When you visit Switzerland you are genuinely spoilt for choice for mountains to climb and amazing views to admire!
One of my favourite excursions from Lucerne in Switzerland is the golden round trip to Mount Pilatus. This is a day trip from Lucerne which involves trains, boats, gondolas and more – a truly wonderful way to see and appreciate the Swiss countryside!
Mount Pilaus on the shores of Lake Lucerne is steeped in legends and folklore with stories of dragons and hidden caves. Legend has that there is a dragon’s lair and once giants roamed the mountain side. Or maybe they still do? Keep a look out for these mystical creatures on your visit!
The summit of Mount Pilatus at 2132 metres high gives a stunning panoramic view of Lucerne and its beautiful lake but also of the of the Bernese Alps, Jungfrau and Titlis and on to the French Alps. On a clear day a total of 73 Alpine Peaks can be viewed from 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 if you can – the views are spectacular and it is worth it.
THE GOLDEN ROUND TRIP TO MOUNT PILATUS
Lucerne to Mount Pilatus on this option involves a day traveling on lots of different transportation. If this interests you then this is the Mount Pilatus trip for you!
From Lucerne you take a boat, a cog railway, a cable car, a gondola, a bus then return to Lucerne by train.
It is however not cheap (it is Switzerland after all) but more of that below!
A SUMMARY OF THE ITINERARY ON THE GOLDEN ROUND TRIP TO MOUNT PILATUS
If you take the ‘GOLDEN ROUND TRIP TO MOUNT PILATUS’ option this involves 5 different forms of transportation
- Boat across Lake Lucerne to Alpnachstad.
- Mt Pilatus cogwheel train from Alpnachstad to the summit of Pilatus
- Aerial cableway – a trip on the Mt Pilatus cable car
- Panoramic gondola to Kriens
- Bus to Lucerne
The boat from Lucerne to Alpnachstad takes about an hour. Enjoy sailing across the lake and admire the million dollar houses on its shores!
After arriving in Alpnachstad transfer to the cog railway which will takes 40 minutes to climb the 7000 feet to the summit of Mount Pilatus. The views are spectacular so have your camera handy. The steepness of the climb will take your breath away at times (if you don’t like heights do not look down!)
After spending some time at the top you then 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!
A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY OF THE GOLDEN ROUND TRIP TO MOUNT PILATUS
Here are the pictures and details of each step of your journey on the Golden Round Trip to Mount Pilatus)
1. CATCH THE BOAT FROM LUCERNE
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.
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.
2. CATCH THE COG RAILWAY
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).
The views on the way up are breathtaking!
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!
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!
3. ARRIVE AT THE TOP OF MOUNT 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 Mount 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.
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.
4. CATCH THE AERIAL CABLEWAY TO MOUNT 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.
5. CATCH THE GONDOLA
The panoramic gondolas take you from Frakmuntegg to Kriens (where you catch the bus) The gondolas take about 30 minutes to descend.
6. CATCH THE BUS BACK TO LUCERNE
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!
7. ARRIVE BACK IN LUCERNE
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.
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.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO TAKE THE GOLDEN ROUND TIP TO MOUNT PILATUS
- As described we took the Golden Round Trip to Pilatus which included 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”
CHECK OUT THESE OTHER GREAT THINGS TO DO IN THE LUCERNE AREA
PIN FOR LATER – THE COMPLETE TRAVEL GUIDE TO MOUNT PILATUS
READ MORE – Train journeys around the world
Tracy is your expert expat!
She has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)
Through down-to-earth stories, tips and advice (based on her own extensive knowledge and experience of life as an expat) she aims to support new and prospective expats to survive and thrive in Australia.
With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.