The most famous of Lucerne’s music festivals is the 75-year-old Lucerne Festival in Summer, which sees the world’s top orchestras, conductors, and musicians arriving in the city for a month-long celebration of their arts. Past guests have included the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and legendary pianist Martha Argerich. A smaller festival in March focuses on religious music, and the Lucerne Festival at the Piano in November features both jazz and classical talents.
Lucerne Festival Ticket Office, Europaplatz 1, Lucerne, Switzerland. +41 (0)41 226 44 80
Lucerne’s 17th century Rathaus (town hall) comes with its very own brewery and pub, where visitors can enjoy the full-bodied, fragrant Rathaus Bock, a strong beer that is especially popular in winter and during Lent. An extensive menu of traditional food is also available. Be sure to try some Weisswürst (spiced white sausage) or Luzerner Käsekuchen (a savory cheese tart).
Unter der Egg 2, Lucerne, Switzerland. +41 (0)41 410 52 57
The streets of Lucerne’s Old Town are lined with elaborately decorated buildings, some dating back to the Middle Ages. Keep an eye out for the frescoes – they decorate the facades of almost every other building. Some of the most beautiful are on the Pfistern Guildhouse (Kornmarkt 4, Lucerne), the Hotel des Balances (Weinmarkt, Lucerne), and the Restaurant Fritschi (Sternenplatz 5, Lucerne). Make sure to also check out the ancient St. Peter’s Chapel on Kapellplatz.
In addition to the more famous Chapel Bridge, Lucerne has a second covered wooden footbridge, the Spreuerbrücke. A walk down the bridge is practically like a museum tour — the interior is decorated with a series of 17th century paintings depicting a Danse Macabre-style meditation on mortality and human existence. This is definitely not an ordinary tourist attraction: skeletons, priests, courtiers and angels perform fantastical and sometimes violent scenes in 45 expertly executed paintings.
The Rosengart Foundation has one of Switzerland’s best collections of modern art, with big names like Picasso, Klee, Monet and Chagall all making an appearance. Private tours of the collection in English are available, and German speakers can participate in weekly public tours. Don’t miss the many drawings and sketches by Picasso and Paul Klee, which offer a rare glimpse into the artists’ methods.
Rosengart Foundation, Pilatusstrasse 10, Lucerne, Switzerland. +41 (0)41 220 16 60
This independent cheese store near Löwenplatz offers a wide selection of international and Swiss cheeses, fondue ingredients, and freshly baked cheese pies. The raw milk cheeses, in particular, are a must-try, especially as many varieties are not easily found outside of Europe.
Chäs Barmettler, Hertensteinstrasse 2, Lucerne, Switzerland. +41 (0)41 410 21 88