Mount Pilatus Switzerland: steepest cogwheel railway in the world

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When I started planning my trip to Lucerne, going up Mount Pilatus Switzerland, became my one must-do excursion for Lucerne. Although not as impressive as Jungfraujoch, it was much closer to Basel, where I was coming from and could be done in the little time I had in Lucerne. Also, since the cost was another consideration, the Mount Pilatus option was much more feasible.

If you are looking for accommodation in Lucerne, have a look at the Hotel Pickwick where I stayed.

Other hotel options can be found on: | TripAdvisor | | Agoda.

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Getting to Mount Pilatus Switzerland

For the Mount Pilatus trip, you have a choice between the silver round trip or the golden round trip.

  • With the silver round trip, you take the train from Lucerne to Alpnachstad and then get on the cogwheel railway to the top. To descend, you can use either the panorama gondola or the aerial cableway. You can also do it the other way around.
  • With the golden round trip, you take the boat from Lucerne to get to Alpnachstad, ascend using the cogwheel railway and descend with the gondola or cableway. You can also do this the other way around.

The golden round trip

Although I love trains, I chose the golden round trip. I thought a boat trip on Lake Lucerne would be a lot of fun and since it is slower than train travel, it would give me the opportunity to enjoy the scenery at my leisure.

After boarding and being lucky enough to find a seat outside, I quickly realized that I would miss my sunglasses, which I had forgotten at home. It was a sunny day. Everything was bright and shiny, almost too bright for my sensitive eyes. Next to me sat an Indian couple very excited to be going on this outing. They kept on standing up to take pictures – first him of her and then she of him. Sometimes they asked me to take their camera and take a picture of them together, which happened more frequently than I thought possible. It is almost as if they wanted a picture of themselves in every scene we encountered. But it was amusing as well.


The boat also stopped at Stansstad to pick up more passengers.

Being alone on a full boat and just watching the surrounding people can be entertaining, especially if you are, like me, an introvert who likes to watch people and analyze their behaviour. It felt lonely,  not having anyone to point things out to or make comments to.

The cogwheel railway up Mount Pilatus Switzerland

But this loneliness quickly subsided as we reached the bottom of Mount Pilatus where you board the cogwheel railway or funicular. By this time there were long queues for getting on the funicular, but because I was alone, I could board the first funicular with another family. Sometimes being alone has some benefits:-)


From the inside of the funicular, I could see the railway going up – it was steep, and the commentator mentioned that it was the steepest funicular in the world.


Along the way we could see farmers working in the hay; everything smelled so fresh and clean.

As we went higher, patches of snow appeared. For me, coming from South Africa, where snow is unusual even in winter, seeing the snow was an enjoyable experience. Eventually, the patches of snow became more dominant and speckled with grass instead of the other way around.


At the top of Mount Pilatus

When we reached the top of the mountain, we entered a tunnel and stopped to disembark. The building was busy, and I realized it was because of the restaurants, hotel and souvenir shops.


I was not interested in shopping, so I quickly walked through the building to get outside to explore the scenery from there.


I started walking a route around one of the mountain peaks. Along the way, they have posters explaining the history of the mountain and some stories about the mountain and dragons.


I walked around, took many pictures, and touched snow for the first time in many years!


It may have been spring, but the mountain was still covered in snow, and it was chilly. Lucky I had a light jacket with me, which helped me to enjoy walking around in the cool weather. I would also recommend taking bottled water with you. Exploring can make you thirsty!

Descending Mount Pilatus, Switzerland

Then I went to the panoramic gondola to take it to descend the mountain. It was a very long cable-car ride, probably the longest I have ever taken before. I was lucky enough to be in the cable car by myself, which was perfect for taking photos from all angles.


It was a scenic trip, and I saw many farmhouses and places that looked like hotels. Eventually, we arrived in the small town of Kriens where we disembarked as it was the turning point of the gondola.


Getting back to Lucerne

From here I had to take a short walk to get to the bus stop. Lucky for me other people were going the same way, and I could just follow them. We just got to the bus stop when the bus came, and we were on our way back to Lucern.


The entire experience didn’t take long – maybe between 3-4 hours from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the time in nature, up in the fresh mountain air and seeing the Swiss countryside. If you ever go to Lucerne, I recommend the Mount Pilatus Switzerland trip! If you love mountains as much as I do, also see whether the Jungfrau trip is for you!

Have you ever been to Mount Pilatus? Did you do the silver or golden route? What did you enjoy the most about the whole experience?

Mount Pilatus Switzerland | FocusedTravels
Mount Pilatus Switzerland | FocusedTravels

8 thoughts on “Mount Pilatus Switzerland: steepest cogwheel railway in the world”

  1. This is such a beautiful place! In a small way it reminds me of the railway at Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The gondola ride would also be such a treat, especially since you mentioned that the ride was long. Most I’ve been on have been way too short!

  2. I have always wanted to visit Switzerland and these pictures just make me want to go even more! I love the idea of the gondola ride! I may be an adult, but I also love a good playground!! You could totally find me there! I wish we had better playgrounds here in the the states. That one looks like it just fits right in!

  3. Melanie, you won’t regret visiting Switzerland. I have only been there the one time, but I cannot wait to go back, there are so much more to explore!

  4. I haven’t been there. Switzerland is in my bucket list! Love the mountain view and I believe it is definitely a must-go place in there. 🙂

  5. I haven’t been to Mount Pilatus, or Switzerland for that matter, but have always wanted to! Those views from the top of Mount Pilatus look absolutely amazing! Thanks for the helpful, practical tips for the silver vs golden round trip, getting back to town, etc!

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