I had wanted to visit Switzerland since as long as I can remember, but because the country is notorious for being expensive I put it on the long finger. Finally, an opportunity presented itself where a roadtrip would take me across the border from Germany into Switzerland for two magical nights by Lake Lucerne!
The road trip started in Stuttgart where we spent one night before getting in our rental car and driving to Lake Lucerne. We did stop on the journey by Konstanz in Germany to break up the drive which took roughly 3 hours not including the stops. There are definitely closer airports for you to fly into to enjoy Lucerne such as Zurich and Bern which are both only an hour away but the flights were cheap and direct so Stuttgart it was!
Exploring Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne will captivate you from the moment you set eyes on it. We were staying in a pedestrianized section of the old town in Lucerne which really added to the ambiance of the town. One thing that didn’t really add to the ambiance though was the price of parking! An overnight stay in the multi storey car park roughly 1 km away from our apartment was €65! This really set the tone for us on the prices of basically everything in Switzerland and proved our theory right about the country itself being an expensive one to visit.
The Old Town of Lucerne is streets upon streets of shops. They range from independent Swiss stores to high street and one thing you definitely won’t be able to get away from is the plethora of watch shops! Known for making high quality watches, you will be hard struck to find a street without a watch shop on it.
When walking through the town, make sure you make it your business to walk along the wooden pedestrian bridge across the lake. It’s absolutely beautiful and gives such stunning views of the town from the water! It’s such a simple thing to do but so worth it.
Dinner and drinks are EXPENSIVE in this town, be under no illusion. We walked well out of the Old Town to avoid the tourist trap and still ended up paying €100 for two main courses and two drinks. To put this into perspective, in a small town in Germany later in our trip we got starters and mains in a similar style restaurant and the bill came to €26.
Thing To Do In Lucerne
Other than take in the amazing views around you, there are quite a few things that you can do in Lucerne. While we were there, there are two activities that we did that really stood out.
Swimming At Seebad Luzern
During our time in Switzerland, we went swimming in quite a few ‘
The price to use this facility is only 6CHF per person for an unlimited amount of time, along with your refundable 2CHF for your locker should you choose to use it. You can also grab food/drink at the establishment if you wish.
We did also swim on Lake Lucerne at Strandbad Tribschen Lucerne for 5CHF per person, and while there is a lovely green area for lying on the grass and enjoying the sun, the water definitely isn’t as nice as Seebad Luzern. For the first few steps it’s alright, but you will find yourself knee deep in mud the further you get into the water! Never the less if this is something that doesn’t bother you, or if you just want to enjoy the stunning views this is a good place to go and definitely more family friendly also.
If you are in Lucerne, I would highly recommend dedicating a day of your itinerary to going up Mount Pilatus. This is a mountain at the outskirts of Lucerne that towers 2,132m above sea level. There are many different ways that you can reach the summit. You can climb from the bottom if you wish, or get the Cogwheel Train to the halfway point and climb from there. We didn’t really have enough time to dedicate to this on our journey so we chose the ‘Sliver Round Trip’ which consisted of
- One train from Lucerne to Alpnachstad
- One Cogwheel Train from Alpnachstad to the top of Mount Pilatus
- A cable car from Mount Pilatus to Fräkmüntegg
- A panoramic Gondola from Frakmuntegg to Kriens, with a stop over at Krienseregg
- A bus from Kriens to Lucerne
The ticket was expensive at €75 each. This ticket is only for your transportation and doesn’t include any food or extra activities that you might choose to do on the day. There is a ‘Golden ticket’ that you can get that will substitute the first train with a boat ride and that is €90 each. You can find a breakdown of all prices here . We bought our ticket at the Pilatus tourist office in Lucerne, got a small discount for staying in our apartment and they also gave us a ticket for free transportation within ‘Zone 10’ so our bus from Kriens was free of charge. If you buy a Swiss travel card if you plan on staying longer you will get even further discounts. If you decided to do this trip, try and make the earliest train time possible as it does get very crowded.
Once you reach the summit of Mount Pilatus there are several different climbs you can do to get a more panoramic view. We chose to climb to Esel and Tomlishorn peaks. The climb to Esel is mostly stairway and should only take about 15 minutes to reach the top and the views are WOW. There is a large platform at the top to give you many different views of the surrounding area, and it takes about 10 minutes to come down.
Getting to Tomlishorn isn’t as easy, and you will notice that there will be a considerably smaller number of people on this trail. Firstly, you go around the edge of the mountain following their ‘flower trail’ and after about 25 minutes the climb will start. There isn’t much room at the peak, but the views that you get of the surrounding area are worth it. In total this will take about 45 minutes there, and a similar length of time coming back.
The first cable car will drop you off at Fräkmüntegg which is where you will find the Pilatus Rope Park and Summer Toboggan. We didn’t end up doing the Rope Park but did the Toboggan Run which goes 1,350m and costs only 8CHF (or less, I think!). The best part about this is that it is only a short 10 minute walk from the cable car and you actually get lifted back up to the starting point from where you finish! It is definitely worth it if you stop off in this area. There are also places to eat in this area should you get hungry on your way to the bottom.
Honestly, I have never seen somewhere as breathtaking as Mount Pilatus and the views are just so stunning at every turn. You will have to be semi-okay with heights as the Cogwheel Train is at a 48% gradient, you are always looking down on steep views and then the cable cars and gondolas speak for themselves but hopefully if you go, you won’t find this an issue.
Moral Of The Story….
I really didn’t have many expectations before going to Switzerland and it ended up completely blowing me away. I don’t think I had anticipated the beauty of the Alps before getting there to be honest. If you are someone who loves the outdoors and nature then heading to Lucerne is the perfect place for you. We felt that while we only had about two days in this town, you could easily spend 3 or 4 while the weather is nice and not end up getting bored. I’m honestly already excited for the next time I get to experience this county in all it’s glory! (I’ll just save my pocket money for a while before I get there!)
Have you ever been to Switzerland? Is it somewhere you think you would like to go to?