Nestled beneath the sky scraping Alps, conveniently situated in Central Europe, and inhabited by some of the friendliest people anywhere, Lucerne is a vibrant and historic city bursting at the seams with character. From the old town to the Old Chapel Bridge, follow this travel guide for the best sightseeing in Lucerne, Switzerland!
If you’re already in Europe, the best way to get to Switzerland is by train. Coming from Venice the high speed train zipped through the countryside offering a visual feast of snow capped mountains, rolling green hills and sleepy, cottage-filled towns.
Arriving in Lucerne you are welcomed into a lively little city where old world charm meets modern refinement. It becomes evident very quickly that there’s something for everyone here.
We stayed right on the water at Hotel des Alpes which made for an incredible view from our bedroom. I recommend staying on a higher floor to get the best view of the lake below from your window. The hotel provided a bountiful buffet every morning full of local cheeses, jams and freshly baked sweet breads. Bear in mind that the closer you stay to the water the more you’ll pay, however a view as enchanting as the old wooden bridge jetting across the Reuss River helps to justify the bill.
Stroll – Appreciate the architecture, the historic elements, the character of the town is alluring and it’s fun to pop into shops and chat with the locals who are sure to welcome you with a kind “hallo” and engaging conversation.
Shop – While prices in Switzerland are high, Lucerne happens to be a mecca for watches. Plus the price range is broad, however if watches aren’t your accessory of choice go for a personalized engraved Swiss army knife.
Sightseeing – Lucerne is an attractive city with plenty to see. For a fun scope of the city take the City Train Lucerne , which is just a bus in trains clothing, and runs from mid April to December. I loved this tour but it was SERIOUSLY late. Like, an hour late… The train runs on a regular schedule, but ours happened to get caught up in a traffic jam delaying its arrival. All in all it was worth the wait because we got to see so much of the city in forty minutes – taking us through the Old Town quarters and past Lake Lucerne.
Day and Night – Something I love about Lucerne is how equally beautiful it is during the day and at night. While the sun is shining the backdrop of the mountains cradling the city is utterly picturesque. Come nightfall, the illuminating lights reflecting off the water and the buzz of the night is mesmerizing. Stroll the river late at night when the lights sparkle and the town is quiet and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear some Alphorn harmonics. Any time of day, this town is seductively inviting.
Kapellbrücke (Old Chapel Bridge) – Dating back to the early 1300s, Europe’s oldest wooden bridge spans the Reuss River, dividing Lucerne from the old town and the new. Walk the bridge and enjoy some of the few remaining 17th Century paintings depicting Lucerne’s history. As the world’s oldest Truss Bridge, Europe’s oldest wooden bridge and having survived a fire which almost decimated it, seeing this monument of weathered history is a one of a kind experience.
The Dying Lion Monument – An homage commemorating the lives of the fallen Swiss Guards who died defending the King of France in 1792 during the French Revolution. This rock relief is a compelling and emotional memorial symbolizing the Swiss’ dedication, personified in Latin above the monument reading “to the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss.”
After traveling through Italy for two weeks and drinking tiny sized espressos, my American comforts were surfacing and I was craving a venti iced soy hazelnut latte from Starbucks. I was elated to find a Starbucks right by our hotel and after hurriedly dropping my bags in our room I beelined it for my coffee.
With a wide-eyed grin I ordered my venti latte only to receive an American sized Grande for nine francs.
My only gripe with Switzerland is that it’s a little pricey. A “cheap” meal at a pub will still hemorrhage about 20-25 francs out of you. Why? For starters, Switzerland is located smack dab in the middle of Europe, but it doesn’t use the Euro. The cost of living, wages and housing is very high, so the prices for goods are as well.
Despite the initial shock of menu and shopping prices, don’t be deterred from visiting this breathtaking country. Three days in Lucerne won’t break your bank if you plan accordingly. Switzerland stands out in my mind as one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been, bite the bullet and take the trip… you won’t regret it! Treat yourself to a short and sweet getaway to this beautiful city.
Want more of Switzerland? Check out the video from our weekend in Switzerland here!
Have an extra day? Spend it exploring the gorgeous Swiss Alps!
Have you been to Switzerland? Share your memories in the comments below!