One of the first countries in the world to open up to tourism, Switzerland is the land of nature’s splendours, cultural heritage and interesting sights. And it is the perfect destination if you are looking for a fun-filled family-friendly holiday.
And of the many amazing cities and sights Switzerland has to offer, Lucerne and Zermatt are our top picks to enjoy both city and country sights, from an educational day at the Museum of Transport to the scenic cogwheel train ride up to Gornergrat.
To start off our little virgin post-pandemic adventure, we hopped on Swissair for a comfortable 15-hour flight to Zurich (which includes a short transit in Singapore). Upon landing, the first priority and a must for all tourists in Switzerland is to sign up for the Swiss Travel Pass, which is an all-inclusive travel pass that allows us to hop on every available mode of public transportation in Switzerland and get access to a long list of attractions all over the country. We highly recommend the first-class option to get a fuss-free and comfortable train experience with cabins that are generally more spacious, luxurious and less crowded, especially during peak hours.
For our first stop, we took a quick 40-minute train ride to the city of Lucerne, the gateway to central Switzerland. A city known for its medieval architecture, cultural sights, breathtaking mountain ranges and the scenic Lake Lucerne, this is the perfect city to kick-start our Swiss experience.
For starters, we headed to the Old Town district, also known as Altstadt, to take in the majestic medieval architecture that makes Lucerne famous. As we trod through the cobblestone streets, we were greeted with various wall paintings decorating the building within this district, all telling their own little story that dates back to the 1920s and beyond.
Right by it is the Old Town Boulevard that stretches along the river Reuss and overseeing the iconic Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge). With a long list of fine restaurants and fancy bars nestled along the boulevard, this is where you go to sit back, relax and “see and be seen”. While luxury hotels are available in abundance in Lucerne, we prefer to go off the beaten track and stay in the quaint Cascada Hotel, a boutique establishment that allows you to be immersed in the heart of Lucerne and live like a true local.
After a scenic tour of the city centre, it is time to head over to the Swiss Museum of Transport, where one can enjoy an educational day to learn about the past, present and future of mobility in Switzerland.
If there is one thing the Swiss are most proud of, it is definitely the excellent public and private transportation, be it train, airplane or cars. And within the museum, you can discover how each sector deserves its many praises through exhibitions, virtual and augmented reality experience, interactive games and even themed rides.
No matter if you’re a child or an adult, there’s plenty to enjoy within the establishment. Our personal favourites? The Car Theatre, where you can choose your favourite automobiles and view them up close and also the Aviation Hall where you can hop on flight simulators and even learn how to manage airspace with the air traffic control exhibit.
Automobile and engineering aside, we then headed to Glasi Hergiswil, a Swiss glass manufacturer located just 15 minutes away from central Lucerne. Here lies one of the only existing traditional glassworks where glass is blown and crafted by hand.
Upon arrival, we hopped on their guided tour that took us inside the Glasi Hergiswil workshops from the past and walked us through the rich history behind the foundation of the company. It was wrapped up with a trip down to the real Glasi workshops where we saw how glass is blown and crafted today. For all visitors, you can even sign up for a short glass-blowing workshop to create your own glass globes.
Outside the workshops, you can bring your little ones to see and play with the various glass exhibits and contraptions including glass music tools, optical illusions, mirror maze and more. For adults who want to unwind, order a cold glass of beer or coffee at its cafe to take in the sight of Lake Lucerne.
If you are one who prefers to venture outdoors, then it is time to head over to Rigi Kulm, one of the popular hiking trails in the canton of Lucerne. To get to the base of the mountain, simply take the Lake Lucerne cruise to Vitznau, which is a one-hour cruise trip that takes you across the lake where you can see the entire canton. Upon arrival, take the cogwheel train up to the peak of Mount Rigi, also known as the Queen of Mountains, where you will be greeted with a panoramic sight of the region at the observation point. There is also a selection of restaurants available along the trail and our recommendation is Restaurant Lok 7, where you can enjoy a hot plate of rosti while enjoying Mother Nature’s splendour. From there, you can slowly take a scenic hike down the mountain towards Rigi Klösterli, where you can take a train back to Lucerne.
After an exciting journey in Lucerne, it is time to take a train down south to Zermatt, a tranquil eco-friendly destination at the base of Matterhorn, one of the world’s most famous mountains. Most known as an all-year ski village and a car-free destination, there are two main attractions that everyone must visit when in Zermatt.
First is, of course, Matterhorn, which is accessible via the Matterhorn glacier paradise that takes you on a series of cable cars to the peak at 3883 metres. Once you reach the final station, you can take in the majestic view of the highest peak of Matterhorn mountain at the viewing deck, which also happens to be the source of inspiration for the famous Toblerone chocolate we all know and love. Here is where you can visit to get your much-needed ski experience no matter the time of the year because there is always enough snow on the slopes to get your ski working, but mountains aside, what makes Matterhorn special is the Glacier Palace that is located 15 metres underground. Walk in and you will be greeted by an enchanting paradise of eternal ice that showcases a collection of beautiful ice sculptures and centuries-old ice formation.
Moving on to the next star of Zermatt, we hopped on the Gornergrat Railway, the world’s first electric cog railway train system, that takes you on a scenic 33-minute journey across the slopes of Gornergrat, a rocky ridge of the Pennine Alps. This is definitely one of the most Insta-worthy ride we’ve had in Switzerland so far. No matter the season, there is a variety of unique sights you can witness during your trip here.
But our favourite part about the trip to the Gornergrat is definitely “Zooom the Matterhorn” a multimedia experience and exhibition located inside the station of the former “Hohtälli” cable car. In this exciting new addition to the Gornergrat, there are three levels of experience to let us dive into the world of Matterhorn. First and our top pick is the virtual paragliding flight that let us soar through the skies of the Alpine mountain region to see the landscape via two options—a relaxed, panoramic flight, and a fast-paced and exhilarating one to get the blood pumping. The other two levels included an educational walkthrough of the region’s diverse seasonal changes and a light projection room that showcased a reproduction of Matterhorn from three sides.
Finally, we zoomed in on the real Matterhorn and the surrounding Alpine landscape in all its majesty and beauty by using intricate periscopes and learn plenty of trivia of the region, which makes a great learning experience for the little ones. Winding down from the mountain-high excitement, we took a stroll down the streets of Zermatt village to visit the Zermatt Museum. We got to learn about the history of Zermatt that is closely associated with the early climbers, and through artefacts, photos and a relief of the Matterhorn from the 1938 Der Berg ruft! movie filmed in Zermatt, alongside mountain home furnishings and interiors, as well as finds from the Neolithic Age.
Outside the museum, there’s the charming Marmot Fountain, which was built all the way back in 1906. In addition, there are two cemeteries smacked right in the middle of Zermatt and the one which is highly recommended to visit is the “Grave of the Unknown Climber”, a tranquil memorial for all climbers who have lost their lives there.
All in all, Switzerland has always been one of the most family- friendly countries to visit where plenty of experiences are catered to tourists of all ages and interests, and this itinerary between Lucerne and Zermatt packs the most educational and engaging experience for all. The best part of it? These are activities and experiences made to be experienced all-year round. So you don’t have to worry too much about seasonal factors. Just hop on the plane and start venturing out for that unique Swiss experience.
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