4 days in Lucerne/ Luzern – Via Lake Brienz and visiting Mt. Pilatus.
So much in awe of this beautiful land of alps. After 3 days exploring interlaken, Jungfraujoch, Spiez and Thun, we now head to Lucerne, via Brienz. Read about our travel from Interlaken to Lucerne, via Brienz, 4 days in Lucerne, meandering about the city’s historic spots and cobbled streets, an evening lakeside anniversary dinner, and an unforgettable day at Mt. Pilatus.
If you have read my previous posts on Switzerland travel, and 3 days in and around Interlaken , you sure know by now about my journey to Lucerne.If not, check the below links to read through.
- Travelling and exploring switzerland
- Interlaken- In and around Interlaken, Lake Thun, Jungfraujoch in 3 days.
- A day trip to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken.
This is our 4th day in Switzerland, and by now we are so much in awe of this country. Every nook and cranny of this country (ok.. whatever little we have explored till now ) is no less than breathtakingly splendid.
Someone rightly said- “Go where you feel most alive.” And i feel, im at the perfect place right now.. feeling most alive ! Happy me , and happy us. All smiles.
Lucerne Trip- Highlights
- Day 4- From Interlaken to Lucerne and stopover in Brienz
- Day 5-Exploring the city of Lucerne and some historical spots
- Day 6- Mt . Pilatus
- Day 7- Shopping, the boat cruise, Anniversary dinner and Lucerne at night.
- Day 8- We head for our last stop- Zurich
Day 4- From Interlaken to Lucerne via Brienz
Any guesses why we did not visit Lake brienz, from Interlaken??
Because , we were leaving for Lucerne on our 4th day, and the train from Interlaken to Lucerne halts at Brienz. So we used the day in Interlaken to explore the other side- Lake Thun. Instead of making a seperate trip to Lake Brienz, we decided break our journey and have a stopover in Brienz.
Andddddd, another thing about this Journey- Interlaken to Lucerne- This is considered as one of the most Panoramic routes, and so called special panoramic trains called Lucerne Interlaken express runs between these routes.
As such if you ask me, there is nothing really much different about these panoramic trains, than the other swiss trains. The only thing is that these trains have in addition to regular swiss trains , is an overhead glass window ( and i noticed ,some coaches have it, some do not). Though the overhead glass windows do not help you much with the view. I think it is more of a selling gamut. This journey, the views on this route are anyways so extraordinary, that you sit in any train, the views no less than mesmerising.
We reached Brienz from Interlaken in about 25 minutes. There are paid lockers available at the Brienz station to keep your luggage for a few hours. These are big enough to accommodate one big size suitcase. The cost of a locker is 5 francs. We had two big suitcases, and of course we could not explore the city with so much luggage. So we made use of this facility. I did not have any change, but the local store at the station was really kind enough to give me the change.
We shoved our luggage in the lockers, and went for a walk by the lake. It is one of the most beautiful lakes i have ever seen. Whatever i had read about this lake was absolutely true to the T. The ethereal turquoise colour of the waters is unmissable. If there’s one spot in Switzerland i would really ask you to not to miss is THIS lake and THIS pretty, charming town of Brienz. Im not sure that this is one of the touristy places one would consider visiting if you are travelling to Switzerland for a family holiday for a few days, but if this town is in your way, or you happen to be somewhere near this, do head over to Brienz to spend a few hours by the serene, untouched shores of lake brienz.
It was about two hours halt for us in Brienz, and it was enough for us to wander through the streets, walk along the lake, have a nice coffee in a restaurant just besides this majestic lake (with an amazing view of course), and take a stroll on one of the oldest streets- Brunngasse, with the most adorable wooden chalets i have ever seen.
Brunngasse is one of the most romantic cobblestone- paved street in Switzerland. It was once awarded the title of “most beautiful street in Europe”. Most of the wooden chalets date back to the 18th century and are inscribed with lovely woodcarvings. Brienz is home to wood carving and violin making schools.
Brienz is also the starting points for excursions to the ballenberg open air museum . Attractions on the opposite lake shore include the wild and romantic Giessbach waterfalls.
Journey from Brienz to Lucern-
After soaking in enough of this beautiful town, and the glistening peacocok hues of the lake, we continued our panoramic journey towards Lucern. This route from Interlaken to Lucern is one of the most panoramic routes , and no ,you would not even want to blink on this route.
Every second is a new highlight in the journey. And remember to sit on the left side seats (while travelling from interlaken to lucern), if possible, because most of the scenic sites are on the left side. But if you cannot manage to sit on the left side, you still wont miss out much.
Our journey by train was till Alpnachstad, due to some construction going on the rail tracks. From Alpnachstad, a bus service was available to take us to Lucerne.Otherwise the trains takes you straight to Lucerne.
Day 5- Day 8- Lucerne
Is It Lucerne or Luzern?
I was really baffled by some places mentioning the towns name as Luzern and some as Lucerne. So i researched and found this-
Luzern and Lucerne are the same place. Luzern is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, so the spelling Luzern is what you will see at the railway station etc. Lake Lucerne (English) is called the Vierwaldstättersee in German
Day 5-Exploring Lucerne
There are quite a few tourist places to visit in Lucerne. The lake, Chapel bridge, lion monument, and quite a few museums.We were not very much into museums, and wanted this to be a more relaxed trip. So instead of making sure to cover each and every tourist spot, we decided to flow with time and ofcourse with our 5 year olds mood..
We woke up, had our breakfasts, and decided to explore the city on foot, covering the areas as and when they approached.
The first stop was lion monument, as this was closest to the hotel. It is a really nice spot, with a huge beautifully stone crafted lions monument, and a small pond near it. It is a historical point. Theres nothing much to do, but it is a serene place to seep in the beauty and admire the monument , and of course take pictures.
Theres a glacier museum just besides this. it was a paid entry, so we decided we will take a combined ticket to all museums, and then visit this , but we could never get back to this point or any of the museums, as there was so much more to see.
After the Lion monument we visited the beautiful Church of St. Leodegar. A must visit church. It is considered the most important Renaissance church in Switzerland.It is a beautiful structure, with charming interiors.We spent almost 45 minutes to 1 hour admiring this beautiful church, inside and outside. Although the overall interior is simple and fairly plain, this just highlights the exuberant baroque gold altars. Of course if you are tight on time, you can spend just a few minutes. But as i said, we did not want to rush on this trip, we spent few but very relaxing minutes at every point we stopped.
This church is just besides the lake, and every-time i see water, i am pulled towards it. After the church, we went towards the lake and had a nice long walk besides the lake. The weather was too pleasant, and my daughter wanted to spend time on the lake with the swans, and we ended up spending rest of the afternoon there. If you walk besides the lake towards the other part of the city, the parks, it is the most beautiful walk. The views from there are very admirable.The farther you go, the quieter, and more serene it gets.
The opposite side of the lake (The part of the lake besides the railway station ) is generally quite crowded. There’s a bridge ( a new one ) that takes you to the other side of the city . If you want to check out the completely untouched parts of the lake, you can take a long walk crossing the bridge and going to the other side. Mind it, it actually is a very long walk and with a child it is longer. But you can tempt them to the nice parks on that side, and they can play on the beach . It is a lovely clean area with a beautiful view of the mountains, on one side and gardens on the other.
Luzern- Old Town
While walking back, we covered the old town of Lucerne, and the bridges. There are two beautifully constructed famous bridges in luzern – the chapel bridge and the Spreuer Bridge. Two of the “must-see” attractions in Lucerne are its medieval covered bridges across the Reuss River, one of which (see photo) has become the unofficial symbol of the city.
Next we stopped at the beautiful building of Jesuit Church. It is the first large baroque church built in Switzerland north of the Alps. Again simple interiors, but quite a remarkable building on the outside.
Another point we wanted to go to was the peak, where a famous hotel is situated- Hotel Château Gütsch. No we weren’t staying there, but the location looked so inviting, and there was an interesting way to go there, so why not ? Of course you can walk up the hill, but also there is a lift (an inclined one), that takes you up to the peak in 1.5 minute. Though you have to buy the ticket. Yes! the lift is paid.
The peak has a nice view of the city from the top. Also there is a Sculpture park up on the peak, and the entrance is paid. So if you are an art lover, you can visit that as well. Its called Sculpture Park LA Collection’Air.
The old town walls and towers is another exciting thing to see in this town. It is Lucerne’s well-preserved Medieval city walls ,that date from the 13th century, with nine towers constructed in differing styles.
If you get lucky, the kids might get to pamper some farm animals on the way up. My daughter loved playing with them for a few minutes.
You can climb four of the towers – Schirmer, Zyt, Wacht, and Männli – for views across the city, lake, and surrounding landscape. The oldest of Lucerne’s clocks, built in 1535, is in the Zyt tower and chimes hourly, exactly one minute before all the other city clocks. Inside the tower, you can see its mechanism at work.
Be sure to look at the inner workings of the city’s oldest clock, built in 1535 by Hans Luter in the Zyt tower.
I visited all three towers, my lil one was too scared and tired ,and she and daddy waited outside while i did all the exploration . The towers have quite a number of really narrow steps to climb . So if you plan to enter the towers , be ready to do so. Out of the three towers, the one really that should not be missed is the clock tower- Zyt. It has the city’s oldest clock, and and the inner working of the clock. Thats a must visit.
Day 6- Mt. Pilatus
We booked the tickets to Mt Pilatus a day before.
Why Mt Pilaus? Because the options we had were Mt Piltus, Mt Rigi, Mt Titlis, and we could cover only one, as we did not want the day to be too hectic.
We had already been to Jhaunfrauch and Mt Titlis is somewhat similar experience. Read about out Jungfraujoch experience here.
Travelling to Mt Titlis is much more reasonable ,but it has many more snow activities, which sounded really interesting, but that would have been a day long trip and we did not want to use the whole day. If you are planning to visit Mt. Titlis check the details, and activities here on this page.
We were left with two options-either to cover Mt rigi, or Mt pilatus. Covering these two mountains in a day is also possible if you start your day earlier. So plan accordingly. We wanted to cover one, and wanted to get back by evening to spend more time by the lake. We decided to visit Mt.Pilatus.
A bus runs from the Lucerne railway station to Krienz . We took the bus from Lowenplats, as that was just besides our hotel. Bus no. 1 takes you to the stop Kriens, Zentrum/Pilatus.
A five-minute walk from the bus stop, will have you at the valley station of the Panorama Gondolas.
It is almost a 40 minute breathtaking scenic gondola ride from Krienz to Fräkmüntegg, and then there is “Dragon Ride” to the summit.
Generally the ride back is the steepest cogwheel railway to Alpnachstad. Unfortunately that was not working due to some maintenance work going on. We travelled the same route back on the gondola.
It is an experience not to be missed . It is beautiful up on the mountain,. It had snowed a day before so the caves were closed. If you get lucky and the weather is good, you will get astounding views and even get to see the caves. The overall experience, and the views from the mountain peak were splendid.
Theres a cafe up there, and you sit besides the mountains, and have a cuppa if you desire.It also has 1-2 shopping stores.If you desire to a memoir back home, you can. Theres also the famous Mt . Pilatus restaurant, if you fancy a nice lunch there.
While coming back, we got down from the gondola at Krienseregg. We made a stop at this point, because we could see a beautiful outdoor playarea (park) for kids PILU land , set right in the middle of beautiful alps, and my daughter was so excited to play there.
Ah .. where in the world do you get to take rides, amidst the beautiful snow clad mountains.We stopped for about an hour. Even if you do not want to go to the park, you can get down at this point, and go for a little trek. There is a nice restaurant set in here at this point. You can get down for a drink, or a cup of coffee, and have a nice snack, sitting amidst the most resplendent natural settings.
Day 7- Shopping, Boat cruise,Dinner by the lake.
This was our anniversary, and we had no fixed plans for this day. We just wanted to chill out by the lake, and do some shopping. And thats what we did the whole day. Just exploring the city, shopping and chilling out.
The narrow streets of old town are very pedestrian friendly. Walk around freely ,exploring the elegant streets, cozy cafes, and if you want to shop, there are many high end stores in and around the city.
It was a beautiful day, and we took a short one hour audio boat cruise. It was as beautiful as it can be, with glistening waters underneath, and marvellous mountains right in front of you.There a a number of cruises available, but with the shortage of time, we decided to go with this short cruise. Well, i would say, it was worth the time.
For the evening we booked a dinner at this snug restaurant called- Zunfthausrestaurant Pfistern. Situated right on the water, besides the lake , overlooking the Chapel Bridge with the mountains in the background, it is a perfect location to have a nice pleasant dinner. And i finally tried the famous Cheese fondue – a local speciality. Ok, it did not go really well with my palette, it tasted ok for me, and little overpriced maybe, but how could i not try the famous cheese fondue when i’m in Switzerland..Chocolates and Cheese fondue- thats what Switzerland is known for. Ain’t it ?
Our day ended with a beautiful stroll around across the bridge, and along the lake, in the dusky evening . If Lucerne is beautiful during the day, the twilight makes it even more impressive.
Favourite eating spot/ takeaway in Lucerne-
One of our favourite eating spots, or at times takeaway in Lucerne was the Bachmann bakery. If in a hurry, you can get most variety of sandwiches, salads, fresh homemade iced teas , ice creams and lemonades and even hot food here. They have a few vegan options, which otherwise i found it difficult to find it anywhere else. Bachmann bakery or kiosks are located is most of the locations here in Lucerne, so if you are stuck for food options just straightaway head to this one. Another reason i loved this place , is that it had some simple options for my little girl, for whom getting the food options she likes , was a bit of a hassle otherwise.
In a nutshell , the Old town of Luzern is wonderful and magical. Some amazing views of the mountains, and the perfect setting of the calming lake, and dainty stores.. It is a city not too big, and not too small. You can take a good time exploring the city by bus, train or by boat. As always, we loved exploring it on foot.
Day 8- To Zurich
We travel from Lucerne to Zurich. Our next and last destination on this trip!
Thank you so much for reading this, and hope you find my experiences helpful in your travel to Interlaken, and around this beautiful little town.
Tell me about your favourite experiences, the food you enjoyed, or your disappointments while you travelled to this beautiful town? Are there any places that you want to recommend.Let me know all of this in the comments.I would love to read your stories, and experiences.
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More on switzerland
- Interlaken- In and around Interlaken, Lake Thun, Jungfraujoch in 3 days.
- A day trip to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken.
- Zurich in 24 hours
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