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 Mt Pilatus option was much more feasible.
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 decided to do 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 was going to 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, clearly 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 against every possible scene we encountered. But it was amusing also.
The boat also stopped at Stansstad to pick up more passengers.
Being alone on a full boat and just watching the people around you can be quite entertaining, especially if you are, like me, an introvert who likes to watch people and analyze their behavior. It did feel a bit 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 was able to board the first funicular with another family. Sometimes being alone does have some benefits:-)
From the inside of the funicular, I could see the railway going up – it was quite 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 quite busy, and I realized it was because of the restaurants, hotel and the souvenir shops.
I was not interested in shopping, so I quickly walked through the building to get to the outside to explore the scenery from there.
I started walking the path 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 lots of 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 a bit 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 quite 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 farm houses 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 very 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!
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?