I would say for a first trip to Switzerland, Luzerne is a great choice . Everything is conveniently located around lake and you could do a week of sight seeing concentrating on mainly the lake. Its less then a hour from Zurich and has great transport links. This is where your rural trip really begins. This pretty little town has a taste of everything from food, shopping (high and low end), architecture, and scenery. Most of the large hotels are located across the lake as soon as you exit the station. The thing i loved most about this town was its convenience. Its small do it can be done in a day. I just wondered by foot and got lost. The streets are almost reminiscent of dutch towns, and the lakes of the Italian also. I stayed at the Grand National hotel in Luzerne, a beautiful renaissance style architecture hotel with the same founder of the Ritz hotel group. With beautiful staircases and golden architecture with high ceilings, the hotel makes you feel like royalty.
I stayed in the junior suite on the second floor, with panoramic views of the lake.
Balconies looking onto lake lucerne
The junior suite
Grand National staircase
The hotel has a classy charm, and a peaceful presence after a adventurous day around lucerne town. each of the rooms are equipped with Baylis and harding cosmetics, Bose speakers,I pad for room service, complimentary waters, and swiss chocolate, all followed by a Germanesque breakfast by the Lake.
Whats to do?
Mount Pilatus I have mixed reviews of this place. I really wanted to see it after googling all the gobsmacking images. I went all the way to the top , and guess what? I saw nothing. The weather has a habit of being unpredictable. I was perplexed as to why i was sold a ticket, but it turns out, its up to you to visit the website and see if there is any views on the morning of the visit, because they won’t give you any information, and no refund if there is a view. I would say it was a better bet to warn people before they purchase their tickets, and to perhaps close off the event all together, but it’s not happening anytime soon.
Visit a chocolate shop Its expensive but taste like no other. Rather then go for the standard bards or packaged items, try to pick something fresh and handmade from places such as Laderach or Sprungli, or it will be equivalent to eating a Lindt bar which is available in the UK. Lets face it, there is no point to travel all the way to Switzerland not to try real Swiss chocolate.
Church of Leodegar is breathtakingly beautiful. Its located close to the Lion structure, and if i had to pick one attraction to see Luzerne it would be this. Its breathtakingly beautiful inside
Tour around the lake
There are numerous towns and villages to visit around the lake, and a great tour of Luzerne is hopping from one town to the other. They are all unique in character with a abundance of hidden gems. I took the chance to visit the pretty town of Ennetburgen, residing for one night at the beautiful lodge style hotel which has categorised as top 10 views of the world. Villa Honegg is a beautiful retreat high up in the hills boasting a infinity pool looking into the magical Lake Lucerne. I advise to wake up early to get a view of the magical sunrise, where you can see life awakening slowly below you.
Views from the magical infinity pool
Serene views of the mountains
In pool jacuzzi
Breakfast is done in a afternoon tea style fashion starting with some local swiss favourites with a selection of cheeses and Veal bacon presented beautifully on a 3 tier stand, followed by a hot food mains selected from the menu by choice. Lastly a selection of petit pancakes of five different flavours.
Beautiful neutral tone rooms
Cosy bedrooms with balcony views of the mountains
Slippers, blankets and binoculars to add to the country retreat feeling
Poolside, wearing Superdry snow jacket, New balance trainers, Tommy hilfiger leggings, Nixon watch and Noisy May top
Bedroom balcony views
You will not be disappointed. At £700 a night per couple, its a big stretch but one worth doing. Ive been to many hotels which claim a 5 star and but there are always niggly things to point out. When it came to Villa Honegg, I could not point a single negative point. Coming back down from my hotel to Ennetburgen left me with a sense of being back to reality, and I knew nothing was going to beat Villa Honegg on my trip.
The pretty town of Weggis was once described by author Mark Twain as “This is the charmingest place we have ever lived in for repose and restfulness, superb scenery whose beauty undergoes a perpetual change from one miracle to another, yet never runs short of fresh surprises and new inventions. We shall always come here for the summers if we can”
Its a pretty little town made up of chalets and beautiful valleys. I can almost imagine christmas here. With small boutiques and shops, it consists of a small close knit community which harbours at the south of Lake Lucerne opposite Ennetburgen. This quaint town is very picturesque and you could spend hours on end sitting on the edge of the boat docks feeling what Mark Twain did.
Switzerland requires much planning, or as i found, things go wrong!
Firstly plan your journey ahead. The trains are so precise here and always leave on time. Make sure you reach the station on time. Their train time tables are very confusing in comparison to London, and you will dos likely have to do some asking around before you know which train to catch.
Currency exchange rate is lower in switzerland compared to the UK by quite a lot. I would advise, either use your card so your own bank will charge you at their rate, or opt to changing money before. Switzerland is expensive be warned!
Despite what people may say, I found Zurich airport a terrible design. Some of their gates are a whole train ride away and passport security is before you get tot he gate (after duty free…. YES!!) which is why i missed my flight. Don’t spend time in duty free if your gate is about to open. Some of them are in a completely different building which requires a train journey. I was a bit baffled as to how it won one of the top 10 airports in the world.
Don;t try to train fare dodge. You my believe there are no officers however they usually dress in disguise, and you could face a hefty 100CHF fine if you don’t have a valid ticket.