Midway on our Swiss train adventure from Geneva through the Berner Oberland and onto Basel, Lucerne is an absolute gem that should not be overlooked on any Swiss itinerary. We spent just 20 hours here, which is both sufficient and still not enough time.
The most impressive part of Lucerne, and the reason for our visit, is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke). The Chapel Bridge is a covered wooden footbridge spanning the river Reuss diagonally. The bridge contained a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century. Sadly, some of the bridge and its original paintings were destroyed in a 1993 fire – smoking on the bridge is now strongly prohibited.
Beyond the Chapel Bridge, the city contains a well-preserved center with elegant and historic buildings. The old town still preserves many of the old burgher houses and small squares with central fountains. The timber-framed buildings painted in bright colors evoke a fairy-tale atmosphere.
The Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument) is a famous, stately, dying lion hewn from the face of a rock ledge with a small pond in front. The monument commemorates the death of 26 officers and more than 700 troops of the Swiss Guards who were protecting King Louis XVI during the attack on the Tuileries in the French Revolution. The monument is touching, quiet, serene.
The town wall — built between 1350 and 1408 — with nine towers in different styles, still exists along the north side of Lucerne. The wall and its ramparts are fun to climb and provide a gorgeous view of Lucerne, Lake Lucerne, and Swiss mountains in the distance. The oldest of Lucerne’s clocks, built in 1535, is in the Zyt Tower.
We stayed at The Hotel, a few short blocks from the train station. We were generously upgraded to the penthouse, which provided us a large veranda for our enjoyment of the surrounding rooftops of Lucerne.
Our room also had a conspicuously large mural of John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Liaisons. Not sure why I’m writing that here, but its what we’ll certainly remember. Our “date night” dinner was at Restaurant Red, which was in the Lucerne Culture and Congress Center. The food was remarkably modern; modern to the degree of a tasting menu including trout chili con carne with green beans (don’t ask) and a gorgeous short rib deconstructed stew.
Lucerne is a “must visit” on any Swiss adventure. It’s absolutely stunning and well worth the stopover.
Note: This trip was from June 2017 and some details may no longer be correct.