Sunny in Switzerland: Luzern

Wooden bridge and water tower in the center of Luzern
Wooden bridge and water tower in the center of Luzern

Sunny in Switzerland: Luzern

by Tamala Malerk
Stripes Europe

Switzerland is known to be a world-class skiing destination, but there is so much to do there when the snow on the ground has melted, and the sun is high in the sky. I recently got to spend a week in Switzerland and experienced all it had to offer when it was warm out. My first stop was Zürich, and then I found myself in Luzern.

Since moving to Europe, I often find myself discovering new holidays and traditions. I happened to be in Luzern, Switzerland on National Swiss Day. Surprisingly, even though a national holiday was being celebrated, we were still able to go to quite a few places.

After dropping off our stuff at the hotel, we made our way to several castle towers where we got to see the oldest clock in the city from the 1500s. Along the way to the castles, as we walked around the lake, we got some gorgeous views of the mountains. We also stopped and viewed the  Bourbaki Panorama which is a circular painted story by the painter Edouard Castres in 1881 and its temporary exhibit about crossing borders. The panorama is considered an inspiration for modern-day 365-degree filming and virtual reality.

Throughout the day, we also got to partake in some delicious food. Being in Switzerland, I had to take advantage of eating all the Swiss cheese, so I found not only a cheese (and fruit plate) but also a delectable macaroni and Swiss cheese dish that was made from a 150-year-old recipe. We ended the day watching the sunset behind the mountains and the different fireworks going off in celebration of the holiday.

Sunset behind mountain in Luzern | Photo by Tamala Malerk
Sunset behind mountain in Luzern | Photo by Tamala Malerk

Day two began with the Historical Museum Luzern where they have chosen to display their 3,000+ artifacts in an updated manner.  By displaying the artifacts in a warehouse kind of style without informational labels, they use QR codes and iPads to allow visitors to scan whichever artifacts they want to learn as much as possible, rather than being limited to a small textbox.

After the history museum, I accomplished a personal goal of mine: eating McDonalds in my fifth country. I try to take advantage of local cuisine wherever I go, however, since McDonalds can be found in many countries, I have made it a point to eat McDonalds in every new country I visit. So far, I have racked up my list to include the U.S, the U.K., France, Germany and now, Switzerland. My spouse got the Swiss exclusive McRaclette.

Fueled by some McNuggets, we made our way to the Glacier Garden and Lion Monument. Glacier Garden offers fun for the whole family. There is a maze of mirrors that I was told I had to try. To be completely honest, it made me nauseous and frustrated, but the kids running around seemed to like it. What I enjoyed most was the air-conditioned indoor “tour” through the ice ages and time. There is also a house museum on-site where you can see tons of gems and other artifacts. If you get hungry there is a bistro and shop where you can get coffee, water, hot dogs and other treats.

Next to the garden is the Lion Monument, which has a rich history in creating the idea behind commercial tourism. Visited by over 1.4 million people a year, the monument was erected in 1821 to memorialize the Swiss guards who perished in 1792 when the Tuileries were stormed in France. Now and days, a lion magnet or figure makes for the “must-have” souvenir of Luzern.

Following the garden and monument, we strolled around the lake and just took in the sights, including accidentally stumbling upon the “nude-positive” corner of the swimming area (for those visiting, this was off to the side of the swimming-area away from the rest of the swimmers, not front-and-center). A more pleasant sight was the chocolate shops where I got the pleasure to view a chocolate fountain and eat all the chocolate possible.

We ended the night eating pizza and watching the sun go down from the appropriately named Sunset Bar. The next morning we made our way to the final stop on our Sunny in Switzerland adventure: Interlaken. Luzern was a wonderful place to stay for two days, and we will definitely return to check out the Richard Wagner Museum and the Swiss Museum of Transport. Stay tuned to read all about going over 1,300 meters in the air, a St. Bernard bear encounter, finding the Hooters and accidentally ordering a mountain of cheese.


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