Recipe for a gorgeous Swiss city: take a cobalt lake ringed by mountains of myth, add a well-preserved medieval Altstadt (Old Town) and a reputation for making beautiful music, then sprinkle with covered bridges, sunny plazas, candy-coloured houses and waterfront promenades. Lucerne is stunning, and deservedly popular since the likes of Goethe, Queen Victoria and Wagner savoured her views in the 19th century. Legend has it that an angel with a light showed the first settlers where to build a chapel in Lucerne, and today it still has amazing grace.
One minute it’s nostalgic (its emotive lion sculpture, its fondness for tradition), the next highbrow, with concerts at acoustic marvel KKL and the Sammlung Rosengart’s peerless Picasso collection. Though the shops are still crammed with what Mark Twain so eloquently described as ‘gimcrackery of the souvenir sort’, Lucerne doesn’t only dwell on the past, with a roster of music gigs keeping the vibe upbeat. Carnival capers at Fasnacht, balmy summers, golden autumns – this ‘city of lights’ shines in every season.
Europe's most unusual hotels: #5
Lonely Planet Magazine put together their list of Europe's 20 most unusual places to stay - beds in wine barrels, glass igloos in Lapland, that kind of thing...