Take A Picture-Perfect Holiday Vacation At This Charming European Destination

Switzerland is famous for many things, and no, we're not talking about Swiss cheese or Swiss army knives. Every year, Switzerland's cities like Zurich, Geneva, and capital city Bern welcome tourists from across Europe, and indeed, the world, but there's another city not far from Zurich that you definitely shouldn't miss, especially if you're looking for a winter wonderland that will make you feel like you're walking through a snow globe. That town is Lucerne.

Lucerne (or as the Swiss-German speaking locals call it, Luzern) is only 25 miles away from the big city of Zurich, and so it's easy to reach via car or the super fast and reliable Swiss train service known as the SBB (Schweizerische BundesBahn). Situated on the banks of Lake Lucerne, the old town is a dream for Jolly St. Nick enthusiasts, and its main square transforms for the annual Christmas market (known as Christkindlmarkts or Weihnachtsmarkts). The Franziskanerplatz Christmas market starts early in the season and runs December 1-21, offering up the traditional drinks of Glühwein (mulled wine) or Kinderpunsch for the kiddies, and on the weekends, there is a free organ concert in the afternoons. Of course the markets offer other delights, like traditional sweet treats, toys, and even rides on merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheels. On top of an intense love of Christmas, here's why Lucerne is a charming winter destination fit for the whole family.

Take a gorgeous boat ride over Lake Lucerne

Lucerne is the perfect place to whip out your ear muffs and woolly mitts during the wintertime, as the city doesn't sleep just because its blanketed with snow. Case in point: the Lilu Light Festival Lucerne that happens in January. For a few weeks in the coldest month, the city shines brighter than the sun with light installations set up in various locations around town, some indoor and some outdoor. This incredible YouTube video from past festivals shows just how dazzling the light installations are, and how masterfully they transform the city's exteriors into an awe-inspiring event.

But if you don't want to spend all your time in the city, then you definitely should put on your sailor's hat and enjoy a scenic boat ride over Lake Lucerne. One such boat cruise takes place onboard the Unterwalden, which as the Denver Post reports, is a 120-year-old boat that offers a two-hour cruise on the beautiful, cyan-colored waters, with an optional dining experience that elevates the trip to another level. The outlet reports that a haunting fog rests just above the water's surface, and you can't miss the mountains that rise up from the lakeshore. Prices start at $44 but if you want to charter the entire ship for yourself, you're welcome to, for the low price of *checks notes* $6,200!

Winter adventure in the Swiss Alps

If you'd prefer to see the town of Lucerne and Lake Lucerne from above, they've already thought of that too. An abundance of winter activities and sports await you from Stoos mountain, which overlooks Lake Lucerne in the Shywz region. Once you hop aboard the steepest funicular in the world to get to base camp, from there you can hop aboard the ski lift to take you to the top of Stoos which offers unparalleled mountaintop views that will make you feel like you're in the final scene from "The Sound of Music." If you've got the need –  *pause for Tom Cruise effect* — the need for speed, then Stoos has you covered with its downhill tobogganing opportunities. You can rent your toboggan on site, but be warned, that this is not for the faint of heart, nor for the inexperienced, so make sure you're a sledding champ before you attempt.

Lucerne also offers other winter sporting activities in and around town, such as snowshoeing, skiing (both downhill and cross-country), snowboarding, sledging, and ice fishing. For the quintessential Swiss skiing experience, Conde Nast Traveler recommends heading to Andermatt, the mountain just 45 miles from Lucerne, which has slopes suitable for all ski levels, even if you haven't strapped on a pair of skis in your life. Day passes begin at around $98 and can be booked ahead of time.