Mount Pilatus in Switzerland looms over Lucerne, and is home to the steepest cogwheel railway you’ll find anywhere on earth.
It is a mountain massif comprising a number of peaks, the highest of these is Tomlishorn, which is situated some 2,132 metres above sea level.
An excursion to Mt. Pilatus is one of the top things to do in Lucerne and you’ll see why in this guide.
Taking the Pilatus train to reach the summit is one of the highlights of any visit, and once you arrive there are plenty of Mount Pilatus activities to get involved in.
This famous Lucerne mountain sets the scene for a Pilatus hike during the warmer months, or snow fun during the Mount Pilatus winter season.
If you’re thinking of visiting Pilatus mountain, this guide can help you plan your day or overnight stay there.
Covered is the basic geography of the area, various ways to get to Mount Pilatus from Lucerne, how and where to buy the tickets you’ll need and options for an overnight trip.
Also included is how long to spend there, the weather, what to do when you arrive and frequently asked questions about visiting Pilatus in Switzerland.
Whether you’re interested in hiking Pilatus, are looking for a hotel in Pilatus or simply want to ride the ultra-steep Pilatus railway for the incredible views, read on to plan the Swiss mountain trip of a lifetime.
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Quick Summary of Mt. Pilatus Ticket Options
|Type of ticket||Price per adult||Where to buy|
|Regular tickets from Kriens||From CHF 78.00||BUY HERE|
|Regular tickets from Alpnachstad||From CHF 78.00||BUY HERE|
|Swiss Half Fare Card holder||From CHF 39.00||BUY HERE|
|Swiss Travel Pass holder||From CHF 39.00||BUY HERE|
|Tell Pass holder||Free travel||BUY HERE|
|Self-guided Golden Round trip from Lucerne||From CHF 111.60||BUY HERE|
|Guided day trip from Lucerne||From CHF 127.00||BUY HERE|
|Day trip from Zurich||From CHF 154.00||BUY HERE|
Click on the quick links below to buy your Mt. Pilatus tickets
What is Mt. Pilatus?
Mount Pilatus is actually a series of peaks. This mountain massif can be found among the Emmental Alps, and at its highest point is 2,132 metres above sea level.
Tomlishorn is the tallest peak of the Pilatus massif, Esel reaches 2,118 metres whilst Oberhaupt is 2,106 metres above sea level.
The mountain is a popular place to visit, especially for those staying in Lucerne. Its cogwheel railway is the steepest in the world, making the trip a thrilling ride as well as a very picturesque one.
Once at the top, hiking, winter sports and mountain biking are among the activities available.
Where is Mt. Pilatus?
So where is Mount Pilatus? This massif in Switzerland can be found within the cantons of Nidwalden, Obwalden and Lucerne, with the largest peaks lining the border between Nidwalden and Obwalden.
The highest peaks should only be accessed on foot by those with experience and specialist Alpine climbing equipment.
Otherwise, visitors can access Mount Pilatus in various ways. The Golden Round Trip is one option involving a series of different forms of transport for a rounded experience.
Whether you opt to take this Golden route or not, at least part of your journey will involve a cogwheel train, gondola or cable car ride.
How to get to Mt. Pilatus
This section covers your options for getting to Mount Pilatus in Switzerland. You can travel from Lucerne via Kriens or Alpnachstad or just go as high as Fräkmüntegg, and all three of these routes are detailed below.
Whichever you go for, don’t forget that in this scenic part of Europe, getting there is one of the most enjoyable parts of the journey.
Getting to Mt. Pilatus from Lucerne by train
Route: Lucerne > Alpnachstad (boat or train) > Pilatus (cogwheel train)
The first way to get to Mt. Pilatus from Lucerne is to take a trip via Alpnachstad. Travelling from Alpnachstad to Pilatus involves taking either a steamer boat trip across Lake Lucerne or a train ride via Zentralbahn’s Brünigbahn line.
Alpnachstad is where the Pilatus bahn (train) departs from. This train line is the world’s steepest and operates between May and November – provided inclement weather conditions don’t put a stop to services which does happen occasionally.
Getting from Lucerne to Mt. Pilatus via Alpnachstad involves a boat or train journey followed by a trip on the cogwheel railway. The trip can also be done in reverse for the return leg.
The cogwheel train journey from Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm takes 30 minutes.
Getting to Mt. Pilatus from Lucerne by cable car
Route: Lucerne > Kriens (bus) > Fräkmüntegg (gondola) > Pilatus Kulm (cable car)
Another option for getting from Lucerne to Mount Pilatus is to travel from Kriens to Pilatus as the cable car service to the top of the mountain runs between Pilatus and Kriens.
If you want to get to Mount Pilatus in Switzerland this way, you’ll need to board bus number 1 at Bus Stop A in Lucerne (the bus stop is opposite Lucerne’s main train station).
It’s then a 10-minute walk from the Kriens bus stop to the cable car station.
Firstly, you take the panorama gondola between Kriens and Fräkmüntegg via Krienseregg (journey time 30 minutes) and you then connect to a second cable car, known as the Dragon Ride onwards to Pilatus Kulm (5 minute journey time.
The cable car is so called due to the mythical Mount Pilatus dragon said to live on the summit. It takes passengers for a scenic trip between Fräkmüntegg and Pilatus Kulm.
Do note, however, that the cable car does normally close for a short spell in autumn or winter – you can find out more about that here.
Getting to Mt. Pilatus (Fräkmüntegg) from Lucerne
Route: Lucerne > Kriens (bus) > Fräkmüntegg (cable car)
Should you not wish to go all the way to Pilatus-Kulm, you can go just as far as Fräkmüntegg by taking the panorama gondola from Kriens. The cabins have a generously-sized interior and panoramic viewing windows.
The route is so called due to the mythical Mount Pilatus dragon said to live on the summit. It takes passengers for a scenic trip between Fräkmüntegg and Pilatus Kulm, and is subject to similar closures during the off-peak season.
The Mt. Pilatus Golden Round Trip
Route: Lucerne > Kriens (bus) > Pilatus (cable car) > Alpnachstad (cogwheel train) > Lucerne (boat)
One of the most popular ways to get to Mount Pilatus from Lucerne is to take the famous Golden Round Trip. This is a round trip excursion that covers four different means of transport – bus, cable car, cogwheel train and boat.
The first leg is a 15-minute bus trip from Lucerne to Kriens, from where you’ll take two cable cars to Mt Pilatus. For the return trip from Mt. Pilatus to Lucerne, you will descend via the cogwheel railway to Alpnachstad.
From there a boat will transport you back to Lucerne via the lake.
The Mount Pilatus Golden Round Trip can also be done in reverse, travelling first by boat then by cogwheel train, cable car and bus.
The Mt. Pilatus Silver Round Trip
Route: Lucerne > Kriens (bus) > Pilatus (cable car) > Alpnachstad (cogwheel train) > Lucerne (train)
If you have limited time or are visiting Mt. Pilatus during winter when the cogwheel train is not operating, you can still experience the Mount Pilatus Silver Round Trip.
In essence, it’s the same as the Golden Round Trip apart from the fact that the boat trip to or from Lucerne is not included.
This leg is taken by train instead, making this a popular option among railway enthusiasts – or those who don’t enjoy travelling across the water.
The Silver Round Trip can also be followed in either direction.
Mt. Pilatus Timetable
Alpnachstad cogwheel train
Taking the Mt. Pilatus train from Alpnachstad is a must if you are visiting Switzerland between late May and late November, when it is in operation.
Services depart twice per hour throughout the day and each trip takes about 30 minutes.
View the timetable here.
Kriens cable car
The Mt. Pilatus cable car from Kriens runs during all four seasons, but as mentioned above it may be closed for maintenance between October and November or January and February.
Services operate continuously from 8.30 or 9am until 4pm or later.
Find out more here.
Fräkmüntegg ‘Dragon Ride’
The Pilatus Dragon Ride operates between Fräkmüntegg and Pilatus Kulm on the same dates as the cable car from Kriens.
You can see the current timetable here.
Mt. Pilatus Tickets
If you want to purchase Mount Pilatus tickets you can opt to purchase individual tickets for the cogwheel train or cable car plus train, bus or boat tickets for the trip from Lucerne.
Golden Round Trip, cable car & cogwheel train tickets
Pilatus prices for tickets vary according to the route chosen. You can check current fares for the cable car, dragon ride and cogwheel train to Pilatus here, including child and adult prices.
The Mount Pilatus price you’ll pay also depends on whether or not you hold any kind of transport pass or card.
Standard adult fares are more expensive, because children and holders of a Swiss Half Fare Card get a 50% discount. Anyone holding a Swiss Travel Pass, Interrail or Eurail Pass can also travel more cheaply.
Regular adult return fares are as follows, so you can compare prices:
- Mount Pilatus from Alpnachstad or Kriens – CHF 78
- Golden Round Trip – from CHF 111.60
- Mount Pilatus from Alpnachstad/Kriens with Swiss Travel Pass/Interrail/Eurail – CHF 39
If you’re buying a Golden Round Trip pass, we recommend buying it here.
You can also buy Silver Round Trip tickets here.
Mount Pilatus day trips
Another option for visiting the Pilatus mountain in Switzerland is to take an organised day trip. Just like the self-guided Mt. Pilatus tour tickets mentioned above, guided day trips can be booked in advance online*.
*Tickets are fully refundable up to 24 hours prior to departure, which is reassuring should the weather forecast not be favourable on the day you are scheduled to travel.
Guided Mount Pilatus tour via cruise, cable car & cogwheel train
This guided tour is ideal for those who want to put the planning into someone else’s hands and just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery.
It includes luxury coach travel to Kriens, the ‘dragon’ ride and a trip on the steepest cogwheel train in the world. You will also take a cruise across the lake to Lucerne.
Discover this guided day trip to Mount Pilatus here.
Self-guided Pilatus day trip from Alpnachstad or Kriens
Rather than being a guided tour, this trip is the easy way to buy tickets for the cable car, dragon ride and cogwheel train and travel at your own pace.
You can begin this trip from Alpnachstad or Kriens, which you can reach by bus, train or boat from Lucerne as detailed above.
Find out all about this self-guided tour to Mount Pilatus here.
You can explore more options for visiting Mount Pilatus on the following links, including
Private day tours to Mt. Pilatus
If you would prefer to let someone else make all the arrangements on your behalf, why not book a private day tour to Mt. Pilatus?
The tour can be arranged to suit your exact time frame and requirements, plus you’ll benefit from pick up and drop off at your hotel and the services of a private driver/guide throughout the day.
Find out more about the advantages of booking a private day tour to Mt. Pilatus here.
Where to buy Mt. Pilatus Tickets
Use the links below to buy your tickets to Mt. Pilatus
|Type of ticket||Where to buy|
|Regular tickets from Kriens||BUY HERE|
|Regular tickets from Alpnachstad||BUY HERE|
|Swiss Half Fare Card holder||BUY HERE|
|Swiss Travel Pass holder||BUY HERE|
|Tell Pass holder||BUY HERE|
|Self-guided golden day trip from Lucerne||BUY HERE|
|Guided day trip from Lucerne||BUY HERE|
|Day trip from Zurich||BUY HERE|
Things to do at Mt. Pilatus
Although the Mount Pilatus weather will clearly have an impact on what you can do when you reach the summit, there are lots of Pilatus activities to take part in at all times of the year.
If you have your heart set on travelling by cogwheel train, though, don’t forget that it is closed during winter and early spring as detailed above.
In summer, Pilatus hiking is one of the key activities to get involved in, and the mountain is also home to the Pilatus toboggan run. Adrenaline-inducing experiences and winter sports are also very popular here.
Read on to find out more about the fun things to do at Mt. Pilatus.
Activities at Krienseregg
Krienseregg is a great destination for families with young children. Here you’ll find an adventure playground, BBQ areas and a restaurant.
Activities at Fräkmüntegg
The middle station of Fräkmüntegg is home to the Fräkmüntegg Experience where you’ll find a wide range of activities to enjoy. These include a summer toboggan run, a zip line and a rope park.
There’s also an excellent restaurant with terrace at Fräkmüntegg.
Mt. Pilatus toboggan run
The toboggan run on Pilatus is a favourite activity among visitors. Just a short walk from the cable car station, the Fräkigaudi route is Switzerland’s longest summer toboggan run at 1,350 metres long – and it’s lots of fun!
Featuring steep curves, tunnels and even two jumps, the toboggan run is suitable for all ages. Children over 8 years old can ride alone, and those under 5 can ride with a parent.
Each toboggan/sled is fitted with a brake so the rider can control their speed as they hurtle down the track. A pulley system then pulls the rider and toboggan back to the starting point.
Fräkigaudi toboggan run is open daily from mid-April until 22 October. Rides cost CHF 9 per adult, CHF 7 per child (8-16 years) and CHF 5 per child (6 and 7 years).
Mt. Pilatus Rope Park
Age is absolutely no barrier to having some safe climbing-based fun at the Mount Pilatus rope park. As long as you’re aged over eight and are feeling suitably adventurous, you can challenge your agility on ten different routes.
You will visit up to 11 ‘stations’ as you balance, climb and zipline your way through the park – coming across various obstacles along the way.
For younger adventurers, the new PILU Rope Park allows children from 4 to 8 years old to tackle a rope course featuring seven different stages. Children are safely secured at all times.
Admission to the Rope Park for three hours costs CHF 28 per adult and CHF 21 per child (8 to 15 years inclusive). Family discounts apply.
The PILU Rope Park costs CHF 12 per child (4 to 7 years inclusive) for one hour.
The Rope Park is open daily from late April until 22 October (subject to weather conditions).
Fancy flying through the air like a dragon? Then the Dragon Glider is for you!
Whilst safely secured by a harness and carabiner to a zipline, you’ll zip through the forest seven metres above the ground.
With a maximum speed of 12 kilometres per hour, and integrated brakes, the Dragon Glider is perfectly safe but still offers an adrenaline rush on the 500 metre ride.
Rides on the Dragon Glider cost CHF 10 per adult and CHF 6 per child. Operating dates are the same as the Rope Park.
Activities at Pilatus Kulm
Mt. Pilatus is steeped in a history of myths and legends relating to dragons and you can learn all about these fascinating stories on the Dragon Way.
The pathway clings to the side of the mountain with ‘peep holes’ in the rock face framing picturesque views of Lake Lucerne and the valley below.
The trail is partly closed in winter.
There are more dragon myths and legends to be discovered in Dragon World, where an interactive tour awaits.
See the fire-breathing dragon fly through the air and learn when the first dragon appeared on Mt. Pilatus.
This virtual experience will entertain young and old alike.
Next door to Dragon World, a short film shares the history of the Pilatus cogwheel railway, the world’s steepest.
Sunset and Sunrise
Nothing can beat the beauty of a Mt. Pilatus sunset or sunrise.
Two of Mt. Pilatus’ peaks – Esel and Oberhaupt – provide the perfect view points to witness the sun setting or rising over Lake Lucerne. Both peaks can be easily accessed on a well made path – albeit with a steep climb – from the main building and panorama terrace at Pilatus Kulm.
Sunset and sunrise times can be obtained from the hotel reception desk in the main building. Allow 20 to 30 minutes to reach the viewing points on Esel or Oberhaupt and then wait for the breathtaking vista to appear.
A late night or early morning climb is definitely worth the effort – the views of the sun setting or rising are something you’ll never forget.
Just before sunset and just after sunrise, keep an eye out for the local ibex who love to climb and graze on the steep sides of the mountain.
Mt. Pilatus hiking
Hiking Mt. Pilatus is one of the top things to do in the area during the warmer months of the year. Taking to the trails allows you to enjoy the magnificent scenery of the area and there are around 20 hiking routes to choose from.
Your Mt. Pilatus hike can also be as easy or challenging as you want to make it.
The simplest routes take around 90 minutes to complete, while the most difficult are only for the most experienced hikers with the right equipment and a lot of time to spare.
Taking a Mount Pilatus hike in winter is more of a challenge, not least because some of the trails are closed for the season.
Mt. Pilatus activities in winter
Sledding & Snowshoeing
Mt. Pilatus offers plenty of opportunities for sledding and snowshoeing during winter. With its close proximity to Lucerne, this is the perfect destination for those who would like to enjoy some fun in the snow.
Can you stay on Mt. Pilatus?
Not only can you visit Mt. Pilatus for a great day out, it is also possible to stay overnight on the mountain – and we highly recommend it.
Overnight guests have the chance to witness spectacular sunsets and sunrises from the mountain summit, as well as watch the local ibex population feeding on the steep slopes in the evening and early morning.
There are two hotels to choose from at Pilatus Kulm, and during the warmer months those feeling a little adventurous can even spend the night in a Tree Tent at Fräkmüntegg.
Below you’ll find details of the various accommodation options on Mt. Pilatus.
Hotel Bellevue Pilatus is a clean, modern property with 19 comfortable double rooms.
The Hotel Bellevue adjoins the cable car and cogwheel train terminal and offers incredible views.
This three star hotel on Mount Pilatus has a restaurant serving Swiss cuisine. Overnight accommodation includes a welcome aperitif, a 4-course dinner in the Queen Victoria restaurant and breakfast is served in the Cheminee Saal or the Queen Victoria restaurant (both of which are located in the Pilatus-Kulm Hotel).
There is also an outdoor terrace for summer dining and drinking.
Travel to and from Mt. Pilatus is not included in accommodation rates from Booking.com.
The other hotel on Pilatus is the Kulm Hotel. This Mount Pilatus hotel dates from 1890 and underwent a complete renovation in 2010.
With 30 rooms in total, it has 3 junior suites plus 27 superior doubles.
Guests at the Pilatus-Kulm Hotel enjoy a 4-course dinner in the beautiful Belle Epoque Queen Victoria restaurant, whilst breakfast is served in either the Cheminee Saal or Queen Victoria restaurant.
There’s also a bar and a panorama terrace.
We stayed overnight at Pilatus-Kulm Hotel in June 2023 and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
Our hotel room was very comfortable, dinner at the Queen Victoria was exceptional and we loved having the opportunity to witness the sunset and sunrise over Lake Lucerne with only a few other guests around.
After watching the sunrise (which was at 5:36am on the day we visited), we enjoyed a coffee on the panorama terrace, soaking up the tranquillity and the views whilst watching ibex graze and play on the mountain slopes.
You can see photos of our dinner at the Queen Victoria restaurant below.
Travel to and from Mt. Pilatus is additional when booking through Booking.com.
Tree tents at Frakmuntegg
During the months of June, July and August, adventurous travellers can stay overnight in a Tree Tent.
Suitable for a maximum of 2 adults and 1 child, the tents are spanned between trees low to the ground (so getting in and out is easy).
The Tree Tent packages includes travel on the Panorama Gondola between Kriens and Fräkmüntegg, admission to the Rope Park, BBQ buffet dinner, and breakfast.
Advance reservations are essential and can be made directly via the Mt. Pilatus website.
How long should you spend at Mt. Pilatus?
How long to spend at Mount Pilatus really does depend on what you want to do while in the area. Around 5 to 6 hours would be the minimum time to allow, including travel from Lucerne.
If you want to hike or take part in adrenaline activities or winter sports, it’s advisable to depart as early as possible in the morning, and return on one of the last cable cars or trains of the day.
Booking your travel and activity tickets ahead of time is essential when on a tight schedule.
If you do have enough time, planning an overnight stay will allow you to soak up those magnificent mountain views from the comfort of your hotel – without rushing around.
Mt. Pilatus weather
In general, Mt. Pilatus weather is mild in summer and snowy in winter – this is why many of the hiking trails close during the coldest months.
Taking a look at a webcam in Pilatus allows you to get a sneak peek of what weather is in store for your visit. You can find a live stream of the current conditions via the Pilatus webcam on the official Mt. Pilatus website.
If you visit when there is good weather in Pilatus, the views are incredible, and there is plenty for active types to do too.
Day and night-time winter temperatures are usually below zero degrees Celcius.
Summer highs in July and August can be about 12°C, and overnight temperatures tend to stay above zero degrees between May and October.
Is Mt. Pilatus worth visiting?
When you visit Switzerland will Mt. Pilatus make it onto your itinerary? It’s certainly worth serious consideration, especially if you’ll be staying in the Lucerne area.
In as little as five or six hours you could take a boat trip across the lake, a ride on the world’s steepest cogwheel train and a ‘dragon ride’ with spectacular views.
Whether you take a Mt. Pilatus Silver Round Trip or go for gold, there is plenty to do when you reach the summit.
Take a hike, a toboggan ride or go rope climbing, or you could enjoy some winter sports or thrilling adrenaline activities.
The slogan of Mt. Pilatus is “2,132 opportunities above sea level” and there is certainly no shortage of things to see and do. We highly recommend a visit.
If you’re wondering whether to visit Mount Titlis, Mt. Pilatus or Mt. Rigi, this post might help you decide.
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Visiting Mount Pilatus – FAQs
Is Mt. Pilatus worth it?
The Mount Pilatus elevation alone surely makes it worth your while – just think of those views. If you’re a keen hiker, winter sports fan or adrenaline enthusiast, you have even more reasons to visit.
From the longest summer toboggan run in Switzerland to dining at your hotel while you watch the sunset, Mount Pilatus is worthy of inclusion on any Swiss itinerary.
In fact, even just the scenic journey alone – via boat, cogwheel railway and cable car – makes a day or overnight trip totally worthwhile.
What is the Mt. Pilatus Golden Round Trip?
The Golden Round Trip is really just a term used to describe an all-inclusive ticket that covers your return transport from Lucerne.
It includes travel by boat across Lake Lucerne, cogwheel train from Alpnachstad, the cable car ride to Kriens and the bus back to the city. Or vice versa.
Offering good value for money and saving you time into the bargain, it’s the most popular way to see Mount Pilatus from Lucerne. > Buy your Golden Round Trip ticket here.
How to get from Zurich to Mt. Pilatus
If you want to visit Mount Pilatus from Zurich rather than Lucerne, taking an organised day trip is the easiest way to make the most of your time. You can find the details of our recommended small group day tour > here.
Alternatively, you can take the train or drive from Zurich to Lucerne before following one of the routes outlined above.
Where do I get a good Mt. Pilatus map?
You’ll find a general map of Mt. Pilatus above and you can also view a Mount Pilatus map on the official Pilatus website here.
This Pilatus map shows winter and summer activities, the location of hotels and restaurants, transport stations and lookout points.
🇨🇭 If you don’t plan to stay on Mt. Pilatus and would prefer to base yourself in Lucerne, read our Lucerne Hotels Guide to find the perfect place to stay. You can also read more about Lucerne in our Lucerne Travel Guide.