Lake Lucerne lies surrounded by mountains in Central Switzerland and has a depth of up to 214 metres. The lake’s German name is derived from the four historic cantons – Uri, Unterwalden, Schwyz and Lucerne – on its scenic shoreline. The lake was formed by the Reuss Glacier in the last Ice Age, some 12,000 years ago.
Lake Lucerne: the greatest scenig variety in Switzerland
Encircled by popular excursion mountains, Lake Lucerne is the lake with the greatest scenic variety in the country. It is somewhat reminiscent of a fjord landscape, yet remains characterised by a mild lake climate. Boat cruises on board five historic paddle wheel steamers and 15 elegant salon motor vessels count among the highlights of this region.
A steamer cruise across the convolute lake of Lucerne on a sun-filled summer’s day is without doubt a wonderful experience. But a trip on a late scheduled sailing through a mild summer’s evening or, shortly before Christmas, toward the sea of lights that is the town of Lucerne must at least be just as unforgettable. As is the mystical mood on the lake during the autumn mist period, and when the steamer cuts steadily through the waves on Lake Uri whipped up by the föhn wind.
A boat trip can be ideally combined with a walk, such as the “Weg der Schweiz” or Swiss Path, a themed trail on the history of Switzerland. Several cycling and skating paths as well as numerous bathing and rest areas are provided along the lake shores. An excursion to the popular sightseeing and shopping town of Lucerne, to include a trip to the Swiss Museum of Transport with its IMAX cinema, the Glacier Garden or a leisurely shopping expedition through the old town, is well worthwhile.
The German lake name, ‘Vierwaldstättersee’, has its origins in the four historic ‘Waldstätten’ (lit. forest sites), the three original cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, and the canton of Lucerne, which, together, surround Lake Lucerne. The foundation for the Swiss Confederation was laid in 1291 with the oath taken on the Rütli, a meadow above Lake Lucerne. In the past, the lake was an important transit route, until 1863 in fact the only trade route to the Gotthard pass.
The lake route is still plied today by the “Gotthard Panorama Express”: the trip begins in Lucerne with a cruise to Flüelen, and then continues in first-class panorama carriages across the famous Gotthard railway line through to Ticino.
Rigi Kulm – Legendary Sunrise
Well over a hundred years ago, countless incorrigible adventurers and romantics, including one Mark Twain, journeyed to Central Switzerland specially to see the legendary sunrise on Mt. Rigi. These days, special trains are laid on to take guests up to the highest point in time to witness the break of day. Those who want to savour the panoramic views of the Alps and the Mittelland a little longer can spend the night in the Rigi Kulm Hotel.
After arriving the Top of the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking 360° panoramic view. It’s a truly majestic place! Of course Mt. Rigi is not the only mountain with a 360° view. However the panoramic lookout at Mt. Rigi’s summit is unlike any other. The combination of the snow-capped Alps, the lowlands with 13 lakes, views of Germany and France and a bird’s-eye view of the cities of Lucerne and Zug makes it truly unique.
To the north towards Zurich, the view takes in Lake Aegeri, Lake Lauerz and Lake Zug. To the north-east, you can see the Swiss plateau dotted with lakes through to the Black Forest and the Vosges mountains. The southern vista is completely different – it encompasses the soaring, snow-capped Alpine ranges and is breathtakingly spectacular in its own right.
Lucerne is definitely on my bucket list! I initially wanted to go this week, but due to scheduling conflicts with another ongoing project, I wasn’t able to. Hopefully, I can reschedule soon, providing you with my personal travel tips.
photo credits: Pilatus-Bahnen AG (swiss-image.ch/Urs Wyss), Switzerland Tourism (swiss-image.ch/Freddy Enguix and swiss-image.ch/Ivo Scholz), Rigi Kulm