Where other countries have states, provinces, or counties, Switzerland has cantons. The central Canton of Lucerne is especially well-known for its sweeping mountain vistas and laid-back life on the lakeside.
The regional capital Lucerne is chock full of medieval landmarks and points of interest, like the half-timbered buildings of the Old Town and the 14th century wooden Chapel Bridge. The main draw for tourists, however, is the role it serves as a gateway to the Canton of Lucerne. Famous mountains like Rigi, Pilatus and Jungfrau are among the area’s most iconic sights, while Lake Lucerne forms the perfect backdrop to all manner of merriment aboard traditional paddle wheel steamers.
Lucerne city is about an hour drive west of Zurich. Trains leave from both Zurich Airport and the city centre to reach Lucerne within the hour. There are also hourly trains to Bern and Interlaken, but no intercity buses in Switzerland.
This area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Evidence of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic settlements abound and the Prehistoric Pile dwellings in the mountains are a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lucerne city was developed in the 8th century as a village growing around a Benedictine monastery and later fell under Habsburg rule.