THE SHORT: Hotel Central + Chapel Bridge + Carnival + Lake Lucerne Boat Cruise + Sammlung Rosengart museum + Old Town + Pizza La Bestia
THE LONG: We landed at Zurich’s Flughafen International airport at 9:00am. And even though Devand and I didn’t get our beauty sleep, we were extrememly happy that the kids had slept well on the 9-hour flight from Philly. There was a collective sense of excitment to finally be in Switzerland I could tell, and we were all ready to experience everything we had talked about over the last few months.
After navigating the enormous airport with escalators, moving pathways, and inter-terminal trains – all very exciting for the kids by the way – we finally made it to the airport train station that would connect us to the city.
My original plan was to take the train to Zurich city center and spend a couple of hours eating breakfast and exploring the old town. But seeing that no one was hungry, and everyone was eager for a train ride, we opted to skip Zurich all together and take the hour long train to Lucerne.
We had booked our first hotel night in Lucerne. And knowing that we would be back in Zurich for our last night, we figured it was okay to delay the said exploration until then. Also, we had purchased Swiss Travel Passes beforehand, making it easy to make last minute changes without having to worry about new tickets.
Lucerne (Or Luzern) in Central Switzerland is mostly German-speaking and has everything that one expects from a sublime swiss city. There is the beautiful Lake Lucerne after which it is named; the shimmering lake waters lined with lofty pine covered mountains and tiny picture-perfect homes; and the beautiful old town with frescoed buildings, and a clock tower as a perfect perch to take in the city below.
Lucerne is really compact. We didn’t bring the stroller with us on this trip and had no problem walking around from the train to our hotel, and then to everything else, with the kids.
Our hotel, HOTEL CENTRAL, was awesome. So close to the train station. Super nice rooms with all the space we needed. An inclusive breakfast that was better than what we would have purchased. And a huge park next door.
When we arrived at the hotel to check-in, it was not even 11am, and I was sure that they would agree to take our bags but ask us to return later around 2 or 3 for check-in. But I was delighted when they said the room was ready and we could use it! We took a nice little nap before heading out to explore the town.
The most famous sight in Lucerne is probably the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) which appears in all its promotional pictures and postcards.
This woodden bridge originally built in the 14th century on the River Reuss still connects the old town with the new town. It was cool to walk on something so old and see it functioning just as effectively today.
We took a two-hour sunset cruise on Lake Lucerne on one of the SGV boats (cost was free because of our Swiss Travel Pass). I would highly recommend this to anyone because it was a great way to see the mountains, and all the other little towns that surround the lake. I wish we had willing bodies to get off at each stop and explore the town. But the kids were happy on the boat and given that it was evening, it was best to just stick with the 2-hour tour. We purchased some chips, a sandwich and beer on-board to keep us going till dinner later. This was first of our many sticker shock moments that said Welcome to Switzerland! ha!
Once we docked, we immediately decented on the city carnival which was just steps away. The rides, the games, the foods, the smells, and the general energy reminded me of the NC State Fair, not as many fried things though. If you ask the kids, this was perhaps their most favorite part of visiting Lucerne.
Dinner was at a really good Pizza place called La Bestia around the corner from our hotel. We were all pretty exhausted by now, and it felt good to have a familar food for comfort. The staff was so incredibly nice here. They brought over a felt pizza-making toy set for the kids as we waited for our food to arrive. After dinner, we picked up some milk from the grocery store at the train station called COOP and headed back home to shower and pass out.
After a great breakfast at the hotel the next morning, we crossed the street to the Sammlung Rosengart museum to quickly show the kids a really terrific collect of Picasso’s paintings. Then we spent another hour walking around the old town which is so whimsical with frescos on building fronts, really ornate shop signs, and water fountains.
We enjoyed going up the clock-tower in Museggmauer which is an old fortress with many towers, most of which can be climbed, or have an exhibit to checkout.
And then, after all of that, it was time to pick up our bags from the hotel and bid Lucerne bye-bye. Our home for the next two days would be Interlaken where we get up close and personal with the Alps. I can’t wait to tell you all about it in the next post.
There were many many things that we did not get to see and do in Lucerne, Here are the three big ones. The Lion Moument sculptor to commermorate Swiss soldiers who died during the French Revolution. Swiss Museum of Transport (Verkehrshaus) which also has a planetarium and a Swiss Chocolate adventure tour. I know our little ones would have really loved; we simply ran out of time. The Kultur und Kongresszentrum art museum which was right by our hotel (unlike the other two destinations). But alas, it had the carnival outside which had so completely mezmerized the kids that there was no chance that they would want to come inside and look at art. Also, it was our first day of the trip and we simply didn’t want to push the children into doing too much.
Overall, Lucerne was a fantastic introduction to Switzerland. We loved spending our first 24-hour here because it was not only charming, but also laid back and easy to explore. I can’t wait to be back again to check-off the things I missed this time. Thanks for reading along!