Tucked between mountains – including Mount Pilatus – and its eponymous lake, Lucerne has fairytale good looks, down to the pastel-coloured buildings of its Old Town. This compact city makes a great base for exploring some of Switzerland’s majestic Alps, but there’s plenty to keep you here, too. From fondue and locally brewed beer to regular music festivals, here’s our guide to Lucerne.
Turrets, archways and fresco facades – Lucerne’s Old Town bursts with historical flamboyance. The eclectic architecture includes buildings that date back as far as the Middle Ages. Among the most beautiful are Pfistern Guildhouse (at Kornmarkt 4), the Hotel des Balances (on Weinmarkt) and the Restaurant Fritschi (at Sternenplatz 5). Also carve out some time to visit the ancient St Peter’s Chapel on Kapellplatz.
Lucerne’s wooden Chapel Bridge might be one of the city’s most photographed spots, but don’t overlook its second bridge, the Spreuerbrücke. Built in 1408, it’s one of Europe’s oldest covered bridges and veers off at a peculiar angle. However, the most remarkable thing about it is only revealed once you start to walk across – the interior is decorated with a series of 17th-century paintings, depicting a Danse Macabre-style meditation on mortality and existence.
Get a whiff of the finest Swiss cheeses at this independent cheese shop, in the Old Town near Löwenplatz. The 100 or so varieties for sale include local favourites such as Emmentaler and Gruyère, plus international types not easily found outside of Europe, like raw milk cheese. You can also try a fresh-from-the-over cheese pie, fondue or raclette in-house, or pick up everything you need for your own gooey feast.