Sustainable event ideas in Lucerne

Nowhere else in Switzerland can you find the unique combination of city, lake, and mountains in such close proximity as in Lucerne. 

Just under an hour by train from Zurich, Lucerne offers a quintessential Swiss experience, complete with top-notch infrastructure for business events.

I recently visited Lucerne to attend the ‘Go Sustainable’ study trip, organised by the Lucerne Convention Bureau in collaboration with the Zurich Convention Bureau. This event brought together both destinations to showcase to event planners the extensive possibilities for organising sustainable events.

Arrival 

The biggest travel hack for Switzerland is the Swiss Travel Pass. 

Available exclusively to non-Swiss residents, it provides unlimited access to all modes of public transport throughout Switzerland. The pass can be booked for durations of 3, 4, 6, 8, or 15 days, offering significant savings in both time and money. 

For our trip, most of the delegates were from Germany and Austria, and we used the Swiss Travel Pass extensively for our travels within Lucerne and for our journey to Zurich.

Where to stay in Lucerne 

For one night in Lucerne, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Luzern – Kriens, an IHG Hotel. Its location is excellent, with the nearest station, S-Bahn at Kriens Mattenhof, just a 3-minute walk from the hotel. It’s one stop to Messe Luzern and two stops to the city center of Lucerne.

This hotel is suitable for corporate groups, offering 160 rooms and a dedicated check-in area next to the reception for your group can be set up upon request. Additionally, it has a small event space with 3 meeting rooms accommodating up to 30 delegates.

If you don’t have the Swiss Travel Pass, you can get the Visitor Card Lucerne at the hotel for bus and train rides within the city, valid throughout your entire stay.

My room at Holiday Inn Express Luzern – Kriens, an IHG Hotel

Social sustainability in city centre 

The Holiday Inn Express Luzern – Kriens, an IHG Hotel, was perfectly located for us to reach our evening location on foot: the Verein Netzwerk Neubad.

This unique venue was the top choice for the official event opening. It serves six purposes, having been transformed from a public swimming pool into a multipurpose space that includes event space, a co-working area, an art gallery, a club, art studios, and a residential flat.

Event space at Verein Netzwerk Neubad
This event space is suitable for up to 250 people

We heard from Nathalie Brunner of Verein Netzwerk Neubad, who explained how they preserved the venue’s original charm while adding necessary features, such as a fire exit inside the swimming pool.

Presentation by Nathalie Brunner from Verein Netzwerk Neubad

The building’s story is fascinating. The former public swimming pool was put up for public tender by the City of Lucerne real estate in 2012. That same year, the association ‘Verein Netzwerk Neubad’ was established, and the venue reopened on 1 September 2013. It has since celebrated its 10th anniversary and has permission to operate at least until 2030.

Its motto is ‘House of open culture, inspiration through diversity, a place of encounter.’

Sustainability initiatives of Verein Netzwerk Neubad

Beyond being a multipurpose venue that is an important part of the local community, here’s what it is doing to be more sustainable:

  • ‘Erneuerbad’ project since 2013: Aims to halve Neubad’s energy consumption and operate the building in a more ecological and sustainable manner.
  • ‘Residenz’ since February 2022: The Neubad apartment serves as a retreat for creative and sociocultural short and long stays, actively promoting art and networking.
  • ‘Temporär’ since 2022: Acts as an expert and contact point for interim uses, promoting active knowledge transfer and vacancy prevention.
  • ‘Vereinbar’ since 2022: Focuses on inclusive culture by, for, and with people with disabilities, promoting active cultural education and inclusion.
  • ‘Neubad.space’ since 2023: The Digital Documentation Project (DigDok) aims to document Neubad throughout the building’s lifespan and make it accessible as a digital public archive and through virtual encounters.

The transformation it has undergone is truly unique and sets an example for other buildings seeking purpose beyond being physical locations. It also demonstrates the power of the circular economy in events and giving spaces a second life.

Its architecture sparked many conversations at the Go Sustainable event because it’s not a typical corporate venue. It also provided a unique backdrop for event photos, creating a buzz around the event online!

The evening concluded with food prepared by members of the Catholic Church of the City of Lucerne. The transcultural vegetarian catering is an integration project by the Migration and Integration Department of the Catholic Church of the City of Lucerne and its aim is to promote the professional and social development of people with a migration background. 

The food was prepared by locals and was incredibly delicious, and nothing was left, ensuring that there was no food waste!

Sustainability in the city 

Lucerne is a walkable city. We began our second day with a city tour led by a local guide. She took us through the beautiful streets, and almost every stop offered stunning views of the lake and mountains.

Morning city tour with a local guide

We stopped at the Lucerne Water Tower for a coffee break. The Water Tower is one of Lucerne’s most iconic landmarks, and you might not realise you can also go inside and they have a small event space. 

It’s suitable for small groups, so we went inside for a coffee break. During the coffee break, we discovered Äss-Bar, a local sustainable bakery with an innovative ‘fresh from the day before’ concept, selling bread and pastries from the previous day.

Lake Lucerne Navigation Company

Afterward, we continued the city tour and concluded at the lake, where we boarded our next mode of transport: a boat operated by the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (Schifffahrtsgesellschaft des Vierwaldstättersees).

The Lake Lucerne Navigation Company is a leading navigation company in Switzerland, offering year-round cruises and boat charters on Lake Lucerne. They provide great flexibility for various events and their durations, including aperitifs, banquets, seminars, and small exhibitions.

For our event, we had the Motor Vessel Cirrus. This vessel is perfect for small to medium-sized events, with a main deck that offers flexible setup options. In our case, we had a small exhibition and a buffet lunch. The large panoramic windows ensured stunning views of the lake at all times.

Our event took place on the Motor Vessel Cirrus, traveling from Lucerne to Vitznau

In total, the company has five historic paddle steamers and fourteen motor vessels. Notably, five of their vessels are sustainable, as they have invested in developing a clean and green fleet. Starting in 2026, they plan to power a vessel with hydrogen.

After a scenic boat tour, a vegan lunch, and networking on board, we arrived in Vitznau to take our next mode of transport, the Rigi Bahn.

Rigi Bahnen

Rigi Bahnen is the most sustainable mountain railway in Switzerland, drawing 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. It operates nine railway lines on one mountain, with 70 percent of its guests arriving by public transport.

Taking Rigi from Vitznau to Rigi Kulm, window view

Beyond the scenic views, Rigi Bahnen offers a range of activities for groups, including dining, hiking, sports, adventure, wellness, and cultural experiences.

We took the cogwheel train from Vitznau directly to the final station, Rigi Kulm. That day, it was snowing in the mountains, so we experienced a dramatic change of scenery from the lake to the snow-covered peaks. It was breathtaking! 

Stunning view from the cogwheel train

We then attended a Kirsch tasting workshop led by Lukas Fassbind from Dettling. In an engaging and entertaining manner, he shared insights into the art of Kirsch tasting.

Kirsch is very important in Switzerland because it’s a key ingredient in Swiss fondue. He talked about the different types of cherries, and we tasted seven varieties of Kirsch, paired with chocolate.

Kirsch tasting workshop led by Lukas Fassbind from Dettling

After the workshop, we made our way back to Arth-Goldau and from there took a train to Zurich. Our wagon was reserved for our group, ‘Go Sustainable,’ adding a small personal touch to our event.

Services of the Lucerne Convention Bureau

This trip was designed by the Lucerne Convention Bureau with a focus on sustainable event planning.

By working with the Lucerne Convention Bureau, you can tap into their extensive local knowledge and expertise. Event planners juggle numerous tasks, but you don’t have to do it alone. They are your first point of contact for your event in the heart of Switzerland.

The Lucerne Convention Bureau offers a wide range of services for events of all sizes, including:

  • Congress Analysis & Consultation: Assessing your needs, recommending suitable venues, and connecting you with the right service providers.
  • Free Quotes & Financial Support: Offering free quotes for small-scale events and financial support based on your event’s scale.
  • Professional Bids & Marketing Support: Assisting with bid books, presentations, and providing promotional materials like photos, films, brochures, and city maps. They can also suggest local giveaways.
  • Site Inspections & Local Supplier Introductions: Organizing tailored site inspections and connecting you with top destination management companies (DMCs), professional congress organizers (PCOs), and creative agencies.
  • Discounted Public Transport & SWISS Partnership: Providing free public transport with hotel stays, reduced-rate congress tickets, and air travel advice with SWISS Airlines as the official carrier.
  • VAT Refunds & Invitations: Guiding foreign companies on VAT refunds and arranging official invitation letters and support from local industry.
  • Support with Sustainable Events: Helping choose green venues, eco-friendly transportation, catering, decor, and introducing sustainable local projects.

The Lucerne Convention Bureau has also created a comprehensive guide for sustainable events, which can be your starting point to explore the region and its sustainable options.

Working with the Lucerne Convention Bureau ensures you have a single point of contact for all your event needs, before, during, and after your events, providing efficiency and convenience throughout the planning process.

Conclusion

Organising sustainable events in Lucerne is straightforward due to the city’s excellent infrastructure and wide selection of venues. In Lucerne, sustainability included not only environmental but also social aspects. 

What impressed me most, and what I haven’t experienced anywhere else, is the close proximity of the city, lake, and mountains. You don’t need to travel far to see them—they’re all around you. The travel becomes part of the experience and can be seamlessly integrated into your event programme. This can all be accomplished within half a day, highlighting the short distances in Lucerne.

For business trips, which are often short, this setup allows attendees to see and experience a lot in a short amount of time. Lucerne’s unique combination of short distances, sustainable venues and natural beauty makes it an ideal destination for sustainable events.

Header photo: Lucerne city. Copyright: Anina Fässler | Lucerne Tourism

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