Traveller's Guide: Lucerne, Switzerland
Monday 23 June 2008
Lucerne is in the heart of Switzerland, by extension the middle of western Europe, and thus very easy to reach.
The main air gateway is Zurich, which has direct flights from a wide range of UK airports, including Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow, London City, Luton and Manchester. From Platform 4 of the railway station at Zurich airport, trains depart hourly direct for Lucerne, taking just over an hour for a one-way fare of Sfr31 (£15.50).
The same fare applies to and from Basel, the alternative gateway, 66 minutes from Lucerne. Basel is also the place to change trains if you are making the whole journey by rail: travelling on Eurostar from London St Pancras takes you to Paris-Nord, a 10-minute walk from Paris-Est station – which is the terminus for TGV trains to Basel. With good connections, the whole journey can be made in seven hours or so.
Lucerne is the rail hub of Switzerland, and therefore can easily be incorporated into a more extensive exploration of the nation. Connections are good to Geneva and the rest of French-speaking Switzerland, as well as south to the Italian-speaking region and, beyond that, Milan Malpensa airport.
Lucerne railway station is one of Europe's great termini, and within easy walking distance of most places of interest in the city centre. If you prefer mechanical assistance, you can rent a bike at the station (register and pay at desk 21, downstairs, before returning upstairs to the bike rental store – Velostation).
The railway station is also the hub for buses and trolleybuses that extend throughout the city and deep into the surrounding countryside. Equally obvious, when you step out of the station, is the range of ferry services on the Vierwaldstättersee. An unlimited-travel day ticket costs Sfr56 (£28), though a range of cards and passes can bring down the cost – especially for families.
The LucerneCard – which costs Sfr27 (£13.50) for 48 hours or Sfr33 (£16.50) for 72 hours – offers free land-based transport around the city, together with half-price admission to many of Lucerne's best museums. You can buy it at the tourist office (see below).
Art Museum (KKL): 0041 41 22 67 800; www.kunstmuseumluzern.ch
Historical Museum: 0041 41 22 85 424; www.hmluzern.ch
Rosengart Collection: 0041 41 22 01 660; www.rosengart.ch
Swiss Museum of Transport: 0041 41 37 04 444; www.verkehrshaus.ch
Lucerne Festival in Summer, 13 August-21 September.
Lucerne Festival at the Piano, 17-23 November.
Lucerne Festival at Easter, 28 March-5 April 2009.
All details from www.lucernefestival.ch
Lucerne Tourism, Zentralstrasse 5; 0041 41 22 71 717; www.luzern.com
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