Lucerne: A Night Along the Lake


Our time in Switzerland was short, with our main focus on exploring the snowcapped mountains and green meadows of the alps. However, we wanted to get a feel for an actual city in Switzerland rather than a small village. There were many destinations to choose from: Zurich, Bern, Geneva, etc., but only one really caught our attention.

Lucerne is one of the more beautiful cities in all of Switzerland. Located in the central part of the country, this old town is surrounded by natural beauty. The Swiss Alps, including the peak of Mount Pilatus, tower high above, visible from just about anywhere in the city. The shimmering waters of Lake Lucerne allow for scenic walks along waterfront promenades and parks.

We only spent one night, as a pitstop on our way up to Germany. However, we managed to see most of what we deemed possible in just half a day. Though our visit was short and sweet, Lucerne left a great impression on us!

Note: If you plan on visiting Switzerland for an extended period of time, I highly recommend getting a Swiss Pass.

To-Do List:

Day One

It would be hard to find a more scenic train ride than the one from Lauterbrunnen to Lucerne. From riding along the shores of Lake Brienz to climbing up through the mountain villages of Lungern and Sachseln, we were blessed with beautiful scenery the entire way!

We arrived at the central train station, Bahnhof Luzern, in the early afternoon. It wasn't particularly sunny out, but it was warm and mild. It was a fifteen minute walk to our hotel in the altstadt, the German word for "old town".

Along the way, we were able to see some of Lucerne's famous landmarks, including this pretty-looking bridge. More on that later on!

Our hotel was named Altstadt Hotel Le Stelle Luzern, located right in the heart of the old town. When we found the building, we saw a sign on the door indicating the location of the reception office. It was a separate building just a street away. We checked in and received the key to our room.

The room was very small, but we were reminded of Switzerland's high standard of living as we walked in. It was very modern, cozy, and a great option for our one night in Lucerne!

After we unpacked, we made our way north of the old town. The first sight on our list was the Museggmauer, or Musegg Wall.

Built during the 1300s, this wall once set the northern boundary of the city. Nine towers were constructed along it to guard the city's population. The wall and its towers are very well-preserved, and four of the nine towers are accessible to the public.

The stairs in each of the towers are steep and a bit intimidating, but the views they offer are really nice!

Walking along the wall is also very daunting, but the views from here are also very nice!

One of the publicly accessible towers is known as the Zyt Tower. It's known mostly for its large clock. Inside of the tower, there is an entire exhibit detailing the construction and design of clocktowers around the world. The tower, itself, is an engineering marvel, all viewable from within!

We were able to see the tower's clock from the little promenade down below.

Down below, a dirt path follows the wall to the final tower: the Dächli Tower.

The entrance is like a dungeon!

While it's one of the shortest towers, its open-air rooftop offers the best views of Lucerne!

After taking in the beautiful panoramic views of the city, we made our way back down the steep stairs to the trail down below. Then, we walked along the streets to the northeastern part of town.

Our destination was the Lion Monument, a somber, rock-relief depiction of a dying lion. Sculpted by Danish artist named Bertel Thorvaldsen, the monument honors the members of the Swiss Guard who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution.

It's probably one of the saddest artistic pieces I've ever seen, as the face on the dying lion expresses such pain and despair.

Thoroughly bummed out, we left the monument on the hunt for something that always cheers me up: coffee! Along the way, we did a bit of window shopping at the many watch stores in town.

Eventually, we landed on a place named Wey Beck Cafe, a small bakery and coffee shop right in front of a busy bus-stop.

Our waitress was very ice, telling us stories of tourists who fail to pay with Swiss francs and how annoying it is for her!

It was nice to sit, sip coffee, and watch people get on and off the bus. Many were students who were just getting done with classes at the nearby culinary academy.

Making great time, we slowly walked to the Court Church of St. Leodegar. This church was built on top of the foundation of an old Roman church that had been burned down in 1633. It is one of the most important historic landmarks in Lucerne.

Unlike many of the churches we visited in Europe, this one didn't have a large fresco across its ceiling. However, the golden decor of the chapels up in front were very detailed and ornate.

After saying a quick prayer and giving a small offering, we left the church and made our way down towards the shores of Lake Lucerne.

Along the banks of the lake is a lovely walking and bike path named Matthias Luchsinger-Platz.

We sat along the edge of the lake at the many swans swimming and feeding in the water. They were very beautiful and not at all afraid of our presence!

And of course, the lake itself was quite gorgeous!

After strolling along the water, we walked back towards the altstadt. It was busier than before, with walkers and bikers alike.

During our exploring, we couldn't help but try out some Swiss chocolate! So, we stopped into a shop named Läderach. It's a pretty big shop with a large assortment of truffles, bars, and tons of other treats!

We asked the kind lady behind the counter for her recommendations and ended up eating them right outside the store. Though small, these things were jam-packed with flavor!

After our chocolate treats, we continued to walk around the narrow streets of the old town. Once we reached the plaza just behind Altes Luzerner Rathaus, or Town Hall, we stopped at a bar named Zum Storchen.

It was fairly nice weather outside, so we opted to sit at a table out in the plaza. There were many others who joined us, older folks who looked like locals.

Our half-liters came with a small snack of curry-roasted peanuts!

When we were done enjoying our half-liters, we asked the nice waitress for our bill. Unfortunately, our German and her English weren't very good. So, we accidentally ordered another half-liter! Oh well, when in Lucerne...

Our friend watched us get drunk!

What was supposed to be an apertif turned out to give us a full-on buzz. Hungry for more food, we made our way back across the Reuss River to the southern part of the city.

For dinner, we chose to eat at a place named Burgerstube, which is an old restaurant at the bottom of the Hotel Wilden Mann. It's quite popular, so we made a reservation ahead of time.

The decor seemed very classic. Dark wood beams and floors, old paintings of family crests, and authentic silverware on the tables.

As most of our meals started, we ordered two glasses of Eichhof brews, one of the local beers in Lucerne.

Our appetizer was a choice of white or wheat bread with butter and olive tapenade to spread.

An small appetizer of vegetables and shrimp were served to us, compliments from the chef and his kitchen. It was a light and refreshing mix of vegetables, I just wish I could remember what it was called!

Next up were our actual appetizers. I ordered asparagus and vanilla soup accompanied by air-dried meat and foam.  My wife had roasted garlic soup accompanied by a Fregola Sarda salad. These were extremely flavorful and unique!

At this point, we knew our meal was going to be a bit more fancy than we expected. When our main courses came along, our expectations were met! I enjoyed a healthy serving of Lozärner Chügelipastete with a side of vegetables and raisins. The dough was soft and the veal was very tender!

My wife enjoyed cordon bleu with a side of glazed carrots and potatoes Lyonnaise. Another excellent dish!

It was probably one of our favorite dinners, the quality of the food was high and above most of the other meals we've had throughout Europe!

As we walked back to our hotel room, we stopped to gaze at the pretty-looking bridge we had crossed when we first arrived in Lucerne. It is named the Kapellbrücke, and is one of the major landmarks in the city!

Even at night, the Kapellbrücke is a spectacle, as the entire bridge sparkles on the water. It is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe and longest-surviving truss bridge in the world.

The walkway is decorated with paintings depicting various scenes promoting the Catholic Church. In 1993, a massive fire had burned down most of the original bridge. However, it was rebuilt, with 30 of the 147 original paintings restored.

The End of a Wonderful Night

What began as a quick stop on the way to Germany, our visit to Lucerne turned out to be one of the more interesting cities on our trip. We didn't get to fully immerse ourselves in the city's rich culture and history, but we definitely felt like our visit was filled with interesting sights, shops, and culinary experiences.

Needless to say, exploring Lucerne was a great way to end our time in Switzerland!

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