When I visited Switzerland to attend the Travel Classics conference, I was ready to start a campaign to change its slogan to “Seriously, how is this fair?”. Because Switzerland may very well be the only country on earth that can confidently say “Yeah, we’ve got that too.” And chances are, their version is a lot more scenic than yours.
Mountains with insane views? Check!
Green lakes fed by glacial waters? Check!
Sickeningly cute architecture? Check!
Beaches? Hmmm…. Give us a minute…
To say it is a captivating country is quite the understatement. Switzerland was made for postcards. It’s a “pretty” kind of beauty, not a jagged and rough beauty like the Faroe Islands.
While visiting Lucerne (I already gave 50 visual reasons to visit it!), it’s hard to miss the resting giant that looms over the city – Mount Pilatus rising 2,132 meters above sea level. And on clear days when you see its fullness – looking like the perfect triangle-shaped drawings from your childhood – you’re left wondering how on earth this much physical beauty in a single country is fair.
Pilatus is a highly recommended day trip – just 15 minutes by car – from Lucerne and was one of our post-conference tours. Getting there by train takes about an hour and then there are two ways up – via cogwheel train from Alpnachstad and cable car from Kriens.
Getting to the mountain from Kriens first requires a panoramic gondola ride that slowly takes you over lush fir forests before swapping with the aerial cable car that feels like you’re ascending into heaven. If you’re up for it, trail running back down the mountain is popular with locals.
Besides the impressive 360-degree views from atop Pilatus, it also has the steepest cogwheel railway in the world, which makes for quite an exciting ride back down the mountain. It was commissioned in 1889 and covers a gradient of up to 48 percent incline in roughly 30 minutes.
On the ride down, I met an elderly couple – two friends – who were taking the cogwheel train with us. Initially assuming they were also travelers, I found out they were actually Swiss locals who loved coming up their mountain every month.
With a backyard like this, I’d probably be up there every week.
Here are a few photos from my time exploring Mount Pilatus on a day trip from Lucerne.
Mount Pilatus has a fantastic website with all the pertinent information you need – from how to get there by train, boat, bus or car, as well as the most current ticket prices (yes, it’s pricy but so worth it).