After having such a wonderful two days in Zurich, we thought we had peaked; we had officially found our new favourite destination! This was the first place my boyfriend and I had been together where we actually considered relocating here (for about 5 minutes). That was until we researched the cost of living and reality kicked in.
Then we arrived into Lucerne and everything changed. The train was very easy; a direct train departing from Zurich main station to Lucerne with a duration of just under an hour. The best thing about this journey was the remarkable views of the Swiss countryside.
Now I have been to a fair few charming European cities, but my god, Lucerne is on a
completely different level!
It has the most jaw droppingly gorgeous backdrop, with its glistening turquoise water and surrounding mountains in the distance. But what makes this place so special, is the 14th century wooden bridge, Chapel Bridge, which crosses the Reuss river (apparently the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe!) giving the whole city this fairytale, magical ambiance.
This bridge completely steals the show and you can see why it is a symbol of the city (it also looks like something out of Harry Potter!). It is lined beautifully with potted flowers and the interior is decorated with various 17th century paintings; let the photos speak for themselves!
We stayed at the really trendy Anker Lucerne boutique hotel for the evening. This was a funky hotel with bright, modern decor; one of those edgy places where they leave one wall in a room untouched, as if its still under construction. It also had a free photo booth downstairs to use… got to love a photo booth!
Since we were only staying for one night, we had to pack in as much as possible and we wasted no time in doing so! Once our bags were dropped off at the hotel, we headed straight to the SGV ticket centre by the pier to enquire about making our way up Mount Pilatus.
Golden Round Trip
We wanted to experience as much as possible in the short time frame, so we decided to purchase the Golden Round Trip. This involves travelling to and from the mountain via various modes of transport but at roughly £85pp, it is not cheap!
The first leg of the journey started with a boat trip across Lake Lucerne to Alpnachstad. This was a gentle slow ride taking about an hour, which again provided panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, countryside and villages. It was a super warm day so the breeze was a godsend!
2. Cogway Railway
Once we had arrived at Alpnachstad, it was then time to board the worlds steepest cogway railway. It has a gradient of 48 percent and takes you to the top of Pilatus in 30 mins! As a couple who enjoy any form of ride, this was particularly exciting for us and for me personally, I had never been up a mountain before or even seen landscapes of this kind. As we climbed higher and higher, it was so surreal to see the lake which we travelled across get so small.
As we got closer to the top, the weather drastically changed. Whilst we were welcomed with clear blue skies and 26C at sea level, the further we went up, the colder and cloudier it got. You could even still see some snow on the highest tips of the peaks. Unfortunately, as it was cloudy the visibility was not 100%. I can only imagine how incredible it would be on a clear day!
3. Dragon Cableway
Once Oli had managed to capture some footage of the blackbirds gliding through the sky (as seen in the video above – go watch it!), we decided to make our descent. This time, we would be taking the Dragon Cableway down to Fräkmüntegg which is about half way from the bottom. As it was so cloudy at the top, the thick cloud completely consumed the cable car so you could not see outside of the glass at all; a pretty scary experience when you remember how high up you are!
Eventually as we travelled down, the cloud disappeared and the weather was back to being glorious and warm.. much better! From Fräkmüntegg, you transfer to a gondola which continues your journey all the way to the bottom. However before doing that, we noticed a cute toboggan run which we couldn’t resist. Whilst the queue was a little longer than expected (30 mins or so), it was completely worth it to see the looks of unamused grazing cows, as we zoomed down the hill passed them.
The spectacular views were not over quite yet (I sound like a stuck record but wherever we went, the views never failed to amaze us). We hopped onto the gondola to complete our descent, which finished up in an area called Kriens, just north of Lucerne. It is from here, that you catch a bus that takes you back into the city. One thing to note here, is that once you have exited the gondola, you are pretty much left to your own devices to find the bus stop. If memory serves me correctly, it was a good 5-10 minute walk through the back streets of the residential area (with a lack of sign points considering it is a part of the Golden Round Trip).
After a successful half day, once we had returned to Lucerne we decided to spend the rest of our afternoon exploring the city, in particular their own well preserved old town. I also did some research and came across a Lion Monument which is this striking sculpture of a dying lion carved into rock; it is a memorial dedicated to the Swiss guards who lost their lives during the French Revolution.
So that sums up our short city break to Switzerland nicely!
We really loved this country and at the time of writing, this had to be our favourite city break yet. We really did feel at home, despite the fact I could barely speak any of their 3 languages!
Yes, it is expensive, but this does not deter me from returning and I look forward to exploring this beautiful country further one day!