Lucerne is only 45 minutes (with the railway) from Zurich. There is the beautiful Lake Lucerne, which has mountains around it and a famous old town. It is not so overcrowded as Zurich and much more relaxed. You can swim in the lake either in the lido (for a fee) or the equally beautiful "Ufschütti" (for free). The "Ufschütti" is near the railway station (ask for the way, many people in Lucerne speak English). You can also make boat trips on the lake, climb one of the many mountains around the lake or visit the old town.
After a bracking walk along Lake Zurich in winter this is one of the best places to find a warm drink or even a glass of champagne and while away some time. Set in the heart of the old town this Cafe-Conditorei serves an excellent selection teas and coffees, the hot chocolate with cream on top is particularly good. Set on three different levels, each with a distinct feel, with the cafe at the front with an amazing selection of sweet treats on offer and a smart bar at the rear. My favorite place to find a seat is the luxuriously appointed middle level. Gold-gilted chairs with soft velvety cusions, low-beamed ceiling and plush carpet all add to the cosy atmosphere. If you are lucky someone will be playing the piano to help you while away your time.
In the heart of the old town a popular local haunt, small enough to be intimate and decorated in the local wooden style. Almost everything comes with rosti, the ubiquitous Swiss 'hash brown' (grated, pan-fried potato) such as steak, sausage, kidney and liver, plus there's a viable selection of vegetarian courses, a pasta (described as dumplings) with Swiss cheese and mixed vegetables was delicious. Wines are by the glass and carafe and feature Swiss reds.
Marktgasse 19, 8001 Zürich,
+41 (0)44 251 29 91
Google map: bit.ly/9gNw6o
The best way to spend a hot day in Zurich is lake or river swimming. The state website lists the daily water temperatures and facilities available at each Seebad or Flussbad, and by night many turn into relaxed bars.
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