For its size, Switzerland has a significant amount of UNESCO world heritage sites. A few of them, such as the Jungfrau-Aletsch and Entlebuch Biosphere are outdoor nature parks however if you are thinking about having a day out then it might be worth checking out one of these places.
Abbey of St Gallen
The Abbey of St. Gallen is an example of a great Carolingian monastery its was from the 8th century to 1805 one of the most important in Europe. The library within the abbey contains one of the earliest known architectural plans and is worth the visit alone just to wander through the room. You might be more familiar with the library than the abbey itself as it is on many of the world’s most beautiful library lists.
The Castles, Wall and Ramparts in Bellinzona© Bellinzona Tourism
Only 2.5 hours away from Luzern, the defensive system in Bellinzona was one of the most strategically placed in the alps. The Bellinzona site consists of a group of fortifications grouped around the castle of Castelgrande, which stands on a rocky peak looking out over the entire Ticino valley. Running from the castle, a series of fortified walls protect the ancient town and block the passage through the valley. The second castle, Montebello, forms an integral part of the fortifications, while a third castle, Sasso Corbaro, was built on an isolated rocky area, south-east of the other fortifications. The control of access to the pass effectively controlled traffic into the North of Italy or access to the Danube and beyond.
Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair© Stiftung Pro Kloster St.Johann in Musair
The Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair is situated in the Grison valley. It houses Switzerland’s greatest series of murals, painted circa A.D. 800. It’s believed to have been founded in 775 AD on the orders of Charlemagne. Since then it has been under the rule of the Benedictines and was also a women’s abbey for a period of time. Today, the convent ensemble comprises of the Carolingian conventual church; the Saint Cross Church; the residential tower of the Abbess von Planta, and the ancient residence of the bishop.
Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes© Rhätische Bahn AG
The Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina Landscapes brings together two historic railway lines that cross the Swiss Alps through two passes. Opened in 1904, the Albula line in the north western part of the site is 67 km long. It features an impressive set of structures including 42 tunnels and covered galleries and 144 viaducts and bridges. The 61 km Bernina pass line features 13 tunnels and galleries and 52 viaducts and bridges. That’s plenty for you to see out the window of your train. Now this is isn’t a day trip from Lucerne, but we couldn’t not mention this gem! To really make the most of this area, take the Bernina Express all along the south of Switzerland and discover the real magic!
The Old City of Bern© Bern Tourism
Only an hour from Luzern by train the old town of Bern became a UNESCO heritage site in 1983. The buildings in the centre date from the 15th – 18th century, but the city was originally founded in the 12th century. In the 18th century the majority of the medieval buildings in the old town were restored and still hold their true character and beauty to this day. No trip to Bern is complete without a visit to the bears so make sure you stop by!
The Vinyard Terraces of Lavaux© Regis Colombo diapo
There are several walks along the Lavaux Vinyard Terraces, that stretch for 30km along the North shores of Lake Geneva. There is evidence that the vines were cultivated as far back as Roman times however the current terraces are from the 11th century – still very impressive! After a strenuous say walking the shores, you can sit back and relax with some local wine.© P. Pétrequin, Centre de la Recherches Archeologique de la Vallée de l’Ain
Prehistoric Pile Dwellings
If you’re looking for something older than the pile dwellings are a must visit for you. These stilt houses were built between 5000 to 500 B.C on the edges of lakes and rivers. There are 56 sites across Switzerland, although most are underwater. There have been many excavations on these sites with artefacts being discovered and offering us all a glimpse at life during the Bronze and Neolithic Ages. If your curiosity has been tweaked, then there is a pile dwelling museum just over the border in Unteruhldingen near Konstanz around a 2 hour drive from Luzern.