Lucerne Celebrates Summer in the Heart of Switzerland

Historical buildings clad in frescos border picturesque squares in Lucerne’s Old Town

Historical buildings clad in frescos border picturesque squares in Lucerne’s Old Town

Summer has kicked off in idyllic Lucerne, the most populous city in central Switzerland. Located in the heart of the country, Lucerne sits on the shore of Lake Lucerne and offers breathtaking views of Mount Pilatus and Rigi in the Swiss Alps. The destination’s compact design allows visitors to experience a great deal of “Swissness” in a short amount of time, with access to both the city and nature.

Although we didn’t have the chance to visit Lucerne on our trip to Switzerland earlier this year, here are a few reasons why the city is on our list of must-visit places during our next Swiss adventure:

1. The festivals

Some performances during Lucerne’s Blues Balls Festival are held at the Culture and Convention Centre

Lucerne is home to several festivals throughout the year. The annual Blue Balls Festival, held this year from July 19 to 27, is an important music festival in Switzerland. Over the course of nine days, more than 100,000 people flock to Lucerne to hear international stars perform at lakeside venues and in Lucerne’s Culture and Convention Centre (known as the KKL Luzern).

The Lucerne Festival in Summer is a leading classical and contemporary music festival. One of three separate festivals—the other two are the Lucerne Festival at Easter and the Lucerne Festival at the Piano—the summer event is the main one and also the best known. Scheduled this year for August 16 to September 15, the Lucerne Festival in Summer entertains with about 30 symphony concerts and 60 other events.

2. The museums

An exterior shot of the Swiss Museum of Transportation in Lucerne

While in Lucerne, visitors can find culture overload with the Swiss Museum of Transport, the Museum of Art, the Museum of History, and the Lucerne Museum of Nature, among others. The Richard Wagner Museum is helping celebrate the composer’s 200th birthday this year with the Tribschen Island of Sound (now through November 30, 2013), which features sound compositions by Andres Bosshard to commemorate the occasion. A revolutionary of 19th century music, Wagner lived in a country manor at Tribschen from 1866 to 1872.

3. The lake

A panorama boat Saphir in the Bay of Lucerne

Lake Lucerne’s scenic beauty can be discovered via cruises offered by paddlewheel steamers and motor vessels. Cruise in a nostalgic paddle steamer, gaze at villas and castles, and discover culinary specialties, or take a three-hour, round-trip tour on the lake, which can be done by paddleboat or panorama yacht Saphir.

4. The mountains

Central Switzerland's Rigi Mountain offers wonderful views over Lake Lucerne and the Alps

Pilatus. Rigi. Stanserhorn. These excursion mountains are accessible by cableways and offer stunning panoramas of the regions around Lucerne. The world’s first CabriO cable car opened in June 2012 and invites visitors to enjoy the views around Mount Stanserhorn as they take a journey through local history. A revolving restaurant at the top of the mountain provides refreshments for riders amid the breathtaking panorama. To ascend Mount Rigi, visitors can hike, take a gondola or cable car, or ride the rack railway, the first and steepest cogwheel train in Europe.

5. The accommodations

Exterior view of Hotel Schweizerhof at night

Hotel Schweizerhof, a five-star property, was built in 1845 and features 101 rooms full of history. The hotel, which recently underwent renovations, has played host to writers, musicians, and actors. Mark Twain spent time there, and Richard Wagner completed “Tristan & Isolde” while staying at the Schweizerhof.

The Rigi-Kaltbad Mineral Baths & Spa opened last summer, transforming from an old brewery to a bathing sanctuary. Designed by internationally renowned architect Mario Botta, the new property continues a 600-year tradition of bathing in the healing waters of the Kaltbad mineral springs.

The Bürgenstock Resort, which is scheduled to open in 2015, is set above Lake Lucerne and includes two luxury hotels, a medical wellness center, residence suites, business facilities, and the Bürgenstock Alpine Spa. The Bürgenstock Resort is not without its history: The Grand Hotel, the first hotel in the Bürgenstock Resort, opened in 1873, and the Bürgenstock Railway, the first electric railway in Switzerland, opened in 1888. The Park Hotel was also built that year, and the Palace Hotel opened in 1904 in order to meet the accommodations demand during high season. Audrey Hepburn married Mel Ferrer in the Bürgenstock chapel, and Sofia Loren and Carlo Ponti became official long-term tenants of a Bürgenstock chalet in the 1960s. A sovereign wealth fund from Qatar acquired the resort in 2007.

Whether looking for cultural celebrations, nature escapes, or an immersion in Swiss history, Lucerne appears to have all the ingredients for a wonderful visit. We hope to have the chance to experience all Lucerne has to offer very soon.