Jan 24, 2019
In my last post, which was about Lucerne, I mentioned the Pilatus mountain as another thing you should definitely see when visiting the city. This topic is interesting enough to cover in its own article to show you breathtaking panorama views the mountain has to offer. So let’s start with this photography post of what to see in Lucerne – Pilatus.
Located on the foot of the Alps in Central Switzerland, Lucerne is surrounded by Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) on one side and by high mountains on the other one. Mount Pilatus is one of them, consisting of few peaks where the highest one is called Tomlishorn.
There are three ways to get on top of this 7000-feet-tall mountain.
1. Take a cable car
2. Use the steepest cogwheel railway in the world
What to see in Lucerne What to see in Lucerne What to see in Lucerne Pilatus Pilatus Pilatus
I opted for the cable car when going upwards and the cogwheel railway to get me down the mountain.
The top of Mount Pilatus is 2132 metres above sea level so it has prone to bad weather conditions. It is better to decide when to go up just the day you want and buy tickets afterwards.
If you are OK with being up for a bit more than an hour, which is completely sufficient to enjoy the views but not to sit down there or to hike, I recommend you to take the last cable car up at 5 PM and the cogwheel train down at 6:45 PM. This will allow you to be almost alone on the top.
You can take a tram from the city centre to Kriens where the cable car starts. It gets to you to Fräkmüntegg, which is an interchange station, and then continue with the Aerial Cableway “Dragon Ride” to the top of Mount Pilatus. That’s how I did it. The entire transfer from the Lucerne downtown to the top takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
After finishing exploring the Lucerne city centre, I bought the tickets at an information desk at the main train station. It was about 40 minutes prior to the last cable car going up. I was told I had to hurry up to manage to get on the top today, so five minutes before closing I was sitting in the cable car. Could sweat buckets, but it definitely paid off!
The Dragon Ride
After changing lines at Fräkmüntegg, the Aerial Cableway brings you up. It has windows extending from top to the floor, which is great for taking photographs. You can enjoy impressive views of the canton of Lucerne the whole journey upwards. For a couple of minutes, you fly through the air climbing to 2132 metres above sea level.
On the top
There are plenty of things to do once reaching the top. The best one, probably that why everyone comes here, is the panorama. In good weather conditions, you can see up to dozens of kilometres far. There are even hotels and restaurants up there so staying overnight is possible. The Pilatus-Kulm Hotel in the right picture and the Bellevue Hotel in the left one offer lodging, food and relaxation. You can also give hiking paths a try as there are several of them.
Pilatus is a popular starting place for paraglider pilots so you will see many of them on a sunny day.
And now the views… no words needed
Just for better awareness – these three panoramic views cover direction shown in the picture on the right and the viewing distance is about 30 kilometres.
It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t show you an airport when possible 🙂
And if you are really lucky, you may see animals walking on the steep sides of the rock with ease.
The cogwheel railway
The cogwheel railway going to Pilatus from Alpnachstadt was commissioned in 1889. Reaching a gradient of up to 48
What is cogwheel railway? It’s a steep grade railway with a rack rail between the running rails. The trains are fitted with a gear that enables them to mesh with the rack rail to climb steep grades where friction-based trains would be neither effective nor safe.
The train gets you to Alpnachstadt in about 30 minutes, making one other stop during the journey.
The train travels at speeds about 10 km/h ascending and descending such steep grades as shown above. Make sure to sit in the front or at the back of the carriage so that you could see the track.
While going, many views are still open so taking a couple of nice photographs is possible.
Aforementioned time and price are only approximate.
There are other ways visitors can enjoy Lucerne and Pilatus such as the Golden Round Trip which combines the railway and cable cars with a boat trip on Lake Lucerne for about 100 CHF per adult.
So we’ve come to the end of the trip. I hope this article will help you when visiting Mt. Pilatus and Lucerne. If you haven’t seen my article about the city, you can find it here.
Have you been to Pilatus or Lucerne yet? If so, what did you like the most? Let me know in the comment section down below.
And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more photos.