An expensive place
But a beautiful place
I went to Switzerland for work, as half of my team is based out of the city of Luzern (or Lucerne depending on what map you look at). I took advantage of my weeklong trip to Luzern by going early and staying late.
I arrived in Zurich on a Sunday morning, and the snow was starting to fall, which was beautiful to see but my goal was to get to Luzern that day.
The Zurich airport (ZRH) is very well connected to the city of Zurich and almost all of the rest of the country. There is a train station (Zurich Flughafen) within the Airport (outside of security of course) that can get you to other parts of the country with direct trains. If you cannot hop on a train to your final destination, you can take 1 of 13 trains per hour to Zurich’s main train station (Hauptbahnof, 9-13 min one way journey), where you can get on trains to anywhere in Switzerland, or other countries (Germany, Italy, etc.). Besides trains, there are trams and taxis. But why would you when you could take a train! This is the country that is known to have the most on-time trains in the world (old saying was that you could set your watch to Swiss trains).
When you get out of the train station in Luzern at the Bahnhof Luzern station, you are on the edge of Lake Luzern. Mt. Pilatus is to the left of you and the Old Town is in front of you.
Here are my top recommendations for things to do in Luzern:
1. Take a boat cruise on Lake Luzern
Lake Luzern has an abnormal shape and connects to a lot of other towns. You can get breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps from the lake, so I highly recommend
2. Explore Old Town and the River views
Luzern’s Old Town is quite small and can be walked through in ~2-3 hours (or longer if you walk slower). But there’s a lot to see, so here’s my top recommendations:
a) Lion Monument
The Lion Monument is a free exhibit and features a giant lion, carved into sandstone rock above a reflective glass. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred during the French Revolution.
It’s a pretty impressive carving with a very lively, larger-than life depressed lion. On a good day, you’ll get a perfect reflection of the lion looking at himself in the water.
This is next the Glaciar Garden of Lucerne
. I do NOT recommend visiting this, unless you enjoy excavation sites.
b. Walk along the Reuss river and visit the Chapel Bridge, the Spreuer Bridge, and the Jesuit Church
These are iconic buildings of Luzern and are all along the Reuss river, a 15 min walk end to end. The Chapel Bridge and Spreuer Bridge are wooden bridges from the 1300s. They’re really cute, and covered in spiders.
c. Just general wander
Old Town of Luzern is cute. There’s a lot of alleys and cute shops to wander in and out of. I highly recommend spending time just getting lost in it. It’s not big and maybe 15 mins from end to end. Just enjoy yourself, and enjoy the sites
3. Eat Well!
This is Switzerland we’re talking about. Land of chocolate and cheese. Chocolate and Cheese. Yum!
a. Get Swiss Chocolate
Chocolate. So much chocolate. It’s everywhere. You will see chocolatier stores everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
While in Luzern, I tried Bachmann. Very delicious chocolate and truffles. They also have great salads, sandwiches, and soups.
b. Eat cheese and bread
I feel like this is self-explanatory. Switzerland is known for their milk, which is then put into their cheese and bread. You can expect a typical breakfast at your hotel to be a selection of meats (e.g. salami), cheese (so many different kinds), breads (so many different kinds), and spreads (like jam). I had the best breakfasts here with delicious breads and cheese.
c. Eat fondue and/or raclette
What you’ll find in Luzern is that almost all of the fondue and raclette places will be priced the same, with similar tastes. So I didn’t waste my time trying to find “the best” fondue/raclette place, but what could sit me and my work colleagues. Fondue is good, but not something I’d eat on a regular basis (it’s so heavy)
d. Eat at Restaurant Mill’Feuille
If you get the chance (and the budget), I highly recommend eating at the Restaurant Mill’Feuille. This place was so good, I went on 2 different night with my coworkers. The food is more modern swiss food, with a constant changing menu. The ambience of the restaurant is cozy, and is right on the river. When here, I had the lasagne (to die for) and a steak (deliciousss). Highly recommend checking this place out!
4. Go up Mt. Pilatus
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do this as when I was in Luzern, it was extremely cloudy/not great views so was recommended not to go. But on my last day, on the way to the train station, this was the mountain. I’ve heard it has great views from the top of the lake and the rest of the Swiss Alps.
5. Other: Lilu Light Festival
While I was in Luzern, I was lucky to be there during the Lilu Light Festival. The city of Luzern gets artists from around the world to install light art throughout the city. I saw beautiful electric blue swans along the river, the Hofkirche St. Leodegar church lit up, and lanterns and art everywhere.
Here are some of my photos and photos from their official instagram
I did not spend as much time in Zurich as i did in Luzern, i.e. I spent 24 hours in Zurich. So I wasn’t able to do nearly as much. However one of my wonderful coworkers was one of my mini tour guides in the city.
Here’s what I recommend doing in Zurich
1. Check out Zurich West
I was the most excited to check out this area. I had read so much about this place, and had to check this out.
Zurich West is the old industrial center, full of warehouses and abandoned land. It’s a lot like London’s Brixton. Now, it’s full of hipsters, open air markets, shipping containers turned into bars, and viaducts under the railroads turned into cute hipster shops. I.e. my heaven.
2. The City Center
It’s almost impossible to miss the City Center, especially if you take the train in (as it lets out in the City Center). There are a lot of shops here. Make sure you walk up the Lindenhof hill to Lindenhofplatz, where you can get a great view of Old Town and the Lake
3. Lake Zurich
It’s a pretty lake. But not as pretty as Lake Luzern. During the summer, this turns into a hotspot for people picnicking along the lake and swimming. During January, it is just cold…and sad
4. Old Town
It’s a typical old town, and very similar to the old town in Luzern. If you’ve been to the one in Luzern, I’d skip out on this. It just happened to be on the path my coworker and I were taking so we took a stop by.
That’s my travel in Switzerland! I definitely want to come back so I can drive and hike through (and live out my Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge fantasy)