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Central Switzerland – Tradition and Calm at Lake Lucerne

Traditional conventions and modernity meet in Central Switzerland. On the one hand, you can relax in the scenic landscape around Lake Lucerne and in the mountains. On the other, you experience Swiss culture at first hand in towns like Lucerne.

Mount Pilatus, Lake Lucerne, Central Switzerland

Geography - From the Swiss Plateau to the Alps

Central Switzerland is one of the seven greater regions of Switzerland. It is partly located in the Alps as well as on the Swiss Plateau and has an area of 4,485 km². Central Switzerland comprises the six cantons Lucerne, Uri, Zug, Schwyz, Obwalden and Nidwalden, of which Lucerne is the urban centre. Switzerland's geographical centre is the Älggi-Alp in the canton Obwalden. About 771,296 people live in Central Switzerland. The climate in this region is subject to variation but it is mostly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and continental drifts. Although there is precipitation throughout the year, the main rainy season is the month of July.

The flags of the cantons of Lucerne, Uri, Zug, Switzerland, Schwyz, Nidwalden

Nature - Lake Lucerne enclosed by mountains and valleys

The best-known and most famous nature reserve in Central Switzerland is probably Lake Lucerne in the Lucerne Prealps. This lake scenery is surrounded by the Rigi massif in the north, Mount Pilatus in the west and Mount Titlis (3,238 m) in the south. In the east of the lake you see the Muota Valley, which is the longest cave system in the whole of Europe and calls the Hölloch its own. The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Entlebuch near Lucerne displays great natural beauty.

Mount Pilatus at Lake Lucerne in Central Switzerland

Culture - Traditional conventions and modernity

Central Switzerland does not only distance itself from the other six greater regions geographically but also with regard to politics and religion. It is the cradle of the Swiss Confederation and especially the four original cantons (German: Urkantone) Schwyz, Uri, Obwalden and Nidwalden are still Catholic. The mentality of Central Switzerland's population was shaped by the historical events occurring between the 17th and 19th century. While the rest of the country voted for the foundation of a federal state, the inhabitants of Central Switzerland refused and demanded a loose confederation with a strong position of the Catholic Church. The cantons Zug and Lucerne, however, are more closely connected with the Swiss Plateau regarding their mentality and do not adhere to traditional conventions as much. The legend of Wilhelm Tell originated in Central Switzerland, more precisely in the Canton of Uri. Historical sites mentioned in this legend such as the Hohle Gasse (a road), in which Tell is said to have murdered the Habsburg despot Gessler, as well as the ruins of Gessler's Castle are located in Küssnacht at the Rigi. Art lovers are in the right place in Lucerne because they can see works of Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and twenty other painters of the 19th and 20th century in the Rosengart Collection. A must for every visitor is the famous Water Tower, Lucerne's landmark at the Kapellbrücke. Central Switzerland is part of German-speaking Switzerland and the dialects spoken in the original cantons are the most native ones in Switzerland. Exceptions are the dialects of the cantons of Zug and Lucerne, which differ considerably from those of the original cantons, as they are influenced by the language on the Swiss Plateau and use less archaic sounds and words.

Lucerne's landmark - Kapellbrücke

Experience - Swiss culture at close range

As is typical of Switzerland, you can buy the world-famous Swiss brands of watches and jewellery in many places. Lucerne's old town is traffic-free and therefore greatly suited for relaxed walks or shopping strolls. Especially worth visiting are the food, plant and art handicraft markets, which take place several times per week. Gourmets also get their money's worth in Lucerne. You should definitely try local specialities like the Birnweggen ("pear bread") or Lucerne gingerbread.

Lucerne's old part of town

Activities - Varied leisure activities on the water, on shore and in the air

There is a wide range of recreational activities, breathtaking landscapes, historical sites as well as leisure and sporting activities in Central Switzerland. The great lake has an excellent water quality and is excellently suited for going rowing, canoeing, water skiing, sailing, surfing and swimming. In the mountains you can go hiking. There is a great number of alpine schools which offer mountaineering courses for both beginners and advanced students and have specialised in the popular sports of hang gliding. In addition, travellers should not miss out on a boat trip on Lake Lucerne. It is a great way of relaxing and enjoying the breathtaking nature along the Lucerne Riviera.

Hang gliding over the Swiss Alps

Information

The best travel time for getting to known country and people, art and cuisine are the months from May to June as well as from September to October. There is no airport in Central Switzerland. The nearest one is located in Zurich (ZRH). You can also travel around by car in Switzerland.

Holidays in Central Switzerland provide insights into the mentality of the traditional part of Switzerland, complemented by a touch of modernity in the cantons Lucerne and Zug on the Swiss Plateau. Travellers can relax or be active in this region while they enjoy an impressive backdrop.

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