At the northwestern tip of Lake Lucerne is its namesake city, one of the most beautiful panoramas in Switzerland. With its unique alpine landscape, where sunrises and sunsets reflect on the lake, Lucerne is a place that can only delight the visitor. Rich in charming plazas, towers and steeples, with its covered wooden bridges over the Reuss lit up at night and the stunning façade of the Jesuit church enhanced at dusk, its architecture is admirable anytime of the day.
At the crossroad between tradition and modernity is the Lucerne Culture and Conference Center, designed by lauded French architect Jean Nouvel. The multi-use building, known for its concert hall, is oriented towards the lake, its transparent glass façade reflecting the water. It hosts various cultural events like the Lucerne Festival, a series of international classical music festivals.
In this city of culture and art, The Rosengart Collection (Sammlung Rosengart) is the perfect way to get acquainted with masterpieces from Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee. Especially fun for families with young kids is the Swiss Museum of Transport. The museum is practically a city within a city, devoted to all manner of floating, flying and wheeled machines. With scooters for traveling between the different exhibits, even moving throughout the museum is lots of fun.
Lucerne has culture aplenty, but it also shines thanks to its unique architecture. It’s in Old Town that you can fully enjoy the city’s rich architectural heritage. Gems include the old Town Hall (built between 1602 and 1606), a fine Renaissance building, Hirschenplatz (the public square), surrounded by handsome restored houses, and Kapellplatz, in the center of which is Fritschi fountain—all perfect places to stop during a sunny afternoon walk.
Kappellbrücke (Chapel Bridge, pictured above) is a monument also not to be missed. Located where the Reuss leaves Lake Lucerne is this 14th-century-style covered wooden bridge, which was entirely rebuilt after a fire in 1993. Originally built in 1333, it was decorated with 100 paintings by Hans Heinrich Wägmann later in the 17th century; some of these that escaped the fire are distinguishable by traces of soot.
Lucerne’s outstanding heritage is also enhanced by the surroundings of Lake Lucerne. Recalling the watercolors of Turner, who lived here from 1842 to 1844, is its winding shoreline with its constantly changing views. Lake Lucerne, the largest Swiss lake after Lake Neuchâtel, is particularly impressive from above, like from Rigi-Kulm, the highest peak on Mount Rigi.
Being surrounded by nature is one of the things that makes Lucerne such an appealing place to spend time. The banks of the city (Schweizerhofquai and the Nationalquai) boast covered trees, and beneath their leafy canopies is a peaceful spot to sit and enjoy views of the town, the lake and, beyond, the snow-capped Alps.