My first stay was also in Zurich this past June. Zurich's a great town with lots to see. You can catch a good deal on a Super Saver train from Zurich to Luzern. Just log onto to SBB.com and search for SuperSaver, Luzern.
I was in Luzern for about a week and a half.
I will tell you where to stay if you do me a favor. Stay at Hotel Alpha and tell the manager (Judith) that "The man from USA who is trying to get Judith to advertise on his blog" sent you.
Hotel Alpha's location is close to the Hauptbahnhof, about two bus stops and a short walk. That's if you want to stay in the city. There are some noise concerns at night, depending how you sleep, but it's very close to the city and they have a great breakfast (included with the room) there. Hotel Alpha (for the money) is "almost pristine!"
Go to www.luzern.com and search "Hotel Alpha" on their site for rates. I would think they may have a reduced rate during the fall.
Depending on how much money you make, meals are expensive in Luzern, ranging anywhere from $14 per person and up. For fast food, McDonalds can cost you $10 for a hamburger! You want fries with that? That's extra, you want a drink? That's extra. Burger King is the same story.
You'll see a Kebab House before you get to Hotel Alpha. There are other ones around the city as well. Usually, you can get a large kebab (with lots of veggies) sandwich for about $8, plus a drink.
I went to one restaurant, Grendel 19, which cost me $36.64. I had to put that tab on my credit card, but the food was very good. I had the "Pilatus Rosti" plate, a traditional Swiss plate with a cooked (skinned) pear in the middle, surrounded by thin slices of ham covered with cheese and all of it placed on top of a bed of shredded potatoes, definitely cooked in lots of butter. A small plate from the salad bar costs $10. A basket of bread and butter was included and I ordered a Coke. All in all, the meal was very good, just a little pricey for my taste.
Address: Grendelstrasse 19. Tel. +41 (0) 41-410-5222
Their web address: www.grendel19.ch
There are many other restaurants listed in the Luzern travel brochure at the Tourist Office.
Sights: Depending on what you want to see, art museums, etc., go to Luzern's Tourist Information Office, located on the left side of the train station. At the last walkway, keep going left inside the station and you'll see it right after Burger King. The tourist information center has very a helpful Luzern brochure (called the "Official City Guide 09") that has a discount card inside it (for a small discount for sights, museums, etc.)
If you want a cheap lunch, go to Coop grocery store, located in the basement of the train station. Beware, but around 4 or 5 PM, the place is jammed and you're going to be standing in a long cashier line!
I went to the Bourbarki Panorama, a unique 360 degree painting depicting a famous Swiss battle of the 19th century (if you love art).
I recommend two must-sees: Take a boat ride on lake Luzern. Go straight out from the train station and cross the street, you'll see a boat ticket house where you could get more information on short/long excursions around the lake. There are many small villages around the lake to see as well.
Even if you go on a boat ride during a cloudy day, the lake has very beautiful scenery and mountains.
The other must-see is taking a train from the train station to Mt. Pilatus, the tallest mountain in the region. (Go to the tourist information office for more info. I think it was around $76 a person for my excursion.) A train takes you from the station to another station southeast of Luzern. From the second station, you take a cogwheel (at a 48% uphill grade) train to the top of Mt. Pilatus. Although it's not one of the highest mountain tops in Switzerland, it's a must-see if you're going to Zurich and Luzern. You take a cable car down the other side of the mountain after you've spent some time on the mountain top. Don't forget to dress warm! It gets windy and cold up dere! The downhill cable car ride is very peaceful and you can stop at a couple other smaller stations and hang around if you'd like. You'll hear some cowbells if your cable cars windows are open, but sometimes the cows are hard to spot, but they'll be right below you. From the last station, you'll have to walk about a quarter of a mile to a bus stop that takes you back into town. Don't fret, there's always someone who speaks English that can help you find the right bus stop!
I'm trying to post some new listings about Zurich and Luzern on my new travel blog: U-Can Travel!
I hope to have some of them started before October, so check them out. Here's my blog's address:
Most of the postings (currently) are about St. Petersburg, Russia (since I've been there 14 times!) Please check it out and have a good time in Luzern!
Another tip: It rains lots in Luzern. So on days when it looks nasty, take your umbrella/raincoats!!
Have a good trip!
Unique Quality: Hotel Alpha is in a good location, close to the city center. It also has a great breakfast included with the room. The rooms are almost pristine for the rate. They have two computers and WiFi offered in the rooms. There's also a community room and two TV rooms, but who wants TV when there's so much to see in the city?
The hotel's staff are English-speaking, very kind, considerate and helpful.
Directions: Pilatusplatz, just southwest of the hauptbahnhof.