Switzerland has four official languages, so what language do they speak in Lucerne?
German is the official language of Lucerne, therefore you will hear the dialect of Swiss German spoken throughout. But, don’t worry, English is widely spoken and understood too.
Ok, so what is Swiss German and how is it different is it to “normal German?”
What is Swiss German?
Swiss German is the dialect spoken by the German-speaking population of Switzerland. As previously mentioned, Switzerland has four official languages. In order of Popularity, they are German, French, Italian and Romansch, you can read more about them here.
Swiss German is spoken by approximately 60% of the population and Lucerne is a German-speaking state, so prepare to hear some “Schweizerdeutsch” as the locals call it.
What Other Languages Do They Speak In Lucerne?
Lucerne is not a big city on the worldwide stage, but for Switzerland, it is the most popular city in the central part of the country. On top of this, it is a city that is on the list of most tourists entering the country.
Taking this into account, you will hear a lot of different languages spoken in the street, plus you will find the locals speaking and understanding a collection of languages, including some French and Italian too.
Tourists come from far and wide to visit this magical city, in fact, Lucerne has become a top spot for Chinese tourists, with their visits increasing year on year.
Can I Speak English in Lucerne?
Yes, you can speak English in Lucerne. Due to the city having such a large tourism trade and a diversified mix of nationalities, You can get by speaking English.
Generally, most Swiss understand and speak English, especially in popular cities, such as Lucerne.
Do I Need to Learn Swiss German Before Going to Lucerne?
No, you don’t need to learn Swiss German before going to Lucerne, but it would be nice to learn a little, wouldn’t it?
Language is about connection and speaking or at least trying to speak a second language will give you insights into a different culture.
Sure, Swiss German is not easy, but making the effort to speak a few basic words, will help you build rapport, get a smile and connect with the locals.
So, let’s learn some basics.
C’mon, I will keep it easy!
5 Swiss German Words You Need To Know
Ok, so we have five little words that are fairly easy to learn that I guarantee you will use in Lucerne.
1. Hello – Grüezi
This sweet little greeting is polite, easy to say, and more Swiss than mountains and chocolate combined. Said with a smile, it is an easy way to break into the language and impress the locals.
Pronunciation is like “Grooetzi” (say it like it reads and roll the “r” a touch if you can)
Next up, let’s eat!
2. Enjoy Your Meal – En Guete
With so many nationalities and a rich gastronomic heritage from chocolate to cheese and local lake fish. You will have many opportunities to practice this one. It can be said before eating a sandwich with a friend or at the start of a top-end meal.
Pronunciation is like “En-Gooettah”
Nice, now let’s touch on a word that some would say is a touch more important.
3. Cheers – Proscht
Whether it is one of the thousands of beers that Switzerland produces or a glass of wine from the vineyards approaching Geneva, there will always be a reason to use this one.
This word comes directly from the German language, with minimal Swiss changes.
Pronunciation is like “Proshht” (with a little roll of the tongue on the “r”)
Nice, next one up is a little basic manners.
4. Thanks – Merci/Danke
Ok, so we have two options here. Why? Because in the German-speaking areas, which includes Lucerne, use these words interchangeably.
So naturally, one comes from French and the other from German, but the Swiss mix it up a little, so you can too.
Let’s try both.
Danke is like “Dunkarhh”
Merci is like “Miersee”
Ok great, time to go, but I have one last one for you.
5. Goodbye – Tschüss
This is informal, easy to say, and really quite a sweet word too. Again, there are many ways to say the same thing, but I am keeping things simple.
Pronunciation is like “Choooss” the “T” is pretty much silent.
Well, that wraps up our Swiss Langauge basics. By now, you should feel confident that you can speak English when you visit Lucerne, but will also have a little Swiss German up your sleeve.
But try and learn a little Swiss German, I know you want to!
5 Incredible Things To See & Do In Lucerne
Heading to Lucerne, you’ve got to check out my favorite spots below:
1. Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne, you can’t miss it. It’s absolutely stunning, it is 18.64miles (30kms) long and covers around 43.86miles (70.59kms) in total. You can explore the lake by paddle board, Ferry or private boat or just go for a little walk around it, well the first part.
The color of the water and the impeccable backdrop will leave you breathless.
2. Kapellbrücke – The Chapel Bridge
I am sure you have seen this one on social media. This beautiful old bridge is the oldest wooden footbridge in Europe. Its ceiling has a collection of original paintings throughout and in Spring and Summer, the bridge is overflowing with flowers in hanging pots, truly stunning.
Heading to Lucerne for dinner, make sure you check out this bridge at night time when the lights go on.
3. Mount Pilatus
Look South, see that big mountain, well that is Mount Pilatus. This 2,128m mountain is easily accessible in the warmer months and is a great day trip with an incredible view. If you have the time, you have to do it.
4. Lucerne Culture & Convention Centre
For a small city, this is a big deal. Built-in 2000, it was actually a rebuild of the original Art and Congress Centre. This amazing building has a 113×107 meter roof and even if you only have a look from the outside, it is well worth seeing.
Albeit, if you do have the opportunity to see a live event inside, do it, you won’t regret it!
5. Hiking, Hiking & More Hiking!
Have time to get out of the city and want to give your legs a good workout Lucerne has an abundance of walking and hiking trails from easy to difficult.
You can check out a collection of the best local trails here.
Check out my article on 10 Things Switzerland is known for, It’s a small country, but it offers so much!
Or, if you’re thinking about moving to this beautiful country and want to buy a home, make sure you read this.