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  • Writer's pictureWalter Ponce

Trip to the Pilatus mountain, Switzerland

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Near Lucerne in the Swiss Prealps is a mountain called Mount Pilatus. Because of the rack railway that gets to it, which avoids slopes up to 48%, it is not because of its modest height of 2,132 meters that it is a symbol of mountain excursions in Switzerland. The most well-known excursion in Lucerne and all of central Switzerland, Mount Rigi, is nearby. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable day on the world's steepest rack railway.

One of Switzerland's and all of Europe's natural wonders is the Lake of the Four Cantons. Mountains that rise more than 2,000 meters plunge into the lake, forming an extraordinary and beautiful landscape.

Its name derives from a legend that Pontius Pilate is interred atop it. The legend that dragons lived in Pilatus and the surrounding mountains is even more legendary. As you can see, Pilatus is represented by a dragon.

Getting to Pilatus

There are two main access points to climb Pilatus:

Through Alpnachstad

  • Given that it involves using the renowned rack railway, it is the most well-known method of reaching the summit. Large parking spaces are available at the lower station, which is also easily accessible by train in about 20 minutes from Lucerne Central Station. Another very popular choice is to travel from Lucerne by boat, which enables you to take in the lake's beauty from within.

From Kriens

  • Another option is to ascend from the opposite side of the mountain, though in this instance a cable car is used. The number 1 bus from Lucerne must be taken; it departs from the area near the city's main train station. Take the 15-minute journey and get off at the Kriens stop. The cable car station is a five-minute walk from here.

What to do on the Pilatus

Because the train stops inside the Bellevue hotel, the initial impression is a little odd. As soon as you exit the train, the first thing you see is advertising, posters, and souvenir shops, and it is actually a little confusing. You can tell right away that the area is incredibly touristy and is definitely not going to be one of those remote locations with the allure of the mountains.

You can also see throngs of people climbing the stairs when you step outside onto the spacious outdoor terrace that connects the Pilatus Kulm hotel and the Bellevue hotel. These lead to various vantage points, such as Oberhaupt, from which one can enjoy breathtaking views of the Alps and lakes.

There are a number of stair-accessible viewpoints. If you want to get to the point and only visit one viewpoint, the one at Essel, which is close to the Bellevue hotel, is the best. However, you will need to climb quite a bit for about 10 minutes. The panoramic view of the entire Pilatus enclosure and its location on the erratic orography, as well as the view of the lakes and the Alps, are both breathtaking.

You can also take the Drakenweg, or "path of the dragons," which partially winds through a stunning rock gallery, before descending from the summit.

I advise you to ascend the 2,132-meter Tomlishorn, which serves as the apex of the entire Pilatus environment. The sensational path is located between the rock and the abyss, and it is a straightforward and straightforward path. Crows and the brave who parachute in an unforgettable environment call them their homes.

Longest mountain slide in Switzerland

One of my day's highlights was the mountain slide at Fräkmüntegg's intermediate station (1,416 m). You can reach it via the breathtaking and futuristic panoramic cable car that departs from the Bellevue hotel's underground floor, which was my second stop.

Switzerland's longest rodelbahn, offering a thrilling 1,350-meter descent, is a must-try at CHF 8 per ride (children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult). There's also a variety of hiking trails and an adventure park, the Seilpark.

While the route is stunning and you can pick up speed, safety precautions are essential. It's crucial to obey all safety signs, especially when they indicate you should stop.


Overall, the experience at Pilatus is great. Many people complained about the amount of people but in my point of view is just part of being in such a popular place. There are some areas that are less crowded and quite enjoyable. I had the chance to visit this place a few times and I can say its one of my favourite spots in Switzerland.



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