I’ve recently returned from a delightful Switzerland trip hosted by the Bürgenstock Collection of hotels and have so much to share. From Lausanne to Lucerne, from exquisitely restored city hotels to a spectacular lakeview resort, our time here was spent immersed in Swiss charm, history, cuisine and wine. I’ve come away with such a love for the country as a whole and with a slew of creative ideas for your own journeys there.
Read on for what I found particularly appealing about Lausanne, Bern and Lucerne, the highlights and the happy surprises, and how together we can craft a memorable Swiss stay for you and your travel companions.
As always, my aim is to get to know your travel style and interests and pinpoint the best accommodations and experiences for you, wherever you’re traveling. I’m bursting with ideas about how to weave these enticing cities and spectacular hotels into your own travels and just know that you’ll be as smitten with Switzerland as I was.
Please reach out with any questions about Lausanne, Bern, Lucerne or the Bürgenstock collection of hotels.
Lausanne is enticing and enviable with its gorgeous Lake Geneva views and its French-Swiss ambiance. You’ll feel a fun university town vibe as you explore a few of their hip neighborhoods full of re-imagined warehouses and lively nightclubs. Most of the nightlife in these parts gets going after 9 p.m., an interesting complement to the city’s Gothic Old Town and high-brow ambience (after all, Coco Chanel stayed for two months at the renowned Lausanne Palace and is buried in the city).
Cathédrale de Notre Dame
The proud centerpiece of the Old Town, Cathédrale de Notre Dame is Switzerland’s finest. Dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, the cathedral was consecrated by Pope Gregory X in 1274. Most of the Gothic structure remains much the same as it has been throughout the ages thanks to painstaking restoration work.
Don’t miss the south entrance, where you’ll see the painted statuary depicting Christ, the coronation of the Virgin Mary, the Apostles and various Biblical scenes. The cathedral also boasts one of the most impressive stained-glass rose windows in the world.
IOC Olympic Museum
This was a fascinating stop, with engaging exhibits and interactive displays, content and art right on Lake Geneva. Follow along as you explore state-of-the-art installations that tell the Olympic story from beginning to present day. Don’t miss the tiered landscaped gardens and a cafe so good you’ll forget it’s affiliated with a museum.
Lavaux Winery Tour
I am in love with Chasselas blancs and overall found the wine in Switzerland to be incredible. If you’re an oenophile, you’ll want to take the chance to visit Lavaux, a very quick train ride from Lausanne. The vineyards, right on Lake Geneva, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, as such, are painstakingly cared for.
Our wine tasting included small bites and a walk through the vineyards with Laika, our pleasant heritage guide, who explained the “three suns in Lavaux”: in the sky, reflection off the lake and reflected off the terrace walls, which warms the grapes.
Bürgenstock Stay: Royal Savoy Hotel
This magnificently restored gem on Lac Léman (the local, colloquial name for Lake Geneva) was our home for our Lausanne stay. Combining Art Nouveau nuance and modern creature comforts, the hotel is the epitome of approachable luxury.
Several room styles are available, including Savoy Executive Suites with a full kitchen and a full and half-bath; connecting one-bedroom Royal Savoy Suites; and the dramatic, 7,000-square-foot Penthouse. The 15,000-square-foot spa boasts an indoor/outdoor pool, saunas, steam baths, cold baths, ice fountains, relaxation areas, an additional women’s-only spa, a fitness center and a hair salon.
Who Would Love Lausanne: Couples, families with older children, adult groups traveling together
We had a whirlwind visit to Bern, staying active much of our stay – the city can be easily explored in two days and serves as a convenient hub for further Switzerland travel. Despite being the capital of Switzerland, Bern is unassuming and laid back, offering captivating museums, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, quirky fountains everywhere (with access to fresh water) and the pretty Aare River, lined with red-roofed homes.
The city is warm and welcoming, and you’ll start to hear the differences between the distinctive Swiss German and Swiss French (which we heard in Lausanne). For visitors, locals are happy to switch to more widely understood French, High German or English.
The Clock Tower
Bern’s famous Clock Tower (the Zytoglogge) formed part of the city’s western gate from 1191 to 1256 and, remarkably, still works. At four minutes before the hour, you can watch as the revolving mechanical figures spin about, then hear the chimes ring on the hour. Climbing into the tower, the oldest of its kind in Europe, and seeing how it all works was a definite highlight of our time in the city. (This experience is only available via a certified guide and on a private basis.)
Bern is a wonderful jumping-off point for regional exploration, including Thun, a charming small town with pretty architecture; Gruyeres; La Neuveville; Romont; and Murten.
Bürgenstock Stay: Hotel Schewizerhof
One of just two five-star properties in Bern, the Hotel Schewizerhof was fully restored in 2011 and offers 99 rooms on six floors. The historic exterior is complemented by updated modern interiors and rooms that are quite spacious for a city hotel. I was particularly taken by the one-bedroom suites, with a kitchenette, small living area and dining table – these can be converted to completely private two- and three-bedroom suites upon request.
Don’t miss the great energy and traditional cuisine of Jack’s Brasserie, which also offers a well-curated wine list. Additional hotel amenities include a 24/7 fitness center, a full spa and a half-size swimming pool.
Who Would Love Bern: Couples, families with older or younger children, adult groups traveling together
Imagine the quintessential Swiss city – where history, culture, music and cuisine is set off by dramatic natural beauty. That’s Lucerne. The alpine vistas are as stunning as the cobalt, namesake lak. Explore the medieval Altstadt (Old Town), where the 14th-century Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrück) spans the Reuss River. The center of town is completely car-free, making it easy to stroll unhindered as you explore the many shops and cafes, and admire the public artwork and murals that tell the story of Lucerne.
Church of St. Leodegar
We visited the Church of St. Leodegar, the first Baroque church in Switzerland (the church was founded in the mid-8th century by the monastery that later founded the city). The German Renaissance building you see now was built on the site of the former Gothic church that was mostly destroyed by fire in 1633 – the towers, St. Mary’s altar and a small collection of religious objects survived the blaze.
What a treat to have lunch in a Swiss restaurant that is more than 500 years old! Situated in the Hotel Wilden Mann, this lively eatery serves home-style favorites in a low-key setting. You can almost see the Lucerne residents of yesteryear raising a glass to one another within the main parlor area, which has been refurbished in neo-Gothic style.
Like Bern, Lucerne serves as an excellent hub for travel in the center of Switzerland. While you’re here, I recommend a ride up to the Rigi or Mt. Pilatus to appreciate the mountain, hillside and lake views. From Lucerne, too, you can easily reach Lake Uri, Rütli Meadow (where Switzerland was founded in 1291), Weggis (on the southern “Riviera” flank of the Rigi), and lakeside Brunne and Flüelen.
Bürgenstock Stay: Bürgenstock Resort
The crown jewel of the Bürgenstock collection, the year-round Bürgenstock Resort community feels quite literally like it rests above the clouds. Spanning more than 60 acres high above Lake Lucerne, the 150-year-old resort underwent a ten-year renovation, reopening in 2017. I’m partial to the Bürgenstock Hotel, offering 102 rooms (each with a lake view and fireplace) and access to seven restaurants, three bars, an ice rink and Christmas trees in the winter, and a kids club. One absolutely cannot miss the 10,000-square-meter Alpine Spa with its five pools (including a gorgeous infinity pool), saunas, relaxation room and so much more.
Just removed enough from the city to feel worlds away, the Bürgenstock Hotel is quite accessible from Zurich. I can arrange ground transportation from the train station to the hotel, though once you’re settled, definitely take time to ride the funicular from the resort area to the ferry to the city center for Lucerne sightseeing (such an iconic Swiss experience).
Who Would Love Lucerne: Couples, families with older or younger children, adult groups traveling together
Whether you’re drawn to Switzerland for the exhilarating outdoor pursuits in sublime alpine settings, or for the urban culture, my time there reminded me that this beloved country has something for everyone. From city stays to resplendent, lake-view resorts, there is a place to stay and a style of travel for all personalities.
Ready to experience Switzerland? Let’s chat!