The cows are in their summer alpine pastures, there’s a golden light on the lakes and it’s a perfect time to take a walking holiday in the Luzern (Lucerne) region of Switzerland. I have a few lovely suggestions for day hikes from Luzern.
You’d be following in the footsteps of many well-known English-speaking tourists. In fact the Brits were the first pioneers of tourism in Switzerland. Travel company Thomas Cook ran their very first organised tour of Switzerland in 1863, which included a stopover in Lucerne.
From Queen Victoria to Mark Twain, enthusiastic hikers have been exploring the endless opportunities for walking along the lakeshore and in the mountains around Luzern. Mark Twain ‘panoplied’ himself in his ‘walking costume’ and climbed to the summit of the 1,800m Mt Rigi – the Queen of the Mountains – in the 1870s. He recorded his wanderings in A Tramp Abroad. Of course now you can take the train to the top…
Mark Twain looked out on a “billowy chaos of massy mountain domes and peaks draped in imperishable snow, and flooded with an opaline glory of changing and dissolving splendours.” I’m not sure if that makes me want to give up travel writing or spurs me on to greater things. I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a clear day – when apparently you can see 13 lakes and into Germany and France. But it was still gorgeous up there.
Switzerland is so beautiful in all seasons and the area around Luzern offers a sort of Switzerland in miniature experience. With the historic town of Lucerne itself, the stunning lake and the nearby mountainscapes, it is all here in the heart of Switzerland.
Wandering the streets of Luzern’s old town, Chapel Bridge weeps scarlet begonias below its gabled paintings of historic battles and leads to the late 13th century tower that once served as a torture chamber, dungeon, treasury, archive, and water tower.
Being Switzerland, everything is wonderfully functional and there are day trips within easy reach of Luzern by public transport – thanks to the buses, trains, gondolas, cable cars, cogwheel trains and boats.
Another classic day trip from Luzern is the so-called Golden Roundtrip, which takes you from town to the summit of nearby Mt Pilatus and 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains – and then on and down to the lake on a cogwheel railway.
There are so many beautiful things to see in and around Lucerne. From snowy mountain peaks to deep blue lakes; from green farmland to medieval towns – it’s what Switzerland is all about.
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you gone walking in the Luzern region of Switzerland?