I can’t help sharing with you some of the most beautiful pictures from my recent trip to Switzerland. Lucerne was one of those love-at-first-sight places for me. And despite my constantly growing travel bucket list, as well as my stamps-full passport, a few places managed to beat the Swiss city of Lucerne so far. I wish I could travel back soon , cause time really stopped for a weekend in Lucerne for me. It is definitely one of the most fairytale place in Europe. The air is so clean and fresh, the architecture is so beautiful and old-styled… Lucerne is both charming and magical.
Switzerland: The First Impression
A weekend in Lucerne is one of the most magical experiences one could possibly seek for in the whole Europe.
First of all, Switzerland is significantly less touristic than its famous neighbors, especially outside of the big cities. Second, the standards of life are really high here. Switzerland is literally pioneering in safety, stability, environmental cleanliness, public services, infrastructure and government effectiveness.
As a tourist, you immediately notice their safe&reliable public transportation network and that everybody around you looks very well off. Cheese, chocolate, wine, clocks, banks… it feels like everything in Switzerland come with a quality tag.
Honestly, my first impression was “wow”.
Switzerland: Would I like to live here?
But after a few days, including a visit to the local supermarket, several shops and restaurants, I was not so sure I´d want to live in Switzerland myself.
Yes. There´s an other side of the coin here – Switzerland is one of the world’s most expensive countries to live in, with its capitals, like Geneva and Zurich, frequently appearing among the costliest cities in the whole world.
Let’s take some data. The percentage of Swiss population living in extreme poverty (4.6%) is one of the lowest in Europe (18.6% average). And for example, only 9.7% of the Swiss can´t afford a week’s holiday abroad, while he European average here is 36.9%.
It´s no secret that Swiss wages are pretty high. But so are the prices.
I feel like grocery shopping in Switzerland can’t be budget at all. Even with local salaries, or so we were told by several cab drivers. Swiss retailers restrict their product offering to Swiss brands: in most cases, you are not paying more for better quality or service, but for this made in Switzerland tag. I’m not sure how I feel about this, cause I believe in healthy competition being a driving force of any progress.
Another thing about Switzerland, that might confuse a stranger is a huge number of laws and regulations. You could easily get fined for dog barking too loudly, or kids making noise after 10 p.m. It really gives me some goosebumps, cause with my kids, we´d literally live in a police office then.
Also read: 5 Places You Can’t Miss in Oslo
Anyway, I do understand it now, why so many celebrities move to Switzerland after retirement – it´s quiet, peaceful and organized! But my trip to Switzerland has made me realize that a certain amount of chaos [lol] we have here, in Spain, is not necessarily a bad thing. You certainly enjoy life more this way.
My kids generally behave well in public places, but I often find myself in situations when it´s the personnel or people sitting next telling me not to worry, in case they take or break something. None of my neighbours has ever complained about anything, especially to the police. Neither did I. I mean there’s a bar across the road and when there’s a football game on, I know what´s happened on the screen without watching. Or they’re having a celebration and we can literally dance to their music. It bothers at times, but noice is a cultural thing in Spain – you learn to take it easy.
So, for me, Switzerland is an absolutely amazing place to visit for a short while, but not to live.
Lucerne in Winter
Switzerland is not a budget destination, but it doesn’t make it any less beautiful or magical. Let’s take Lucerne. The heart of the city is the Lucerne Lake with its transparent waters, surrounded by mountains and full of swans. In summer, when the weather is good, there are plenty of things to do. However, my trip was in December and it was, honestly, very cold even for the long strolls.
But on the plus side, I got to experience the Swiss Christmas spirit during my weekend in Lucerne: all the Christmas Markets and Events had already kicked off since the end of November.
Also read: Christmas in Europe: Top 5 Destinations
Besides, I felt like the snow capped mountains on the background had added some additional charm to the city. It was a winter wonderland kind of experience.
Need to know
The official currency is swiss franc. However, you can pay with a card almost everywhere. I even paid in euros for a taxi (I guess it´s not allowed, but some cab drivers prefer euro-cash to cards). You can always change money at the reception desk, but their rates are usually not very good.
Also read: 5 Top Places in Hamburg, Germany
The population speaks German, however in some restaurants or touristic places they always speak English.
Almost all decent hotels in Lucerne are very expensive compared to other European cities. As we only had one weekend, we decided to break a bank and booked an old luxury hotel with history, Palace Luzern Hotel. Overall it was a good experience, our hotel had several restaurants and amazing rooms with lake views. All the interiors were made with a good taste, but it was honestly overpriced. Let me put it simple, it is far not the most amazing hotel I´ve ever been to, for a price we paid. I would go for something different next time.
What to do
In case you plan on having a laid-back weekend in Lucerne, this is what you can do in the city.
- get some handmade Christmas presents at the local Christmas markets
- head to the Old City center with its tiny streets and beautiful shops
- visit the “Kapellbrucke” bridge and get a long walk by the lake
- if you like museums – visit Transport museum or Rosengart Collection
- don´t miss the skating rink, close to the train station
- local kitchen, everything with swiss cheese is delicious
- a sunset at Lucerne Lake has made it to my list of the most beautiful sunsets around the world
Join my e-mail list and get exclusive weekly updates and travel tips straight to your inbox.
*Your e-mail address is safe with me and you can unsubscribe at any time.