Northern & eastern shores (driving tour), Lake Lucerne
Leave Lucerne (altitude 438 m/1,437ft) on the Haldenstrasse, going past the Kursaal (on right) and the beautiful lakeside gardens and continuing close to the shore of Lake Lucerne. In 2km/1mi a side road goes off on the right (0.5km/0.25mi) to the public beach (park, camp site, restaurant) and the Swiss Transport Museum. The main road passes the Liliputbahn (a miniature steam railroad). Beyond this a road comes in on the right from the beach. Then the hotels on the Bürgenstock and later the Rigi come into view. The first place to be reached is Seeburg (440 m/1,444ft; beach), an outlying suburb of Lucerne. Beyond this, the road winds its way up to cross the Megger Berg (496 m/1,627ft), with fruit orchards and many houses, past the Meggenhorn, a little wooded peninsula on the right.
Meggen is a long straggling village (483 m/1,585ft). In Vorder-Meggen we find Schloss Neu-Habsburg (1869), with the tower of an older castle which Rudolf von Habsburg had built in 1240, but which was destroyed by the men of Lucerne in 1352. The mansion of Schloss Meggenhorn (1886-1899) was built by Viktor von Segesser on the model of French Renaissance Châteaux; the Neo-Gothic chapel is worth seeing. The parish church of Hinter-Meggen dates from the 18th and 19th centuries.
From Meggen the road enters the canton of Schwyz and continues along the northwest side of the Küssnachter See. 2km/1mi beyond the village of Merlischachen (444 m/1,457ft), below the road on the right, is the Astrid Chapel (1936), moved here in 1960 from its previous position on the left of the road, commemorating Queen Astrid of the Belgians, who was killed in a car accident here (spot marked by a cross) on August 29, 1935.
The road from Lucerne descends to Küssnacht (440 m/1,444ft), from which the main road (No. 2) continues via Arth to Brunnen. The more attractive road via Weggis and Gersau branches off on the right and follows closely to the east side of the Küssnachter See, passing through pleasant countryside below the west side of the Rigi. In 0.5km/0.25mi, it passes the lower station of the cableway to the Seebodenalp (on left). In 5km/3mi, on right, is the village of Greppen (454 m/1,490ft). The road now climbs (beautiful view of the lake to the rear) over a hill, with the Hertenstein peninsula to the right, and runs down to a junction. Here a road on the right leads to the popular resort of Weggis.
Küssnacht am Rigi - Lake Night Festival
This annual festival takes place in late July.
Weggis (440 m/1,444ft) is a popular resort prettily situated on the lake. A pleasant detour can be made to the public beach and to the Hertenstein peninsula (8km/5mi) and to the east a narrow road climbs 5.5km/3mi up the slopes of the Rigi (no road to the summit). The main road, bypassing Weggis, runs uphill again. 2.5km/2mi beyond the turning for Weggis, the old road comes in on the right. Nearby is the lower station of the Weggis-Rigi-Kaltbad cableway. Then follows a beautiful stretch of road, running close to the lake at the foot of the Rigi, with splendid views. To the right can be seen the Bürgenstock and its well-known hotels. Further on, there is a charming view of the narrowest part of the lake between the two promontories, the Obere and the Untere Nase, and of the Bürgenstock, with the Buochsehorn and Stansehorn rearing up behind it.
This annual two-day festival takes place in late June and includes fireworks displays in the evening.
Vitznau and Rigi
Vitznau (440 m/1,444ft): a popular summer holiday resort affording extensive views, from which a rack-railroad ascends the Rigi (35 minutes). There is another rack-railroad up the Rigi from Arth-Goldau, to the east. At the far end of the village, on the left, are two cableways, one to Hinterbergen, the other to Weissenfluh (Wissifluh, 936 m/3,071ft: hotel), both giving access to fine walking country. The road continues past the beach and then winds its way around the Obere Nase, skirting the shore of the lake or running a little above it, with extensive views. 5km/3mi from Vitznau is the terminal of a car ferry to Beckenried on the south side of the lake (service every hour, taking 15 minutes).
Gersau (440 m/1,444ft) is the oldest health resort on the Vierwaldstätter See, occupying a charming sheltered site. From here, a mountain road leads north (5.5km/3mi) to the lower station, at Gschwend (1,012 m/ 3,320ft: inn), of a cableway which runs northwest to the Burggeist guest-house, 20minutes below the Rigi-Sheidegg peak (1,665 m/5,463ft). Beyond Gersau, the road continues close to the shore or on the wooded slopes above the lake. It passes the old Kindlimord chapel (rebuilt 1708), at the foot of the Rigi-Hochfluh (1,702 m/5,584ft), with a view of the two peaks of the Mythen. Soon after this, the Lake Uri comes into view beyond the Treib promontory. 4km/2mi further on, to the left, is a cableway up the Urmiberg.
Brunnen and Axenstein
In Brunnen (440 m/1,444ft) we join the St Gotthard road, coming from Lucerne and Zurich via Arth. The lakeside route from Brunnen to Flüelen follows this road. At the Wolfsprung Hotel an attractive little mountain road (3km/2mi) goes off on the left via the health resort of Morschach and the holiday center of Axenfels (turn left), past the Rütliblick Hotel to the Axenstein (708 m/2,323ft), with a superb view of both arms of the Vierwaldstätter See.
Axenstrasse and Lake Uri
The road to Flüelen leads along the magnificent Axenstrasse, which runs above the steep east shore of the fjord-like Urner See (Lake Uri), passing through numerous tunnels and galleries blasted from the rock (it is possible to walk along some stretches of the old road, built in 1863-65). The St Gotthard railroad running parallel to the road, sometimes below it, also passes through many tunnels. On the far side of the lake can be seen the crag known as the "Schillerstein" (named after the German dramatist whose works include "William Tell") and, higher up on the Seelisberg the Rütli meadow where the original Swiss Confederation was established. Just before Sisikon, the road enters the canton of Uri.
Sisikon - William Tell's Chapel
Sisikon (457 m/1,499ft), at the mouth of the Riemenstalden valley, has a modern church built in 1968. Beyond this, the road continues through more tunnels to the Tellsplatte Hotel (512 m/1,680ft), with a parking lot and beautiful gardens (view of the massive Urirotstock, 2,932 m/9,620ft). From here, a footpath (seven minutes) leads down to the famous Tell's Chapel (known to have existed since at least 1500; restored 1881, with paintings by Stükelberg), on the spot where William Tell is traditionally supposed to have leapt out of Gessler's ship during a storm. From the hotel, a cableway runs up in four minutes to the Axen station (825 m/2,707ft). 1km/0.5mile further on the Axenstrasse enters its last tunnel, with an old gallery (lookout) on the right.
Flüelen (Schloss Rudenz)
Flüelen (440 m/1,444ft), a port and holiday resort at the south end of the Lake Uri, is built on the delta at the mouth of the canalized river Reuss. Near the station, behind the old parish church of St George and St Niklaus (1665) stands the little Schloss Rudenz, which once belonged to the lords of Attinghausen, whose estate extended to the shore of the lake and who controlled the customs station. Here stands an iron sculpture "Schwurhände" which Witschi created for the 1964 exhibition.There is a cableway up the Eggeberge (1,440 m/4,775ft).Flüelen is the landing-stage for boats from Lucerne. Passengers who have booked the "William Tell Express" excursion transfer here to the railroad to continue their trip into southern Ticino.
Reuss - Delta Project
The Reuss plain is the only large level area in the canton of Uri which does not form part of the mountainous region. In 1966, work was begun to reform the Reuss delta, which had been partly canalized between 1850 and 1863 and from 1939 provided with flood protection. An opening in the dam on the left permits the water to flow into the plain and thus create a new shallow water zone; a new channel is to be created on the right. The mouth of the river which has hitherto extended far into the lake will be restricted and, eventually, previously inaccessible supplies of gravel for quarrying will be made available.