When I think of Switzerland, the phrase "Swiss Bliss" pops up in my head. I don't really know why or have a good explanation for it, but I think that this gorgeous country full of chocolate, mountains and fondue really lives up to it.
HOTEL SCHWEIZERHOF: This famous hotel is famous for a reason. It sits along Lake Lucerne and makes jaunting around town so easy. The train station and the boats are all within site, and the best shops and historic gems of the city are all easy strolls out the door. The rooms are comfy- complete with fluffy down duvets and Toblerone on your pillow at turn-down service to tick all the boxes on your Swiss expectations. The rooms have nice views over the city and the lake, and the staff is exceptional with help in making reservations around town and airport transfers.
Schweizerhofquai, 6002 Luzern | +41 41 410 04 10
AMERON HOTEL FLORA: This little hotel sits just a short walk from the train station and equally close to Lucerne’s famous chapel bridge. The rooms are clean, easy design and with almost enough room to unpack. The bathroom has White Company toiletries, and the bathtub has a decent bathtub/shower station. The Swiss price tag still feels steep when compared to options in other countries, but this hotel makes for one of the better budget-friendly options while in central Lucerne.
Seidenhofstrasse 5, 6002 Luzern | +41 41 227 66 66
MILL'FEUILLE: This riverside cafe offers fresh local fare that feels light and modern. (I’m actually sitting here, as I type this!) The menu has everything from a solid breakfast menu (croissants to eggs to salmon), lighter bites (trios of hummus with fresh pita, salads and asparagus), seven course tasting menus for dinner and fresh cakes for afternoon nibbles. The prices are fair and the location is great.
Mühlenpl. 6, 6004 Luzern | +41 41 410 10 92
WIRTSHAUS REBSTOCK: When you walk to Lucerne’s cathedral, you’ll find Wirsthaus Rebstock (German for “vine”). Recommended by a friend, this place is just exactly what you want find when you’re dining out in Switzerland. The food is Swiss-fresh. Ordinary seeming items like the mixed salad and pumpkin soup are extraordinary. Special plates made with seasonal food like the spätzle with roasted vegetables or the homemade meatloaf are just perfect. You’ll want a reservation, but may get lucky to have an extra table available. You’ll find yourself primarily among Swiss patrons, but the staff is really kind and English menus are available. In the good weather, ask for a table in the garden for a very special treat.
St. Leodegarstrasse 3, 6006 Luzern | +41 41 417 18 19
RATHAUS BRAUEREI: If you’re in the mood for an undeniably Swiss meal that is a a bit more casual and with a prime location, this brewery sat along the Chapel Bridge is the spot for you. Think giant plates stacked high with pretzel sandwiches with salami and Swiss-locals smiling over giant beer glasses in the sun. Prices are reasonable and the seats outside in good weather are plentiful.
Unter der Egg 2, 6004 Luzern | +41 41 410 61 11
GROTTINO 1313: As my friend Alex says, “Its not on “Industrial Way” without a good reason.” The location may take you a bit from the charming painted facades of the historic centre, but this new-to-the-scene restaurant oozes character and makes for a fun night out in Lucerne.
Industriestrasse 7, 6005 Luzern | +41 41 610 13 13
TAUBE LUCERNE: When in Rome, do as the Romans. When in Lucerne, do as the Lucerners. Find classic fare like rostis buried under delicious toppings, schnitzels and homemade spätzle. The atmosphere is charming and the setting is in the pretty part of the city, near Chapel Bridge.
Burgerstrasse 3, 6003 Luzern | +41 41 210 07 47
BISTRO DU THEATRE: A local favourite offering non-fussy food… and their famous chicken wings (get it with the curry sauce!). Great salads, tasty savoury crepes and giant plates of sweet potato fries will stuff your tummy for fair prices in a location near the theatre that will have you dining alongside many Lucerners.
Theaterstrasse 5, 6002 Luzern | +41 41 210 12 74
EINHORN: If you’re looking for a no-fuss option- Einhorn is an Italian restaurant in the old hisotric centre that does pizzas & pastas. The tap water is 4CHF a litre, so (in my opinion), just get a drink you want. The Calabrese is a fabulous version of a pepperoni, in case you’re curious.
Hertensteinstrasse 23, 6004 Luzern | +41 41 410 11 06
WIRTSHAUS GALLIKER: This is a classic eatery in Lucerne where you can find anyone from all walks of local life eating alongside each other. The place isn’t massive, so not best for groups- but if you’re traveling in a small group, go to this local favourite for a well-rounded menu with decent prices.
Schützenstrasse 1, 6003 Luzern | +41 41 240 10 02
MAX CHOCOLATIER: This gorgeous shop offers homemade fabulous truffles, bars and treats in the prettiest packaging. If it’s hot, don’t miss getting a tub of their ice cream- available in a range of tasty flavours like Passionfruit, dark chocolate & lime + white chocolate (which, admittedly, left my mouth feeling really waxy). A great spot for pretty souvenirs.
Schweizerhofquai 2, 6004 Luzern | +41 41 418 70 90
LUCERNE MARKET: This market is open on Saturday and Tuesday mornings. Go early- around 9am- to see it in full swing with the stalls loaded. Grab your breakfast there with your choice of fresh fruit, homemade pastries, and a coffee from Bachmann around the corner. In the summer, don’t miss to try the strawberries and cherries. The cherries are so juicy, you’ll hardly notice the pit. Bring cash.
MOUNT RIGI: Take the boat in front of the train station all the way to the Vitznau stop. Once you’re there, the train can take you up the mountain for a fabulous chance get amazing panoramic views of the area. See my full post here about a day trip to Mount Rigi from Lucerne.
TOBOGGANING ON MOUNT PILATUS: If you catch the Bus 1 (just in front of the Hotel Schweizerhof), you can ride it about 5-6 stops until you reach Mount Pilatus. (Don’t worry, they’ll say it in English so you won’t miss the stop.) Walk up the mountain about 5-6 minutes until you catch the gondola. You’ll ride up to the toboggan start and get a long ride down the mountain. Great with kids.
BALMERS HOSTEL: A hostel? Yep! When you come to Switzerland, you'll be needing to pinch pennies where you can. (It's expensive!) We stayed here in a private room. It was basic, but with a great location and staff. Plus, Balmers is a bit of an institution so you'll get to be a part of the history.
Hauptstrasse 23, 3800 Matten bei Interlaken | +41 33 822 19 61
SKIING: We used Interlaken as our base to ski the Grindelwald resort. It was an easy place to reach the slopes from and a perfect place to decompress at night. We rented our ski equipment and outerwear from Outdoor Interlaken to keep travel light.
GIMMELWALD: This day trip is what I remember best from our trip to Switzerland. It was a magical afternoon wandering through the snowy mountain village. I know why Rick Steves and so many readers recommended it to me. Read more about visiting Gimmelwald here.
See all of my posts on Switzerland here.
Watch our trip video here.
A LOCAL RECOMMENDS...
While she may now be known as a famous wedding planner, I first got to know Sarah Tucker when she was a fellow expat blogger living in Switzerland. While she may have gone on to a new life (with a darling baby!) in Florida, her advice for a great visit to Switzerland isn't one to ignore. The girl has great taste!
CONSUM: The best cheese and wine place in Switzerland. Try a cheese and meat plate! The selections are different weekly - all from Switzerland or Italy. The honey mustard their is divine, and available for purchase. I always take home a few to hoard back in the states.
Rheingasse 19, 4058 Basel | +41 61 690 91 30
MERIAN GAERTEN: My favorite park by far. It's a working organic farm where you can often find zucchini as big as a limb just hanging out with a sign for the locals to take home for free. There is a beautiful old building that looks like it came straight out of Jane Austen's imagination which has a cafe in the back. There are lambs and bunnies galore. Best part - it's free!
4052 Basel | +41 61 319 97 80
LE TROIS ROIS: Go for Sunday brunch, high tea, or drinks at their fancy bar. High tea isn't cheap but you can stay for hours (and I always have) and they will continue to replenish until you just can't stuff in one more scone. Fun fact: Napolean Bonaparte stayed here, as well as the Rolling Stones.
Blumenrain 8, 4001 Basel | +41 61 260 50 50
HOTEL MONTANA: The view will take your breath away. If you don't stay here, it's a great place for a meal or for drinks. Their mojitos are out of this world!
Adligenswilerstrasse 22, 6002 Luzern | +41 41 419 00 00
THE CHAPEL BRIDGE: Take a walk down the Chapel Bridge and into the old town and pop into different chocolate shops.
THE JESUIT CHURCH: Just off the Chapel bridge is my favorite in Switzerland- the inside is covered in the prettiest pastel pink.
Bahnhofstrasse 11A, 6003 Luzern | +41 77 489 05 79
URS BERGMANN: Easily my favorite florist in all of the world. It's located in the charming old town inside of what was once an apothecary. Stop by for a quick smell of heaven and for your breath to be taken away by their beautiful yet simple arrangements. This is where my somewhat infamous peony picture came from.
Marktgasse 6, 8001 Zürich | +41 44 261 94 25
THE DOLDER GRAND: If you want to spoil yourself stay inside a castle at the Dolder Grand for a killer view of Zurich.
Kurhausstrasse 65, 8032 Zürich | +41 44 456 60 00