Destination: Switzerland- Lucerne
TWO GREAT MOUNTAIN DAY TRIPS FROM LUCERNE!
1. Day trip to MOUNT RIGI
Our trip to Mount Rigi was a last-minute dash, but we’re so glad we managed to do it!
We had arrived in Lucerne from Zurich mid-afternoon and were planning to go to Mount Rigi the following day but the weather forecast for the next day was for a large storm, so we dropped our bags at our hotel and dashed down to the wharf. We just managed to get on the last boat of the day that would give us access to Mount Rigi. We are so glad we did!
The boats leave from the dock north of the Lucerne Railway station. The trip is truly delightful. We had been dashing about and really enjoyed just sitting back on the boat and enjoying the lake and mountain views.
We got off the boat at Vitznau and went straight across the road where the red cogwheel train was waiting. This stretch of railway is the oldest mountain railway in Europe and has been in operation since 1871.
A cogwheel train uses a rack and pinion system to enable trains to go up very steep slopes in a short distance, but we weren’t prepared for how steep it actually got. And the views (sit on the left-hand side of the train going up) were simply phenomenal.
Mount Rigi is also known as Queen of the Mountains and is surrounded by three lakes and we caught views of some of them on the way up the mountain. It took about 30 minutes to get to the summit at Rigi Kulm (1798 meters) and we just had time for a quick look at more stunning mountain scenery before we had to catch the blue cogwheel train which goes across the other side of the mountain to Goldau. As it was the end of the day we saw many hikers on trails and also joining us on the train on the way home. We wished that we had had time to do some of the hikes! Maybe next time!
At Goldau we quickly found the railway station and jumped on board the train we thought was going to Lucerne! Oops! The adult daughter discovered we were on the train going in the wrong direction and we very quickly had to race over to another platform to get the correct team. Phew! It was a relaxing trip back to Lucerne in time to get to Migros at the station and pick up some deli goodies for dinner!
HOW TO GET TO RIGI KULM.
There are several different routes you can take. Most people go up one way and come down the other, to be able to see as much as possible.
The two most popular routes are-
Boat- Lucerne to Vitznau (60 mins) Then Red cogwheel train- Vitznau to Rigi Kulm (summit) (30 mins)
2. Boat - Lucerne to Weggis (45 mins) then 10-15 minute uphill walk to the gondola station.
Gondola- Weggis to Rigi Kaltbad (10 mins) and red cogwheel train- Rigi Kaltbad to Rigi Kulm (12 mins)
Return options from Rigi Kulm summit
1. Blue train to Goldau (45 mins) & regular train to Lucerne (35 mins)
2. Or Red train to Vitnau (30 mins) and boat back to Lucerne (60 mins)
3. Or Train back to Rigi Kaltbad and gondola to Weggis (10 mins) and boat back to Lucerne (60 mins)
2. day trip to Mount PILATUS
Travel blogger, Tracy, from tracystravelsintime.com recommends a day trip to Mount Pilatus from Lucerne.
One of my favourite day trips from the Swiss city of Lucerne is to the top of Mt Pilatus. The summit of Pilatus is at an awe inspiring 2132 metres and once you have climbed to those dizzying heights the views of Lake Lucerne, the Bernese Alps, Jungfrau, Titlis and even the French Alps are simply stunning.
HOW TO GET THERE FROM LUCERNE
There are many options to get to Pilatus from Lucerne and all involve multiple methods of transport!
If you choose the Golden Round Trip option, (while the most expensive,) you will have the opportunity to travel by boat, cog railway, cable car, gondola, and bus. The Silver Round Trip Option is slightly cheaper but you miss out on the wonderful boat trip across the lake and travel from Lucerne to the cog railway by train instead.
If you take the boat option (recommended) catch it from Pier 2 to Alpnachstad. This part of the trip takes about an hour. Don’t miss the beautiful Swiss chalets perched by the side of the lake. Famous Hollywood icons such as Audrey Hepburn made this their home and it is easy to see why!
Once at Alpnachstad you alight the boat and walk to the cog railway station directly opposite.
Traveling up the mountain on the cog railway is a jaw dropping experience. The railway is actually the steepest in the world with gradients of up to 48%. It was completed in 1889 and designed by engineer Eduard Locher. The railway is a marvel of engineering even today. When you are climbing the mountain it really does make you appreciate just how incredible the engineers and workmen were over 130 years ago to construct this railway.
There is one stop at Amsigen which is the train passing point. Have your camera at the ready to catch a shot of the train as it passes and descends into the valley below.
Once you arrive at the top of Mt Pilatus you will find lots of viewing areas as well as restaurants, a gift shop and 2 hotels. Why not treat yourself to a night at one of the hotels – you will have a fantastic view to enjoy when you open the bedroom shutters in the morning!
There are also a number of walks you can take at the top. These range from 10 – 35 minutes and are graded easy to medium.
Once you have enjoyed the views, perhaps had some lunch and a stroll you can then start the descent back to Lucerne.
First catch the cable car which will take you to the gondola station at Frakmuntegg. Once at Frakmuntegg you can try out the rope park or toboggan run or simply transfer onto the panoramic gondolas which transport you to Kriens. This takes about 30 minutes.
USING YOUR SWISS RAIL PASS IN LUCERNE
We just love the convenience and ease of using the Swiss Rail Pass when we are traveling in Switzerland. Here are the Swiss Rail Pass concessions for the trips to Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus.
The day trip to Mount Rigi is 100% covered by the Pass
i.e the boat to Vitznau or Weggis, the cogwheel trains, the gondola and the regular train back to Lucerne.
The day trip to Mount Pilatus -
1. Train or boat from the rail station in Lucerne to Alpnachstad- Free with Swiss Rail Pass
2. Cogwheel train to the peak of Mount Pilatus -50% discount with Swiss Rail Pass
3. Cogwheel train to the peak of Mount Pilatus -50% discount with Swiss Rail Pass
4. Gondola down to Kriens - 50% discount with Swiss Rail Pass
5. Bus back to the rail station of Lucerne -Free with Swiss Rail Pass
Thanks Tracy for the information about taking a day trip to Mount Pilatus.
Are you thinking about traveling to the UK? Tracy also can help you with this on her website at UKTravelPlanning.com
And thanks to Cyril Zemp at Luzern Tourismus for his assistance and Hannah Goodburn for some great photos..