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
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
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