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Luzern (Lucerne)

Luzern (also spelled Lucerne) is one of the most popular towns with tourists in Switzerland. It is easy to see why. It is beautiful, historic, lively and easy to reach.

Like many Swiss cities, Luzern’s setting is on a beautiful lake with lovely mountains in the background. But in addition, the city is split by the beautiful Reuss River.

What is striking about Luzern is the mix of feelings that it evokes. The old town is distinctly Germanic. It is beautiful and stoic, but reminds one of other pretty Swiss German old towns, such as Zurich or Bern. However, there are buildings that are tall, thin and gabled and remind one of the canal houses in Amsterdam. Other buildings seem Venetian in style. Unlike many Swiss cities, there is long strip of restaurants and cafes along the river in the old town and the lively atmosphere is reminiscent of Mediterranean cities. The walk along the lake of Luzern is very peaceful and relaxing and is reminiscent of walking along the Lake in Zurich.

The best part of Luzern it is only 45 minutes from Zurich and 1 hour from Basel by direct train. So, even if you are coming into Switzerland for a short stay, Luzern is a highly recommended for a short excursion.

What to see:

Luzern’s most famous landmark is the covered bridge that connects the old town to the more modern part of Luzern. The bridge is the oldest covered bridge in Europe. Unfortunately much of the bridge was burnt in 1993. Inside are paintings that date back to the 17th century. Many of those were damaged or destroyed in the fire as well. The pictures have writing on them that describe the history of Luzern. However, the script is old Germanic script and even if you read German, it is very difficult to read this old fashioned script.

Many people who visit Luzern combine it with a trip up either the Rigi Mountain (1800 meters or 5900 feet) or the Pilatus Mountain (2132 meters or 7000 feet). From the top of each you have beautiful views. The Rigi mountain is the site of the world’s first cogwheel railway, built in 1871. The Pilatus Mountain is serviced by the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. Amazingly it was first opened in 1889 and with a 48% grade. Over a century after being built it is still the world’s steepest. At the top of each mountain are cafes and restaurants where one can enjoy a drink together with the view.

Recommended Restaurant:

La Terazza (Metzgerrainle 9)

For the taste of nice Italian food and gorgeous view over the River Reuss and beautiful Baroque Jesuit Church go to La Terazza. The restaurant has a nice terrace.  You can choose from a  nice variety of pasta dishes and a big selection of pizzas.