This town was all for me, with the most perfect weather greeting me when I walked out the train station early Sunday morning. It was a pleasant change from the downpour in Bern the day before. The rest of this post will take you around my own morning walking journey through Luzern, and I certainly suggest it! Before you go, it is important to go on a sunny day. Also, if you end up going on a Sunday, get there a little earlier, around 9 am, so that you can beat the tour groups to all the sites. Plus, there are just fewer people out and about at that time.
Turn right out of the train station to face this gigantic convention center-looking building (if you’ve ever seen McCormick Place in Chicago…) with a shallow pond and giant fountain (Figure 1). This is the Kultur-und-Kongresszentrum (Culture and Conference Center), where the Luzern Music Festival and the Luzern Museum of Art is held. If you are not a huge art buff, keep moving on; otherwise, come back to the museum later.
Walk west along the south side of Lake Luzern/Reuss River, and you will come face to face with Lugano’s major attraction: Chapel Bridge (Figure 2a). This was built at an angle to connect the town’s medieval fortifications back in the 14th century, and the little octagonal tower in the middle is the water tower. Walking onto the bridge (Figure 2b), you will see a series of pictures showing how the city was developed (Figure 2c), but some of it is missing because part of the bridge had to be rebuilt when it burned in 1993. Before you move on, look back toward Lake Luzern to get a stunning view of the mouth of the Reuss River (Figure 3).
On the south side of Reuss River, you will then come to my favorite bridge in Luzern: the Rathaus Bridge (Figure 4). Not only does the name sound funny, its ornate structure just looks so delicate and intricate! I especially like the elaborate vine-like sculpting of the lamps!
Near the Rathaus Bridge is the Jesuit Church (Figure 5). Go inside to see what you will think is an interior of marble (Figure 6a), but it’s actually all a stucco of ground-up marble! If you are lucky, a very adept choir (Figure 6b) will be practicing! Sit and enjoy!
Just a side note: there are swans EVERYWHERE in Switzerland (Figure 7). And you can feed them.
The next bridge you come to is Mill Bridge, but before, you will see the Reuss River Weir System (Figure 8), a water level control system that keeps the lakeside villages from flooding. Mill Bridge (Figure 9) is an original, and it too has pictures like Chapel Bridge.
The Natural History Museum is right next to Mill Bridge, but it is really not worth it if you have been to any large Natural History Museum and if you do not read German. They do have a very creepy, fortune telling-looking room where you can view insects, though (Figure 10).
By this time, I was getting a tad bit hungry so I decided to go to the little bakery that Rick Steves suggested: Hug Bakery (Figure 11a). It is located in Muhlenplatz, just after you cross Mill Bridge. This little café can provide a light snack or a fulfilling lunch. Since it was still morning, I sat down with chocolate bread (Figure 11b). What a delicious treat! The bun was sweet and soft, and giant chocolate chips were baked right into the surface! Mmm…
Now that I had some carbs, I took a stroll to Weinmarkt (Figure 12), which used to be a marketplace for wine. Check out the facade illustrating Jesus turning water into wine (Figure 12b) and the words “Amor medicabilis nvllis herbis” (Figure 12c), which means “No medicine can cure a broken heart”. I guess since this is in Weinmarkt, they are suggesting that wine can…
Now walk down Weggisgasse (Figure 13), a strip filled with shops (which are closed on Sundays). You may even see some graffiti (Figure 13b).
Come back to the promenade along the north side of the Reuss River to get a different view of Chapel Bridge (Figure 14). Ask some Swiss people to take a picture of you, and they make just also take a photo of their friends… (Figure 15). You may as well search for some stereotypical Asian tourists with their giant SLR cameras to take a photo of you (look for the ones who know how to take the ballet-like photo-taking stance because they are reliable). Plus, there are plenty of them in tourist season!
I walked along Lake Luzern, intending to walk up to Lowenplatz to see the Lion Monument and Glacier Garden, but I was too wrapped up with the gorgeous lake and mountains (Figure 16) that I walked past (by about a mile) the street I was supposed to turn at. At least I saw the boat that was just sitting there (Figure 17) with its dragon (I’m year of the dragon) and LU (which actually stands for Luzern) on the side.
Back on track, I passed a shop that sold “I <3 LU” t-shirts (Figure 18). Since it was closed, I just had to take a picture of it.
At the Lion Monument (Figure 19), you are greeted with a clear pool and one of the most moving and miserable sculptures I’ve ever seen.
Next to the monument is Glacier Garden, which is pretty cool with rock that is striated by glaciers (Figure 20a). The pressure of water under the glaciers also made these giant holes in the rock. In the Glacier Museum, you can ride a mammoth (Figure 20b)! But the best part about the Glacier Garden actually has nothing to do with glaciers. There is a hall of mirrors (Figure 20c)! Try not to run into yourself…
- Make sure it’s a sunny day in Luzern.
- Get there early, especially on the weekends to beat the tour groups.
- You can drink from the fountains throughout Switzerland. The water is clean and is constantly checked. So drink up or spend around 3-4 SF for a bottle of water.