Swiss Gems - Family in Switzerland
Swiss Gems - Family in Switzerland - small

Exploring the Swiss Gems: Zurich and Lucerne

Embarking on a European river cruise? Many itineraries either begin or end in the Swiss town of Basel right on the border of Switzerland, France, and Germany. While Basel is amazing to explore, we suggest arriving a few days early (or staying post-cruise) and visit more of this country in the heart of Europe. Why?

Switzerland is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, precision watches, and luxurious chocolates. Among the many jewels in its crown are the vibrant city of Zurich and the picturesque town of Lucerne. Each destination offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, creating an unforgettable experience you don’t want to miss.


Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, is a bustling metropolis nestled along the shores of Lake Zurich. It is a vibrant blend of modernity and tradition. The city is not only a global financial hub but also a cultural haven, boasting world-class museums, art galleries, and theaters.

One of the highlights of Zurich is the Old Town, also known as Altstadt. This historic district is a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, charming squares, and medieval buildings. Stroll through Grossmünster Square and be captivated by the twin towers of Grossmünster Church, an iconic symbol of Zurich. The Fraumünster Church, with its stunning, stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall, is another must-visit spot in Old Town.

For art enthusiasts, the Kunsthaus Zurich is a treasure trove of European art, featuring works by masters such as Van Gogh, Monet, and Picasso. Meanwhile, the Swiss National Museum offers a captivating journey through Switzerland’s cultural history, displaying artifacts ranging from medieval armor to traditional Swiss handicrafts.

Swiss Gems -Zurich on Lake Zurich

Zurich from Lake Zurich 

Swiss Gems - Fraumaster and Saint peter steeples with clocks

Steeple clocks on Fraumünster and Saint Peter Churches 

After a day of exploration, indulge in Zurich’s culinary delights. Swiss cuisine is a delightful blend of influences, and Zurich is no exception. Treat your taste buds to fondue, a cheesy concoction of melted Swiss cheese served with bread and potatoes. Alternatively, savor a plate of raclette, where the cheese is melted and scraped onto accompaniments like pickles and cured meats. Don’t forget to try the famous Swiss chocolates, available in various flavors and forms across the city.

Swiss Gems - Lakeside Lucerne

Beside Lake Lucerne

Swiss Gems - Chapel Bridge with Water Tower

Chapel Bridge with Water Tower and Swans


A short train ride from Zurich takes you to the enchanting town of Lucerne, nestled between the shores of Lake Lucerne and the surrounding Alpine peaks. Lucerne is a postcard-perfect destination, with its well-preserved medieval architecture and stunning natural beauty.

Chapel Bridge, one of Lucerne’s iconic landmarks, is a covered wooden bridge adorned a Water Tower at one end. The bridge offers breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Take a leisurely stroll along the lake promenade or embark on a boat cruise to absorb the serene beauty of Lake Lucerne and its surrounding landscapes.

Venture up to Mount Pilatus or Mount Titlis for a panoramic view of the Alps.  Reaching the summit of Mt. Pilatus involves an breath-taking  journey on the steepest cogwheel railway in the world. Both experiences with their incredible vistas of the Alps or Lake Lucerne will offer panoramic photography shots as souvenirs and future remembrances of your adventures.

Swiss Gems - cable car to Mt Pilatus

Cable car or gondola to Mt. Pilatus

Swiss Gems - lake Lucerne from Mt Pilatus

View of Lake Lucerne from Mt. Pilatus

When it comes to cuisine, Lucerne boasts a delectable array of Swiss specialties. Sample the Luzerner Chügelipastete, a puff pastry filled with a creamy veal and mushroom mixture, or try the Luzerner Lebkuchen, a local gingerbread treat. If you prefer a heartier meal, indulge in Älplermagronen, a Swiss take on macaroni and cheese, enriched with potatoes, cheese, and caramelized onions.

Swiss Gems - Aplemagronen


Swiss Gems - Chocolate and cheese

Chocolate and cheese – the best!

Adding Switzerland to your Itinerary …

 Whether you are river cruising or touring Europe, Zurich and Lucerne offer a splendid tapestry of experiences for everyone. With Europe’s fabulous and fast rail systems, you are not far away from either Zurich or Lucerne no matter if you are in France, Italy, or elsewhere on the continent with your explorations. Switzerland’s cultural richness and natural beauty are bound to leave an indelible mark on your travel memories. Consult with your expert travel advisor and add this itinerary to your next European visit.

Swiss Gems - Lucerne


All images courtesy of Adobe Stock.