Lake Lucerne. 4. Pilatus mountain

Last Updated on 26/02/2023

The tourist fame of Pilatus can compete that of the Jungfrau. And this is well deserved: an expressive silhouette against the sky, different ways of ascent with Pilatus mountain train and cable car, stunning views from above and additional entertainments. Pilatus is a full day excursion.

Lake Lucerne. 1. Brunnen, Schwyz
Swiss trail. Lake Uri
From Seelisberg to Stans
Rigi, Tierpark Goldau
Lucerne (Luzern)
Lake Lucerne. Map of attractions
Switzerland by car

According to legend, Pilatus is so named because Pontius Pilate is buried here. The locals believed that every year on Holy Friday he gets up and tries to wash his hands from the blood of Christ in a mountain lake.

But, according to the majority of scientists, much closer to the truth the version that the name comes from the Latin “in the clouds”.

How to get to Pilatus

In Pilatus’s case, the road is amusement in itself, especially the first option. You can ascent the Pilatus mountain in two ways:

  1. cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad. Alpnachstad can be reached by ship (different duration depending on the starting point – up to 3 hours from Brunnen) or by train from Lucerne (20 minutes)
  2. cable car from the Lucerne suburb of Kriens. Trolleybus 1 runs to Kriens from Lucerne (from the train station) (quite long and dreary during rush hour).
Pilatus mountain map
enlarge Map data ©OpenTopoMap, ©OpenStreetMap

Pilatus is steep and rocky from the side where the railway rises. Towards Lucerne, this is a huge rocky block, stuck into a relatively gentle wooded slope.

Additional entertainment

  1. Glassblowing workshop in Hergiswil (
  2. Cable car with lake views in Hergiswil (
  3. Toboggan with a gutter, a small path on the trees (Wipfelpfad), climbing forest and mountain bike routes – the first intermediate cable car station Fräckmüntegg on the descent from Pilatus.
  4. Quite a large playground – the second intermediate station of the cable car from the top.

Let’s go up the Pilatus with Pilatus mountain train

Since the return ships from Alpnachstad leave early, and we wanted to go back and forth on a ship, we decided to go up by cogwheel rail and go down by cable car and take ship back from Lucerne. It turned out that catching the return ship from Lucerne was also not very realistic and we had to return by train.

How to get to Pilatus

Cogwheels train rocks at a 45 degree angle like stubborn red beetles. Sometimes they pass along thin bridges over an abyss and hide in tunnels in places where they cannot otherwise be passed. We sit in a carriage, where the rows of seats are arranged one above the other and gaze in horror into the abyss. But all the same, I convince myself that this method of travel is safer than the cable car (carefully ignoring my husband’s explanations of how it can break and what will happen then).

On the way there is an intermediate stop, where oncoming trains pass and from where enthusiasts go up on foot. Haha, they still don’t know about the endless steep climb at the end of the path. At the beginning of summer there is not so bad, you can admire the flowers. But in July-August under the burning sun … At the end there are steep rocks and tunnels, and at the turn you can see how the same small carriage stubbornly climbs up.

Zigzags along the talus – walking path up. And after all, there are a lot of people, the majority are more likely crawling, gasping for breath.

Upstairs there are observation platforms (you can climb the stairs even higher and get a wonderful 360-degree panorama), an restaurant (as always), a simpler snack bar, a hotel.

The Dragon Path has been cut through the rocks. The tale of dragons (oddly enough, the characters are quite positive, unlike Pilate) living on the mountain is another legend from the Middle Ages. You can walk around the mountain in half an hour along the trail.

Lake from above. Opposite, behind the lake, Rigi.



Stans and Mount Stanserhorn in the center. There should be a white Titlis (triangle peak) on the right.


On the horizon to the right is the Jungfrau massif.

Let’s look down and be surprised at those who decided to climb on foot

View to the other side

We return clockwise to Lucerne.

Going down with cable car

From the top down the first line of the cable car descends from steep rocks to more gentle slopes. The first stopover is called Fräkmüntegg.

Here is the longest toboggan in Switzerland and a rope park. The toboggan, although long, is not very fast. Everywhere there are signs “Brake!”, Which greatly interferes with driving, since in reality it is necessary to slow down in only a couple of places.

The rope park will not be easy to attach to the circular route as it is time consuming (3 hours in average). It is better then to start with it and early in the morning.

Another attraction: Wipfelpfad, the treetop road. In this case, this is a simplified and free option: instead of a serious road, small platforms surrounded by a net and the same net crossings.

Finally, such a “child-pensioner” version of Tyrolienne on a pipe and at low speed – Dragon Glieder. You sit in a paragliding seat and slide along a pipe along a circular route at a speed of up to 12 km / h.

Further down there is a gondols cable car with one intermediate station. If you have the opportunity and desire, you can walk one of the sections.

To get to Lucerne, from the lower station of the cable car, you need to walk along the signs to the trolleybus (about seven minutes). The trolleybus goes to the station / pier. But there was a very decent traffic jam in front of the station in the evening, so it is recommended to get off on the stop earlier.

Next – #lake Lucerne, Lucerne
Lake Lucerne. Map of attractions
Switzerland by car

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