Returning to the real world after a lovely Rhine river cruise can be an abrupt shock to your system. You’ve been wined and dined, catered to and spoiled by the Viking staff. And then all of a sudden you have to face the harsh reality of the daily grind.
To help you with the readjustment, consider adding one or two buffer days between your cruise and your return home. And if your final port is Basel, Switzerland, you’re in luck. Why?
Because the perfect destination for an after-cruise adventure lies just an hour from Basel, beautiful Lucerne, the “City of Lights.”
Situated on Lake Lucerne, the City of Lights is a picturesque, compact city that is set against a backdrop of majestic mountains. It’s home to a number of famous attractions, including the Chapel Bridge, or Kapellbrucke, the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe. Originally constructed in the first half of the 14th century, the bridge and its famous octagonal Water Tower were part of the city’s fortifications.
The interior of Chapel Bridge, which is the most photographed monument in Switzerland, boasts many 17th-century, triangle-shaped paintings that are located above the walkway. Sadly, a fire in August 1993 destroyed many of the original paintings and much of the bridge. But restoration work was done quickly and Chapel Bridge was reopened to the public in April of 1994.
Another can’t-miss site in Lucerne? The beautifully preserved medieval Altstadt, or Old Town. Here, you can marvel at the town’s amazing architecture and view the elaborate frescoes that decorate many of the buildings. And, of course, a boat ride on the beautiful lake should definitely be part of your itinerary. With so much to see and do in Lucerne, it’s not surprising that Conde Nast Traveler readers voted it as their second favorite city in Europe in 2016. Only Florence beat out lovely Lucerne.
If you still have time and would like to explore some of Lucerne’s more unique sites, consider checking out the following:
The Lion of Lucerne is a stunning 32-foot-long rock relief that was once described by Mark Twain as the “saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world.” This mortally wounded lion was hewn in honor of the Swiss Guards who were killed at the Tuileries Palace in Paris during the French Revolution.
Approximately 600 of these mercenary soldiers lost their lives as they tried to protect King Louis the 16th and his family from the revolutionaries. Another 200 were either killed or died of their wounds later on. The monument, which sits above a pond, bears the inscription, “To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss.”
Were you always bored in history class? Do your eyes glaze over at the thought of sitting on a bus all day? Then you might want to explore Lucerne on a Foxtrail adventure.
During this experience, you’ll follow clues and unlock secrets as you follow one of six trails that will take you throughout the city. And because the Foxtrail hunt has been designed to appeal to both visitors and locals, your jaunt will also take you off the beaten tourist track, allowing you to discover some of the lesser-known gems of the City of Lights.
If you want to enjoy one of the best views in Lucerne, visit the Musegg Wall and its nine towers. Built in 1386, these old city walls have remained almost entirely intact. Four of the towers are open to visitors and you can also walk along the walls. The stunning views of the surrounding area, the lake and the mountains are definitely worth the trek to the top of these walls and towers.
The Golden Tour is an interesting mix of transportation modes and attractions. On this tour, you’ll begin your trip by taking a boat across Lake Lucerne to the Alpnachstad railway station. From there, you’ll ride the world’s steepest rack and pinion railway to the top of Mount Pilatus, where you can enjoy the view and some refreshments or even go for a hike.
Next, you’ll board an aerial cable car and then take a gondola trip down to the town of Kriens. The final part of your journey will be aboard a trolley bus, which will take you back to Lucerne. The Golden Tour is a great way to get to see some of the gorgeous area outside of the city.
Most people never want to find themselves in jail, but in Lucerne, you can actually spend the night in a former prison. Originally built in 1862, the Erlebnishotel Jailhotel is definitely an unusual place to stay. The cells — uh, rooms — are sparse. There are bars on the window and the door is made of steel. But each room does have its own bathroom and hardwood floors.
A cell not your style? Then opt for the deluxe suite, which is the former warden’s office. There is also a nightclub in the basement that is named — what else? — Jailhouse Rock.