Our lovely travel consultant Clair Overend recently visited the beautiful Lake Lucerne in Switzerland on a trip with Classic Collection. Here are her top travel tips and things to do in this stunning part of Europe.
How to get there
My journey started with an early morning flight with Swiss Air from Heathrow at 8.40am. The flight is just over an hour and Swiss Air provide complimentary croissants and soft drinks onboard. Arriving into Zurich at 11.30am.
Zurich Airport has a shopping centre below the airport terminal and the train station is below making it very quick and easy to catch a train after your flight.
Our rail travel was in 1st class within Switzerland, which is at a very high standard on the Swiss train network. There are frequent links from Zurich Airport station to Lake Lucerne, taking around an hour. Many trains are double-decker and I can recommend a seat upstairs that gives spectacular views as the train winds around the lake.
Where to stay
Lake Lucerne is a compact city which is easy to discover on foot. Most hotels provide a Lucerne Guest Card which gives free local bus and second-class rail transportation within the city, plus discounts on museums and other local attractions.
I stayed at the Hotel Schweizerhof, a beautiful 5 star hotel on the Lake front. The historic hotel dated from 1845 has tall ornate ceilings, chandeliers and very spacious wide corridors. I can recommend upgrading to a Lake View Suite with stunning views of the lake and mountains in the background. Whilst the hotel is traditional, the bedrooms have a modern contemporary feel with plush white bedding and state of the art Satellite TV and home cinema, coffee and tea making machine, minibar and air conditioning. The hotel is in a prime position, easy to walk around and there is a bus stop outside.
What to see and do
A great way to see and learn about Lucerne is to take a Walking City Tour with a local guide. The local guides have a wealth of information, and within two hours highlights include: The Lion Monument, St Gallus Catholic Church, Chapel Bridge – the iconic wooden bridge showing old paintings, Old Town Lucerne and my favourite Jesuitenkirche Church is not to be missed. This is one of the most beautiful and stunning churches I have ever seen with pink and white marble. The design of the church is Baroque and decorative elements are Rococo.
Lucerne has traditional Swiss Watch shops and a visit to a Swiss Chocolate shop is a must. Max Chocolatier is a local family run business. With their chocolate shop on the lakefront close to the Hotel Schweizerhof. Their chocolates are all hand made above the shop and they are unique by using natural ingredients and unique flavours.
There are many local restaurants to eat, and I can recommend a meal at the Art Deco Hotel Montana. This award-winning hotel enjoys a stunning view over Lake Lucerne from its hillside location. Dated back from 1910 the hotel has been beautifully restored in a contemporary art deco style. The restaurant and bar has beautiful tall large windows overlooking the Lake. In warmer months guests can choose to dine outside on the terrace.
Waking up to the stunning morning view of the lake and mountain set the scene for another must – a day excursion to Mount Pilatus. A full day consisting of a boat cruise over the lake to the Cogwheel Train up to Mount Pilatus on the world’s steepest railway.
Once at the top you find an indoor base including two hotels, a restaurant, café, tourist shops, cinema showing the history of Mount Pilatus and an observation deck. Whilst there, there was a lot of snow, however in the summer months there are still many walking trails available.
The journey concluded with a wonderful scenic, gentle trip down on a gondola and cable car.
A swift and punctual afternoon train journey took us back to Zurich Airport with plenty of time to catch the 18.30 flight back to Heathrow.
Lake Lucerne is a wonderful destination to visit as a short city break or as part of a 2 or 3 centre. The shortness of the flights combined with the punctual train system makes it very accessible.
If this sounds right up your street, have a chat with Clair and she can talk you though everything you need to know about Lake Lucerne.