10 Reasons Why Lucerne, Switzerland Should be Your Next Summer City Break

10 Reasons Why Lucerne, Switzerland Should be Your Next Summer City Break

Sitting pretty amid snow-capped mountains, its streets blessed with historic architecture and packed with diverting delights, Lucerne offers visitors a distilled taste of Switzerland at its best.

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city right at the heart of Switzerland – almost equidistant
from Zurich, Basel and Bern – lovely Lucerne can be regarded as a compact version of
the entire nation; a pint-sized metropolis that has it all. Wander
its ancient fortifications, kick your shoes off at the shores of
its great lake, take in modern art and classical music at its
striking Culture and Congress Centre, venture underground to its
enchanting Glacier Garden and scale Mount Pilatus on the world’s
steepest cog railway.

10 wonderful ways to fall in love with Lucerne

1. Explore historic bridges

Lucerne’s most iconic site is arguably the 14th-century Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), a snaking wooden
footbridge – the oldest of its kind in Europe – that slices through
the Reuss River, punctuated with an octagonal water tower and
adorned with ceiling paintings that illustrate the city’s history.
Top tip: visit at dusk to see it light up in all its splendour, and
don’t miss its lesser-lauded little sister, the Spreuerbrücke, just

2. Linger at Lake Lucerne

Framed by mountains, cerulean blue, with dramatic fjord-like
offshoots, this is a showstopper of a lake, especially during the
warm summer months. Trace its edges on foot at your leisure, or hop
aboard one of its historic paddle steamers and tour its clear
waters from the deck. The Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV) offers a
range of boat excursions, including a two-and-a-half-hour loop to
the pretty resort town of Beckenried and back, with a bistro and
bar on board.

3. Ride the world’s steepest cog railway

Lucerne sits under the majestic gaze of Mount Pilatus. Its
jagged summit, which boasts a spectacular 360-degree alpine
panorama, can be reached on foot (if you’re fit and keen), car or
by gondola, but we recommend scaling it by way of its cog railway, a 30-minute climb with a nerve-shredding
gradient of 48 per cent, making it the world’s steepest. There are
plenty of inviting cafés and restaurants at the top.

4. Enjoy its legendary festival

Classical music lovers will want to plan their trip to coincide
with the Lucerne Summer Festival (8 August – 11 September),
which has, over the past 75 years, earned itself a reputation as
being one of the greatest on the planet. Bringing together
celebrated orchestras, famed conductors and emerging soloists, its
theme this year is diversity – so expect other styles, including
jazz and folk, to creep into the programme.

5. Gawp at a chocolate fountain

Behold, Lucerne’s very own Willy Wonka emporium. Located on
Schwanenplatz, the gateway to the city’s Old Town, is Confiserie
a fourth-generation bakery that serves all sorts of
sweet delicacies against the backdrop of its prized Flowing
Chocolate Wall. Observe 750kg of liquid heaven tumble forth, then
make your selection from a paradise of pastries, macaroons and ice

6. Feast on culture at the KKL

A strikingly modern architectural triumph amid the cobbled
streets of Lucerne, the lakeside Culture and
Congress Centre
(KKL) and its giant sloping copper roof is
today a stalwart of the city. Check the website to see what’s on
across its fantastic concert hall, auditorium and art gallery, and
take a tour to learn about its French creator, Jean Nouvel, and his
obsession with the interplay between water and light.

7. Roam parks and gardens

Take advantage of a sunny day by making a beeline for Inseli Park, a lively, picturesque spot by the
lake where you can play table tennis, have a picnic or enjoy a
cooling drink at one of two seasonal bars – Volière and Buvette.
Then head underground to explore the labyrinth of the Lucerne
Glacier Garden, where you’ll find sophisticated animations
projected onto the rock structures, and an enchanting mirror

8. Marvel at museums

Lucerne is home to an impressive showcase of museums, and you
can visit eight of them over the course of two days for less than
£30 with the Lucerne Museum Card, including the
aforementioned Glacier Garden. We also recommend the Richard Wagner
Museum, located in the composer’s former 15th-century country
abode, and the Bourbaki Panorama, a staggering 112m circular
painting that depicts a crucial scene from the 1870-71
Franco-Prussian War.

9. Take in the art

The Sammlung Rosengart is a small jewel of a gallery for
those partial to classic modernist art, populated with the works of
Picasso, Cézanne, Monet and Klee. For something more
under-the-radar, head to the west of the city for a visit to the
quirky Museum im Bellpark, which displays an eclectic presentation
of photography, paintings and video art in a characterful
19th-century mansion.

10. Step back in time

Lucerne’s ancient fortifications still stand, in part, as part
of the Musegg Wall and its nine stone towers, which
are floodlit at night to form an imposing crown around the city’s
Old Town. By day, take a short stroll to the Lion Monument, a
sculpture carved into a fairy-tale grotto, inaugurated in 1821 and
described by Mark Twain as being “the most mournful and moving
piece of stone in the world”.

The Lowdown

To discover more about Lucerne, visit myswitzerland.com.

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