This month we are in Switzerland travelling from Luzern to Milano. The journey takes around four hours covering a distance of 263 kilometres. The journey takes you via The Gotthard Base tunnel crossing the Alps. It is the world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel at 57 kilometres.
Our journey begins in Luzern amongst the snow capped mountains on Lake Luzern. The city is well known for its stunning medieval architecture, history, culture and spectacular scenery.There is plenty to explore and one of the most famous attractions is the Chapel Bridge that stretches across the River Reuss. Dating back to the 14th century it is the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe. The interior has paintings in the ceiling vaults representing Luzern’s history.
The medieval Old Town on the right bank is beautiful and offers narrow, cobbled streets with great shops and restaurants, picturesque squares, fountains, and buildings with colourful façades. Close by is the old city walls with 9 towers. Climb to the top of the towers for stunning views across the city.
Don’t miss the Swiss Museum of Transport, this unique museum offers everything from Switzerland’s first diesel locomotive, aircraft, cars and horse drawn carriages. It is also home to the Swiss Chocolate Adventure where you can learn about the history and manufacture of Swiss chocolate.
Other must see attractions include the Jesuit Church built in 1666, the Franciscan Church with one of the most ornate pulpits in Switzerland, Spreuer Bridge built in the 16th century, The Lion Monument carved into a former sandstone quarry which represents the Swiss Guard and not forgetting beautiful Lake Luzern, Switzerland’s fourth largest lake.
This week we continue our journey leaving Luzern and head to Arth-Goldau. Sit on the right of the train for stunning views over Lake Zug and the mountain peaks on the far shore.
Arth-Goldau, situated between Lake Zug and Lake Luzern, lies in the heart of a cherry tree region and is an important railway junction along the Gotthard line. The rack railway leading up to the “Queen of the Mountains”, Mount Rigi, offers superb panoramic views across the Alps.
Over 200 years ago Goldau was destroyed by a massive landslide after heavy rainfall. Take a themed walk along the ‘Landslide Trail’ or visit the Landslide Museum in the village for an insight into this natural disaster.
Also close by is the Goldau Nature Park and Zoo with 100 native and European animals including deer and moufflon sheep in a large free-range area, and wolves, lynxes, wild boar and wild cats in large enclosures.
Don’t forget to take a boat cruise on Lake Zug, the perfect way to relax and take in the scenery.
Continuing south from Arth-Goldau you pass Lake Luzern on the right and head towards the start of Gotthard Base tunnel at Erstfeld, emerging around 20 minutes later at Biasca.
This week we are exploring the medieval town, Bellinzona the capital of canton Ticino at the foot of the Alps by the Ticino River. Bellinzona is famous for its three UNESCO World Heritage castles, it also has several 15th Century churches to explore and plenty of charm.
The historic old town has beautiful, colourful buildings and alleys and a lovely atmosphere. In the main square you will find the church of Saint Pietro e Stefano, a magnificent baroque church with an ornate interior, a beautiful pulpit decorated with marble and various ancient paintings. Saturday is market day in the old town, so take a stroll and explore the bustling market selling local produce, artisan food, freshly made sweet and savory treats and traditional handicrafts.
From the old town you can walk to the castles or take the shuttle, passing vineyards, streams and forests with beautiful panoramic views of Bellinzona valley and the surrounding snow capped mountains.
The three castles include Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro. Castelgrande is the main castle and sits on a rocky plateau above the town. Enjoy a walk around the vast grounds. Climb up the two towers for spectacular views and visit the museum for an insight into the history. Montebello Castle is the most picturesque of the three castles and houses an interesting archeological Museum. Sasso Corbaro is the highest castle on the hill and offers the best views of the area.
This week we are finishing our journey in the city of Lugano. From Bellinzona we head south through the 15.4 kilometre Ceneri Base Tunnel. This newly opened tunnel between Bellinzona and Lugano is the last section of the new railway link through the Alps and takes around 20 minutes to pass through.
We reach Lugano on the northern side of Lake Lugano, surrounded by mountains. This picturesque city blends Italian, Swiss and Mediterranean influences.
The old town has a lovely atmosphere, is traffic free, and filled with shops, restaurants and cafes. The 16th century San Lorenzo Cathedral is beautiful with its giant tower and stunning views over the old town, lake and mountains.
For the best views of Lugano head to Monte Brè to the north or Monte San Salvatore to the south. You can reach both mountains by the funicular railways. At the top you can enjoy the spectacular panoramic views. From Monte Brè there are various walks and hikes including a walk down to the old village of Brè. From Monte San Salvatore you can walk to the villages of Carona, Morcote, Melide and Figino.
Lake Lugano is a definite highlight. Take a stroll along the beautiful waterfront or enjoy one of the many boat trips on offer, the perfect way to relax and see the mountains and picturesque villages. There are also lots of parks to explore around the lake including Parco Civico with ambling paths, flower gardens and manicured lawns.