Why Lucerne is the Best Place To Start Your Switzerland Experience

map of Switzerland and tours by Echo Trails

Many people ask me to plan a Swiss trip for them.
When I ask what they want to experience, I hear things like panoramic Swiss Alps, green pastures, cows, cheese, trains, chocolate etc. These are all things you can see and experience in and around Lucerne.  And if they are limited in time, I recommend visiting Lucerne because the Lake Lucerne region offers the best use of their time to maximize their Swiss trip experience. Here are some of the main reasons why visiting Lucerne as your  first Swissplaace  offers visitors a great Swiss experience.

.. Easy to get to – An hour by train from the Zurich airport.

…Small enough – enjoy walking around  in a medieval town on your own.

…Super scenic & easy access  – with the lake across the street from the train station and great visibility to two 6,ooo ft Mt. Rigi & 7,000 Mt. Pilatus peaks with amazing views of the hundreds of Central Swiss Alps peaks.

..Easy to get around – train, boat, tram and bus transportation all available from the central train station area.

Lucerne is where our  Swiss office is based and why we offer over 10-different Guided Lucerne Day walking & hiking tours. Echo Trails starts its 12-Day and 8 Day Swiss Alps Rail Tours in Lucerne. The area provides the best introduction to Switzerland’s ecology, culture and  heritage. This is also why we named our company Ecology, Culture, Heritage, Outdoors, ECHO.

Lucerne’s Mt. Rigi is preferred by Swiss-Germans as one of the most favorite places to hike

View from Mt Rigi in Lucerne

I’m often asked what’s the best hike to do from Lucerne.
I recommend Mt. Rigi is because there are so many ways depending on your fitness and activity level to experience this mountain.

Back in the 1880’s when Mark Twain visited the Lake Lucerne area and was carried to the top of Mt. Rigi in a wooden chair sedan he writes in his book “A Tramp Abroad”…
……“I believe that this place [Weggis-at the base of Mt. Rigi on Lake Lucerne0] is the loveliest in the world, and the most satisfactory. The scenery is beyond comparison beautiful…”
Now 140 years later, you still get this incredible 180 degree view of hundreds of peaking Central Swiss Alps.

Mt. Rigi is very accessible from Lucerne via train or boat and once you reach the base, you have lots of choices on trails and scenery. If you have the time and are adventurous, there is a two hour summit easy to hike trail that connects Rigi-Kaltbad with Rigi-Scheidegg where you constantly have the Swiss Alps visible all the while you are hiking.

Once you reach either side, you can choose to take public transportation via a cable car or cogwheel train back down to the base and connect easily with public transportation back to Lucerne.

Depending on your time, we offer some half-day Guided tours along Lake Lucerne…


While ascending Mt. Rigi is relatively easy, the advantage of having one of our local guides with you, you hear how the place started world-wide tourism with the legendary British tour operator, Thomas Cook, back in the 1860’s with the first group ever to travel out of the country.

In the distance, on a green meadow, you will learn how Switzerland got founded in 1291 and why Lucerne became the administrative center for the Habsburg’s who ruled Europe for centuries. And of course, if you want to know some of the names of the Central Swiss Alps peaks, you will learn them too.

For a first day in Lucerne “get orientated” tour, our Mt. Rigi guided day tour with multiple uses of public trains and boats provides not only a great introduction to Switzerland but that Swiss Alps experience you envision.

Lucerne’s Mt. Rigi’s, Cheese-Dairy “Chaserernholz” farm overnight offers “a-one-of a kind” Swiss Alps Hut experience

View from top of Switzerland's Mt Rigi

When you are on top of Mt. Rigi, there’s big visual sign where you can read about Mt. Rigi’s history that includes what Mark Twain did & said and a column about a 7th generation cheese-dairy farmer named Franz Tony Kennel.

What many people do not realize is the same family still works the farm (7th generation) on a 15 to 20 minute hike below the top of Mt. Rigi.

For those who have the time, just think what a wonderful experience Mt Rigi would be if you could actually overnight at 5,000 ft and see the sunset & sunrise and do it authentically on a working “Cheese-Dairy Farm.” After a day hiking with your guide on Mt. Rigi, you’ll enjoy the beautiful sunsets and see the amazing stars in the clear skies above. The sounds of the dairy cows are comforting – their voices & bells pasturing nearby and, in the barn, providing soothing sounds as you “soak in” the incredible Central Swiss Alps ambiance.

When you visit this place, you will just see local Swiss who visit since it’s a bit of a local secret this place exists. To make such a “Cheese-Dairy farm” experience possible for our English speaking visitors, we’ve designed a guided Day hike with an overnight stay.

Also here you can meet & hear the “Cheese-Dairy” farmer, Franz Toni Kennel in person.

This summer we met and transferred hundreds of our clients at the Zurich airport. This feature provides great stress relief, makes the “getting through the airport and onto the train” easy and provides helpful backup should the bags not arrive with your flight.


With our Rail tours, we meet and transfer our clients to their first hotel. https://echo-trails.com/12-day-swiss-alps-grand-rail-tour/ and Adventure Hike Though the Swiss Alps, https://echo-trails.com/adventure-hike-of-the-jungfrau-region/ tours, . As people walk through the custom areas, they scan the waiting large crowd to look for their ECHO Rails & Trails Guide wearing the red polo shirt and red ball cap. How happy everyone is to meet another and we experience their smiling faces when they connect with us. Bags are put on the handy airport pushcarts and questions are asked as; “What else do you need at the airport before we board our train” and away we go.

Every once in a while, I come across people who just walked through the customs area and they are looking for someone to meet them. When they don’t see the person they are looking for, there is this sad look of angst on their face. I sense their anxiety and have approached them with the comment; “ Your person will find you”. Once I’ve said this, their anxiety level decreased enough to get a smile on their face.
With us this stress never happens as we always have Happy Faces like this Florida couple.




Zurich airport public transportation is the most efficient way to transfer to your first hotel.
All the trains are located underneath the Zurich airport complex and once you have your ticket, know what train to take and on what platform to stand, you are are all set to go. . With our Rail https://echo-trails.com/12-day-swiss-alps-grand-rail-tour/ & Adventure Hikes Through the Swiss Alps,https://echo-trails.com/adventure-hike-of-the-jungfrau-region/
our Guide has your Swiss Travel Pass or your Half-Fare card & ticket and whisks you through the Zurich airport and onto the right platform to catch the right train to your first hotel.


With many transatlantic flights & european flights arriving at the same time, tere’s the normal heavy traffic and rush to get to the respective train platform. For the Swiss residents, this is a relatively smooth process but for someone arriving at the Zurich airport for the first time, it can be a highly stressful & frustrating experience,especially if you have to purchase your train ticket and then locate your train and train platform. By signing up for the pre-Trip Rail package https://echo-trails.com/rail-tour-extras/and or Adventure Hike through the Swiss Alps, https://echo-trails.com/adventure-hike-of-the-jungfrau-region/all this stress is eliminated and the Zurich airport experience a very easy & simple process.

With this summer’s airport staff shortages, we had a number of clients whose bags did not arrive with their flight.
We’ve probably all experienced bags not arriving and know the kind of frustration it brings. Of course our Guides waiting outside customs are wondering what’s going on. Finally when our clients come through costumes they show us their lost baggage claim receipt. Oftentimes, airport counter staff don’t always tell people what they need to do or how to follow up. So our Guide can make the various follow up calls, provide the correct hotel name and address to send the bags and assist our clients when following up. Within a few days the lost bags arrive at the right places and everyone is happy.


Retired Railroad Conductor Review of Echo Rails & Trails Grand Rail Tour

After working on a mountain railroad for some 21 years, I thought I knew about trains. The trains on this trip were such an unexpected treat. In over 15 days we rode 54 trains! Electric, luxury, steam, cable cars, funiculars, cog wheels both vertical and horizontal, almost every train on time! All of this with the grandeur and beauty of the Swiss country side all around us. Rene and Suzanne have crafted an exceptional tour through the Swiss Alps. With our “Swiss Pass” we rode trains, buses, and boats, First Class all the way. Our accommodations were exceptional also as we stayed in beautiful hotels often with exceptional views of mountains and the surrounding country side – our meals were delicious and carefully prepared and selected. We (Rebecca and Richard) highly recommend this trip!

Date of experience: September 2021

“We can definitely recommend the ECHO Rails & Trails Swiss Alps program.”

The things we liked best dealt with the small group and flexibility. Based on the daily schedule and weather, due to our small group the guides are able to come up with alternate things to do and see so we maximized our time to see the most important things on the trip. The hotels, meals, especially the ability to choose å la carte at some of the dinners all very excellent.

Our wish was to experience trains and we definitely did. We enjoyed the timeliness, cleanliness and of course the wonderful Swiss scenery all the time. With this trip we finally experienced the Alpine part of Switzerland and were very surprised and impressed to learn of the different Swiss dialects and diverse landscape.

René as guide was very good as he explained many of the cultural differences of the Swiss places we visited. Also he shared how the Swiss government is set up and runs, all very interesting for us. All in all our experiences with this Swiss Alps Rail program we rate as excellent value for our money and can recommend wholeheartedly.

M & D, San Antonio, TX – July 2019