Lucerne, Switzerland:

A real-life fairytale

Created date

April 29th, 2019
Cogwheel trains that climb the steep slopes of Mount Pilatus offer breathtaking views of the surrounding hillsides against the backdrop of beautiful Lake Lucerne.

Cogwheel trains that climb the steep slopes of Mount Pilatus offer breathtaking views of the surrounding hillsides against the backdrop of beautiful Lake Lucerne.

Books are not the only places for fairytales. Pack your bags and escape to the medieval city of Lucerne, Switzerland. Set among the Alps and just over a two-hour drive from the Black Forest, the Old Town of Lucerne has preserved much of its earliest architecture, which makes it feel like it’s right out of a storybook!

Full of history

What is there to see in Lucerne? Let’s start with the centerpiece at the very heart of Lucerne. Originally built in 1333, the Chapel Bridge, or Kapellbrücke, is one of the oldest wooden bridges in the world. It has since served to connect the Old Town with the new over the Reuss, one of Switzerland’s largest rivers. As you walk across the bridge, take a moment to look up at the unique paintings inside the bridge that tell of the town’s history, which dates back to the eighth century when Lucerne was named after the Benedictine monastery of St. Leodegar.   

En route to the Chapel Bridge, you’ll see the Chapel Bridge Water Tower, nicknamed by some of the locals as “Rapunzel’s tower.” No, Rapunzel isn’t there, and she won’t be letting her hair down for a prince anytime soon. However, many locals call it that because that’s exactly what comes to mind.

As you meander through the cobblestone streets of Old Town, you’ll see medieval and Italian Renaissance architecture. Many of the houses and shops are covered with elaborate and colorful murals.

Another spectacular sight is the Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument) war memorial. Carved within a sandstone mountain over water, the large, dying lion was created to commemorate the Swiss soldiers who lost their lives protecting King Louis XVI during the French Revolution.

Best chocolate in the world

Stop by Läderach, where you can enjoy decadent chocolate truffles that melt in your mouth and large slabs of chocolate called “chocolate bark.” Läderach is on the list of must-dos for any true chocolate aficionado.

The Lindt chocolate factory is another favorite stop in Lucerne. You can take a tour to see how the chocolate is made and taste samples, compliments of the chocolatier.

Nothing will wash down the chocolate better than a cold glass of Swiss milk, which the locals call “fresh milk.” The fresh milk comes from happy Swiss cows that graze the farms on the hillsides of the Swiss Alps. They’re hard to miss because they wear bells that softly jingle to scare off predators. In addition to providing the townspeople with milk and cheese, these cows provide the milk used to make Swiss chocolate.

Embrace the culture

Plan a trip to the Stadtkeller Restaurant for dinner and a live show by the local people who, to this day, carry out the cultural traditions of their families of many generations long ago. Experience the Swiss Alpine horn, traditional yodeling and dancing, and much more. You may even be invited up on stage to try playing the horn or get a lesson on how to yodel.

While watching the show, order the cheese fondue, which originated in Switzerland, and the schnitzel, lightly fried pork (or chicken, if you request it), a delicious local favorite. If seafood is more your thing, there are also a variety of tasty pescatarian options.

Whether you come alone or with a group, the restaurant staff and other guests become your friends by the end of the night. The entire restaurant booms with conversation, boisterous laughter, and cheers as people clink their large-size beer and wine glasses in unison.

Mount Pilatus

Surrounding the lakeside city of Lucerne sits the picture-perfect Mount Pilatus. For the best view, take a cogwheel train up the steep slopes, where you’ll see the larger-than-life, snow-capped Alps; specks of sailboats on the glistening Lake Lucerne below; and cow farms spanning the hillsides. The extra adventurous can climb to the top, zip line, toboggan, paraglide, or ride in the aerial cable gondola.

A mix of relaxation and adventure

About an hour from Switzerland’s capital city Bern, Lucerne is a little less busy and a little more tranquil. Although smaller in size, Lucerne doesn’t lack in adventure, luxury, or charm.

Outdoor cafes offer relaxed places where you can sip a cup of coffee or tea as you take in the landscape. Along the lakeside, you’ll find several benches to sit and enjoy the scenery, including the reflection of the Alps across the crystal-clear waters of Lake Lucerne.

If you enjoy shopping, there is plenty of that too in Lucerne! Treat yourself to the most exquisite watches, jewelry, and high-end designer brand apparel. Or, perhaps, you’d rather visit the city’s small gift shops for a keepsake to remember your adventure.

From the serenity of the Alps and the vast Lake Lucerne to the history and vivacity of Old Town, there’s no other place quite like Lucerne, Switzerland.