This is the first picture I took after arriving in Switzerland:
When this is what you see after having been in a country for a little over an hour, you know there must be good things to come.This was another trip we took based on a picture we saw on the World Wide Interweb. During the course of trying to decide where we wanted to spend our tenth anniversary, I stumbled upon this photo on Reddit, in the subreddit /r/beerwithaview:
Completely floored by the almost surreal landscape on display, some mild sleuthing told me this was taken at Hotel Edelweiss, in Murren, Switzerland. Quite honestly, I only knew Switzerland as a major banking hub, and had no idea it was known for its incredible scenery. At that moment, we decided that this country is where we wanted to spend our anniversary, on this – our first trip to Europe. I also made it a goal to sit at this exact same table during our journey. I mean, this picture was the whole reason for the trip to begin with, so why not insert myself into the scene, sans-photoshop?
We arrived in Zurich in late July 2014, with the following itinerary:
- 2 Days in Lucerne
- 1 Day in St. Moritz
- 2 Days in Zermatt
- 2 days in the Berner Oberland
- 2 days in the Vaud region
Upon arrival, we immediately took the train to Lucerne to get started. A couple of observations here:
- Trains in Switzerland are dead silent. I don’t mean the train itself, which actually was pretty quiet, but nobody was talking! We kind of quietly whispered to one another on the journey, wondering if we were breaking some Swiss taboo by talking on a train, but more than likely it was because it was a Monday morning at 6:30 AM and full of exhausted commuters on the way to work.
- Weather in mountainous regions is unpredictable. Awful weather was in the forecast for us, but it couldn’t have been a more sunny, pleasant day.
With the good fortune on the weather-front, we decided to immediately take advantage while it lasted and take the ferry across Lake Lucerne toward Mount Pilatus. This was originally planned for the following day, but hey – we were jetlagged, and figured the mountain air and sunshine would do us good.
We rode the world’s steepest cogwheel to the top of Pilatus, where we had lunch, a beer, and did a pretty fun little bobsled run. Of course I strapped on the GoPro, and you can check out my footage here: https://youtu.be/oG9Uonk6dVo
We attempted to stay up until a normal local bedtime, but by 5:30 PM, we had already been awake for something like 30 hours, and my bloodshot eyes would barely stay open, so we decided to call it a day. We stayed at the Hotel Cascada, a really charming, small boutique hotel in a great location very near the train station, and within easy walking distance of the old town and the major sights. The view from our room of Mount Rigi was a nice touch.
The following day, we set out to explore the old town. We enjoyed visiting the Lion Monument, walking the old city walls, wandering the winding streets of the old town, walking across the river on Kappelbrucke (Chapel Bridge), and visiting the Gletscher Gaarden. During the course of popping into and out of various shops, we stumbled into a little bakery where we ordered a delicious looking slice of cake to share. Everything was written in Swiss German, so we had no idea what it actually was. Turns out it was basically just cake soaked through with what tasted like 100 proof alcohol, and we literally caught a buzz eating it. The place had a really great location right on the glacial river running through the center of the town, and we had a prime spot to sit there getting blasted on cake while watching the water rush by.
The view over the city from the city wall was specatcular!
Lucerne was a great introduction to the country for us. The 2 days were perfect – any more would have probably been to much. 1 day to explore the mountains, a second day to explore the city, then on to new adventures. Following a nice breakfast at Hotel Cascada on day 3, we headed to the train station to depart for St. Moritz.
18 thoughts on “9 Days in Switzerland – Part 1: Lucerne”
Could you tell me what time in July you visited Switzerland ? Loved the sunshine in your pictures. Wondering if we should plan late July or early July or early August :).
Hey Krishna, We were there in late July and into early August. The weather in the mountains is so variable though – we had many sunny days, but a few rainy days mixed in as well. Just a matter of luck being on your side!
Planning for a trip to Switzerland. Great info!
Great information, I’ll be visiting there switzerland in next week.Thank you Justin for preparing me in advance.
Glad I could help! Hope you enjoyed your trip!
Hi Justin and Christina, Thanks for sharing your travel experience. I really like your blog and it is very informative and useful for people to plan the trips. I hope you can continue your travel and share more great blogs. Your first picture after arriving in Switzerland looks amazing, and it is just like a background image. Kudos!
I am doing some research about Lucerne, and it will be part of my trip in Switzerland as well, just wonder if you can check this itinerary and let me know what you think? Does it cover most of the attractions? or I should find something else. Thanks!
Thanks so much for stopping by! You will fall in love with Lucerne – the itinerary you linked will be quite easy to get through. The town itself is quite compact and easily walkable. Enjoy your visit and happy travels!
wow the images of the water and mountains is amazing I cant wait to go there again and enjoy the beautiful sites again.
Amazing blog and brilliant snaps. lot of life in both.
You motivated me to to Lucerene in May this year. Just wondering what would you choose between Mount Titlis, Rege, and Pilatus? Would you advise to visit one, two or all the three. My constraint is time and do not have more than 2 days for Lucerene.
Another query is the type of Camera and the lens you have used to capture those amazing snaps. Appreciate if you could give some info on that too.
Thanks a ton,
Did you ever find the place in the picture with the beers and the mountain range? I’m heading to Switzerland in April and I would love to visit that spot!
Yes! It was at the outdoor terrace of the restaurant at Hotel Edelweiss in Murren. Great food, even better views!
Switzerland is so rich in natural beauties and the scenery there is truly surreal, Justin! We’ve been there last year on our European road trip and the beauty of Switzerland left us speechless. Your pictures are proof of how remarkable this country is!
Agreed! The beauty of the mountains is unparalleled by anywhere else I’ve visited!
We are just back from 7 days of Saas Fee in Switzerland, it was amazing. But from reading your post, we need a lot more time cause Switzerland has so mich to offer. Lucerne looks great! Thanks for the info and article.
Could you share which bakery / name of the cake it was with soaked alcohol please? I’m intrigued!
Really nice article. Switzerland is one of my lovely country. Unfortunately very expensive. Here you can find few photos from our trip:
justin – awesome job. I’m planning a trip w/ family (20ish kids) next June. Unfortunately, we have half this time (doing amalfi prior) – I now we are taking on too much but that is the American way :).
so thinking about the following and would love your comments:
The big question is train or drive. I know you can train from town to town but how do you get around to the sites in/around the town – esp. if you want to do some hikes/etc.?
1) land in zurich – do we spend the day in zurich or just go right to Lucernne?
2) Was thinking about a couple days in the interlakken area – looks like you enjoyed interlakken itself vs. grindewald/etc.
3) then going on to Geneva to fly home
will have to save zumont and st. moritz for another time but wanted your thoughts on “must do” from this route from Zurich to Geneva.
In TA here w/ reverse itinerary but same basic questions of where to stay and how to get around.
Hi i am Chris from Switzerland. And I love Lucerne very much, even when I see it always and always again. So many things to discover.
My recommend: stay there at lesst for a week.