Located in Central Switzerland is Mount Pilatus, a majestic and spectacular natural beauty. This jagged mountain that overlooks Lucerne, stands 2132 meters above sea level. The views of Lucerne and the Swiss Alps from top of Mount Pilatus are simply stunning. Being one of the most scenic spots in Switzerland, a visit to Mt. Pilatus is something that you just cannot miss. Join us on our ascent to Mt Pilatus while taking in the natural beauty of the Swiss Alps.

Mount Pilatus, A Nature’s Gem 

mount pilatus hikes to see the sunset
Snow covered Mount Pilatus in the evening sunlight.

As per folklore, in the 15th century a dragon rock fell from the sky and the Roman governor Pontius Pilatus stood guard in front of it. Eventually Pontius Pilatus’ dead body was discarded on top of the mountains in a lake and hence this place is believed to be haunted. Some say that the mountain was named after him, however others believe that it got its name from the Latin term ‘Pileatus’ meaning ‘cloud-capped’. Mount Pilatus also known as the Mountain of Dragons is a perfect place for nature lovers.

Why Visit Mount Pilatus?

Mount Pilatus is the most popular spot to see if you are visiting Switzerland. A cruise, scenic bus ride, a series of cable car rides and cogwheel train (the steepest railway in the world) can all be experienced in just a day. There is no better place than Mount Pilatus Mountain to see the spectacular natural beauty of the Swiss Alps. There are many popular day trips from Lucerne which will take you to the top of Mount Pilatus and back.

How To Reach Mount Pilatus From Lucerne?

Lucerne to Mount Pilatus in a day involves a lot of traveling. Your ascend starts from Lucerne: a bus, a gondola, a cable car, cog railway are transportations that you need to take to get up there. If you take the golden round trip to mount Pilatus, then you get to experience five different forms of transportation. There are many popular day trips that offer to take you from Lucerne to Mount Pilatus in Switzerland. If you are an adventure seeker, then you can hike your way up too. There are plenty of guided Mount Pilatus hikes to choose from.

How to go up pilatus mountain
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Violet – Bus from Lucerne to Kriens

Green – Cable car between Kriens and Mount Pilatus

Blue – Cogwheel train between Mount Pilatus and Alpnachstad

Red – Boat ride from Alpnachstad to Lucerne

Suggested Day Trips To See Them All In A Day

beautiful mount pilatus in switzerland
Mountain railway in Swiss Alps

Golden Round Trip – The Golden Round Trip is the most popular choice among tourists as it is the best way to see them all in a day. This trip includes four different forms of transportation: bus – cable car – cogwheel train – boat ride. You start at the Lucerne to Kriens in a bus, then take the cable car to Mt Pilatus, a cogwheel train down to Alpnachstad and a scenic boat ride back to Lucerne. These trips have guides too, so it’s up to you to decide to do it on your own or with a guide.

Silver Round Trip – The second most popular way to visit Mt. Pilatus is by taking the ‘Silver Round Trip’. Here the entire tour has a bus – cable car – cogwheel train – regular train ride included in the package. You start at the Lucerne to Kriens in a bus, then take the cable car to Mt Pilatus, a cogwheel train down to Alpnachstad and a regular train back to Lucerne. This trip is 20% cheaper than the Golden Round Trip. 

Step-By-Step Guide To Seeing Mount Pilatus In A Day

There are two points from where you can go to the top, one from Alpnachstad and the other from Lucerne. It’s highly recommended that you start from Lucerne as you get to spend more time on the mountains as cable cars start as early as 8:30 in the morning from here. Ending your packed day with a relaxing boat ride is an added bonus. So here’s some details about a fantastic Golden round trip from Lucerne – Mt. Pilatus – Lucerne.

Catch A Bus From Lucerne to Kriens

mount pilatus in switzerland bus rides
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The first leg of your journey starts by taking a bus from Lucerne. The bus ride takes about 15 minutes to reach Kriens. Once you reach Kriens, a walk of 5 to 10 minutes brings you to the cable car Valley Station. There are plenty of buses at short intervals, so there is no need to plan in advance if you are touring on your own.

Gondola From Kriens To Frakmuntegg

mount pilatus from lucerne by gondola
A woman looking out of the window to the mountain tree autumn colors.

Mount Pilatus cable car ride from Kriens to Mount Pilatus is split into two. The first one is a gondola ride for 4 to Frakmuntegg. This 20 minute ride gives you some great views of the city and lake in the distance. Once here, spend some time exploring the area. You can easily spend time here playing in the rope park that has a zip-line glider, a mountain toboggan and many other activities. 

Dragon Ride From Frakmuntegg To Mt Pilatus

awesome mount pilatus cable car rides
Pilatus Kulm and cable car, summit above Lake Lucerne, Switzerland, Europe

The Dragon Ride with its panoramic windows make you feel like you’re flying high up. This gondola can carry a lot of passengers at a time. The entire scenic ride takes about 4 minutes. After you have come to the end of the cableway, take a short hike along the Dragon’s Path to the summit. 

Enjoy The View From The Top

how to reach mount pilatus from lucerne
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Once you reach the summit, the stunning views from above are sure to take your breath away. There are panorama view terrace where you can relax and take in the fantastic views. You can also access a number of viewpoints to see the different side to the Swiss Alps. When you are done, have a meal at one of the restaurants and get ready for the descent. 

Cogwheel Train To Alpnachstad

the best part of mount pilatus activities
Mount Pilatus descent on worlds steepest cogwheel railway, tourist landscape of Switzerland

It’s now time to experience the most thrilling part of your day, the descent to Alpnachstad. The ride down takes about 40 to 45 minutes and it is an experience in itself. Mt Pilatus cogwheel train is the steepest train in the world. The journey takes you through narrow tunnels, alpine meadows and striking rock formations. Truly an experience to last for a lifetime!

Boat Back To Lucerne

buy boat tickets to mount pilatus in advance
Visitors enjoyig great views from either side of the boat.

Once you touch Alpnachstad, take a boat ride back to Lucerne. This relaxing ride will take about an hour and a half to reach Lucerne. Enjoy the scenic ride while you sit back sipping a drink and relishing on some food that is available on the boat. What more can you ask for from this multi experience filled day. This brings us to the end of a memorable trip to the mountains. 

Tips To Keep In Mind While Planning A Trip To Mount Pilatus 

see the snow on mount pilatus in winter
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  • Book your tickets to Mount Pilatus in advance to avoid last minute disappointments.
  • Start your trip as early as possible to avoid long queues and to make the most of the trip. 
  • All transportation options close by 5 in the evening, so make sure you finish all Mount Pilatus activities and leave by 4:00.
  • Wear a light coat over a t-shirt during summer and make sure to wear good walking shoes or trekking shoes as this trip requires short hikes to a few viewpoints.
  • The weather up in the mountains is very unpredictable, so pack some warm clothes to handle sudden weather changes. 
  • Get a Swiss Travel Pass as it includes all travel systems of Switzerland, including 50% off on cableway and cog rail to Mt Pilatus.

Suggested Reads: 6 Magnificent Mountains In Switzerland For A Dreamy Alpine Vacation

Where else in the world can one experience five different modes of transport and an amazing mountain, all in one day. If you plan to visit Switzerland someday, make sure to take this adventure and see Mount Pilatus, for you are going to love every bit of it! 

How long is a round trip to Mt Pilatus?

The duration of the trip depends on many factors such as, which route you choose, the mode of transportation, activities you want to do while there and the time you want to stay at the top. However on an average it takes about 5-6 hours if you opt for the Golden Round Trip. 

Which is better, Mt Rigi or Mt Pilatus?

They both offer different views from top, hence you won’t be replicating your experience. Mt Rigi offers spectacular views of the Alps, the Swiss lakes, and a variety of alpine flora, while Pilatus offers stunning panoramic vista and beautiful hikes that will give you a chance to see the Swiss Alps from different angles. 

Is one day in Lucerne enough?

One day is enough to see Lucerne city but if you want to head up to Pilatus then we recommend at least two days in the city. Visiting Lucerne and not going up Mt Pilatus is the biggest mistake to do while in Switzerland. To explore at your own pace while enjoying each place you visit, consider extending your visit to 3-days.

Is Mount Pilatus included in Swiss pass?

If you have a Swiss pass, then you get a 50% discount to travel up Mount Pilatus. You can either choose to go up in a gondola and cable cars from Kriens or on a cogwheel from Alpnachstadt. These Swiss passes can be purchased from tourist offices in Zurich, Berne, Geneva and Lucerne or from any major railway station in Switzerland. 

What is the best time to visit Mt Pilatus?

The sunny months between March and September are the best time to visit Mount Pilatus. If you want to see the Alps covered with snow, then plan a visit in the winters. During peak winters the temperatures drop really low and there are high chances that the cogwheel rail and cable cars are closed during this time, hence check before planning your visit.



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