The peaks of Mount Pilatus form a stunning backdrop to the city of Lucerne. With the highest point of the mountain towering 2,132 meters above sea level, it’s little wonder visitors flock to the summit all year round to take in the magnificent panoramic views from the Tomlishorn peak. Travel to the summit by cable car, gondola or on the world’s steepest cogway railway, and marvel at some of Switzerland’s most picturesque scenery.
Panoramic views from the Tomlishorn peak
Just a short drive or train journey south of Lucerne, Mount Pilatus is ideal for a daytrip and offers some of the country’s most remarkable scenery. Catch one of the regular train departures to the Mount Pilatus area from the Bahnhof train station, situated within short walking distance of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Lucerne.
The summit of Mount Pilatus can be reached by cable car or gondola from the western Lucerne suburb of Kriens all year round, whilst the cogwheel railway operates from Alpnachstad from May to late October. Alpnachstad can be reached by train or by boat across Lake Lucerne during the summer months.
A ‘Golden Round Trip’ ticket package can be useful during May to October, and includes the boat trip to Alpnachstad, as well as access to the cog railway and aerial cableways. Prices start at 97 Swiss Franc (€80) for adults.
Hit the peaks on the world’s steepest cogwheel railway
The Pilatus Cog Railway has ferried passengers to the top of the peaks since 1889, having originally operated on steam prior to switching to electricity in 1937. Operating between the months of May to October, visitors can enjoy unrivalled views of the peaks and Lake Lucerne during the 30 min journey past green meadows and steep rock faces to the summit.
The 4.6km long journey will see you climb over 1600 meters, making it the steepest railway track in the world. Trains depart every 40 minutes, although you should be prepared for longer waiting times during busy periods.
Take the Aerial Cableways to the top
If you’re travelling outside the railway operating months, or if you simply fancy an alternative journey to the top, then why not hop aboard the Aerial Cableway in Kriens? Needless to say, the five minute journey to the summit (Pilatus Kulm) provides unforgettable views of the surrounding landscape.
Alternatively, spend 30 min on the Panorama Gondola, which also runs regular departures from Kriens. It features over 130 cabins, each holding up to four people at a time. This is a particularly appealing method of transport during the winter, when the cabins pass over the snow covered treetops in the vast forests that lead up to the mountain.
Once you reach the summit, simply follow the marked hiking trails which are clearly signposted by the platform. Tomlishorn is the furthest peak on Mount Pilatus and can be reached by following The Flower Trail; a winding path which takes you to Tomlishorn in roughly thirty minutes. The panoramic views from the peak are something to behold, and on a clear day you can even catch a glimpse of the Swiss Alps and the Black Forest.
The legends of Mount Pilatus
The towering mountain peaks of Mount Pilatus have captured the imagination of locals and travellers since the medieval times, and to this day people still tell tales of the mythical creatures and mysterious powers that lurk within the mountain.
Legends about dragons frequenting the deep caverns within the mountain have existed for centuries, but if the stories are to be believed then these fire breathing beasts need not be feared. In fact, the dragons of Mount Pilatus are believed to possess special healing powers. According to one popular legend, a young traveller once fell off the cliff face late at night, only to awake to the sight of two enormous dragons towering over him. His fears were soon allayed however, as they spent the winter feeding him special moon-milk. On the first day of spring, he grabbed hold of a dragon’s tail and was airlifted back to safety.
The man’s epic tale was then depicted on a silk garment which can today be found in the Church of St. Leodegar in Lucerne.
Take a guided mountain tour
Echo Trails provide full day excursions to Mount Pilatus from May to October, with both guided hikes and bike tours on offer. The excursion features several hours of walking on easy to moderate terrain, including a trek to Pilatus Tomlishorn, and also takes in the Panorama Gondola and cog wheel railway.
The tour starts and concludes at Lucerne (Bahnhof) train station, running from 8.45 am to 5.40pm.