If you’re looking for a longer journey to one of the Lucerne region’s scenic high points, a trip up Mt. Pilatus is the way to go (photo above shows the view from the mountain overlooking Lake Lucerne to the east). Pilatus is the local mountain, a dramatic part of the skyline, and worthwhile viewpoint. There are a couple ways to get to Pilatus, and the Golden Roundtrip gives you a little bit of everything – boat and cogwheel train to the top, gondola and bus back down.
Start with a lake boat ride from Lucerne to Alpnachstad. Lucerne’s boat station is just in front of the train station, and the boats take about 50 minutes to reach Alpnachstad (you can also get there in 17 minutes by train). Here you board the steepest cogwheel train in Switzerland, doggedly pulling you up the 48 percent grade to the rocky summit at 2132 meters (6994 ft). The cogwheel train takes about 30 minutes, and you’ll arrive at the summit station with hiking options to fit all moods and ability levels. Scenic panoramic views can even be found from inside the Pilatus station if the weather changes quickly or you just need to grab a bite to eat before continuing to explore.
For the descent, take the cable car down to Fräkmüntegg, a very pleasant stop half-way down where you can enjoy a nice local restaurant, the Pilatus rope park, alpine summer luge slide, or an excellent playground for children.
From Fräkmüntegg, you’ll connect to the gondola that will drop you into Kriens, where there are regular bus connections back to Lucerne (follow the painted footsteps from the gondola station to the bus stop at the bottom).
The roundtrip from Lucerne to Pilatus costs CHF 72. Swiss Pass holders can enjoy free travel throughout the Pilatus travel network for the rest of 2017, and a 50% discount starting in 2018. Half-fare card holders receive a 50% discount.