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Der Vierwaldstädter See, Bild: gevision / shutterstock

Lake Lucerne, the natural pearl in Switzerland

Holidays at the lake or in the mountains? If you can’t decide, just go to Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. There are both. In some places, this natural pearl is almost reminiscent of a wild fjord landscape. Helvetia is neither poor in lakes nor in enchanting landscapes. But if you have to choose the most beautiful of the approximately 1500 bodies of water, you will probably not be able to avoid Lake Lucerne. You can’t really get more scenery than that. It consists of several lake basins and bays, surrounded by proud mountains.

Mediterranean climate

Apart from the original landscape, the climate is also a good reason to travel to Lake Lucerne. Despite the proximity to the foothills of the Alps, a Mediterranean climate awaits you. It is precisely the protective mountains that give the lake region such pleasant temperatures. Therefore, banana trees, palm trees, cypresses, sweet chestnuts, almond trees, even figs characterize the landscape.

Across the lake by steamboat

Lake lucerne
By boat across Lake Lucerne, Image: Thanakorn.P / shutterstock

The most charming way to discover the lake with its hidden beech trees is to take an extended tour on a steamboat, where you will also get to know places such as Küsnacht, Lucerne, Weggis or Beckenried. Especially on the ship, the natural diversity becomes clear. A dreamy little lake suddenly turns into a large basin after a bend, revealing a dramatic landscape. By the way, the fascinating mountains can also be reached by boat. You simply get off at the corresponding jetty and start a hike to the Rigi, the Pilatus, the Bürgenstock or the Klewenalp. Of course, there are also cable cars that lead into the mountains. The steepest cogwheel railway in the world takes its gondola from Alpnachstad to Mount Pilatus. 49 degrees of incline are already possible. Of course, you can also hike up Mount Pilatus. The ascent takes four hours before you reach the summit, which is about 2000 m high. The effort is rewarded by a gigantic view of the lake. With a bit of luck, the rare Alpine ibex can also be seen. A special experience is a ride on the oldest cogwheel railway in Europe, which has been in use since 1871. The cable car starts in Vitzni and climbs the 1800 m high Rigi in half an hour. If you have a reasonable head for heights, you can test the highest suspension bridge in Europe on the 3,238-metre-high Titlis.

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Conquering the lake on foot

You should be good on foot if you decide to hike around the lake. However, you have to bring time for that. Because for the Waldstätterweg, which leads around the lake, you need several day tours with a daily walking time of four to six hours. The level of difficulty is moderate. However, you should be in sufficient shape, as there are one or two meters of altitude to overcome. And in some places, surefootedness is required. On the hiking trail, starting at Brunnen, you can experience the entire diversity and beauty of the area. Pretty riverside paths, lush green meadows, dark forests alternate until you come to the last station, Rütli, a legendary meadow. It is considered the founding place of Switzerland, where the legendary Rütli oath was taken.

Culture and sights

Chapel Bridge Lucerne
The Chapel Bridge in Lucerne, Image: gevision / shutterstock

By the way, the tour around the lake offers a whole range of other sights in addition to nature. In Küsnacht, a little off the hiking trail, you come across the famous “Hohle Gasse”, where William Tell struck down the tyrannical bailiff Heinrich Gessler with a crossbow. Friedrich Schiller helped this story to become world famous. From Küsnacht it goes to Meggen with the enchanting Meggenhorn Castle. It is surrounded by a romantic park on a headland above the Lucerne Lake basin.

The magnificent building was built on the model of Chambord Castle on the Loire, and contains a museum and a chapel. The next stage leads to Lucerne, which is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This is by no means an exaggeration when strolling through the capital of the canton of the same name. Lucerne is not only the cultural centre of Switzerland with a world-famous symphony orchestra, numerous festivals and the Lucerne Carnival. It is also the sights that are spread throughout the city that give it an old-fashioned charm. One of the most beautiful is certainly the Chapel Bridge from 1365.

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The oldest and second longest wooden bridge in Europe is Lucerne’s landmark with its octagonal water tower. It is part of the former city fortifications and connected the two banks of the Reuss as a pedestrian path. Another landmark are the Musegg Towers with the wall of the same name. They are also part of the former city fortifications and shape the historic cityscape. You can experience Lucerne in an original and old-fashioned way with the Gütschbahn. It leads from Basselstraße up to Château Gütsch, which was unmistakably built on the model of Neuschwanstein Castle. However, the journey only takes 100 seconds.

Swimming, diving, sailing

But what is a lake without bathing areas? Don’t worry, there are 18 of them on Lake Lucerne. These are the official ones, mind you, with all kinds of amenities such as barbecue areas, changing rooms and toilets. Some are also directly connected to hotels that are located on the lake. In any case, there is no shortage of baths, as the Swiss call them. Not even in activities on and in the lake. Kayaking, wakeboarding, sailing, surfing, fishing or boating promise variety. You can even dive. Due to the clear water, the lake is even very popular with divers. At Siskon you can try your hand at a steep wall and at Brunnen a sunken freighter lures you into the depths