Things to Do in Lucerne: Your Ultimate Guide

Lucerne & Reuss River

Nestled at the north end of Lake Lucerne, the charming city of Lucerne boasts an array of attractions that appeal to travelers of all types. With its well-preserved medieval core, elegant historic buildings, and inviting atmosphere, it’s no wonder Lucerne is considered one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist destinations.

As you plan your trip, prepare to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture.

Begin your Lucerne adventure by wandering the cobbled streets of Altstadt (Old Town), and admire the iconic Chapel Bridge and Water Tower, which span the River Reuss. A visit to the medieval Musegg Wall and its towers is a must for panoramic city views.

Switzerland’s iconic peaks, including Rigi, Pilatus, Stanserhorn, and more, are right at your doorstep.

Lucerne Highlights

  • Chapel Bridge & Water Tower
  • Lucerne Old Town
  • Spreuer Bridge
  • The Musegg Wall & Clock
  • Jesuit Church
  • Cruise Lake Lucerne or walk the Promenade
  • Glacier Garden & Lion Monument

Top Attractions in Lucerne

Chapel Bridge and Water Tower

Chapel Bridge Lucerne
Chapel Bridge from the old town side

You can’t miss the iconic Chapel Bridge and Water Tower in the heart of Lucerne. This historic wooden bridge dates back over 650 years and was once part of Lucerne’s defenses. It was initially adorned with 168 unique paintings by Renward Cysat depicting the history of Switzerland and Lucerne. Unfortunately, there was a devastating fire on the bridge on the eve of the 18th of August, 1993.

Luckily, the majority of the bridge and the paintings were quickly restored and 147 of them are still with us to enjoy. Today, the Chapel Bridge can be seen with vibrant flower boxes, which make for a picturesque backdrop for your stroll across the Reuss River.

You should also take note of the 34-meter-high Water Tower as you cross the bridge. It has had many uses over the years, from torture chamber and prison to archive and treasury. Today, it is simply the headquarters of the Lucerne Artillery Association and home to returning black and white Alpine Swifts that nest here every year.

Pro Tip: Be sure to come to the Chapel Bridge either early or late in the day to avoid the large numbers of people that come here during the day. Also, incorporate it into your overall city tour as it joins the two sides of the river and makes for a great way to loop around the old town, across to the Jesuit Church and Spreuer Bridge further downstream.

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Old Town

Hirschenplatz in Lucerne Old Town
Hirschenplatz in Lucerne Old Town

I love to take a leisurely walk through the charming, cobblestoned Old Town of Lucerne. It is for me, one of the most stunning parts of this city, spreading itself out along the northern banks of the Reuss River.

There is so much to see and do in this medieval old town with numerous squares linked together by cobbled car-free roads. Here are some of the highlights you cannot miss:

  • Weinmarkt – where back in 1332, the citizens of Lucerne decided to join the blossoming Switzerland. Don’t miss the beautiful 1481 Gothic fountain and the painted guild halls that are worth attention.
  • Alt Rathaus (Old Town Hall) & Kornmarkt – Admire the stunning Town Hall built in the early 17th century, with its skyline dominating 14th-century clock tower.
  • Kapellplatz & St Peter’s Chapel – Towards the Chapel Bridge end of the old town, this is the oldest church in Lucerne, dating to 1178.

It is also fun to get lost in this part of town’s side streets and alleys, so don’t get tied down to this exact list of things to see.

Pro Tip: You will discover countless great cafes and restaurants and also some of the perfect souvenirs along the way. Places like the Swatch and Victorinox shops to get those souvenirs you wanted, as well as Läderach or Max Chocolatier for Swiss Chocolate.



Everything you need to know when planning a trip to the Lucerne Area.


Detailed Insiders Guide

  • Discover the best in the region
  • Various hand-made itineraries
  • Top mountains
  • Popular activities
  • Best hikes
  • Regional Maps
  • Insider tips

Spreuer Bridge

Spreuer Bridge Lucerne
Spreuer Bridge Lucerne

Another must-visit bridge in Lucerne is the Spreuer Bridge, which was actually one of three such bridges that used to form the defenses of Lucerne. It too features a series of paintings, this time created by Caspar Meglinger between 1625 and 1635 depicting the rather macabre “Dance of Death.”

As this covered bridge is so much further downstream from the Chapel Bridge, fewer people come here. It is worth the trip, though, as you get some great views up the Reuss River and also get to see some parts of the old town most people miss.

Pro Tip: Use this as the connecting point for a full tour of Lucerne, as you can head to the Musegg wall from here or dip straight back into the old town, or vice versa.

Musegg Wall and its Nine Towers

Musegg Wall Lucerne
Musegg Wall Lucerne

For a panoramic view of the city, climb the 800-meter-long Musegg Wall and its nine towers. They also form another integral part of the former defenses of the city. Following the Battle of Sempach, they were primarily constructed at the beginning of the 15th century.

This well-preserved city wall allows you to explore part of the wall and four towers, each offering distinct and stunning views of Lucerne and its surroundings. The most impressive one, and the one I head to the most with visitors is the Zyt Tower (Swiss-German for Time Tower or Clock Tower). It is the oldest clock in Lucerne and you can explore its inner workings from the tower. It rings at one minute before the hour, so be sure to be there on time, and make sure your ears are covered when it strikes!

The other three towers that you can visit via the doors at their bases include:

  • Wachtturm (Watch Tower) – named in 1768 when the guard room was moved there, previously the Heuturm (Hay Tower)
  • Männliturm (Little Man Tower) named after the iron-clad figure on the tower
  • Schirmerturm (Umbrella Tower) functioned as a gate tower to the city

The other towers which cannot be visited are: Nölliturm, Luegislandturm, Pulverturm, Allenwindenturm, Dächliturm

Musegg Wall Opening Times
Musegg Wall Opening Times

Pro Tip: The towers are free to visit but only open from Spring to Autumn – specifically, 8 am to 7 pm between 1 April and 1 November. Otherwise, if you come out of season, I recommend walking along the wall at the back so that you can experience the entire length and glory of this masterpiece of medieval architecture.

Jesuit Church

Jesuit Church from the Chapel Bridge, Lucerne
Jesuit Church from the Chapel Bridge, Lucerne

It’s well worth a quick visit to marvel at the beautiful baroque architecture of Lucerne’s Jesuit Church, I have often ignored this church because it has such a bland facade. But the interior is nothing short of mind-blowing.

It was built between 1666 and 1677 after the Jesuits were invited to Lucerne in 1573 to help reduce the Protestant influence brewing in the north. You may have heard of what was happening with the Reformation in Zurich, but that story is for another time.

The real story of the Jesuit Church is its interior. The church’s ornate, frescoed ceilings, opulent altars, and magnificent organ make your head spin as you stare upwards in this lavish church. Beautiful stained-glass windows, gold accents, and rococo stucco are everywhere you turn. I had trouble deciding where to aim my phone when taking pictures.

Even if you are not into churches, as I am not, it is worth popping in to see how crazy churches can get. And given how boring this one appears, I was a little blown away by what was inside!

Pro Tip: If you want to soak up the information on the details of this church, be sure to get their App for your visit. There is one for the iPhone and one for Android.

Soak Up Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne

How can you miss the breathtaking natural beauty of Lake Lucerne while you are in town? It is Switzerland’s fourth biggest lake, covering 114 square kilometers. If you manage to see it from above, you will notice that there are four main arms to the lake and at the far end it will remind you of the fjords of Norway.

Lakeside Promenade

Lake Lucerne promenade
Lake Lucerne promenade at sunset with Pilatus in the background

There are many ways to enjoy the lake from Lucerne itself. Personally, I like to walk along the promenade, which starts right after the bridge where the Ruess River flows into the lake.

Lake Lucerne Promenade and hotels
Lake Lucerne Promenade and hotels

Simply follow the left-hand side of the lake and enjoy a pleasant stroll along the shore. You can take in Mount Pilatus and Burgenstock opposite you. And notice all the top-notch hotels with lakeside views behind you!

If it’s warm and sunny out, you can grab an ice cream at the start of the promenade, or go for a dip in the lake at the Seebad Luzern. Nothing beats swimming in a lake for a true Swiss experience!

Seebad Luzern
Seebad Luzern

Lake Cruise

Cruise on lake lucerne with rigi in the background
Cruise on Lake Lucerne

Of course, my favorite way to entertain visitors is to enjoy some time on the lake with a cruise. There are a few ways you can do that. One is to take a specific Lake Lucerne cruise which might include dinner, sunset, or longer tours around the lake.

My best tip is to do the Mt Pilatus Golden Route, which starts with a cruise to the cogwheel train up Pilatus and ends with a gondola down the other side. You can also just take the Lake Lucerne ferries to several destinations like Vitznau, to then go up Mt Rigi, or to Burgenstock, to finally walk to the Hammetschwand Lift (more on that below). The options are endless!

You can also rent a pedalo, small motor boat or pontoon boat on the Lake. I saw the sign above along the way to the promenade while walking along the lake. It looks like an ad from these guys at Schwanenplatz Boat Rental. It might be worth checking out.

Glacier Garden

Entrance to Glacier Garden Lucerne
Entrance to Glacier Garden Lucerne

Discover the fascinating Glacier Garden, a geological attraction showcasing traces of a prehistoric ice age and a range of other attractions. This place has always fascinated me because of the story behind its discovery. Josef Wilhelm Amrein-Troller found them during construction in the back of Lucerne in 1872. This guy took what he found and instantly knew he had a major tourist attraction!

Over the years, it has expanded to include a range of things, sometimes, they may even seem confusing. There is

  • the Glacier Garden itself, including the pots
  • The Swiss House Museum
  • The relatively new Rock Underworld
  • The Alpine Park on the top
  • and the Mirror Maze

So, even if you think that geology is boring, you can enjoy the amusement of the mirror maze or views from the Alpine Park, for example. The museum itself was the highlight for me because there are so many fascinating things collected by the Amrein-Trollers to see in their old house.

Pro Tip: Combine a visit to the Glacier Garden with the Lion Monument (below) and the Hofkirche St. Leodegar. You could do it all on foot via the Lake Promenade from the old town in half a day and catch the bus back.

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Glacier Garden of Lucerne: Is It Worth Visiting?

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Lion Monument

Lion Monument, Lucerne
Lion Monument, Lucerne

The final stop on any complete tour of Lucerne is the Lion Monument. The monument was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and hewn by Lukas Ahornit between 1820-1821. Which, if you see the monument up close, was quite a feat to do in the rock face!

It is a moving tribute to the Swiss Guards who perished during the French Revolution. This poignant sculpture is carved directly into the rock and shows a lion being impaled by a spear and lying on a shield bearing the fleur-de-lis of the French monarch. It is meant to symbolize Switzerland’s independence and its willingness to defend its sovereignty.

If history or sculptures are not your thing, it is worth visiting here to take a load off your feet for 15 minutes because the park is so quiet and relaxing, especially if you have walked from the old town and taken in the Glacier Garden too!

Pro Tip: Take a short stroll up to the Felsberg Park above the Lion’s Monument for some great views of Lucerne, the lake, and Pilatus in the distance. You get similar views at the viewing platform in the Glacier Garden, so if you are also going there, you can skip it.

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Short Trips Outside The Old Town

Not everything worth visiting in Lucerne is in the old town, so if you don’t find a short bus ride or walk to get to those less-visited spots, then this section is for you.


Dreilinden Park Lucerne
Dreilinden Park views, Lucerne – Image via Wikimedia

If you want some peace after the hustle and bustle of Lucerne’s old town, head out to Dreilindenpark for a stroll and some epic views. This is not somewhere most tourists come, so you will only see other locals there (or people who have read this :>). Consider it an insider tip!

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I will email this post to you, so you read it for later (or keep for reference).

The English garden-style park is the largest in the city at 35,000 square meters, with plenty of ancient trees to keep you company. The views alone are worth the 10-minute bus ride from downtown Lucerne. But you could also walk here in 30 minutes if you fancy getting your 10,000 steps in today!

There is also a “stately” villa called the Villa Vicovaro, the park’s centerpiece. And interestingly, this used to be the home of the Lucerne School of Music until 2020. There are now plans to make an art museum in the building.

The locals like to call this place “Konsipark,” but if you want to find it on Google Maps, then type in Dreilindenpark.

Chateau Gütsch

Chateau Gütsch
Chateau Gütsch on the hill above Lucerne

Another short jaunt from downtown Lucerne with epic views is a ride in the funicular up to Chateau Gütsch. It is a stunning castle-like hotel that watches over Lucerne from the hills above. You may have noticed it from the old town and wondered what it is.

The hotel has been watching over Lucerne since 1879 when it was converted from a small Inn to a rather impressive hotel there today. It has seen such prominent guests as Queen Victoria, Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones, to name a few.

You can’t go inside the hotel (unless you are cheeky), but you get amazing views from the viewing platform next to it, as well as a quick but fun ride in a cheap funicular. If you have the Lucerne visitors card, the trip is included. Otherwise, it is just the cost of a local ticket, which you can get at the machine at the entrance to the funicular.

You can also walk up to the Chateau Gütsch in around 10-15 minutes from the path that enters the forest to the left of the funicular, which is what I did. I love to walk up and take transport down, but it is uphill, so not for everyone. You can see a quick map of that route here.


Meggenhorn Castle, Lucerne
Meggenhorn Castle – Image via Kurt Stocker on Flickr

The Meggenhorn is another unforgettable destination just on the edge of Lucerne. It is a small peninsular facing the city, offering stunning views of the Lake and surrounding mountains.

Like the Dreilindenpark, it also features a beautiful castle, not surprisingly called Meggenhorn Castle. It was built between 1868 and 1870 by Edouad Hofer-Grosjean and was said to have been inspired by Châteaux Chambord, a castle in the Loire Valley in France.

There is lots to do in Meggenhorn aside from admiring the views; you can visit the castle on Sundays and public holidays between 12pm and 5 pm. There is also a cafe in the historic Orangerie, which is open in summer and well worth a cup of coffee in if you have the time.

Or, you can simply bring a picnic, go for a dip in the pristine lake and enjoy the views!


Like most Swiss cities, Lucerne is chock full of great museums, so you could easily spend one day of your trip here enjoying them. A few of the best are below if you need me to choose for you!

Richard Wagner Museum

Wagner Museum in Lucerne
Wagner Museum in Lucerne

If you are at all interested in classical music, make sure to drop by the Richard Wagner Museum. This historical museum is dedicated to German composer Richard Wagner’s life and work and is inside the villa he lived in from 1866 to 1872. Some of the inspiring things you will find in the museum include:

  • original sheet music
  • personal belongings
  • some of Wagner’s letters

Nestled in a beautiful villa, you’ll feel inspired as you explore various artifacts; please note that the museum is closed on Mondays.

The museum has been renovated recently, and the ground floor now includes period furnishings that showcase life as it was during Wagner’s time there. The second floor shows the changes in the museum over the last few decades.

Pro Tip: Getting to this museum on foot takes around 30 minutes. So, for those who don’t want to walk, I recommend you take the boat service from the main pier outside the train station and KKL.

waldstatterweg views of Rigi
Walking the Waldstätterweg – views of Rigi and Lake Lucerne

Although, if you are up for the walk, it is part of the Waldstätterweg, which goes all the way around the lake. This part starts in Lucerne and heads to Alpnachstad, but you can walk the part to the museum. It’s stunning to soak up the lake and the views!

Rosengart Collection

Rosengarten Sammlung
Rosengarten Sammlung

Art lovers should visit the Rosengart Collection, which showcases an impressive array of modern art. It is quite a young museum by most standards, as it was a personal collection of Swiss art dealer Siegfried Rosengart and his daughter Angela. She created a foundation after his passing and opened the museum in 2002.

This museum is home to works by renowned artists such as Picasso and Klee (a famous Swiss painter); soak in their creativity while admiring paintings, sculptures, and other works. Here are some highlights of the museum:

  • Exceptional Pablo Picasso pieces
  • Collection of Paul Klee’s work
  • Other modern art masters, including Matisse and Cézanne

Pro Tip: The museum is behind the Jesuit Church, so you can easily combine these two. The Swiss Museum Pass/Swiss Travel Pass and Lucerne Museum Pass holders get free entry.

Swiss Museum of Transport

Swiss Museum of Transport
Swiss Museum of Transport

Dating back to 1942, the Swiss Museum of Transport is an epic dive into all things transport It is Switzerland’s most visited museum, featuring exhibits related to mobility’s past, present, and future. With plenty of hands-on displays, you’ll have fun exploring various forms of transport, including trains, cars, boats, rockets, and planes.

The museum also houses some exclusive attractions that you usually have to pay extra for:

  • Film theatre
  • Planetarium
  • Swiss Chocolate Adventure
  • Media World

Pro Tip: This museum is perfect for kids of any age. I have been with my 6-year-old godchild recently, and he loved it. Also, buying tickets before you arrive is best as it can get hectic. And, honestly, the museum is enough for one day, so you don’t have to buy all the extras unless you want to see everything.

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Nearby Activities

Lucerne offers a wide range of nearby activities, and here are some recommended options for you to consider during your visit.

Hammetschwand Elevator

Hammetschwand Lift on Burgenstock
Hammetschwand Lift on Burgenstock

The Hammetschwand Elevator is a fascinating attraction to visit. It is the tallest outdoor elevator in Europe and whisks visitors 153m (502ft) up to the summit in less than a minute. So, be sure to have your camera ready when the doors close; otherwise, you will miss your chance. I almost did!

The ride offers breathtaking views of Lake Lucerne and the surrounding Alpine landscape, and at the top, there is a restaurant where you can grab a drink or sit down to a meal with a view.

To reach the elevator, you’ll have to go on a short hike along the outer edge of the Burgenstock massive, first passing through the Bürgenstock Resort. It’s not a challenging hike, and it’s the only way to reach the lift. You can also make a round trip back down the mountain to the resort from the top if you want to make a longer walk of it.

Pro Tip: Make a day of this with a boat road from Lucerne to Kehrsiten Bürgenstock, then take the funicular to the Burgenstock Resort. Enjoy the views from the balcony at the resort, then hike along to the bottom of the lift.

Mount Pilatus

Pilatus cable car
Pilatus Cable Car and view of Lake Lucerne

For another unforgettable day trip, head over to Mount Pilatus. You can reach the summit by taking the Pilatus Railway, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, or by cable car and aerial gondola.

So, there are several options to do this trip – the best being the Golden Round Trip, which includes a boat trip from downtown Lucerne. You can spend as long as you like at the top or even partway down at Krienseregg, where there is a rope part and other fun activities for kids.

Back at the top, take advantage of the multiple viewing platforms and trails to explore this stunning mountain above Lucerne. Don’t forget to stop by the visitor center to learn more about the legend of dragons believed to inhabit Mount Pilatus. And soak up the epic views of the Alps and Lake Lucerne below. It is a unique perspective of the town you now know, like the back of your hand.

Mount Rigi

Views from Rigi of Lake Lucerne

Another popular destination, Mount Rigi, is often called the “Queen of the Mountains.” You can access the mountain by taking a scenic boat ride across Lake Lucerne to Vitznau before hopping on the Rigi Cogwheel Railway, which dates back to 1871.

Once at the top, you’ll have a variety of ways to enjoy your time there:

  • Take in panoramic views from the top of the mountain (Rigi Kulm)
  • Hike along well-marked trails catering to various skill levels
  • Enjoy a traditional Swiss meal at Rigi Kaltbad

Pro Tip: There is also a cable car you can take from Weggis right up to Rigi Kaltbad, with a designer spa with views of the lake and Alps! It’s a great place to overnight and enjoy the mountain air, stunning views, and some spa treatments to die for!

Shopping and Dining

Shopping in the old town of Lucerne
Shopping in the old town of Lucerne

Lucerne is quite a large city and the shopping there is not much different from what you will find in the larger cities, just more compact.


When visiting Lucerne, you’ll love exploring the charming Old Town (Altstadt) for shopping and dining opportunities. Wander through the beautiful alleyways filled with various boutique shops, department stores, and markets featuring fresh, regional products. You’ll find something for everyone, including:

  • Clothing and accessories
  • Handmade crafts and souvenirs
  • Swiss chocolates and confectionery
  • Art and design pieces

Souvenirs & Chocolate

Max Chocolatier in Lucerne
Max Chocolatier in Lucerne

If you are in the mood for souvenir shopping, the old town is also so compact you can almost find anything you need there.

Starting with souvenirs, you will find lots of boutiques with Swiss products and the usual souvenir shops (So I won’t bore you with details on those). However, some of the ones you might want to watch out for are the Swatch and Victorinox (Swiss Army Knives) shops for genuine Swiss products everyone knows and loves. Each has a store in the old town.

In terms of chocolate, which you all have to take back home, there are two places I would recommend you visit. Sure, you can pop into Manor or Coop and grab as much Lindt as you can carry, but the following two put you above the rest.

Läderach chocolate blocks

First, Läderach makes absolutely “to die for” large pieces of chocolate you can break off even bigger blocks. You can choose which flavor and how much and mix and match your own bag. They also have ready-made mixes if you are in a hurry. This idea is so popular now all the other big manufacturers in Switzerland are copying it. They also have boxes of chocolates and other goodies, so pop in even if you don’t want a chunk or block.

Second, there is Max Chocolatier – they are a premium chocolate maker who handmakes their chocolates in a small factory in Lucerne. Their main store is on the edge of the old town, which I found on my way back from the Glacier Garden. They also have a small store in the old town of Zurich, but that’s it! So, grab em while you can!

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Events and Festivals

Lucerne Fasnacht (Carnival)

Lucerne Fasnacht / Carnival
Lucerne Fasnacht / Carnival – Parade of costumes

When you visit Lucerne in winter, make sure you experience the city’s vibrant carnival atmosphere, usually during February or March. At this famous local event called Luzern Fasnacht, you can witness colorful parades, stunning costumes, spirited marching bands, and whimsical festivities that combine tradition and modernity. As the streets become filled with laughter and music, feel free to join in on the fun, immerse yourself in Swiss culture, and make unforgettable memories.

The whole season is called Fasnacht and occurs all over the country (and other neighboring countries) around the same time. But the best ones to see are in Basel (with Morgenstreich) and the one in Lucerne!

Here are some key events during the carnival:

  • Fasnacht’s Eve: The carnival season starts with an exuberant celebration where locals and tourists gather to enjoy the festivities.
  • Carnival Parades: Featuring intricate costumes, parade floats, and music, this is truly a highlight you cannot miss.

Lucerne Festival

Another major event in Lucerne is the internationally renowned Lucerne Festival, which consists of various music festivals held throughout the summer (mainly August – September). The festival attracts top musicians and orchestras worldwide to showcase their talent and provide mesmerizing performances.

Some notable parts of the Lucerne Festival are:

  • Summer Festival: Lasting for four weeks between mid-August and mid-September, the Summer Festival focuses on a specific theme each year, with more than 100 events occurring all over the city.
  • Lucerne Festival Orchestra: This prestigious group of musicians delights audiences at the Summer Festival, offering enchanting performances to captivate your senses.

Personally, I find festivals a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and meet locals, too. Sure, you can come and see every single attraction Lucerne has to offer, but do you truly get to experience Switzerland that way?

Plan Your Trip to Switzerland

Accommodation: I always book my hotels via They have some of the best rates, longterm deals, easy cancellation and more
Transport: Train travel is one of the best ways to explore Switzerland. Buying a Swiss Travel Pass is a great way to save money on travel and museums.
Car Rental: Having a car gives you flexibility on your travels. I use and Discover Cars to get the best deals on car rentals in Switzerland.
Luggage Storage: Find out where you can store your store your luggage while you are visiting various places in Switzerland.
Trips & Tours:Viator and Get Your Guide are the best places to find local tours and trips for your adventures in Switzerland.
Packing: Here are my recommendations for what to pack for a trip to Switzerland. As someone who has lived half their life in Switzerland, I have a good idea of what you need to bring!
Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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