Lucerne is the geographic and historic centrepiece of Switzerland. The city of Lucerne and the Lake Lucerne Region are frequently referred to as the 'pocket-size Switzerland'. No other region offers so much in such a small amount of space. Lake Lucerne also has the most extensive inland navigation system in Europe. Close by mountains from which a 360-degree panorama of the Alps can be enjoyed all year round and the city of Lucerne with its tradition and appear as a metropolis in the heart of Switzerland.
We decided to send our roving reporter Trudy to Lucerne to scout out all the different things to do, see and where to stay so that you don't have to do any extra research work!
I travelled from London Heathrow to Zurich which only took approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes, and then from there I got the train to Lucerne. The average travel time of the train between Zurich and Lucerne is 48 minutes and they are never late! There are multiple flights available from London to Zurich all year round, and there are also regular regional flights from other major airports such as Manchester and Birmingham.
The hotel we stayed at was Hotel Astoria in the city, close to the Central Railway Station which is 4 star. The hotel was designed by architects and Pritzker prize winners Herzog & DeMeuron, and whatever your reason for travelling the Hotel will provide you with a luxurious but comfortable home from home experience. The hotel boasts five restaurants, three of which are award winning and a rooftop garden lounge so that you can enjoy a tasty tipple with views across the mountain landscape! There are 252 rooms here with plenty of conference space. There are plenty of other hotels in the surrounding area of the lake such as:
- The Schweizerhof Luzern – 5 *
- Art Deco Hotel Montana – 4* Superior
- Burgenstock Resort – 5* and 4* options
- Chateau Gutsch – 4* (19th century castle with just 25 rooms)
- Hotel Des Alpes – 3*
Whilst here I visited the Swiss Museum of Transport – an iconic Swiss venue with fantastic possibilities for MICE groups. Hundreds of exhibits in various halls dedicated to Rail, Air, Road travel etc. All the exhibits are genuine – no copies allowed! The space can be used for dinners, conferences, meetings etc. Don't forget to treat your clients to the Swiss Chocolate Experience – a must for every chocolate lover showing the history of Swiss chocolate making and free samples to try!
Not forgetting the discovery of Mount Pilatus. One of the most legendary places in Central Switzerland and one of the most beautiful. On a clear day the mountain offers a panoramic view of 73 Alpine peaks. There's a hotel at the top (7,000 ft above sea level) which can be used for conferences, meetings or incentives. A journey to remember – arrive by boat on the lake and then travel on the world's longest cog wheel train up to the summit for a day excursion from Lucerne, take the boat, the cog wheel train and then return by cable car back to Lucerne.
If you're in an exploring mood then there is the city walking tour –where you can discover some of the famous sites of Lucerne and learn about the history of the city, it's culture and architecture. Learn about the medieval walls and watchtowers how the two banks of the River Reuss were connected by two covered wooden bridges: Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrucke) and Spreuer Bridge (Spreuerbrucke). See first-hand the narrow streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site with half-timbered houses and 15th century buildings.
A must see is the Burgenstock Resort – a unique resort in an incredible location. 500m above the lake, there are three luxury hotels, alpine spa, numerous restaurants and bars, not to mention the little chapel where Audrey Hepburn married Mel Ferrer in 1954. Stunning views from bedrooms, ballrooms and meeting spaces.
This small city is absolutely packed with things to do and see, and you can enjoy it all with Lake and Mountain views on the doorstep of your hotel!
My top 5 tips for visiting Lucerne:
- Use the local bus, train or tram – taxis are very expensive. You can buy a 'pass' which covers them all.
- Walk around the city – it's very safe
- Be on time if you're catching the train – the transport system is always on time!
- Don't drop litter – litter is never dropped in the street
- Eat the chocolate – it's fab!