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.
Best places to stay in Lucerne
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. We picked our five favourites and we're counting them down all this week. First up? A kooky lock-up in Lucerne.
Lucerne destination guides
Insider tips - Switzerland
Yep it looks like a train set and it runs like a cuckoo clock, but there are still some things you should know about Switzerland before you go. No Euros here - Switzerland is an island in middle of the Euro Zone. They haven’t joined the EU, and they like their francs, thank you.
Mount Titlis Day Tour from Zurich
Witness breathtaking snowy mountain landscapes on this day trip from Zurich to Mount Titlis. First, see top Lucerne attractions on a guided walking tour and enjoy some free time in this charming city. Then, continue to Engelberg in the Swiss Alps and ride in a revolving cable car to the top of mighty Mount Titlis for majestic views of ice boulders and crevasses.
Mount Pilatus Summer Day Trip from Lucerne
For a full day of summer splendor, make for the mountains on this guided roundtrip from Lucerne to central Switzerland's Mount Pilatus. Your full day guided tour includes a gondola and aerial cable car ride, descending the world's steepest cog-wheel railway and a cruise on Lake Lucerne.