The serene lake, verdant lakes, and wintry mountains of Lucerne in central Switzerland have long enchanted voyagers to stay longer than planned, immersing themselves deeper in tales of divas and dragons. A Swiss flag, bold with its red and white, flaps happily from the stern of the cruise ship, as if waving goodbye to riverbanks lined with dapper mansions and contemporary hotels. As the ship gently slips further into Lake Lucerne, the vista swells to display the grandeur of the lake. The peaks of snow-capped craggy mountains veiled by mists form contrasting backdrops to emerald valleys dotted with clusters of homesteads.
Fleecy overhead clouds diffuse sunlight into a soft glow, making it one of the many perfect days to lunch on wine and roasted Swiss veal schnitzel from the open-air deck of the ship. Water vessels, from cruise ships to boats, are essential for the flow of daily life on Lake Lucerne. Locally called Vierwaldstättersee, or Lake of Four Forested Settlements, Lake Lucerne borders the five cantons of Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Obwalden and Nidwalden, the latter two previously joined as Unterwalden. Water vessels are hence a convenient way for locals and visitors to travel to cantons.
All docks are conveniently located nearby major lakeside hotels and the Lucerne train station, surrounded by the prime, city attractions. Abutting the station is Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern, or KKL Luzerne, a multifunctional venue noted for its clean and contemporary aesthetics by celebrated French architect, Jean Nouvel. Less than 10 minutes from the station is the commercial centre of Lucerne, with Bucherer being the unbeatable destination for watch lovers. Stocked with roughly 12,000 time and jewellery pieces, the store offers watches from at least 30 big brands, including Rolex with its rare collections.
Hotels line the roads nearby Bucherer, with Hotel Schweizerhof Lucerne strategically situated by the waterside. If resorts with a private feel are more preferred, the Palace Hotel at the Büergenstock Resort grants an elegant escape. The historic belle époque hotel was once the holiday hangout for iconic Hollywood actresses, including Audrey Hepburn. It is now run by the stylish Büergenstock Resort, designed to provide guests with breathtaking views from all corners.
The resort is well positioned to reach two majestic mountains, the first being Pilatus Kulm, aka Mount Pilatus, which rises 2,132 metres above sea level. Going up Mount Pilatus is a whimsical adventure, evoking images of The Grand Budapest hotel. Travellers can hop on the steepest cogwheel railway, commissioned in 1889, to head up the mountain. As the cars scale the sharp inclines of the mountain, travellers will see the scene change from green, alpine meadows to jagged rock formations speckled with snow. With chance on their sides, travellers can prance under softly falling snow once on the summit.
But for a more intense experience, Mount Titlis prepares myriad wintry wonders. Travellers will feel the thrills building up upon stepping into the Titlis Rotair, a gondola that rotates 360 degrees as it takes travellers to the summit. At 3,020 metres above sea level, travellers will feel the temperature drop to a deep chill as the gondola hovers over black rock formations blanketed with sheets of snow and ice, which, at times, turn blinding white. Once on the summit, snow blasts travellers kicking up snow while hiking the Titlis glacier to reach the Titlis Cliff Walk, Europe’s highest suspension bridge, which leads to the Ice Flyer. This ride is not for the faint-hearted given that the chairlift will sweep above the deep crevices of the frosty mountain below. To bring warmth back, the Titlis Panorama Restaurant serves regional specialties, with the rösti topped with melted cheese, fried egg, and bacon being a befitting choice.
For a better warming up, travellers could head to Vitznau, a picturesque bay at the foot of Mount Rigi, where the sun shines tenderly. Here, travellers can unwind tired muscles at Park Hotel Vitznau equipped with a luxurious Finnish sauna and heated outdoor infinity pool.
Before bidding farewell to the awe-inspiring Lucerne, take a horse-carriage tour around Weggis, Vitznau’s neighbouring commune. The carriage will take travellers uphill and down, across streets that cut into neighbourhoods and viewing points that will once again display the serene lakes, verdant vales, and wintry mountaintops that merits Lucerne as part of a lake in the clouds.