Nestled between the breathtaking Swiss Alps and the serene waters of Lake Lucerne, the city of Lucerne is the perfect place to base yourself if you’re looking for a relaxing break. The fresh air, fantastic scenery and a myriad of outdoor activities mean that just about everyone will find their ideal retreat – whether it involves being active or simply sunbathing by the lake.
The peaks that surround the city of Lucerne never really leave your eye line and beckon you to explore them at every opportunity. Once you have discovered the sights of the city centre, it may well be time to head to higher ground. Here are some of the best things to do in the mountains around Lake Lucerne.
This standalone mountain is one of the most popular in the region and offers spectacular views all around. The best way to get there is to take the ferry from Lucerne to Vitznau and then jump on the oldest cogwheel railway in Europe. As you climb at a steady pace, you can either choose to stop at Rigi-Kaltbad or continue all the way to Rigi-Klum for vistas that stretch as far as Germany and France.
Our recommendation is to head to the top and then stop at Rigi-Kaltbad on the way back down. Here, you can enjoy the mineral baths, shop for souvenirs or take the cable car across to the town of Weggis. Children will also love the chance to run riot on the playground known as Rigiland.
A journey known as the Golden Round Trip makes a visit to Pilatus one filled with adrenaline pumping experiences and unrivalled views. You start by taking the ferry from Lucerne to Alpnachstad, before riding the world’s steepest cog railway to the summit at Pilatus Kulm, past Alpine flora and trickling streams. At the top, you can enjoy a delicious meal at the Bellevue Restaurant and then make your way down to Fräkmüntegg via the innovative Dragon Ride cable car.
Here, you’ll find the Pilatus Rope Park, complete with a freefall experience known as Powerfan, and a choice in ways to get back down the rest of the mountain. You can either continue the cable car theme and take the 30-minute panoramic journey to Kriens or opt for Switzerland’s longest summer toboggan run. Not for the faint hearted, the steel track takes you round twists and turns, over jumps, and even through tunnels.
Your journey to the summit of the Stanserhorn will begin in the city of Stans, which can be reached via ferry (75 minutes) or train (20 minutes) from Lucerne. From there, you will be taken part of the way up the mountain in the charming funicular railway, before switching to an open air cable car which has a viewing platform on the top of the gondola. At the top, you can take a break in the revolving restaurant or enjoy the spectacular views from the platform that stretches out from the mountainside. Hiking trails also wind through the flower reserve and the Marmot Park, giving you plenty of choices if you want to explore more of the summit.
Mount Titlis is located further away from the lake than many of the other peaks, but the fantastic activities available make it well worth the trip. To start your journey, you need to reach the town of Engelberg, which can be done by train from Lucerne. Then you will experience not one, but two different cable cars that will take you to the summit station, including the world’s first rotating cable car – Titlis Rotair.
Did we mention that Titlis has a glacier? Once at the mountain station of Kleintitlis, you can walk through the glacier cave and admire ice that dates all the way to prehistoric times. Then, take a deep breath as you step onto the Cliff Walk, a metal suspension bridge that is at a higher altitude than any other in Europe. It’s 100 metres long and offers fantastic views over the side of the mountain and into the valley.
Having braved the Cliff Walk, you can then take a ride on the Ice Flyer, a smooth chairlift that whisks you along just metres from the snow so that you can peer into some of the dramatic crevasses below. When you get off the other end, you will find yourself in the thrilling Glacier Park. Activities here include snow tubing in rubber rings, a tandem luge known as a ‘snake gliss’ and mini toboggans. And the best part is, the Glacier Cave and Glacier Park are both absolutely free.
If Titlis is a mountain for thrill-seekers, Klewenalp is perfect for those who would rather take it easy. Start your day with a leisurely ferry trip to the town of Beckenried, where you can stroll through the charming streets or enjoy a quick coffee before making your way to the summit. To do this, take the cable car up to Klewenalp-Stockhütte where you can enjoy the wonderful views, hike one of the trails or visit the animals in the petting zoo. You can also discover the Ricola Herb Garden where fragrant herbs are grown to produce Swiss cough sweets.
The journey back down from Klewnalp can be much quicker than the trip in the opposite direction - that is if you choose to travel by Bikeboard. These large scooters can be hired for about 10 Sfrs and will help you navigate the twists and turns along the three and a half mile route to Emmetten.
Bürgenstock & Hammetschwand Lift
The Bürgenstock Mountain peak is situated on a peninsula that stretches into Lake Lucerne. A brand new luxury resort is currently being built at the top, which will feature stunning private residences, panoramic hotels, tranquil spas and fine dining restaurants – all in front of a breathtaking backdrop. Sadly, the work to build the resort means that the journey to the top of the Bürgenstock plateau is currently more difficult than it will be by the end of 2017.
At the moment, you will need to take the ferry from Lucerne to the town of Stansstad and then take the bus. By the end of the year, the funicular service should be up and running again, though. You will be dropped off close to the Tavern 1879 restaurant, where you can indulge in a variety of Swiss delicacies and soak up the stunning views. To get higher though, you can walk to the Hammetschwand Lift. This is the highest external public elevator in Europe and the fastest in the world. It will take you up 44 metres in less than a minute, dropping you off at a viewing platform offering scenic sightlines across the region.
A visit to Seelisberg starts with a ferry trip to the historic town of Treib, before climbing aboard the funicular to reach the summit. As well as views over Rutli Meadow, where members of the original cantons of Switzerland signed the confederation, you can visit the Aschwanden cheese factory to see how the local Seelisberger cheese is made. A short bus ride or 45-minute stroll will take you to the shores of Lake Seeli, where waters of around 24 degrees beckon you in for a swim.
When you are done exploring the summit, you can venture back down the way you came up or take the scenic journey towards Klewenalp. This involves walking to Emmitten, taking the cable car to Stockhütte, continuing your hike onto Klewenalp and then taking the cable car back down to Beckenried.
There are so many fantastic activities to enjoy across the breathtaking peaks that surround Lake Lucerne – enough to fill a few trips to this beautiful part of the world. If you are planning to base yourself in Lucerne, it’s worth investing in a Tell Pass, which will give you free transport on all of the trains, ferries, buses and cable cars that you will need to use during your holiday. Call our specialist team on 0800 988 3369 to see how we can add a two, three, four, five or ten-day Tell Pass to your booking.