Lucerne is just an hour’s drive from Interlaken. This gorgeous medieval city sits on the shores of Lake Lucerne and at the foot of Mt. Pilatus.
After a four-hour drive from Munich, we arrived in Lucerne at around noon and stayed the night. If we were to do it again, we would have driven to our place in Wilderswil after spending the day there. Lucerne is beautiful, but you can do it in a day. The point of going to Switzerland is to be in mountains, so an afternoon and evening down in the city will suffice, in our opinion.
We recommend spending your time in the Old Town area around the water. This area is really well preserved and feels like you’re in a time warp back to medieval times, as long as you can block out the busloads of tourists taking photos of pigeons with their iPads.
Here are a few suggestions of how to spend your time when you aren’t dodging fanny packs:
Go to the top of Mt. Pilatus.
If you do happen to have a little more time in Lucerne, make the trek up Mt. Pilatus (it takes at least half a day). This trip is only worth it if the weather is pleasant. If it is not clear, you won’t be able to see anything from the summit. If it is a nice day out, take the gondolas and cable cars from Krienz.
In the summer, though, you can take the Golden Round Trip to the top of Pilatus, which is supposed to be an incredible experience. From May to October, travelers have the option of riding the world’s steepest cogwheel railway to the top (and then cable car and gondola down).
Walk the Bridges.
Lucerne is famous for its medieval architecture and quaint Old Town area. Check out the Culture and Congress Centre before stopping to grab a quiche on the patio at Seebistro LUZ. Take a look at the Jesuit Church before crossing over Chapel Bridge into Old Town. Take a selfie and then walk through Old Town to the Musegg Wall, an impressive wall with nine towers encompassing Old Town. You can walk on top of it during the summer.
Cruise around Lake Lucerne.
Because it was snowy and overcast on top of Mt. Pilatus, we opted for our plan B and took a ferry cruise around Lake Lucerne. Highly recommend, and you can buy tickets right at the terminal. At first I was a little put-off by how crowded the boat seemed when we were boarding, and you know I don’t do well with tourists touching me.
Once the ship took off, however, the men separated from the boys, and most people dove into the bottom level for warmth. The rest of the trip was breathtaking. We sipped champagne on the front of the boat (bow, right?) and took in the views of Lucerne, Pilatus and surrounding mountains.
Try a Fondue Dinner.
I love cheese more than most things. So BOY was I excited to try the famous Swiss fondue that everyone is up in arms about. You can imagine the care I put into researching to make sure we selected the PERFECT place to try this liquid dairy substance I had been dreaming about for months. We got all dressed up for dinner, I mean liquid eyeliner and everything, and set off way earlier than necessary to make our reservation at Zunfthausrestaurant Pfistern.
We walked in, and a startling aroma engulfed me. I practically passed out on the spot. The cute Swiss hostess was smiling at me, though, so I kept it together. I slyly turned to Tyler as she walked us to our table and asked what on earth was that smell. He gently replied that the smell, Love, was the fondue. I gasped and tried to regain my composure as my dreams of a heavenly evening crumbled before my eyes (nose).
The next part is on us, though. For some inexplicable reason, we decided to push through the smell and order not one but two FULL SIZE ORDERS of fondue. As our meal. We don’t know why. (What makes this all 10x worse is the fact that EACH order was 36 CHF). When the waitress smugly set down the microwave-sized vat of molten cheese along with about 400 squares of bread, we knew had made a mistake. The taste was just as aggressive as the smell, and I had five bites before I felt the urge to curl up on the ground with a cup of dandelion root tea in hand.
As with most cultural staples, I do recommend everyone should at least TRY fondue. I mean when in Rome right? But I do feel obligated to give you all fair warning that it is POTENT AND HEAVY. Just don’t do what we did and order two full-sized orders for two people. Really, less is more here.
After passing out in our hotel room that night, we woke up and drove over to our chalet apartment in Interlaken.