Coordinates: 47°3′N 8°18′E
Switzerland owns one of the best railway systems in Europe, while being located right in the middle of the continent. On the West, it shares borders with France; on the North, with Germany; on the East, with Liechtenstein and Austria; on the South, with Italy. This makes the country an easy stop on every trip from Spain or France to Italy or vice versa. One of its best known cities is Luzern, precisely because it is en route when you make such a trip of european countries. If you have already been to Switzerland, surely you were there. Maybe you don’t remember the name, but the city is etched in your memory: this city in Switzerland that is sooo beautiful; it is next to a lake; it has a very old wood bridge from where you get a spectacular view of the Alps.
When I started travelling to Switzerland, one of the first cities I visited was, of course, Luzern. I found it visually impressive, but did not understand why of all the amazing places in this country, most of my acquaintances had only been to Luzern. Now that I live here, I get it! Luzern is a must-see, specially when you have few days, as it encapsulates the essence of Switzerland: lakes, mountains and historic architecture.
From the famous Chapel Bridge with its water tower (the most photographed monument in the country) to the Transport Museum (the most visited), Luzern offers alternatives for everyone to take home an unforgettable experience.
Not only children get to enjoy this museum! With pavillions dedicated to the main transport systems- boats, airplanes, automobiles, trains and cablecars- the facilities also include a cinema showing interesting films on a variety of topics; a planetarium with its impressive starry ceiling; a Lindt exhibition that takes you thru the exquisite history of chocolate; and the Hans Erni Museum and Sculpture Garden (painter, sculptor and designer born in Luzern).
Carnival = Fasnacht in German
Carnival takes over the streets to celebrate the end of Winter. Strange and masked characters walk the city while the carnival bands (Guggenmusiken in German) captivate participants with their instruments. Of Catholic origin, carnival officially begins with a bell strike at 5:00 AM the Thursday after Ash Wednesday.
To get there, you must first take a boat that leaves from Luzern and crosses the lake known, in German, as Vierwaldstättersee (the lake of the four cantons). This is already breathtaking. Then you travel by aerial gondola and a cogwheel railway to reach the top. The most adventurous can hike or climb up and later come down paragliding!
On a clear day, like the one gifted to us during our visit, you get a panoramic view of over seventy Alpine peaks. With walking trails, identified flora and restaurants, Pilatus is a great host. Plus on the way down, you can stop at Fräkmüntegg station and close the day enjoying the longest toboggan or rope park in Switzerland.
As it is a required stop in many trips, I will get plenty more opportunities to visit Luzern and add up to my experience.