Travel – One Perfect Day In
Lucerne is a traditional Swiss city in central Switzerland surrounded by the Alps, only an hour from Zurich by train. The city has sights to explore, shopping, restaurants, a river, a lake, and easy connections via train to all of Switzerland. Lucerne is easy to explore on your own. Here is a suggested walking tour to follow. The podcast aligns with the tour.
(Click above to listen to the podcast. See below for information and pictures.)
1-A – Lion Monument (Lowendenkmal) – Lion of Lucerne
Begin at the Lion Monument (“Löwendenkmal” in German). Mark Twain called the depiction of the dying lion “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.” The sculpture is carved into a large sandstone cliff face. It was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and carved in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution at the Tuileries Palace in Paris.
Some say the sculptor complained that he did not receive full pay for his work, so he assured that the outline of the carving looks like a pig. What do you think?
The Lion Monument is open 24 hours. It is free to view. The exact address is Denkmalstrasse 4, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland. From Lucerne’s main train and bus station, take Bus 1 to the fourth stop, Wesemlinrain.
2-B – Lucerne Glacier Garden
Walk up the stairway to the left of the Lion Monument if you would like to visit the Glacier Garden. This natural area shows the sandstone of Lucerne as it was when the glaciers receded. There are potholes, deep crevasses, and fossils from plants left in the sandstone. There is also a short film, a museum of the origins of Lucerne, and a fun mirror-maze that kids will enjoy.
If you have a Swiss Pass, the Glacier Garden is included, but otherwise it may not be worth the 15 CHF admission fee, depending on your interest. The Glacier Garden is open 9 am – 6 pm daily, except from November 1 – March 31 when it opens at 10 am and closes at 5 pm daily.
3-C – Old Swiss House Restaurant
Exit the Glacier Garden or the Lion Monument and walk a couple of blocks down the hill (south toward Lake Lucerne) on Denkmalstrasse until it ends at the beautiful square, Löwenplatz. Note the Old Swiss House restaurant on your left as you enter the square. The Old Swiss House, built in 1859, serves traditional Swiss dishes and wines from an extensive wine cellar. Its half-timbered façade makes it one of the most photographed attractions of the area. Most of the interior decorations date to the 17th century. The stained-glass windows date to 1575. The porcelain-tiled stove dates to 1636 and is initialled by Daniel Pfau. The wait staff dress in original Lucerne costumes.
4-D – Hofkirche St. Leodegar
Walk to the left with your back to the Old Swiss House and at the corner turn right on Weystrasse. Keep walking toward Lake Lucerne by veering to your left on Stadthofstrasse and continuing on St. Leodegarstrasse until you see Hofkirche St. Leodegar on your left. The Church of St. Leodegar is a Roman Catholic church built from 1633 to 1639 on the foundation of a Roman basilica that burned down in 1633.
5-E – Seebad Luzern Swimming Club
Turn right in front of the church to stay on St. Leodegarstrasse and then take the first left on Stiftstrasse. Walk one block toward Lake Lucerne and cross the main road, Haldenstrasse, to get to the pedestrian path along the lake. Turn left and walk along the path with the lake on your right. You will see the swimming club, Seebad Luzern, on your right in the water and the Hotel Palace Luzern just past it on your left overlooking the lake. Walk a little farther along the pedestrian path here, circling around the pathway in the little lakeside park, and then walk back toward the center of the city with the lake on your left.
6-F – Schiff-Restaurant Wilhelm Tell