Luzerns famous bridge. - (c) Blue Edge Design Ltd
Luzern is the most touristy of Switzerland's cities and large towns, and with good reason. With a wealth of fine tourist attractions, interesting buildings, a lively atmosphere and an incredible lakeside setting in the mountains, it is one of those great cities that seems to have a bit of something for everyone.
The best place to start the description of the city centre is at the enormous railway station, which is incredibly well located right in the heart of the city, next to the lake, and acts as a real hub for Luzern's visitors.
Taking just a few steps out of the railway station, in the direction of the river Reuss, is enough to provide you with immediate glimpses of what makes this such a beautiful city - the Kapellbrucke, the lake, the mountains, the old town, the modern KKL building - they're all visible and showcased from the first few moments of stepping out of the railway station.
The Kapellbrucke (the Chapel Bridge) is the trademark tourist image of Luzern, as it twists over the river, covered in summer flowers and filled inside with painted scenes of the city. Dating back to 1333, the Kapellbrucke is the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe and is both an incredible construction and a beautiful sight.
The old town stands on the opposite side of the river, with plenty of al fresco dining and riverside bars, including the wonderfully atmospheric Rathaus, which is certainly worth stopping off at. There are some amazing frescoed buildings in the old town area, and some quiet little streets and squares to wander around. It's also a good spot to get up onto the city walls and walk some of the sections. In doing so you will come across another of city's big attractions - the Lion of Lucerne, a stone sculpture that commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution. It's a sad, moving sight, and one of the must-see attractions of Luzern.
On the same side of the river as the old town, but further east to the lakeside, are some of Luzern's huge grand old hotels, many of which extend down towards the promenade that goes around the lake. It's a great place to people watch with a drink or an ice cream, with lots going on in and around the lake, with boats, pedalos and plenty of people swimming in or around the floating swimming pool that's located here.
If you go back over the river via the bridge you'll see that the edge of the lake is packed with various docks and boats. These are all fighting to take tourists (and some commuters) off into various corners of the lake, with a host of other excursions available if you want them.
This particular lake-side area is dominated by Luzern's famous culture and convention centre, the vast KKL centre. The KKL building proves that when architecture is done properly, both traditional and modern buildings can certainly live side by side and be admired in equal measures.
You can go inside the KKL centre but it's the outside, specifically the enormous cantilevered roof, that you just have to stand back and admire. What a structure! There's a great café underneath the roof, along with some modern water features. It's another fine place to stop and have a coffee and watch the world go by.
A link to the tourist information site for Luzern and any other useful links for the city.