“First time visiting Lucerne?” the man asked as we zipped up our coats and gathered our things while the train slowly rolled into the station.
“Yes,” I replied.
“You will like it,” he promised. “Most beautiful city in Switzerland, I think.”
It was a bold statement to make, I thought to myself, but as I left the station and headed out into Lucerne, I got the feeling he might just have been onto something. Since my train had arrived at night, I couldn’t fully test his theory about Lucerne’s beauty, but I realized right away that the city did look quite wonderful lit up at night, with its rows of riverside buildings twinkling against the water. And the next morning, as I set out to explore in the daylight, I fully discovered that the friendly man on the train was not exaggerating: Lucerne is really, really beautiful. Though I can’t make a judgment on the whole “most beautiful city in Switzerland” thing since I’ve only visited a tiny fraction of the country thus far, I have a feeling that, when I look back on this semester, Lucerne will remain near the top of my list of favorite places.
Because I adored Lucerne so much, I took a million (or a couple hundred, whatever) pictures, and I have several posts’ worth of thoughts and images to share. To start things off, here are a few – but certainly not all – of my major highlights from a weekend in lovely Lucerne.
Strolling the Reuss River & Crossing the Bridges:
If there is one sight that defines Lucerne, it’s probably the wooden bridges spanning the Reuss River. The bridges themselves are beautiful (and old! The Water Tower dates back to 1300), and they’re made even more so by the rows of colorful buildings stretching behind them. I stayed in a hotel right on the river, so I spent lots of my time in Lucerne criss-crossing back and forth over the bridges. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay!
Pondering Picasso at the Rosengart Collection:
The Rosengart Collection features a huge collection of Picasso’s work, with the entire ground floor and much of the second level dedicated to his paintings and sketches. In addition to housing a lot of Picasso’s creations, there’s also a series of photographs of him at work in his studio, which I found fascinating. Plus, the museum is home to paintings by Klee, Chagall, Monet, and more. Overall, for a small museum in a small city, I was super impressed by the scope of the Rosengart Collection. Plus, the museum was quiet and crowd-free, which is always a win in my book.
Meandering Around Lake Lucerne:
After exploring the bridges and tiny lanes at the heart of town, I headed out toward the lake. A tree-lined footpath winds around the lake’s edge, taking you past ritzy hotels and offering beautiful views of the water itself. While I took my lakeside stroll on a gloomy day, I still thought the lake looked gorgeous!
Marveling at the Splendor of the Jesuit Church:
One thing I am reminded of every time I visit Europe? After a while, all churches sort of start to look alike. Lucerne’s Jesuit Church proved to be an exception to this theory, at least in my book. I found myself marveling over the church’s lavish interior (though the outside of the church was unremarkable). I suspect my admiration can simply be chalked up to the fact that I’m a sucker for Rococo – pinks, golds, and over-the-top design flourishes? Yes, please.
Running into a Delightful Parade (Again and Again and Again):
During my time in Lucerne, I repeatedly ran into a parade that seemed to be winding its way down every single street in town. It almost became comical to me; I’d be walking down a street or snapping a photograph or resting on a bench, and suddenly I’d hear the sounds of trumpets and see the parade making its way toward me yet again. I have no idea what they were celebrating, but I sure enjoyed the little parade filled with locals in snazzy costumes.
As is probably evident, I sort of over-the-top loved Lucerne. The funny thing is, it wasn’t even really on my radar of places to visit before I arrived in Switzerland. Rather, I didn’t have big plans for last weekend and realized it was easy to get to from Geneva, so I thought “why not?!” Turns out, I made an unexpectedly wonderful decision.