ETR // Stage 40 // Lausanne - Andermatt

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  • Lausanne - Andermatt
  • Radius 100 km
  • 300 km


  • Lausanne
  • Montreaux
  • Interlaken
  • Lucerne
  • Church of St. Leodegar
  • Schweizerhof Hotel
  • Grand Hotel National
  • Château Gütsch
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS

Swiss Francs, fondue and funny money

Before leaving Lausanne you might want to top up on your Swiss cash deposits, to lighten the load this ever-discrete and financially-burdened country has to bear. Grab a handfull of brightly coloured notes from the closest cash machine, so you have some hard currency to buy petrol with, if the Alpine petrol stations refuse to recognise your otherwise-internationally-recognised Mastercard, American Express or VISA cards. You might have to produce old-fangled paper money to keep your petrol tank from running dry on the side of an Alp somewhere.

Once you have your supplies of food, water, recharged batteries, petrol and cash, you're ready to hit the road for a great day of riding through this Alpine wonderland. You'll meet a lot of other riders out here, so you'll have a fairly tired left arm by nightfall.

Take a detour to Lucerne

Passing through some spectacular towns like Montreaux, Spiez, Interlaken, you could also choose an alternative route from Lausanne and head north at Lungern to take an overnight in Lucerne, and rejoin the main route again at Lungern before continuing east.

© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS

Landing at Lac Lucerne for a while

Lucerne is yet another beautiful city situated on a lake shore, and it seems like Switzerland is just full of them. The most populous city in Central Switzerland, Lucerne is a hotbed of tourism, transportation, culture, economics and media in the region. But it hasn't always been this way...

After the fall of the Roman Empire beginning in the 6th century, Germanic Alemannic peoples increased their influence on this area of present-day Switzerland, and around 750, the Benedictine Monastery of St. Leodegar was founded, and the area became known as Luciaria. The origin of the name is uncertain, possibly derived from the Latin name of the pike, lucius. The name Lucerne was associated by popular etymology with Latin lucerna "lantern" from an early time.

The Twin Towers on the skyline

The twin needle towers of the Church of St. Leodegar, which was named after the city's patron saint, sit on a small hill just above the lake front. Originally built in 735, the present structure was erected in 1633 in the late Renaissance style. However, the towers are surviving remnants of an earlier structure. Bertel Thorvaldsen's carving of a dying lion (the Lion Monument, or Löwendenkmal) is found in a small park just off the Löwenplatz. The carving commemorates the hundreds of Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when an armed mob stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS

Many layers of Baroque, Gothic and contemporary architecture

The many different types of buildings you will find in Lucerne stand as a testament to it's forced evolution through time, such as Schweizerhof Hotel (1845), Grand Hotel National (1870), and Château Gütsch (1879). In 1178 Lucerne acquired its independence from the jurisdiction of Murbach Abbey, and the city gained importance as a strategically located gateway for the growing commerce from the Gotthard trade route. By 1290, Lucerne had become a self-sufficient city of reasonable size with about 3000 inhabitants. About this time King Rudolph I von Habsburg gained authority over the Monastery of St. Leodegar and its lands, including Lucerne.

Along with Lucerne, the three other forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden formed the "eternal" Swiss Confederacy, known as the Eidgenossenschaft, on November 7, 1332. Later, the cities of Zürich, Zug and Bern joined the alliance. With the help of these additions, the rule of Austria over the area came to an end. The issue was settled by Lucerne's victory over the Habsburgs in the Battle of Sempach in 1386. For Lucerne this victory ignited an era of expansion. The city shortly granted many rights to itself, rights which had been withheld by the Habsburgs until then. By this time the borders of Lucerne were approximately those of today.

© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS

A host of distinguished guests, including yourself

It was during the latter part of the 19th century that Lucerne became a popular destination for artists, royalty and others to escape to. The German composer Richard Wagner established a residence at Tribschen in 1866 from which he lived and worked. The city was then boosted by a visit by Queen Victoria to the city in 1868, during which she went sightseeing at the Kapellbrücke and Lion Monument and relished speaking with local people in her native German. The American writer Mark Twain further popularised the city and its environs in his travel writings after visiting twice, in 1878 and 1897. In 1892 Swiss poet and future Nobel Prize laureate Carl Spitteler also established himself in Lucerne, living there until his death in 1924. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited Lucerne also. And now you have, also.

Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre (KKL)

If you have ridden through Copenhagen, you will probably have seen the Copenhagen Opera, the Evil Twin and carbon copy of Architect Jean Nouvel's original KKL building in Lucerne. Since plans for the new culture and convention centre arose in the late 1980's, Lucerne has found a balance between the so-called established culture and alternative culture. A consensus was reached that culminated in a culture compromise (Kulturkompromiss). The established culture comprises the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre (KKL), the city theater (Luzerner Theater) and, in a broader sense, smaller establishments such as the Kleintheater, founded by comedian Emil Steinberger, a Lucerne native, or Stadtkeller, a music restaurant in the city's old town. KKL houses a concert hall as well as the Museum of Art Lucerne (Kunstmuseum Luzern).

Südpol and the classical concerts you can find here

Südpol is a center for performing arts in Lucerne presenting music, dance and theatre-events. Lucerne is home to the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester and to the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra, and they both hold most of their performances in the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre. Lucerne is also home to Keramikkonzerte, a series of classical chamber music concerts held throughout each year, as well as Zaubersee, a festival dedicated to Russian classical music.

© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS

Lucerne city, lake and mountains view from the tower

Old Town Lucerne is mainly located just north of the Reuss, and still has several fine half-timber structures with painted fronts. Remnants of the old town walls exist on the hill above Lucerne, complete with eight tall watch towers. An additional gated tower sits at the base of the hill on the banks of the Reuss.

The bridges of Lucerne include the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), a 204m long wooden covered bridge originally built in 1333, the oldest covered bridge in Europe. Much of it had to be replaced after a fire on 18 August 1993, allegedly caused by a discarded cigarette. The bridge runs by the octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturm), a fortification from the 13th century. Inside the bridge are a series of paintings from the 17th century depicting events from Lucerne's history. Downriver, between the Kasernenplatz and the Mühlenplatz, the Spreuer Bridge (Spreuerbrücke or Mühlenbrücke, Mill Bridge) zigzags across the Reuss. Constructed in 1408, it features a series of medieval-style 17th century plague paintings by Kaspar Meglinger entitled Dance of Death (Totentanzzyklus). The bridge has a small chapel in the middle that was added in 1568.

Museums for everything imaginable

The Swiss Museum of Transport is a large and comprehensive museum exhibiting all forms of transport, including locomotives, automobiles, ships, and aircraft. It is to be found beside the lake in the northern-eastern section of the city. The Richard Wagner Museum is found on the lake at Tribschen and is dedicated to the composer Richard Wagner, who lived in Lucerne from 1866 to 1872 and his former villa now hosts the museum dedicated to him.

Leaving Lucerne, it's time for something really spectacular! The Matterhorn, Gotthard Pass and the Alpine road into Andermatt!

© ETR // European Touring Route AS


  • Dave O'Byrne

  • European Touring Route AS



  • Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre
  • Kunstmuseum Luzern
  • Kapellbrücke
  • Spreuerbrücke
  • Wasserturm
  • Stadtkeller
  • Keramikkonzerte
  • Zaubersee Festival
  • Richard Wagner Museum
  • Swiss Museum of Transport
  • The Matterhorn
  • Andermatt
  • Gotthard Pass
  • The Glacier Express
  • Schöllenen Gorge
  • Teufelsbrücke
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS

Racing the Glacier Express down an Alp

Depending on what time you pass The Matterhorn on your way into Andermatt, you may find yourself, like I have, racing The Glacier Express down the side of an Alp into Andermatt. You won't believe it's possible, but it is! That experience is right up there with giant Sea Eagles flying alongside you along remote stretches of coastal roads in Arctic Norway, for example.

The operators of the three railway companies Visp-Zermatt-Bahn (VZ), Rhaetian Railway (RhB) and Furka Oberalp Bahn (FOB) capitalised successfully on the tourism potential of the continuous Valais–Graubünden line opened in 1926. On 25 June 1930, after the Visp–Brig rail line was opened, the Glacier Express travelled from Zermatt to St. Moritz for the first time. The Visp-Zermatt-Bahn (VZ) and Rhaetian Railway (RhB) were equipped with the most modern electric locomotives of the time – known as “crocodiles”.

During the chaos of World War II, the express service was halted from 1943 onward, and then restarted in 1948. The Glacier Express also benefited from the technological advances made in the 1950s and 1960s. After construction began on the Furka Base Tunnel between Oberalp and Realp in 1973, travel through the tunnel was finally possible on 26 June 1982. The Glacier Express transformed itself into a distinctive first-class Swiss tourism product in the 1980's and 1990's. On 1 January 2003, the Furka Oberalp Bahn (FOB) merged with the Brig-Visp-Zermatt-Bahn (BVZ) to become what is known as the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGBahn) today.

If you feel like a break from riding, leave your motorcycle in Andermatt and take a day trip on The Glacier Express in one of their climate-controlled panoramic cars, for a different experience of the Swiss Alps!

© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS
© ETR // European Touring Route AS

The Gotthard Pass and The Devil's Bridge

Buried in the heart of the Swiss Alps, the winding mountain road through Gotthard Pass into Andermatt is as breathtaking as the Alps themselves. The narrow rock bar above Göschenen had always blocked access to the Gotthard and the route to the South, proving to be extremely difficult to build a bridge there. So how was it possible to overcome the thundering Schöllenen Gorge back then, and why did the devil have a hand in it? The legend, which tells of the futile efforts of the people of Uri to build a mule track through the narrow Schöllenen Gorge and a stone bridge at the point where the young Reuss river pushes through vertical rock walls, shows how difficult the situation was. In his despair, one man shouted: "Shall the Devil build a bridge?". Then the Devil appeared and said, "I will build a bridge for you. But the first soul to go over it shall be mine!". Whatever that means...

The Suworow monument commemorates the fighting that took place in the Schöllenen Gorge on 25 September 1799. Russian troops under General Alexander Vasiljevic Suworow fought against Napoleons soldiers and finally defeated the French. You might find yourself doubling back to ride Gotthard Pass a couple of times before you continue. This is quite normal. There's nothing wrong with you. In fact, ride it a few more times while you're in the area. No-one will know! But we'll know ;)

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