Luzern

Luzern is an interesting city southwest of Zurich. The main attractions are the much photographed wooden bridge that crosses the large river cutting through town, the brightly decorated fountains scattered around the old town, the old castle wall looming over the city, the waterfront, and the general cuteness of the old town. You can learn more than you want to know on their tourist site here.

Location:   Central Switzerland
Address: Parking at train station: Robert-Zünd-Strasse 6, 6005 Luzern
Car: 40 mins from Zurich
Train: 1hr10 from Zurich
Services: cafes and shops in city center
More Info: www.luzern.com

Getting There

By car: Drive to Luzern and follow signs to the Bahnhof, aka train station. There is a big underground parking lot at the train station. Parking here is very expensive but the same at most lots.

By train: Take the train to Luzern, Hauptbahnhof. Everything is within walking distance of here.

Impressions

I won’t repeat a full walking tour here but merely mention a few kid-specific things. Generally, the town is stroller-friendly or at least tolerant. The cobblestones are bumpy obviously, but you can do most of the town without stairs. The wooden bridge is a must-do, so drag your stroller up the few stairs and enjoy the stroll.

But the most important thing you need to know for kids is that there is a Dieci gelato shop on the east side of the river, between the wooden bridge and the metal bridge. Use this as motivation to get your kids moving whatever direction you need them to go. Plus it’s delicious, especially wild cherry.


The old town has lots of elaborate wall paintings. It can fun to have the kids look for things in the paintings. But some of them are kinda scary and racy. So be choosy.


The fountains are fun for the kids.


Raging river. Keep a close eye/hold on your kids as you walk along that river. The gaps in the barrier are very wide and a child could easily flop right in. I’m a little overprotective when it comes to fast moving water, so just use your own judgement.


City wall. I wouldn’t particularly recommend the city wall. First, it was a little confusing to get to it and a little confusing getting back. And it had stairs and some of it was closed and it wasn’t really obvious what you were supposed to do up there. I had a stroller that day and at some point, I took a different path from the non-stroller members of our party. We all got lost, cell phones lost power, and it took us a good hour to find each other again. This will not happen to you of course and you will wonder what is wrong with me. I wonder that too sometimes. But I feel I had to mention it just in case.


The Lion. I’d been to Luzern a few times before I even knew there was a lion. According to their website: «The dying Lion of Lucerne» is one of the world’s most famous monuments. It’s not in the old town, you have to walk a bit through the not-particularly attractive commercial part of town to get there. Once you get there, you can decide whether it was worth the effort.

Next door is the Gletschergarten museum (glacier garden) which I haven’t visited and therefore have no opinion. I’ve heard it’s semi-interesting, small and overpriced. If you go, let me know what you think.


Another view of the river with white Chateau Gutsch way in the background up the hill. The Rick Steves book recommended the funicular ride up to Chateau Gutsch that overlooks Luzern. It was a little odd when we tried it back in 2005. The funicular was unattended and didn’t seem to have a schedule but after 10mins or so, it suddenly decided to go up the hill. The hotel is closed for renovation, so nothing was going on up top. The view was nice, but we didn’t think it was worth the effort.


view of Luzern from Chateau Gutsch

Reading through this post, it might sound a little negative. But please don’t misunderstand me. I think Luzern is very nice and you should definitely go. I just wanted to warn you of a few things to help your trip run smoother than some of mine have. So happy traveling!

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