Located southwest of Lucerne, the 39,000-plus-sq-km Entlebuch area (www.biosphaere.ch; a mixed mountain and highland ecosystem) was declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 2001. Far from being a lonely wilderness outpost, it's home to some 17,000 people keen to preserve their traditional dairy-farming lifestyle. The landscape of karst formations, sprawling moors (some 25% of the area), Alpine pastures and mountain streams, which rises from 600m to around 2350m above sea level, makes for some wonderful hiking opportunities. For details pop into the Entlebuch Park Office in Schüpfheim, 30 to 45 minutes by train from Lucerne.

Worth A Trip: Mt Pilatus

Among the several (heavily marketed) day trips from Lucerne, consider the one to 2132m-high Mt Pilatus (www.pilatus.com). From May to October, you can reach the peak on a classic ‘golden round trip’. Board the lake steamer from Lucerne to Alpnachstad, on the south side of the mountain, then rise with the world’s steepest cog railway to Mt Pilatus. From the summit, cable cars bring you down to Kriens on the northern side of the mountain (via Fräkmüntegg and Krienseregg), where bus 1 takes you back to Lucerne. The return trip costs Sfr106 (less with Swiss Travel, Eurail or InterRail passes).