An Echo Trails Hike in the Alps // Lucerne, Switzerland

An Echo Trails Hike in the Alps // Lucerne, Switzerland

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It was 9AM when we boarded the ferry. The air was chilly but fresh. Rene, my guide, and I ordered cappuccinos from the ferry cafe and chatted about the weather, life in Europe, and everything in between. With the arrival of our drinks, Rene spread maps out on the table and oriented me with the lake, it’s history and our plan for the day. 

Outside pearly white castles (well, perhaps just really fancy hotels) drifted by. Every so often the ferry would briefly dock at a lakeside village and unload eager tourists gunning for fresh mountain air. Locals boarded with less enthusiasm, the rest of us unaware that for them this was just public transportation and the only practical means for moving around the massive lake, nearly entirely embraced by peaks.

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While Rene dove into tales of the Habsburgs, the history of the old trade route through the nearby Gotthard Pass and Switzerland’s cantons (something similar to states in the US) I couldn’t help but stare at the scene outside.

Cruising the clear blue waters of Lake Lucerne with it’s the soaring Alps and sleepy villages was a dramatic start to the day.

Echo Trails Lucerne-7 Echo Trails Lucerne-12  Two hours quickly passed and we arrived at the tiny dock of Trieb and boarded a funicular en route to the hilltop town of Seelisberg

Naturally, I squeezed into the first car and competed with my peers (arguably two decades my junior) for views out the front. 

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Arriving at the top, I followed Rene into Hotel Bellevue‘s stunning dining room. A destination for some of his long distance tours, he’d visited numerous times in the past and chatted with the staff while I sneaked around taking pictures.

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Strolling through petite Seelisburg, we made our way to Aschwanden Cheese Farm. First greeted by the cows (still in the barn for a few more weeks until the are free to roam the surrounding hillsides for the summer) and took a stab at identifying their sweet little faces with 60’s era european livestock print we found inside. 

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Moving on – all of 100 feet from the barn – was the cheese factory and shop. Specializing in bergkase, the owner cut slice after slice for us to sample. After a lot of “ohh yeah!”s and “mmhmmm”s we ended up settling on a wedge of their firmer, stronger variation.

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Everyone say BERGKASE!


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Full of cheese, we moved along the ridge-line keeping the lake to our left. Chatting as we went, we meandered through forests, explored a tiny mountaintop church, and even paid a visit to a sweet little farm in which Rene knew the farmer. While there I befriended the most adorable Swiss border collie (do not tell Stuart). 

While the views of the lake below were staggering, the hike was also incredibly peaceful and fun. Rene, originally from California with Swiss parents, moved here only a few years ago but has an amazing amount of knowledge of Swiss history and culture. Fluent in Swiss-German he happily joked with those we passed, filling me in on the town gossip with each conversation. “Oh, there’s an issue with the new manager at that lakeside restaurant…” 

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After a few hours we stopped for a picnic with white wine, schnitzel sandwiches, cookies and our beloved cheese.

Crumbs on my face, I took multiple swigs of the yummy vino before remembering that I should probably capture the scene…

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Our hike concluded in the idyllic little village of Bauen. While waiting for our ferry back to Lucerne we strolled the length of the town and visited the home of a famous Swiss composer. If you’re looking for a storybook setting, Bauen is undoubtedly it.

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(I also tried in vain to capture the clarity of the water… sorry, guys!)

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With the ferry slowly paddling towards us I reluctantly gathered my things. Once aboard,  Rene read me like a book and popped open another bottle of white wine for our cruise back to Lucerne. 

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While Rene and I shared travel stories and finished our wine and cheese, I intermittently excused myself for quick strolls around the ferry deck. With the last light of the day barely squeezing through the heavy cloud cover the lake was moody and beautiful.

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And it seems that I wasn’t the only one entranced either.

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Start to finish, this was one of the most memorable days I’ve ever had traveling. A special thanks to Rene of Echo Trails for the tour. I can’t overstate what a treat it is to explore the Alps with someone that not know exactly where to go – whether it be a scenic picnic spot, historic church, local cheese farm or gorgeous little village. 

The lesson? Go to Switzerland, hike to Bauen, eat cheese, and drink wine with Rene!

  • that dining room!

  • Man gorgeous! I love me a good hike and this looks perfect! I need to fine Rene! lol

  • This is adorable!!! Gosh, you’re too cute Margo with all the animals!

  • What a wonderful experience. The views are incredible, everything looks so picturesque

  • Ahaha Rene looks like a super fun companion πŸ™‚

    Lovely pictures, as usual!

  • emilygrapes

    Rene seems awesome!! I’d book him in a heartbeat if I went there. The photos through the windows are surreal. I’d love to sit there staring at those views for hours!

  • I love the variety of different things done on this trip! Beautiful pictures as usual, I MUST visit Switzerland someday.

  • emi

    MARGO this is to die for! I was entranced the entire post. I was just telling my husband what a great job you do with your blog and you take us all to Europe in these posts! AMAZING AMAZING!!


  • Wine, cheese and gorgeous views!? So perfect. Also, I want to hang out with Rene.

  • storybook setting for sure! this whole day seems like a fairytale πŸ™‚

  • Wow *I say while pulling up skyskanner…*

  • Girl, your photography, I mean wow! This sounds like an amazing day for sure!

  • What a fabulous ending to a wonderful hike! The scenery is just gorgeous and you capture it so well!! And totally unrelated, I have those shoes too haha!! Do you run in them? I find they don’t have enough arch support for one of my feet…go figure lol.

  • Caitlin Travis

    Oh boy, it looks like a memorable day in the Alps for sure! And kudos to you and your awesome pictures, love ’em!

  • A beautiful story! The lake and castles/hotels on its shore look like from a fairy tale πŸ™‚

  • I have to admit that I’m literally in a trance after that. Switzerland is one of my favorite places on Earth and I am just drooling at all of your posts. I keep sending them to my boyfriend being like “this is our next trip!” haha!! Thank you for sharing <3

  • Rima Sagala

    oh my! i can not wait to share this to my fiance (he lives in Zurich) and do this tour together! so beautiful. we were in Boltigen (near Thun/Interlaken) last year and those houses reminded me of that time! thanks for sharing!

  • Julia

    Oh my, are these photos even real?? This looks like the most magical day, amazing scenery along with the two things I love most in life: cheese and wine. Thank you so much for sharing, I feel like I should really get on board with taking a tour one day when I travel πŸ˜€

    • oh yes, that’d be the perfect little introduction for your first visit to Switzerland! you’d LOVE it.

  • Veena

    Gorgeous! Looks like such a wonderful experience!

    • it definitely was, Veena! I’d absolutely recommend it if you get the chance to visit the area. πŸ™‚

  • Alps, why are you so pretty?! Amazing experience, definitely worth checking that tour out. Hiking + history, I’m sold!

    • you’re telling me! hiking the Alps is an experience all it’s own, so beautiful!

  • can I please go on a trip with you? πŸ˜‰

    • YES or how about you just let me come on you guys honeymoon? …so where are we going.. hawaii or back to SA? πŸ˜€

  • Sofia Stocker

    Hi! My friend and I are going backpacking this summer in Switzerland and we would love to go on one of these Echo Trail Hike and there are so many to choose from on the website! Which one is the one did you do? I’m thinking it is the “Scenic Swiss Alps by Rail, Boat, Bus and Feet’ or is it another one? Thank you!

  • Erin

    Your photos (and entire blog) are amazing. Such useful tips and perfect pictures. I am planning a huge European trip this summer and I am literally pouring over every post and taking notes lol I also love your jacket, do you mind me asking where it is from? I’ve been searching for a raincoat and the yellow is just too bright and cheery not to love!

  • Hanny Heim-Frick

    I enjoyed your report of my home country very much ! It was funny to read this, as Seelisberg is my hometown, and I can see my house on one of your photos. So I was wondering what kind of ferry you’re talking about. As far as I know is there only a car-ferry going across the lake. so the ship you took, was “Winkelried” and that’s a liner ! Your report is very interesting, but I missed the comments to the pics with the name of the places, so i’m still wondering where the first picture was taken, and very important, you forgot to mention the most popular point on your pics, the *Ruetli Meadow” where Switzerland is born ! You should have also taken a photo of the palm trees in Bauen, which is very special ! But in general i love your report, thank you !


    Was this a tour or did you just book the ferry and make your own way around? πŸ™‚