Luzern - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Luzern


Being one of the first European cities to capitalise on tourism does not mean that picturesque Luzern, or Lucerne, in the heart of Switzerland has become a crowded Disneyland spectacle of everything archetypically Swiss. It is indeed the embodiment of everything that is cute, scenic and stylish about Switzerland, but in a very charming way.

Set on the northwestern end of Lake Luzern and surrounded by mountain views, Luzern is split by the River Reuss. On either side of the river lie atmospheric medieval squares, cobbled alleys, quaint frescoed houses, churches and public buildings. Surprisingly the historic setting attracts many young people, who ensure that nightlife is a lively affair. Just outside the city limits the attractions of every Swiss picture postcard beckon, from alpine villages to meadows where lazy cows toll their bells with the backdrop of snow-covered mountains.

There is plenty to enjoy in this tourist city, from taking out a pedalo on the lake, to posing for photographs on the famous wooden Chapel Bridge, exploring museums and admiring the sad Lion Monument carved into a natural rock wall.

While the Swiss may have a reputation for being sedate, Luzern disproves this point with its major annual event, the Luzern Fasnacht, a crazy carnival which erupts for a week leading up to Shrove Tuesday. Revellers in fancy dress and teams of samba bands fill the streets day and night in this week-long extravagant party which is not for the faint-hearted.

No one contemplating a Grand Tour of Europe dare admit they missed out on the traditional tourist spectacle of Luzern, which even enchanted Queen Victoria when she visited, allegedly under an assumed name, to see whether this sublime city lived up to expectations.

Information & Facts

The three official languages are Swiss German, French and Italian. A few people speak Romansch, but this is confined to the southeastern corner of the country. Most people know at least three languages, including English.

The official currency is the Swiss franc (CHF) divided into 100 rappen (German) or centimes (French). Although not part of the EU many prices are nonetheless indicated in Euros and some merchants may accept Euros. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted and ATMs are widespread; many are equipped with the Cirrus or Maestro system. Banks offer the best exchange rates for travellers cheques and foreign currency, but it is also possible to exchange money at major hotels, main train stations and airports. Banks are open Monday to Friday.

Local time in Switzerland is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between March and October).
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