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Everything you need to know about visiting Mt Pilatus

Everything you need to know about visiting Mt Pilatus


When you visit Switzerland you are genuinely spoilt for choice for mountains to climb (or in my case go up via any sort of transport other than my feet). One of my favourite excursions if you are near Lucerne is a trip up Mt Pilatus.

I have made the trip twice – once on a lovely clear day and the second when a cloud stubbornly refused to move from the top.Trying to get a day when the weather is clear can be quite difficult and even though the forecast was clear for the second trip that cloud was not moving. I would recommend going on a clear day – the views are spectacular and it is worth it.


If a day travelling on lots of different transportation interests you then this trip is for you! From Lucerne you take a boat, a cog railway, a cable car, a gondola, a bus then back to a Lucerne by train.

It is however not cheap (it is Switzerland after all) but more of that below!

Golden round trip


If you take the ‘GOLDEN ROUND TRIP’ option this involves the 5 different forms of transportation mentioned above.

First catching a boat for an hour trip from Lucerne to Alpnachstad followed by the cog railway up to the top of Mt Pilatus (7000ft) – this takes 40 minutes and the views are magnificent. Have your camera ready.

After  spending some time at the top you descend for 3 1/2 minutes via an aerial cableway (the so-called Dragon ride though to be perfectly honest I didn’t see one) and then finally a 30 minute descent in a panorama gondola (more great views) to Kriens before catching a bus back to Lucerne – a great day out! (If you want you can do this trip the other way around and start in Kriens)

As the cloud didn’t shift for this second visit I am going to include some pictures from 2013 as you really want a no-cloud day to fully appreciate it!

What are the other ticket options? Well you could take the ‘SILVER ROUND TRIP‘ which is basically all the above but instead of a boat to Alpnachstad you catch a train from Lucerne!


Here are the pictures and details of each step of your journey (GOLDEN ROUND TRIP)


Once you arrive in Lucerne train station walk out of the station and across the road to the piers to catch the boat. You are heading for Alpnachstad to catch the cog railway so you need Pier 2.

Pier 2 sign for Pilatus

wonderful views of Lucerne

Beautiful Lucerne

The boat trip is wonderful in itself – what can be better than sailing across a beautiful lake with the sun shining and the beauty of Switzerland all around. The boat takes about an hour.

sailing boats on lake Lucerne

approaching Alpnachstad

the boat from Lucerne


The cog railway is the steepest in the world with in parts a gradient of 48%!!!!!! It was opened in 1889 (amazingly engineer Eduard Locher came up with the idea of constructing two horizontally revolving cogwheels to enable the railway to climb the mountain).

tickets for the trip up Mt Pilatus

Pilatus station

the cog railway Mt Pilatus

The views on the way up are breathtaking!

View of Lake Lucerne from the cog railway on Mt Pilatus

beautiful views from Mt Pilatus

There is one stop on the way up at Amsigen as this is the train passing point. Look out for the farmer’s house with the enormous cow bells!

If you are considering a holiday in Switzerland then these 20 photographs will certainly inspire you to get it booked asap!

Cow bells of all sizes Mt Pilatus

The views of Lake Lucerne are spectacular. I was lucky also to get a great shot of the a car passing us on its way down the mountain. I think this gives an excellent idea of just how steep it is!being passed on the mountain side by another coach on its way down Mt Pilatus


Once at the top there are lots of viewing areas, walks, a couple of restaurants, toilets and a gift shop. There are also 2 hotels at the top of Mt Pilatus – you could book a stay and enjoy a night or two. You can book a stay at these hotels here – Hotel Pilatus Klum and Hotel Bellevue.

the top of Mt Pilatus

There are a number of walks that you can take at the top of the mountain which range from easy to medium and take between 10 mins and 35 mins.

walks at the top of Mt Pilatus

Great views from Mt pilatus

the view from the top of Mt Pilatus


The cableway takes you from the top of Mt Pilatus to the gondola station at Frakmuntegg. There are lots of activities available there such as the Pilatus rope park and a toboggan run.

toboggan ride on Mt Pilatus

a bit daring Mt Pilatus


The panoramic gondolas take you from Frakmuntegg to Kriens (where you catch the bus) The gondolas take about 30 minutes to descend.

Panoramic gondola

Descending towards Kriens


Once in Kriens it is about a 5 minute walk to the bus stop. There are signs and if you use the map you will soon find the bus stop for Bus No.1

Couldn’t resist taking a picture of this beautiful window on the walk past!

beautiful Swiss windows

bus back to Lucerne Luzern


Don’t forget to have a look around Lucerne! It is one of my favourite cites to visit when I am in Switzerland and I generally get there once a year for a stroll around!

Highlights for me are the Kappelbrucke (Chapel Bridge) constructed in 1333 and the Lion Monument a rock relief carved out of the rock face in 1820/1 by Lukas Ahorn.

Watch out for a post soon about Lucerne!

There are many fantastic places to visit in Switzerland – amazing cities, mountains and beautiful lakes – read all about these in a guide to the “Best Places to visit in Switzerland.”


My mother at the Lion Monument in Lucerne The Chapel Bridge


  • As described we took the Golden Round Trip which includes the boat, cog railway, cableway, gondola and bus. This runs between May and October. For up-to-date prices check here.
  • There is also the  Silver Round Trip option which involves a 20 minute train ride from Luzern to Alpnachstad along the lake (so no boat trip) before you catch the cog railway. If you have the time I would the golden round trip as the boat trip is truly beautiful!
  • Please check up to date times and prices on the on the Mt Pilatus website before you go.

Considering a trip to Switzerland? Check out – 5o unique things to do in Switzerland”



A guide to visiting Mt Pilatus Switzerland

READ MORE – Train journeys around the world

A Swiss train journey to the top of Europe
Catching the Bernina Express - Switzerland
All you need to know about traveling by train London-Berlin-Prague
A trip on the Eastern and Oriental Express Bangkok to Singapore
Top 10 amazing train journeys to take around the world
Top 10 railway journeys around the world part 2



    • November 8, 2016 / 9:00 am

      Haha yes that cloud wouldn’t budge! Its a bit jaw dropping the cog railway but worth it for the views!

  1. November 8, 2016 / 8:51 am

    LOVING every picture and every tip! I live in Italy so I will follow this route next summer! Thank you for sharing all the great ideas. Love your blog!!!

    • November 8, 2016 / 8:58 am

      Thank you Ari! Its a great trip to take – have you seen my post on the Bernini Express as thats a brilliant train journey from Italy to Switzerland!

  2. November 11, 2016 / 7:28 am

    Wow what an amazing trip! I’d love to visit Switzerland properly one day. Have only crossed the country by train so far. I would love the view from those mountains too! They’re so much higher than what we have in Tromso 😀

    • November 13, 2016 / 3:12 pm

      The mountain views are so wonderful in Switzerland – I hope you get the chance to visit soon.

  3. November 11, 2016 / 10:54 am

    Great report! Personally, I find Pilatus a bit too touristy, but it is definitely a mountain well worth visiting. The views from the top are super nice. 🙂

    • November 11, 2016 / 5:48 pm

      Yes I know what you mean but everywhere in Switzerland is touristy – seems to be a very popular inclusion on coach tours of Europe. I have been up Rigi too but the views from Pilatus for me are so breathtakingly beautiful it makes it a worthwhile visit.

  4. November 13, 2016 / 8:42 pm

    Hi Tracy, thank you for joining #TheWeeklyPostcard this week-end. I love your post about Mount Pilatus. I’ve been in Lucerne last year but didn’t get to spend more than a couple of days there. I would have liked to climb up Mt. Pilatus and enjoy the beautiful views of the entire region from up there, but there was no time. Your photos are so beautiful!
    Anda recently posted…The Weekly Postcard: Stadshuset, Stockholm’s Grandiose City HallMy Profile

  5. November 14, 2016 / 10:14 am

    We went to Lucerne last Spring but didn’t do this trip because we found it way too expensive for a family. Next time maybe. #MondayEscapes

    • November 14, 2016 / 4:56 pm

      It is expensive and as I had done it before we did think about it – but my husband really wanted to do it. It was a pity that cloud wouldn’t shift as the views are some of the best i have seen when its a totally clear day. The boat trip was lovely too and i am glad we decided to do the golden round trip in the end.

  6. November 14, 2016 / 11:03 am

    Wow I didn’t really know there was a golden route but it looks so amazing. I’ve admired Switzerland for a long time and have wanted to see it all. I might have to dig a bit more this year 🙂
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…A day at Ferrari world (and some tips!)My Profile

    • November 14, 2016 / 4:53 pm

      It was a great trip! A bit expensive but the views were worth it. The boat trip across the lake is a lovely part of it too so i would recommend the golden route!

    • November 14, 2016 / 4:50 pm

      It was a great trip Tanja! And the views are amazing!

  7. November 14, 2016 / 9:44 pm

    Oh my what a great way to travel, the sights are amazing and so much change and interest too. #mondayescapes

  8. November 15, 2016 / 1:31 am

    5 different forms of transportation is very impressive – it would certainly be a new record for me! And that view from Mt Pilatus is stellar!! We were only in Lucerne for an afternoon but I dreamed of seeing the top (and not having to hike it). #MondayEscapes
    Ava @ My Meena Life recently posted…One Year Without: What We Gained by Owning Less Stuff.My Profile

    • November 15, 2016 / 11:16 am

      It was a really great day out. I will definitely pop over to your page to read your recent post – we have been de-cluttering our lives!

  9. November 15, 2016 / 2:37 am

    I did this journey long time ago. Sadly, I do not remember a lot of it even though it was beautiful. The weather didn’t cooperate that day (and it was summer). Therefore, there were no views for us from the top. Hope to go back one day when the weather is nicer ;0) #MondayEscapes

    • November 15, 2016 / 11:17 am

      Its a pity the weather wasn’t on your side Ruth as the views are so spectacular – hope you get back there on a clear day!

  10. November 16, 2016 / 7:17 pm

    What a brilliant round robin. The views from the mountain are wonderful. This sounds like something you have to do when you visit Switzerland. I’ve taken note! Thanks for sharing this on #MondayEscapes
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Monday Escapes 47My Profile

    • November 17, 2016 / 6:37 pm

      Thank-you Claire Recommend this trip if you are in Lucerne as its such fun and the views (on a really clear day when no cloud decides to stick to the top!!) are beautiful.

    • November 17, 2016 / 6:32 pm

      Switzerland is a lovely place to visit – loads of great walks and places to explore. Check out fullsuitcase.com as Jurga (whose blog it is) has done some great hikes with her three boys in Switzerland.

      Its so much fun taking the Golden Round Trip – its a great adventure!

  11. December 19, 2016 / 3:36 am

    How fun to see this part of Switzerland in the warmer months. I was there in late winter and could only appreciate Pilatus from afar. Did make it up to Jungfraujoc from Interlaken – another extraordinary experience and the highest you can get in Europe by train.

    • December 19, 2016 / 8:12 pm

      I have yet to go to the Top of Europe but i would love to. (My step-sister has and kindly wrote a post for my blog all about it) I visit quite a lot as my Mum and her husband live near Zurich. I love it in winter as I love snow but always visit at least once in the summer.

  12. March 16, 2018 / 8:37 am

    Since it’s been a while, I can update my comment – we went to Lucerne last year and couldn’t decide between Mt. Pilatus and Mt Rigi Kulm, but we opted for Rigi-Kulm as we had found it to be the most affordable. Would love to do the whole route for Mt. Pilatus! #FeetDoTravel
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  13. March 16, 2018 / 9:18 am

    Aren’t the mountains in Switzerland just stunning! I love these cable car things too. The views are breathtaking! Lots of useful information here. Thanks for sharing!
    Kate and Kris recently posted…Two days in Essaouira, MoroccoMy Profile

  14. March 16, 2018 / 2:52 pm

    Oh i just looove Switzerland! Been there so many times but never visited Mt Pilatus. After reading your post it’s definitely on my list for my next visit though!

  15. March 21, 2018 / 11:26 am

    That’s a day trip I would adore. The different modes of transport only add to the fun. Breathtaking views from the top and approaching the mountain. Stunning!

  16. March 22, 2018 / 6:57 am

    I agree, the views are atunning, but with my fear of heights, looking around as I ride on the gondola may end in tears haha. I would definitely visit though, I adore panoramic views such as this and I won’t let my fear stop me! Pinned for the future #feetdotravel

    • TracyJane
      March 23, 2018 / 10:43 am

      Definitely worth it Angie!

  17. March 27, 2018 / 2:07 am

    It looks absolutely magnificent. I really hope I get to visit that side of the world one day.

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Hello from Australia

Traveller, teacher, train lover, and milkshake connoisseur.Now living and working in my 7th country and experiencing life in Queensland, Australia.

I write to inspire others whatever their age to explore the world - near and far!

I have travelled for over 30 years including solo in my 20's , as a single parent in my 30's and now in my 40's and beyond with my husband. House sitter and aspiring grey nomad a life of location independence is my goal.

Over 40 years ago I dreamt of a life well travelled and that is the life I live!

Dream it, plan it, do it!!

Carpe Diem



“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”
-- Michael Palin