What you can see in just 2 hours
Lucerne is one of my favourite spots in Switzerland, a small city that never fails to delight me. Last week I had just two free hours to visit, but it’s the perfect place for that. You can, of course, spend much longer, as I have on other visits, and take advantage of the museums, the music, boat trips and restaurants. Whether you’re new to the city or a regular visitor, the tourism office in the train station building is a useful starting point; it’s one of the best and most useful such offices in the country. This is one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist areas and the city has done a great job of making it easy to get around and to find information.
In two hours you can do a pleasant walking tour that goes from the main train station over the main bridge towards the Old Town and then backtrack across the world-famous covered Chapel Bridge (beware the sluggish tourist groups!), past the Jesuit church where you must stop in long enough to admire the interior of Switzerland’s first baroque sacred building. Wind through little streets with fine boutiques until you reach the “other” wooden bridge, the Mill Bridge, where you can read about the history of the small dam there. If you need a break from walking, just before that you pass the waterfront Opus Vinothek, which has an excellent selection of Swiss wines by the glass or bottle, to take out or enjoy in the restaurant. Back on foot: cross over and let yourself wander through the shopping district and admire the Medieval architecture as you head towards the Old Town, the Museggmauer city wall, the Bourbaki panorama and finally, without fail, allow time to sit in front of the Dying Lion, also called the Weeping Lion monument, which sits in a small park.
Summer with flowers everywhere and beautiful boat rides has its advantages, but off-season Lucerne has much to offer, starting with fewer bus tour groups and the greater likelihood that you’ll be able to hear some of the music for which the city is famous. I had fun watching workers scrub and polish and mend the city as it prepares for summer visitors.