Is it cheaper to fly into Lucerne or Basel?

Prices for flights to both Basel and Lucerne change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Lucerne $62
    Basel $60

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Lucerne

For Lucerne, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Private Swiss Cooking Class in Kriens with a Professional Chef: $164

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Lucerne $34
    Basel $37
Typical Entertainment Prices in Lucerne

For Lucerne, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • 1 Day Bicycle Rental
    $34
  • The Swiss Transport Museum Entrance Fee
    $35

Tours and Activities in Lucerne

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Lucerne.

  • Revealing Self-Guided Audio City Tour: $11
  • Porrentruy Secret Tour: $13
  • Lucerne Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $16
  • Official Guided City Tour of Lucerne: $29
  • Lake Lucerne 1-Hour Catamaran Cruise : $34
  • Lake Lucerne Panoramic Sightseeing Cruise: $37
  • Lucerne–Interlaken Express: One-Way Train Ticket: $39
  • Fish and Grill - Private Fishing Adventure with BBQ Experience: $84
  • Mt Pilatus Roundtrip Ticket from Alpnachstad or Kriens: $89
  • City tour plus Lucerne: $97
  • Magic Lake Visit by Small car Private 1 to 4 guest With tickets: $99
  • Lucerne Walking & Boat Tour: The Best Swiss Experience: $102

Tours and Activities in Basel

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Basel are as follows:

  • 1 Hour Sunday Vintage Tram Shared Tour in Basel: $23
  • Basel : Private Custom Walking Tour With A Local Guide: $83
  • Basel City Sightseeing Bus Tour: $28
  • Basel Family Adventure: Exploring Historic & Artistic Gems: $282
  • Basel Like a Local: Customized Private Tour: $61
  • Basel Scavenger Hunt and Best Landmarks Self-Guided Tour: $5.55
  • Basel's Cheese, Chocolate, and Local Pastry Tasting Private Tour: $172
  • Basel's Portrait Self-Guided Audio City Tour: $11
  • Basel's Portrait: Self-Guided Reading City Tour: $5.74
  • Basel’s Historical Old Town Tour: $150
  • Self Guided FoodTour: $45
  • City tour Basel: $28

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Lucerne $22
    Basel $33

Sample the Local Flavors in Lucerne

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Lucerne:

  • 3 Hour Unique Wine Tour - Half Day in Swiss Alps: $167

Sample the Local Flavors in Basel

Also in Basel, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Pinot Noir & Pinot Wine Tour to Baden-Württemberg: $285
  • Fantastic, full day, private wine tour to Alsace!: $292
  • Half Day Private Cheese & Wine Tasting in Vineyard in Basel: $296


When comparing the travel costs between Lucerne and Basel, we can see that Basel is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in Europe, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Lucerne Expensive? and Is Basel Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Lucerne or Basel?

Basel has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Lucerne. When comparing the sizes of Lucerne and Basel, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Lucerne or Basel?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Lucerne or Basel in the Summer?

Both Basel and Lucerne during the summer are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Lucerne in the summer for the city activities and the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Basel for the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In July, Lucerne is generally around the same temperature as Basel. Daily temperatures in Lucerne average around 21°C (70°F), and Basel fluctuates around 21°C (70°F).

In Basel, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Lucerne. In the summer, Lucerne often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Basel. Lucerne gets 241 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Basel receives 241 hours of full sun.

Lucerne usually gets around the same amount of rain in July as Basel. Lucerne gets 89 mm (3.5 in) of rain, while Basel receives 89 mm (3.5 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Lucerne 21°C (70°F) 
    Basel 21°C (70°F)

Should I visit Lucerne or Basel in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Lucerne and Basel. Most visitors come to Lucerne for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Basel because of the shopping scene and the natural beauty of the area.

Lucerne is around the same temperature as Basel in the autumn. The daily temperature in Lucerne averages around 13°C (56°F) in October, and Basel fluctuates around 13°C (56°F).

Lucerne usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Basel during autumn. Lucerne gets 120 hours of sunny skies, while Basel receives 120 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Lucerne usually receives around the same amount of rain as Basel. Lucerne gets 70 mm (2.8 in) of rain, while Basel receives 70 mm (2.8 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Lucerne 13°C (56°F) 
    Basel 13°C (56°F)

Should I visit Lucerne or Basel in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Lucerne as well as Basel. The winter months attract visitors to Lucerne because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Basel this time of year.

It's quite cold in Basel in the winter. The weather in Lucerne can be very cold. In the winter, Lucerne is around the same temperature as Basel. Typically, the winter temperatures in Lucerne in January average around 3°C (37°F), and Basel averages at about 3°C (37°F).

In the winter, Lucerne often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Basel. Lucerne gets 55 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Basel receives 55 hours of full sun.

Lucerne usually gets around the same amount of rain in January as Basel. Lucerne gets 77 mm (3 in) of rain, while Basel receives 77 mm (3 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Lucerne 3°C (37°F) 
    Basel 3°C (37°F)

Should I visit Lucerne or Basel in the Spring?

Both Basel and Lucerne are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The activities around the city and the natural beauty are the main draw to Lucerne this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Basel for the natural beauty.

In April, Lucerne is generally around the same temperature as Basel. Daily temperatures in Lucerne average around 12°C (53°F), and Basel fluctuates around 12°C (53°F).

Lucerne usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Basel during spring. Lucerne gets 150 hours of sunny skies, while Basel receives 150 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Lucerne usually receives around the same amount of rain as Basel. Lucerne gets 79 mm (3.1 in) of rain, while Basel receives 79 mm (3.1 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Lucerne 12°C (53°F) 
    Basel 12°C (53°F)

Typical Weather for Basel and Lucerne

Lucerne Basel
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 3°C (37°F) 77 mm (3 in) 3°C (37°F) 77 mm (3 in)
Feb 5°C (40°F) 70 mm (2.8 in) 5°C (40°F) 70 mm (2.8 in)
Mar 8°C (46°F) 72 mm (2.8 in) 8°C (46°F) 72 mm (2.8 in)
Apr 12°C (53°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 12°C (53°F) 79 mm (3.1 in)
May 16°C (60°F) 101 mm (4 in) 16°C (60°F) 101 mm (4 in)
Jun 19°C (66°F) 100 mm (3.9 in) 19°C (66°F) 100 mm (3.9 in)
Jul 21°C (70°F) 89 mm (3.5 in) 21°C (70°F) 89 mm (3.5 in)
Aug 21°C (69°F) 104 mm (4.1 in) 21°C (69°F) 104 mm (4.1 in)
Sep 18°C (64°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 18°C (64°F) 79 mm (3.1 in)
Oct 13°C (56°F) 70 mm (2.8 in) 13°C (56°F) 70 mm (2.8 in)
Nov 7°C (45°F) 82 mm (3.2 in) 7°C (45°F) 82 mm (3.2 in)
Dec 4°C (39°F) 83 mm (3.3 in) 4°C (39°F) 83 mm (3.3 in)