Months before I went to Switzerland, before my visa even got approved, I told a friend about the trip and she became so excited about it that she started telling about what she can remember when she went to Europe. One of the places that she remembered in her trip was Lucerne. That time, being the naive traveler that I am, I only researched about my main destination which is Zurich. Lucerne was not even part of the list. Looking back, I would definitely regret not being able to visit this quaint little Canton if my friend had not told me about it.
Lucerne is just an hour away by train from Zurich. It may not be as grand as Zurich but allotting a day in the quaint city is definitely a must if you’ll visit the Country of Cheese and Chocolate. Lucerne has an appeal of its own, different from its bigger neighbour Zurich, which can be seen in the City’s bridges, churches and streets, not to mention the presence of Lake Lucerne and Reuss, which complete the package that anyone could ever ask for.
How to get to Lucerne from Zurich
One thing I love about writing a blog about a Country with an efficient public transportation is that this part will always be the easiest.
For you to get to Lucerne, you just need to go to Zürich Bahnhofplatz (Main Train Station). From there you need to ride a train direct to Lucerne. That’s it!
What to do?
Lucerne might be a small canton but it is full of attractions with which to feast your eyes and it will only take you a whole day to complete the experience.
1. Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) and the Water Tower
In fact, Lucerne’s most famous landmark, Kapellbrücke, is a wooden bridge that spans across the Reuss River. Said bridge isn’t just your regular wooden bridge that you can find anywhere. Inside, the interiors showcase paintings dating back to the 17th century. Unfortunately, because of a fire back in 1993, some of the original paintings were destroyed. The paintings were made by Hans Heinrich Wägmann depicting the major events of the City’s history.
The Bridge is also the oldest surviving truss bridge and is a famous attraction not just in Lucerne but in the whole country of Switzerland.
2. Enjoy the view of Reuss River
The River is actually one of the four big rivers in the Country and runs from Lake Lucerne to Brugg. Though the river may look ordinary in the morning (well at least when we saw it) but it can be a truly stunning sight at night.
3. Marvel Lake Lucerne
Taking a 5 to 10-minute stroll by the Lake can instantly make you feel at peace. The calm waters of Lake Lucerne alongside the majestic swans with the Swiss Alps in the background definitely look like a scene taken out straight from the books or Swiss Fairytales.
4. Don’t miss the Lucerne Carnival (Fasnacht)
Well, we did miss it. Just a heads up, the 2017 Carnival is scheduled on February 23 – 28. The Carnival is a colourful display of people in costumes, and strange characters in fantastic, and sometimes a bit odd, masks. It started in the 1800s and the tradition is carried on until the present time and the next 50 years (at least based on their schedule). On top of the parade of characters, there are also carnival musicians (Guggenmusigen) who play joyful melody to “dance away the spirits of winter.”
The only remnant of the Carnival we’ve seen is the Carnival Tree (Guuggerbaum). It is not a living tree. It is a tree trunk “emblazoned as a symbol and landmark of the ‘United’ during the crazy days of Carnival in Lucerne.” United or “United Carnival Bands of Lucerne” is the largest carnival organisation in Central Switzerland.
We witnessed the Carnival Tree being chopped off since the carnival is already over and they’ll have to remove it.
5. Admire the Jesuit Church
It is the Country’s first large Baroque church built in Switzerland. The Church was constructed in 1667 and by 1673, the shell and main façade of the Church were completed.
6. Stroll on the Rathaus-Steg
Though this bridge may not be as ancient as the Kapellbrücke, it is still older than most bridges. The bridge was built in 1961. It is quite obvious when you look at the details of its ornamental metal railings with its candelabras still intact till now.
What else did I miss?
Well, there are several more places in Lucerne that I failed to visit and I advise you shouldn’t miss them, as featured on their Tourism Website. The attractions include The Lion Monument, Spreuer Bridge, Musegg Wall and Hoff Church.
Drawn-out from the books
Lucerne is like a small city drawn-out from the books. It is complete with all the features of a European City, compressed and placed in a seemingly geographically perfect location. With Lucerne situated beside a lake, there is also the Reuss River which stretches across the City surrounded by snow-capped mountains. On top of it all, the well-preserved architectural landmarks that survived all these years add so much character to the small quaint city.