After the work day is done: Lucerne

Lakeside Lucerne is well-loved for its dramatic mountainous landscape and intriguing medieval sites. With so much to see, your business trip may not be long enough.

Nestled between snow-draped mountains and the topaz blue of Lake Lucerne, this city is at once an outdoor retreat and a thoroughly contemporary metropolis. Just 30 minutes from the financial center of Zurich, Lucerne is a dream location for business trips, but this Alpine gem really shines once the work day is done. Make the most of your visit with these out-of-hours Lucerne highlights.

The great outdoors

Known as Vierwaldstättersee in Swiss German, visitors to Lucerne are never far from its pristine lake. Drink in the view on a traditional steamboat cruise, or for a rarer sight, sail on a mild summer evening to see the city's twinkling lights at sundown.

If you feel like getting active, ascend Mount Pilatus on the world's steepest cogwheel railway, or take in panoramic views of Mount Titlis on a revolving cable-car gondola. Titlis is a popular snowsport destination thanks to 80km of pistes. Even if you're not skiing, remember to dress warmly; the 10,000ft summit is always blanketed in snow and ice. Another monument to Lucerne's natural history is Glacier Garden park and museum. You'll find glacial potholes created 20,000 years ago alongside fossilized sea creatures and plants: remnants of the subtropical beach that existed there 20 million years ago.

Lucerne, the Chapel Bridge in early morning

Paint the town

Our Radisson Blu Hotel, Lucerne is just a 15-minute walk from the old town, or Allstadt. Much of the medieval heart of the city is pedestrianized, maintaining the cobbled trading squares' quaint charm. Discover houses decorated with 19th and 20th-century facades as you wander the streets. You can even explore by bicycle, rented from the central railway station, and ride over Chapel Bridge, which crosses the river Reuss. Built in the early 14th century, Chapel Bridge is believed to be the oldest covered wooden footbridge in Europe, its underside decorated with 17th-century paintings depicting city life. Much of the ancient bridge was destroyed by fire in 1993, and what stands now is a faithful reconstruction.

A clash of cultures

Known locally as the KKL, the Culture and Convention Center is Lucerne's live entertainment hub. It regularly hosts classical concerts and jazz, as well as public seminars; if you're visiting in July, don't miss the Blue Balls festival, featuring popular artists Aloe Blacc, James Bay and Rodrigo Y Gabriela. The center also has excellent conference facilities and gourmet dining at Restaurant RED.

For a slice of history, pay your respects at the Löwendenkmal, or Lion of Lucerne, which commemorates the Swiss Guards who died during the French Revolution. Hewn into the cliff, the pained expression of the dying lion led American writer Mark Twain to describe the sculpture as "the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world". Or if you find yourself at a loose end after a breakfast meeting, visit The Swiss Museum of Transport, which houses a vast collection of trains, airplanes and automobiles. There's a model railroad and a miniature steam train, as well as a planetarium, for an immersive look at the wonders of our universe.

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