This is one unforgettable side trip you must take. Known as the Golden Round Trip, this includes the boat trip from Lucerne to Alpnachstad and a ride up the world’s steepest cogwheel railway to the Pilatus Kulm peak.
The ride to the top of Mt. Pilatus is one of the most spectacular you will ever experience. It is hard to imagine that the engineers and workers who built the track were able to construct such a massive feat while overcoming the obstacles presented by the steepness of the terrain.
Once at the top, the panoramic views of the lakes and mountains of central Switzerland are spectacular. The grand finale of your trip includes an aerial cable car and gondola ride that gently glides you down along the spine of the mountains to the town of Kriens where a short bus ride brings you back to Lucerne.
But, what’s the hurry? If you are visiting during the summer months, like me, then you will want to linger at Mt. Pilatus before hurrying back down. The Hotel Pilatus-Kulm is where you will want to book at least one overnight stay on the mountain.
There is a budget property and another more upscale boutique hotel (Belle Epoque), which is where I stayed. The rooms are bright, cheery and comfortable. Opening your window lets the cool air in and the sights to the valley floor below are no less than amazing, especially at sunrise and sunset.
You might also see some brave souls paragliding down from the mountain’s summit. This would, of course, be a faster way to descend but I much prefer the slower, safer method. Still, seeing colorful sails floating against a cobalt blue sky is a sight to behold.
The on-site restaurant Queen Victoria (She visited here.) is a great place to relax, have some fine wine and a good meal before strolling outside to watch the setting sun.
Even if you’re not spending the night, as an alternative to immediately descending Mt. Pilatus by aerial tram, you may want to visit Fräkmüntegg, home of central Switzerland’s largest ropes park, especially if you have kids, as they will love playing on all the treetop level attractions.
Finally, when you’re ready, the gondola will bring you gently down to the town of Kriens and back to Lucerne via bus. You can pack a lot into this one to two-day trip and temperatures can drop at the summit so dress accordingly.