With Europe’s oldest covered bridge, colorful Old Town with cobbled stone and amazing food+beer, Lucerne is a charming destination for travelers while in Switzerland. We visited Switzerland this spring in June 2016 and stayed in Interlaken by the mountains. But, we made day trips to two of its most beautiful cities – Lucerne and Bern. The train journey from Interlaken to Lucerne is just two hours but very scenic. And while we were busy admiring natural beauty through glass windows, we reached there before we knew it. Here’s our guide to Lucerne in a day based on our itinerary:
Lucerne is situated at the north end of Lake Lucerne where the River Reuss flows out of the lake. And that’s the first thing we noticed as soon as we headed out of its magnificent Central Railway Station (Hauptbahnhof). We walked towards the lake and sat besides admiring its clear blue water. The lake has giant swans which are constantly fed by the visitors and locals. So when we sat besides lake having light brunch, swans swam close to the shore expecting to be fed.
There are many scenic lake cruises which visitors can take. The cruises take you up to mountainous Rigi area. Rigi Kulm is its highest point and offers great views of Lake Lucerne and the Alps.
However, we chose to explore the city on foot. Lucerne is compact and easy to navigate. Everything is within walking distance, which is ideal for visitors.
The city spreads on both sides of the Reuss River and has a number of bridges.The most famous one is Kapellbrücke Bridge (Chapel Bridge), a 669 ft long wood-covered bridge running diagonally across the Reuss. The bridge dates back to the 12th century and is the oldest covered bridge in Europe. As we walked on the bridge, we noticed 17th century paintings inside depicting city’s history. It was a pleasant walk with musicians playing soothing music on the bridge. Across the bridge lies the Water Tower, an octagonal fortification that over time served as a lighthouse, a prison and a treasury. The featured photograph shows the majestic bridge.
We walked across the bridge to reach Old Town on the right bank of Reuss. The old medieval town gave us a feeling that we were part of a fairy tale town with its narrow cobbled streets, beautiful old buildings and little squares with water fountains. The interesting landmark of this part is Chapel Square (Kapellplatz) with the oldest church of Lucerne, St. Peter’s church ( St. Peter Kirche), built in 1178. Equally interesting is the House of Chapel Square and its painted facades.
Next, we walked towards the Lion of Lucerne which totally captured our hearts. Set in a park near the center of town, it is a 20-ft sculpture carved in a cliff. It portrays dying lion pierced by a spear and his head bowed down. This touching monument is dedicated to the Swiss mercenary soldiers who died during the French Revolution. There is so much melancholy in the eyes of the lion that you are instantly hooked onto them.
Our walk ended at Rathaus brewery which has Lucerne’s home-brewed beer. A refreshing drink after an enchanting walk. We wished we could have spent more time at the city to visit Musegg Wall, the fortification complex around the old town or its Jesuit Church. We spent last few moments visiting Bachmann, the largest chocolate shop of Switzerland relishing world-famous Swiss chocolates!