Especially during the summer months, Lucerne is prone to attract crowds of visitors. And I don’t blame them! Here in the heart of Switzerland, it is possible to see a historic old town the same day as a world-class museum, or a bucket-list mountaintop.
For obvious reasons, Lucerne has slowed down tremendously. International tourists are sadly unable to visit, leaving the town mostly to locals. In the heat of summer, the iconic Chapel Bridge is barely frequented. And even the lion gets to sleep peacefully at the Lion’s Monument.
On the kind invitation of Lucerne Tourism, we have recently spent a memorable weekend there. For once, we did not have to plan every detail from scratch. Instead, we subscribed to an all-inclusive experience and went with the flow.
Unbeatable offers for a Lucerne weekend trip
Let’s talk about the Forward Pass for Connoisseurs, a bouquet of attractive Lucerne offers. At the core is an unbeatable “2-for-1” offer on the TellPass transport pass. Also, a shopping voucher and ideas for experiences that leave a small footprint.
The TellPass promotion deserves a special mention. Available to anyone staying at least two nights in a hotel, the 50-percent-off discount may be one of the hottest values in Switzerland right now!
Regardless of the discount, the TellPass is an attractive public transport pass for Central Switzerland. It is packed to the brim with mountain excursions and Lucerne discounts. Simply select a duration for the pass (3/4/5 days), pay the fee, and run with it.
For our Lucerne weekend trip, we selected Hotel Drei Könige from a number of hotels that extend discounted rates to TellPass holders. From the Lucerne main station, several bus lines take us within a minute’s walk of the hotel. And thanks to this ideal location, the three-star “Three Kings” is all we could ask for in a city hotel.
This is our first time in the Bruch neighborhood, a part of Lucerne known for its down-to-earth attitude and its potential for retail therapy. Besides corner pubs and coiffeurs, there are vintage shops, design agencies, a zero-waste store, and fashion boutiques featuring local labels.
Not to miss during a Lucerne weekend trip: the Saturday farmer’s market
As early risers, we frequently step out onto the city streets before all the hustle and bustle. The next morning is no exception, and we already have a destination in mind: the Saturday farmer’s market along the banks of the River Reuss.
The central location is a huge benefit of our hotel. We are a mere five-minute walk from the old town with its shops and restaurants. And yet we benefit from the Bruch neighborhood with its own little parks, eateries, and shops.
We zig-zag through the alleys - some of which look familiar from previous Lucerne weekend trip. Near the market, we catch the tunes of a trumpet. Right in front of the Jesuit Church by the river, a brass band is setting up for an impromptu concert... What a welcome attraction! We realize that spontaneous happenings such as this concert have been few and far between this past year.
Nearby, a vendor is arranging her flower bouquets. Sunflowers are in season, but there are coneflowers and surfinia, too. It is noticeable how much care and attention many of the vendors put into their appearance. The vintage boxes and accessories that adorn the displays give this market an authentic feel.
One of the booths across the River Reuss is particularly busy this morning. Rolf Beeler’s cheese stand is an institution at the Saturday market, and I am thrilled to be served by the Pope of Cheese himself! (Ever since editing this hommage of Rolf Beeler, I am obsessed with his alpine Sbrienz...)
Our “topless” excursion to Mt. Stanserhorn
With a block of cheese in my backpack and the TellPass in hand, I consider our options for a day trip. William Tell would have surely loved this transport pass: it provides ultimate freedom of choice, and there is no need to pay a single extra Rappen along the way.
The TellPass covers heavyweights such as Mt. Pilatus and Mt. Titlis, middleweights such as Klewenalp, and many featherweight peaks. Having wanted to ride the CabriO cable car to Mt. Stanserhorn for a long time, we leap onto this open invitation courtesy of the TellPass.
In Stans, a quaint little town, we get off the Engelberg-bound train. If William Tell were passing us on a horse-drawn carriage, he would fit right in... It’s a short walk to the funicular with its charming station building.
The historic coaches are open-air, providing unobstructed views of the scenery. A small side effect: we are exposed to an inescapable breeze of manure…
The open-air theme continues when we transfer onto the CabriO cable car.
In the middle station, we transfer from the funicular to the cable car. The other passengers are obviously returnees; they do not hesitate to climb the winding stairs to the rooftop. No wonder! Being able to ride on the rooftop of a cable car is unique in this world!
The CabriO moves as smooth as butter as it picks up altitude. Not once are we worried about our safety as the deck is fenced in and there is no conceivable way of falling off.
While researching the technology behind the CabriO, I found this explanation clip which left me baffled! It sort of explains how the cable car is able to “roll” upwards.
By the time we reach Mt. Stanserhorn, we know what all the hype is about: the world’s first cable car with a roof-top deck is amazing!
Mt. Stanserhorn, a mountain peak for the lazy?
The mountain’s own website states that the Stanserhorn is officially a lazy mountain. They have a point. The restaurant automatically revolves like a merry-go-round, making you look at the mountain panorama whether you want to or not. The sun deck is stocked with lawn chairs. And there are even pre-written souvenir postcards ready for mailing...
The explorers we are, we cannot resist the urge to look around - if only for a while. Along the path, we see beautiful meadows with alpine flowers, Heidi’s chalet, and: marmots!
Several cuddly marmots scurry around a grassy knoll, at times diving into a hole before reappearing from another. Fortunately, we stop to observe them - they will have disappeared for good by the time we return.
The peak at 1898 meters above sea is worth a visit. The panoramic views extend from Lake Lucerne to Titlis, and all the way to the Bernese Alps. Lazy or not, we have just as much fun on Mt. Stanserhorn as the first time we visited.
Restaurant Izakaya Nozomi
Our Lucerne weekend is going great, but there is one more entry on our calendar: dinner at Restaurant Izakaya Nozomi. Mamiko even dresses up for the occasion; her summer kimono is lovely and garners looks as she clackety-clacks through the old town...
Aside from your sushi restaurants and ramen booths, Japan has a type of eatery called izakaya. Restaurant Izakaya Nozomi captures the spirit of those popular after-work pubs well.
We happen to visit on one of those rare summer nights. Already, small groups of friends, and generally many locals, are celebrating the moment with a Japanese draft beer or a house cocktail.
The dishes not only look delicious, but they also taste the way. In a typical izakaya manner, the dishes are meant to be shared. Think eggplant with miso sauce (nasu dengaku), halibut gyoza with a hint of lemon (hirame gyoza), or a sashimi platter. Itadakimasu!
(Disclaimer: Luzern Tourismus has supported this Lucerne weekend trip by providing hotel accommodation, two TellPass passes, as well as a dining voucher.)