Switzerland for the adrenaline-phobic: Castles, chocolates and cocktails

11 March 2019, 17:21 | Updated: 12 March 2019, 07:07

Lucerne is picture perfect - you'll feel like you're living in a fairytale
Lucerne is picture perfect - you'll feel like you're living in a fairytale. Picture: Château Gütsch

By Laura Kramer

Do you avoid holidays to snowy locations because adventure sports aren’t your thing? Fret not, we have a solution… and it may surprise you.

Switzerland is synonymous with hitting the slopes and other adrenaline-fueled activities.

And while the tiny country with big mountains certainly has a lot to offer for the snow sporty bunch, it’s time to give love to the crowd that want the ‘après’ and not the ski.

Look no further than Lucerne.

With Insta-worthy backdrops and a lively cultural scene, it’s easy to see why the Lake Lucerne region is the most popular tourist destination in Switzerland.

We break down the top five must-do activities, and yes, there’s going to be chocolate!

Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus
Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus. Picture: Laura Kramer

1. Tame the dragon on Mount Pilatus

Legend has it dragons with healing powers lived in Mount Pilatus, which overlooks Lucerne.

Sadly we didn’t see any, but you can explore the dragon trail as well as hike, snowshoe and take the kids sledding.

Warm up with a traditional Swiss fondue at the Restaurant Pilatus-Kulm after. The fondue mix is made on site with cheese from the Pilatus mountain area.

During the winter, Piatus Klum can only be reached via panorama gondolas and an aerial cableway. Check the weather before booking as they may not be in service if wind conditions are high.

2. Take a lunchtime cruise

Set sail on Lake Lucerne and take in culinary highlights combined with the majestic scenery of the surrounding mountains.

Onboard, the ingredients used to cook up the meals are from local suppliers and the beer served is brewed especially for the boat company, adding a touch of exclusivity to the entire experience. Book ahead here.

The views are even more spectacular on water than on land
The views are even more spectacular on water than on land. Picture: Lake Lucerne Navigation Company

3. Cocktails with a view

One of Lucerne’s most iconic landmarks is the Château Gütsch, a hotel that looks like it’s plucked out of a fairytale.

It has some of the best views of the city, and the only way to get there is via funicular. Once at the top, sip on cocktails at the glamorous Gütsch Bar which overlooks the city and offers guests free marshmallows to roast with a blowtorch.

Next to the hotel, the Sculpture Park is a must-see if only for the 3.5 meter “Heart” piece, but we’re biased.

The park is free of charge for hotel guests, and includes many other art pieces that change according to the current exhibition theme.

We particularly liked this piece of art... can you tell why?
We particularly liked this piece of art... can you tell why? Picture: Château Gütsch

4. Not your grandma’s chocolate tasting

If Lindt is your idea of fine Swiss chocolate, prepare to have your world rocked.

Behold: Tasmanian mountain pepper white chocolate - a spicy, buttery, out-of-this-world treat that has to be tasted to be believed.

It’s one of the many unique concoctions (like caramel squares with balsamic vinegar and milk chocolate) dreamed up by the team at the flaghship Max Chocolatier, sweetly named after the owner’s son, a boutique shop specialising in hand-made chocolates.

They host workshops and tasting at their two locations in Lucerne and Zurich.

Visit their website here, and read about Max’s story.

5. All of the lights

Planning a trip next year? January sees the return of the Lilu Light Festival Lucerne, which had its debut this year. The 10-day event showcased light installations from Swiss and international artists.

Sixteen projects were illuminated nightly throughout the city, casting a romantic glow on the famous sites. It’s free of charge and many of the installations are interactive, so kids of all ages can partake.

Without a doubt, the highlight of this year was the ‘Genesis’ production, a 25-minute laser light show depicting the first three stories of the Bible on the ceiling of Hofkirche, the Church of St. Leodegar.

The next festival will take place from January 9-19, 2020.

Getting to Lucerne

Lucerne is about an hour’s train ride away from Zurich airport. You can fly direct to Zurich from Manchester, Birmingham, London and Edinburgh with SWISS – flights start from £67 one way, see here for more.

Once on the ground, the Swiss Travel Pass is a useful public transport travel card that covers unlimited travel in Switzerland by train, bus and boat.

In Lucerne, this means transport in the city, cruises on the lake and entrance to many museums, too.