Things to see and do

Tourist Information - : office situated at side of Station - bike hire available - lakeside route towards Horw and Winkel recommended - fan shaped apartment block at Schönbühl won international plaudits for Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

Stroll around Town: 2 hours - English/German - daily except Sunday in season - Wednesdays and Saturdays otherwise - from Tourist Office.

Virtual tour:

City Train - rather incongruous and Disneyesque 40 minute tour of town in string of carriages - board at Hotel Schweizerhof.

Boat trips on Lake Lucerne/Vierwaldstättersee (lake of the 4 wooded cantons) : an institution since 1837 - 20 boats - 6 paddle steamers - some over 100 years old - most renovated in 1970s at cost of 6 million francs funded by private donation - the Gallia is fastest steamer on a European lake - tickets can be pricey - check for special offers - fondue chinoise/sushi ships - Sunday Breakfast boat - folklore - conducted walks - excursions with children - unforgettable way to visit Pilatus Bürgenstock Weggis and Rigi (see section 1) - moonlight playing on the lake inspired Beethoven’s piano sonata.

Old Town (Altstadt): cobbled fountained squares with colourful facades on right bank of River Reuss.

Picasso Museum : gift to city on its 800th anniversary from Siegfried and Angela Rosengart (whom Picasso painted 5 times)- late works and 200 photographs by David Douglas Duncan - worth visiting for building alone - Am-Rhyn House - built in 1618 in Renaissance style.

Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke): Luzern’s defining landmark named after St Peter‘s Chapel nearby - originally constructed in 1333 - 560 feet long - octagonal 34 metre high water tower was formerly a prison and torture chamber - beautifully restored after devastating fire in 1993 - 112 painted panels by Heinrich Wagmann show scenes from city and Swiss history with donors’ coats of arms - 30 are originals - remainder are facsimiles printed on Ilford chrome classic deluxe paper.

Rathaus (Town Hall): 1602-1606 - above the riverside arcades of Unter der Egg - on Kornmarkt - unique mix of architectural styles from Anton Isenmann - classic Renaissance style building topped with roof of Entlebuch farmhouse.
Zünfthaus zu Pfistern: former Guild Hall now a restaurant with Swiss specialities - exterior has mural of tree decorated with local coats of arms - interior is equally atmospheric.

Zentralgefängnis (Central Prison): 1860-1862 - curious because it now houses HotelLöwengraben ( where you can stay in a converted cell - used for prisoners as recently as 1998.

Musegg battlements: 1350-1408 - walk along 870m of the City Wall from Spreuer Bridge - three of the varied nine towers open to public in summer - vertiginous climbs - Männli Tower has 125 steps -oldest city clock on Zyt Tower chimes 1 minute before others in town.

Nädelwehr (Water Spike): dating from 1859 - 175 pinewood ‘needles’ strung across river- each 3.5m long - still used to regulate level of lake - modern power plant nearby produces hydro-electricity for 1500 households when it is not silted up.

Spreuer Bridge: 1408 - further down the Reuss - less well known but equally interesting with 67 macabre paintings by Kaspar Meglinger illustrating the ‘Dance of Death’ - heavy on skeletons - commemorates city plague - named after wheat chaff thrown into river nearby.

Historical Museum : cantonal museum for cultural history and folklore - housed in former city arsenal - emphasis on weaponry including Zwingli’s helmet and sword - guided tours.

Natural History Museum : live animals - regular exhibitions - look for procession of giant ants on exterior.

Kleinstadt: on left bank - much quieter area with many historical buildings - find the Apothecary’s shop straight out of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley in Bahnhofstrasse.

Franciscan Church: 13th Century - oldest building in Luzern - Gothic/Medieval style - ornate Baroque pulpit - flag frescoes.

Ritter Palace: 1557 - former Jesuit College - now seat of Cantonal government - built in Florentine style - intriguing internal columned courtyard reminiscent of an Escher drawing.

Jesuit Church: 1666-1677 - first large baroque church in Switzerland - ‘ Rococo explosion of gilt, marble and epic frescoes ‘ (Fodor) - red stucco altar (1681) - central ceiling painting of St Francis Xavier - distinctive onion domes added in 1893 - always open - frequent concerts.

Theatre  : varied and sometimes avant garde productions - plays, operas, musicals and dance.

Rosengart-Sammlung  excellent art collection in Pilatusstrasse - housed in 1924 Empire style neoclassical bank building - 200 works including 50 by Picasso - outstanding exhibition of more than 100 works by Paul Klee.

Bahnhofplatz: dominated by original archway entrance to station building which burned down in 1971 - new building designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava who was also responsible for the acclaimed Stadelhofen station in Zürich - huge 1928 Barraud fresco entitled ‘North and South’ was expensively reinstalled opposite Monopol Hotel .

Kultur- und Kongress-zentrum (  : 1998 concert hall - spectacular architecture by Jean Nouvel - red blue and green exterior with 12000 sqm cantilevered roof - interior features include moats bridges and use of a ‘symphony’ of five different woods - exceptional acoustics achieved through fifty two echo chambers and sheets of red velvet draped over ladders - guided tours available .
Kunstmuseum : predominantly modern artworks - emphasis on Swiss works from 19th and 20th centuries including many by Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler - regular exhibitions - good café .

Hofkirche: twin spired landmark of Luzern built during 30 Years War - architecture reflects transition from Gothic to Baroque with Romanesque towers and Renaissance style roof - main doors flanked by patron saints of Luzern - St. Leodegar and St. Maurice - huge organ with 4950 pipes and facility to mimic rain thunder and hail - Florentine style Cloister - Rothenburgerhaus nearby is oldest intact wooden building in Switzerland dating from 1500.

Bourbaki-Panorama  : unusual 16 sided cylindrical building - houses largest (110m) round panoramic mural in the world by Edouard Castres - completed in 1889 - precursor to cinema - depicts retreat of French army into Switzerland in 1870 - moving atmosphere - infinitely better than it sounds.

Alpineum : antique (1900) 3 dimensional depiction of the Alps-

Glacier Garden : dating (and dated) from 1872 - enjoyable if 20 million year old glacial potholes are your thing - national monument - rather worthy museum in interesting old house - look out for the oldest large scale relief map of Switzerland (1762-86) by created by Franz Ludwig Pfyffer von Wyher without any artificial aids - recently scientifically proved to be accurate - Goethe visited Luzern especially to see it - ‘Alhambra style’ labyrinth of mirrors (1896) offers fun for all - garden - café.

Lion Monument: hewn out of natural sandstone in 1821 by Danish sculptor Thorwaldsen - one of Luzern’s earliest tourist attractions - commemorates death of Swiss mercenaries in 1792 - very stirring and tranquil when (rarely) no one else is around - inscribed with words ‘helvetorium fidei ac virtuti’ (‘to the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss’) - Mark Twain described it as ‘the saddest and most poignant piece of rock in the world’.
Verkehrshaus (Swiss Museum of most comprehensive collection in Europe and most popular Swiss museum - locomotives - Gotthard Tunnel presentation - simulators.

IMAX  : 3D cinema - only one in Switzerland -19x25m screen - 22000 watts - opened via satellite by astronaut John Glenn in 1996 - regular performances in English.

Planetarium : next to IMAX - unique in Switzerland.

Hans Erni Museum: over 300 works by Swiss humanist artist (born in 1909) in various media.

Lidostrandbad: beach - playground - swimming pool - restaurant - mini golf - great position - very lively.

Chateau Gütsch - gothic style edifice (only built in 1888) with commanding views of town - once a rather ghastly and overpriced hotel and restaurant - in 1868 Queen Victoria booked into nearby Wallis Boarding house as 'Countess of Kent' giving Luzern prominence as a fashionable holiday destination.

Richard Wagner Museum : magnificent house on lake at Tribschen overlooking town - exhibition of musical instruments - composer lived here with Cosima von Bulow from 1866 to 1872 - Siegfried Idyll was gift to her on birth of their son - also worked on Die Meistersinger, Der Ring and Gotterdämmerung  here - ‘I do not know of a more beautiful spot in this world’.