Flashy lights and spinning wheels of fortune are found at the Grand Casino (also known as Casineum), Haldenstrasse 6 (tel. 041/418-56-56; www.grandcasinoluzern.ch). You can try your luck at 140 slot machines. Poker, roulette, and blackjack are also available.
On a more cultural note, if you speak German, you can enjoy performances at the Stadttheater, Theaterstrasse 2 (tel. 041/228-14-14; www.luzernertheater.ch). Directly on the lake on the rail station side of town, it's the home of Lucerne's major theater group. Operas in their original language are also staged here. The Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft Lucerne is the local resident orchestra, presenting performances at the KKL Congress Center from October to June, or at the Kultur und Kongress Zentrum . For more information, call tel. 041/210-50-50.
In the late 1990s, the city of Lucerne inaugurated one of the most dramatically modern, large-scale buildings in central Switzerland, the Kultur und Kongress Zentrum (KKL), Europaplatz 1 (tel. 041/226-77-77; www.kkl-luzern.ch), as a glittering showcase to corporate conventions and the performing arts. Poised beside the railway station in starkly modern contrast to the spires and alpine architecture of the rest of Lucerne, its controversial shape may remind newcomers of an enchanted "music box" that glitters with acres of glass and metal panels in shades of forest green, dark blue, and red. It was designed with a spectacular copper-sheathed roof by noted Parisian architect Jean Nouvele. Its auditoriums have some of the best acoustics in the world, thanks to rotating panels behind the stage. Expect heavy use of this site for classical, rock, and heavy-metal concerts. (For information about the concerts that will be presented here, check out the posters in front of the building, or call the concert hall itself at tel. 0848/800-800 or 0900/552-225.) A snack bar and cafe are also on the premises.
The Altstadt (Old Town) always brims with pubs and cafes. Mr. Pickwick's Pub, Rathausquai 6 (tel. 041/410-59-27; www.pickwick.ch), is the most authentic looking and the most popular British pub in Lucerne, with a sudsy, woodsy-looking decor that's awash with Brits, beer, and anyone else who simply wants to toss back a pint or two from a riverfront location near the northern end of the Old Town's covered bridge. It generally stays open nightly until 1am, which is very late by the standards of Lucerne.
Many hotels have more subdued bars, especially the National, Haldenstrasse 4 (tel. 041/419-09-09), which has a glossy American-type bar, and the Palace Hotel, Haldenstrasse 10 (tel. 041/416-16-16), which also has one American-style bar. The most ultracool place in Lucerne is the Lounge Bar of the Hotel, Sempacherstrasse 14 (tel. 041/226-86-86).
Suite Lounge, on the top floor of the Hotel Monopol, Pilatusstrasse 1 (tel. 041/220-13-15), is our favorite nightclub in Lucerne. We say that partly because it's crowded with the kinds of hip and available people you can talk to, and partly because it boasts one of the most dramatic physical settings of any nightclub in Switzerland. To reach it, you'll wait in line on the lobby level of the hotel, a Belle Epoque beauty that sits across the plaza from the railway station. An attendant will funnel clients, in elevator-size blocks, into a lift that will haul you to a point beneath the hotel's ornate copper-sheathed cupola. Here, recently released dance music, three bars, and a pair of outdoor terraces combine to create an instant party ambience that virtually everyone finds invigorating. By all means, climb to the club's highest point for open-air views of Lucerne that are among the best in the city. Incidentally, this nightclub's name (P-1) derives from a simplification of its address (Pilatusstrasse 1).
The Loft, Haldenstrasse 2 (tel. 041/410-92-44; www.theloft.ch), is a serious contender for the title of the most hip and with-it nightclub in a town that's loaded with worthy competition. Music is a sophisticated blend of whatever you might have expected in London or Los Angeles, and the crowd is young and beautiful. The decor includes at least two bar areas and a balcony that overlooks a high-tech dance floor ringed with free-standing candelabrum, whose candles seem to flicker in rhythm to the music. There is a cover charge of 10F to 15F.
The terrace of the Penthouse Bar at the Hotel Astoria, Pilatusstrasse 29 (tel. 041/226-88-88), offers a panoramic view over the rooftops of the city and the dramatic mountainscape beyond. Large sofas are an invitation to linger. On weekends, DJs keep everybody in a party mood. BLUE is a lounge bar at the also-recommended Renaissance Lucerne Hotel, Pilatusstrasse 15 (tel. 041/266-87-87), featuring the most exotic cocktails in town. Blue is the dominant theme here, but the style of the bar ranges from Asian to mock Louis XVI.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.