Lucerne, Switzerland recently welcomed Eric and I with open arms! Visitors from all over the globe are discovering its unparalleled landscape, history, and architecture is stunning. Lucerne stole our hearts and we were so overwhelmed by the charm it provided.
Lucerne is loaded with world-class beauty and world-famous attractions for you to enjoy during your stay and the hospitality is felt everywhere you go. With an abundance of hotels, restaurants, adventure to soak there’s something for everyone in Lucerne. It’s the one place where you can do everything, or simply do nothing, and have a fantastic time!
In a city with so much to offer and only one a few short days to pack it all in, here are some of our recommendations based on our most recent adventures! If you’re heading to this lakeside town, these are my recommendations that will give you a trip of a lifetime.
Where to Stay: Hotel Restaurant Hammer
Nestled on the side of the Pilatus and wonderfully situated in the Eigenthal Alps, is Hotel Restaurant Hammer, a short 15 km outside of Lucerne– a price well worth paying for the enchanting surroundings. A hotel with authentic history in its walls, this property was everything we anticipated and more!
It was like staying in our own private paradise, with the only noise being the ringing of cowbells in the distance and a wonderful escape from Lucerne city center. The location of Hotel Restaurant Hammer was a short 20-minute bus ride from the Lucerne train station.
From the moment we walked in, we felt at home. Our cozy room offered all the comforts of home with the added benefits being surrounded by the mountains. Perhaps our favorite spot on the property belonged to our bedroom balcony, where we loved spending the day taking in the views.
Take a few steps outside and you’re surrounded by the mountains! There are many hiking pathways to explore. The hotel also had plenty of indoor and outdoor space for socializing and gathering.
The fresh mountain air and fabulous views of Pilatus and the Eigenthal were only exceeded by the service we received. It is a small family run hotel and restaurant that has not forgotten why people come to the mountains.
Hotel Restaurant Hammer definitely sets the bar high with its charm and property location. All in all, it was the perfect place to spend a few days away in the Swiss countryside. We didn’t want to leave our balcony but we knew we had to when the time came. Thank you for the escape to serene peacefulness– if we ever get the chance return to Lucerne, Hotel Restaurant Hammer will be our only option!
What to Do: Mt. Pilatus Day Excursion
If you are visiting Lucerne, your trip would be incomplete without a trip to Mt. Pilatus! This mountain that overlooks Lucerne offers picture-book panoramas of the surrounding regions. Simply put, it’s a must-see and the top of the list of my recommendations!
Mount Pilatus has several peaks, with the highest of them all standing at a height of 2,132 meters above sea level. The views of the Alps from this level are spectacular.
We took the cogwheel railway up the mountain to the peak of Mt. Pilatus from Alpnachstad. The cogwheel railway was built in 1889 and is still the steepest one in the world. You feel as if you’re headed straight up.
Once you’re at the top of Mt. Pilatus, take a moment to soak it all in. You could easily spend hours up on top. With multiple restaurants and several short hiking trails, this place deserves a full day if allowed. We hiked 2 separate trails, enjoyed a beer at the restaurant and listened to a Swiss Horn Blower play music for the crowd, which was such an authentic Swiss experience!
We traveled back down Mt. Pilatus by cable car and gondolas. The cable car gives you spectacular panoramic views over Lake Lucerne and surroundings. We got the best of both worlds by doing both.
This was by far one of the highlights of our stay in Lucerne! The views were breathtaking from beginning to end.
What to See: Old Town of Lucerne
The picturesque Old Town preserves pretty murals of amazing art, decorated buildings, many old burghers’ houses, and little squares with fountains. The town is located on the right bank of River Reuss, between the city hall and Chapel Bridge.
Eric and I loved wandering the streets of Old Town and found time to stop into numerous tourist shops and chocolatiers. Normally, the streets are not open to traffic, so it’s rather easy to walk around as you enjoy the historic buildings that are painted in bright colors.
What to See: Chapel Bridge
Chapel Bridge is a wooden bridge in the middle of Old Town Lucerne and probably one of the most popular stops in the city! This picturesque centerpiece to the city is said to be the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe. It’s interesting to know that the Chapel Bridge was built in the 14th century as a protection for the city and is among the most photographed scenes in the country. It’s clear that its known for the beauty of the flowers that line the sides of the bridge and the stunning interior paintings.
There are several great restaurants right on the water by Old Chapel Bridge, and if you’re like us, we love to enjoy a mid-afternoon international beer when we travel. With many of the restaurants in Old Town, outdoor seating is very common. If you can grab a seat by the water, you’ll have some of the best views around! We loved sitting across from Chapel Bridge with a cold beer soaking it all in.
What to See: Lion Monument
The famous Lion Monument is located near Old Town Lucerne and walking distance from Chapel Hill. The huge figure of a dying lion we found to be a really mesmerizing and touching site as its one of the oldest preserved figurative monuments in Switzerland. The statue is carved into a sandstone wall and designed so intricately.
The sculpture dates back to 1820 and was created in commemoration of the 26 officers and more than 700 troops of the Swiss Guard who were massacred during the French revolution in 1792. If you’re in the area, it’s a must!
What to Do: Gleitschirm Tandem
Up, up and away we went onto our next escapade. Gleitschirm Tandem invites you to view Lake Lucerne as you’ve never seen it before! Here’s the thing: I’m afraid of heights and flying. But when life gives you the opportunity to paraglide, you just gotta take it.
To broaden our horizons, we set out for the thrill of a lifetime – paragliding over Lake Lucerne to celebrate Eric’s big milestone Birthday. I surprised him with the excursion and I don’t think he could have been any more ecstatic, especially after skydiving together just a few months prior. I booked our paragliding adventure with Paragliding Lucerne and couldn’t give them enough praise!
DISCLAIMER: you literally ran off the face of a mountain – but being securely strapped to the harnesses, having a sturdy pilot flying tandem, AND having a breathtaking view to look at, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Gabor, my flight instructor, was highly experienced and passionate about the sport, which definitely showed, and made the experience for first-timer like me go that much more smoothly.
During our flight, we witnessed spectacular bird’s eye views of gorgeous Lake Lucerne. We drifted silently over the countryside where we watched the serene world below us. After drifting peacefully for 20 minutes, we prepared for landing.
We would definitely go paragliding again with Gleitschirm Tandem and recommend this as a must to anyone looking for thrills. This unforgettable one-of-a-kind experience soaring over the most picturesque landscapes in the world was one of the highlights of our trip.
Where to Eat: Old Swiss House
With a full day of adventure behind us, dinner at Old Swiss House couldn’t have come at a better moment in time. This historic restaurant occupies space right in the heart of Lucerne. Regal and romantic, this upscale venue offers an exquisite menu of gourmet authentic Swiss fair and a la carte options, plus an impressive wine and liquor list.
The service was spectacular and our waitress was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the rich history of the establishment. We had dinner in the main room which is beautifully decorated in all pink-hued decadent decorations.
For starters, we began with the homemade lobster bisque and the shrimp cocktail. The lobster bisque was amazing and probably the best we’ve ever had! For dinner, we ordered the Poached Fillet of Turbot Rib with champagne sauce cream spinach and boiled potatoes and also the Grilled Fillet of Beef with herb butter, potato gratin, and vegetables. Both of our dishes were favorable and the presentation was spectacular. The Grilled Fillet of Beef was definitely the table favorite! It almost melted in your mouth it was so tender and juicy.
As a whole, our dinner experience was praiseworthy and we were impressed, to say the least! Thank you Old Swiss House for giving us a meal never to be forgotten.
Enjoy the View
Sometimes, the most memorable moments traveling are simply doing nothing and soaking in the beauty around you. Find somewhere to sit back and relax, while surrounded by the landscape, you will feel such an overwhelming calmness and gratitude. It was truly one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen and there were countless options for outdoor seating, boat rides, our hotel balcony and more.
How to Get Around
Eric and I purchased a Swiss Travel Pass (highly recommend!) before we traveled and it was one of the best decisions we made. It can save you so much time and money by giving you unlimited access to rail, bus, and boat on the Swiss Travel System network.
As you can see, there’s a reason why Lucerne, Switzerland is voted one of the best travel destinations in the world and also very high up on our list of favorite vacation spots. With its gorgeous scenery, delicious authentic food, and endless stunning views to take in, I’ve detailed many of the reasons why you need to put Lucerne on your travel radar.
Whenever you find yourself traveling to this historic area next we highly recommend these attractions as the best Lucerne has to offer! If you haven’t made plans to visit yet, you should definitely put this lakeside town, these are all of my recommendations that will give you a trip of a lifetime.