This turquoise jewel in central Switzerland has something for everyone.
Just opened at the end of 2017 after massive redevelopment, this uber-chic resort, reached by funicular, sits high on a forested ridge above Lake Lucerne, with stunning views of lake and mountains from just about every window. Wellness is at the forefront, though with 12 excellent restaurants you might be tempted to overindulge. The highlight is the utterly spectacular 10,000-square-metre spa (Switzerland’s largest). The infinity edge pool will make you feel like an angel afloat above god’s creation. Some 70 kilometres of surrounding hiking trails highlight why Lake Lucerne is possibly the most scenic lake in all Switzerland. See buergenstock.ch
Lake Lucerne is as beautiful in winter as summer, and a great way to lap up the snowy scenery is to take a steamer across the lake and then a cableway up to this small but lovely ski resort with panoramas that take in lowland, lakes and high Alps. Forty kilometres of groomed slopes make skiing a pleasure, and there’s also a terrain park for snowboarders. If you don’t ski, there are nine kilometres of walking, snowshoeing and sledding routes, or you can just sit in the sun on a restaurant terrace and tuck into sausages and rosti. See klewenalp.ch
SWISS MUSEUM OF TRANSPORT
This transport collection is Switzerland’s most visited museum and one of the best transport museums anywhere. It runs through the full gamut of transport history in a very engaging, interactive way that will appeal to families. You can use simulators to pilot helicopters and trains and help construct a road, visit the planetarium, and plunge into a state-of-the-art media centre, where you can create your own news report. An interesting local focus explains the difficulties of the alpine rail- and road-building at which the Swiss excel. There are also frightening early chairlifts and cable railways. See verkehrshaus.ch
Created to celebrate the 700th anniversary of Switzerland, this 35-kilometre walking trail around the southern end of Lake Lucerne leads past a chronological sequence of signboards outlining each Swiss canton and when it joined the confederation. You’ll also pass several sites associated with the legend of William Tell. It’s the scenery that commands attention, though, with the path sometimes skirting cliff faces that provide brilliant outlooks across brooding Lake Lucerne and its precariously positioned villages and squeezed-up mountains. You can tackle short sections and hitch rides on lake steamers and postal coaches that tour the lake. See weg-der-schweiz.ch
LUCERNE OLD TOWN
The town that gives the lake its name (at least in English) sits at its western end on the Reuss River, with an outlook across blue waters towards the Alps. Lucerne grew rich on medieval trade across the alpine passes, and its old town is cheerful with frescoed guild halls, baroque churches, half-timbered merchants’ mansions and ornamental fountains. Cafe terraces line the riverfront, pubs hunker down cobblestone streets, restaurants dish up fondues and creamy pork with rosti and souvenir shops clank with cowbells. Some city walls remain, and hilltop watchtowers have sumptuous mountain views. See luzern.com
One of Switzerland’s most iconic structures makes a dogleg across the Reuss River in downtown Lucerne. A fire (considered a national calamity) caused severe damage in 1993, but you’d hardly know it was replaced from original parts of the bridge. The Kapellbrucke is notable for its shingle roof, mid-river stone tower and medieval and Renaissance painted panels depicting the region’s history, including independence hero William Tell. In summer, the flowerboxes that drape the bridge are psychedelic with colour. Swans paddle below and Alps gleam in the distance: no wonder this bridge features on every Swiss calendar. See luzern.com
Brian Johnston was a guest of Switzerland Tourism and Swiss Travel System.