If you are travelling through Switzerland and looking for a fun excursion, I recommend to plan for a stop-over in Brunnen, a small town on the shores of Lake Lucerne. The town itself is quite busy in summer and very quiet in Winter. You can either arrive by train or by car. In case you go by car, there are plenty of public parkings around town. Don’t forget to take some change to pay for the parking ticket!
Close to the lake promenade you will find the Victorinox visitor center, which is open all seasons. Victorinox is known for being the inventor and producer of the swiss army knife, a versatile tool that not only made it into shops around the world, it even made it into the pockets of astronauts on a space mission. Ever since I was little I owned at least one red Victorinox pocket knife. Nowadays, the company extended their product offering, which now includes outdoor clothes, luggage and fragrances. In Switzerland the luggage is very popular, too. The clothes and fragrances not so much.
The Victorinox visitor center comprises three parts: the Victorinox museum, the shop and the Swiss Knife Valley visitor center. My absolute highlight is the knife workshop, located in the museum, where you can build your own Victorinox pocket knife. An assistant guides you step-by-step through the assembly process and once you are finished you can even have your personal engraving on it. This is a really cool souvenir. The assembly process takes about 20 minutes and costs 30 CHF, including the knife. Make sure you reserve in advance. It is really popular and they only have two work benches down in the museum. To visit everything and to build your own knife it will probably take an hour. The admission to the museum and the visitor center is free of charge.
After you had your Victorinox experience you should take a boat trip. The pier is just a few meters away. This part of the lake is called Urner See. With its high and almost vertical cliffs this is the most spectacular part of Lake Lucerne. On the boat they serve drinks, lunch or coffee and cake. You can either stay on the boat and go on a round trip, or you can get off at “Rütli Wiese”, which is two stops from Brunnen. The Rütli meadow is the birthplace of the Swiss Confederacy. Here, representatives of the three founding cantons – Unterwalden, Uri and Schwyz – took the oath. It is said that this was in 1291, but modern history offers different dates. However, 1291 is the date Swiss kids learn at school and so August 1, 1291 it is.
From the pier to the Rütli meadow it is a 15 to 20 minutes walk – up hill. The path is good, the infrastructure, too, but if your are not in reasonable shape, take your time. Up on the Rütli meadow you will be rewarded with a restaurant where you can sit outside. The boat schedule is quite frequent, especially in summer. There should be boats that take you back to Brunnen every hour. A round trip from Brunnen takes about two hours, depending on the schedule, which changes from winter to summer.
Victorinox Visitor Center: http://www.swissknifevalley.ch
Boat Schedule Lake Lucerne: http://www.lakelucerne.ch/en/timetable-fares/timetable/