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A Short Guide to Lucerne

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CH, Lucerne, Luzern
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Surrounded by mountains, Lucerne (Luzern in German) is located in central Switzerland. 
Full of character, the old town features several beautiful and unique landmarks and architecture, dating back to the Middle Ages. Lucerne is a popular starting point and home camp for anyone traveling in Switzerland.

Lucerne weather is warmer from June to September. The skiing season is November through April.

Fun Facts about Lucerne

  • The Bucherers main store has the world’s largest rolling ball clock named the Aion. It extends over four floors and measures almost twenty feet in width.  
  • Many important residents were born in Lucerne. These include writer, Thomas Imbach, WWE Raw’s, Claudio Castagnolic, and Giorgio Tsoukalos, who is the producer of Ancient Aliens.
  • The world’s largest nuclear shelter is the Sonnenberg Tunnel.  It can protect 20,000 should an emergency arise.
  • If you are looking for unique accommodations, stay at the Erlebnishotel. This building, once the central jailhouse, is now a hotel with almost no modifications!
  • Follow in the footsteps of many famous nobleman and women such as Leo Tolstoy who frequented the Schweizerhof Hotel, and Sergei Rakhmaniniov, who composed his music in a villa by the lake. Turner derived endless fascination from Lake Lucerne's waters. Queen Victoria trotted up Rigi on horseback and spent four months in Lucerne. Wagner knew of, "a no more beautiful place on earth," and Mark Twain called it, "the most charming place," and visited twice.
  • Pilatus Kulm is named after Pontius Pilatus. When he committed suicide, the Romans couldn’t dispose of his body due to a storm. It stopped when his corpse was removed from the water.

10.  Lake Luzern

This fourteen-square-kilometer body of water is located between sheer, limestone mountains. Named after the city, picturesque Lake Lucerne is also called, Lac des Quatre Cantons (Lake of the Four Cantons), Lac Lucerne in French and Vierwӓldstattersee in German. Fun activities at the lake include:

9.  The Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern (KKL)

The Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre hosts many cultural events, festivals, functions, and concerts. There is also an art museum, a concert hall that seats 1800, and an auditorium, which is globally renowned for its exceptional acoustics. However, these are not the only reasons to visit the KKL. The structure of the building itself is a wonder with its free-standing roof, overlooking, and gorgeously reflecting, Lake Luzern.

Europlatz 1, Postfach, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland.

KKL Luzern+41 (0)41 226 7070

8.  The Sammlung Rosengart

The Rosengart Collection, housed in the Swiss National Bank, consists of Classical Modern artworks. The focus of the collected works is mainly Pablo Picasso and Klee. There are over thirty-two paintings and 100 drawings, watercolors and sculptures of Picasso from different periods, and 125 works by Klee. Expect to see the creations of other iconic artists such as Miró, Cézanne, Vuillard, Bonnard, Matisse, Braque, Chagall and many.

Pilatusstrasse 10, 6003 Luzern, Switzerland.

+41 (0) 41 220 1660

7.  The Jesuitenkirche

Built in 1666, the Jesuit Church is Switzerland’s first grand church in Baroque style, north of the Alps. Of note, is its striking façade and an interior featuring an amazing altar, which looks like pink marble, but is actually plaster and stucco. This must-see church is one of the country’s most beautiful. Today, it is more of a concert hall than a place of worship.

Bahnhofstrasse 11a, 6003 Luzern, Switzerland.

The Jesuitenkirche+41 (0)77 489 05879

6.  The Gletschergarten

During the Ice Age, glaciers covered Lucerne. Examine the prehistoric evidence of this in the form of a natural display of polished rock, potholes, and gigantic irregular stone chunks at the Glacier Garden, where can be found a park that is almost a decade and a half old. An observation tower provides a spectacular view of Lucerne and the surrounding mountain.
The onsite museum features various landscape reliefs, including the oldest mountain relief in existence today created in the eighteenth century. To top it off, there is also an entertaining mirror maze with ninety mirrors, some of which distort the reflection.

Denkmalstrasse 4, CH-6006 Luzern, Switzerland.

The Gletschergarten+41 (0)41 410 4340

5.  The Museggmauer and Museggtuerme

A site not to be missed is the fourteenth century, 870-meter long Musegg Wall, and its nine prominent towers. Only four of these—the thirty-three-meter tall Mӓnnliturm (Little Man Tower) which is decorated with an iron, flag-wielding soldier; Wachtturm; Schirmerturm and Zytturm (Clock Tower—are accessible to the public during April to October. (The Clock Tower has the oldest clock in Central Switzerland.) Erected in 1535, it chimes one minute before the hour compared to all other clocks in the vicinity.

Schirmertorweg, 6004 Luzern, Switzerland.

The Museggmauer+41 (0)79 356 6976

4.  The Verkehrshaus der Schweiz

The Swiss Museum of Transportation covers the history of communication and transport on land, over the ocean, in the air, and in outer space. It has over 3000 items on display, as well as interactive platforms including multimedia presentations and exciting simulators. These fun machines allow visitors to operate an airplane, a helicopter, and/or a locomotive. One even lets you experience full weightlessness like a spaceman!
In addition, the huge museum houses its own 3D Imax Theater, Planetarium, and the Hans Erni Gallery.
Have a blast while learning with the Swiss Chocolate Adventure, and the Nautirama. The Swissarena is a two-hundred-square-meter aerial photograph of Switzerland.

3.  The Kapellbrücke and Spreuerbrücke

Lucerne has several bridges. Most admired are the Chapel- and Spreuer Bridges. Both wooden footbridges were erected in the Middle Ages. The Spreurbrücke is the oldest covered bridge on the planet.
The landmark Kapellbrücke, and its forty-three-meter tall Wasserturm (Water Tower), is the world’s oldest truss bridge. These constructions are even more remarkable due to the ancient paintings decorating the roof rafters.

2.  Pilatus Kulm

There is no need to climb a mountain to get a postcard-quality view of the famous Swiss Alps. Instead, travel to the top of Mount Pilatus via an aerial cableway. If the weather permits, you will be able to see seventy-three peaks from the summit of Dragon Mountain, as Mount Pilatus is also known. (It is well over 2100 meters tall at the highest point.)
Another option is to journey by cogwheel train on the world’s steepest railway up Pilatus Kulm, with an ascent of 48%.

Pilatus-Bahnen AG: Sclossweg 1, 6010 Kriens/Luzern, Switzerland.

Mount Pilatus Info+41 (0)41 329 1111

1.  The Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument)

Der Sterbende Löwe von Luzern (The Dying Lion of Lucerne), is one of the top tourist attractions. Mark Twain, the celebrated author of, A Tramp Abroad, described this colossal statue as the most sorrowful and poignant piece of stone ever. Carved into the rock face by Lukas Ahorn in and around, 1820, this impressive ten-meter-long feline commemorates the Swiss officers who fought in the French Revolution. The inscription indicates the figures of the estimated 760 officers who perished, and the 350 who lived to tell the tale.

Denkmalstrasse 4, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland

Luzern Tourismus AG+41 (0)41 227 1717

Top Activities in Lucerne

  • Mountain Activities – Lucerne has a number of mountains such as Mount Rigi, Pilatus, and Stanserhorn. All of these provide entertaining things to do such as: climbing, hiking, sledding, air cable car rides, train travel, and the opportunity to enjoy spectacular views of the Swiss Alps. 
  • City Tours - This sightseeing trip includes all the best that Lucerne has to offer. Ride the City Train to view all the top attractions including the most notable museums. 
  • Golfing – Swing your clubs and take your best shot at the nine-course Lucerne Golf Club, founded in 1903. 
  • Water Activities - Besides the many boat trips available, Lake Luzern alternatively offers the opportunity to sunbathe, swim, practice yoga, and get luxurious massages. 
  • Biking – Cyclists and mountain bikers can appreciate the countryside and lake on set routes in Luzern.

Top Events in Lucerne

  • The Lucerne Carnival starts the Thursday before Ash Wednesday for five days every year.
  • The Annual International Comix-Festival Fumetto runs for nine consecutive days in April. 
  • The Lucerne Classical Music Festival consists of four yearly festivals: Easter Festival (April), Summer Festival (August/September), Piano-Festival (November), and the Tour Festival (Some acts perform in different parts of the country throughout the year).
  • Rowing competitors take part in the Lucerne Regatta in July, which has occurred every year for over a century. 
  • The Bullballs Festival is in July each year, and presents concerts of blues, funk, jazz, and more. 

What to eat in Lucerne

  • Snack on a Super Scrumptious Schoggi-Brötli
    When in Switzerland, you must have the highly recommended Confiserie Bachmann’s, Schoggi-Brötli. This divine chocolate chip, bread bun is available at several outlets including Kantonalbank, Tribschenstadt, and Schwanenplatz. 
  • Truly Tasty Tagliatelle
    For a unique vegetarian tagliatelle dish served with Seelisburger cheese, rocket, and, surprisingly, strawberries, pop into Stern Luzern
  • Savor Several Sweet Treats Simultaneously
    If you have a sweet tooth, try the Burgerstube’s Probiererli at the Wilden Mann Hotel. This is a dessert platter with numerous servings. It includes a berry crème brûlée, and an amaretto and apricot terrine. Yummy! 
  • Best Bottled Beer
    Lozärner Bier offers a variety of fabulous beers. These include a range of seasonal specialty beers like full-bodied amber beers brewed with caramel malt. 
  • Very Vegetarian and Vegan Varieties
    Tibits will definitely please all vegetarians and vegans. Their entree options include spring leek and carrot stew, cream of broccoli soup, mango pudding, and asparagus quiche, amongst others and depending on the season.

Getting to Lucerne

There are direct to Lucerne, as there are no airports. You will need to fly to Flughafen Zürich or Flughafen Berne, and complete the trip via train or car. The railways of Switzerland are excellent. A train ride offers beautiful scenery.
•    From , the express will get you to Lucerne in under half an hour.
•    From , the journey will take around one and a half hours..

Getting around and about in Lucerne

  • Public Transport - Do not despair if you don’t have a vehicle or bicycle in Lucerne. Public transport in the city makes it very easy to get around. You can choose from trams, buses, boats, and several railways, including Swiss Travel System and Swiss Federal Railways. The trains are highly reliable, running hourly and half-hourly from 5:00 – 00:30. 
  • Buses known as the nachstern, run after hours. Tickets are categorized according to the zone you are traveling in, and not per ride. You can buy them at the station using the automated machines, order them online, or conveniently purchase through an app from a mobile phone. 

Where to stay in Lucerne

List of Recommended Souvenirs

Tips for Traveling to Lucerne

  • When making use of public transport, never place your luggage on the seat next to you. This is considered inappropriate. 
  • Don’t cross the road anywhere other than at the pedestrian intersections. The locals frown on jaywalking.
  • Switzerland has four official languages. In Lucerne, they speak a dialect known as Schwzerdütsch (Swiss German). Make sure to learn some important phrases. You will be greatly respected for the effort. 
  • Make sure to rent a portable WiFi router as this will give you unlimited Internet access during your stay, and saves quite a bit.
  • Never spit in the street, and always dispose of trash in garbage bins. 

Enjoying Lucerne on a Budget

  • Most restaurants automatically include service fees in the check, it is therefore not necessary to tip your waitron additionally. 
  • Get a Swiss Travel Pass or Tell Pass. This allows free access to all modes of public transportation, and entry into museums and cultural venues. Tourists can also benefit from various other discounts on offer. 
  • Some hotels offer guests their own Visitors’ Passes. These allow for cost-free travel and markdowns on certain activities for a limited time. 
  • Don’t buy snacks from vendors at main attractions. Instead, walk a few blocks. You will find the same goods at a better deal. 
  • Purchase food at Coop and Migros supermarkets. They also offer delis and self-service eateries.

Day Trips from Lucerne

  • Visit Zurich to enjoy some of the best attractions such as, the Rhine Falls and quaint Stein am Rhein
  • Ski day trips are available at several of the peaks in-and-around Lucerne. 
  • Dine in Switzerland’s only revolving restaurant at nearby, Mount Stanserhorn. 

Zentralstrasse 5, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland

Luzern +41 (0)41 227 1717

P.O. Box 695, 8027 Zurich, Switzerland

Switzerland Tourism +800 100 200 29 (Free-Call)

Emergency Contact Numbers

Kasimir-Pfyffer-Strasse 26, 6002, Luzern, Switzerland.

Luzerner Polizei +41 (0)41 248 81 17
Police Emergency Tel:  117

Hallwilerweg 5, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland.

Gastegewerbe und Gewerbepolizei (GGP)+41 (0)41 248 8484
Fire Emergency Tel:  118

Kleainmattsttrasse 20, 6003 Luzern, Switzerland.

Feuerwehr Stadt Luzern+41 (0)41 208 8818

Medical Help

Spitalstrasse 31, 6000 Luzern, Switzerland.

Luzern Kantonsspital (LUKS) Rettungsdienst041 (0) 205 1111
Ambulance Emergency Tel:  144

Sankt-Anna-Strasse 32, 6006 Luzern, Switzerland.

Klinik St. Anna+41 +41 208 3232

Address: Robert-Zünd-Strasse 2, 6003 Luzern, Switzerland.

Permanence Medical Central Luzern AG +41 41 211 1444

Bahnhof Luzern, Railcity, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland.

BENU Bahnhof Luzern+41 (0)41 220 13 13

Bahnhofstrasse 21, 6003 Luzern, Switzerland.

Alte Suidtersche Apotheke+41 (0)41 210 09 23

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