Stanserhorn-Bahn-CabriO cable car
Things to Do

How to visit Mt Stanserhorn, Switzerland for the perfect half-day trip from Lucerne

April 17, 2024

At 1,898 metres tall, Mount Stanserhorn in Switzerland isn’t the highest mountain in the Alpine country. However, the peak makes a very popular day trip for several reasons. 

Firstly, the modest height of Stanserhorn mountain means you’re truly among the surrounding peaks when you visit. Whether you’re simply taking in the views or hiking Stanserhorn, you really do feel part of the mountains while you’re there. 

The short distance from Lucerne to Stanserhorn is another reason to visit. It can take as little as an hour to reach the summit from the city, via a series of short train, funicular, and cable car rides. 

Taking a ride on the unique double decker CabriO at Stanserhorn in Switzerland is also a one-off, bucket list sort of experience. Add to that the fact that you can book a candle light dinner at the Stanserhorn restaurant, and you have all the makings of a truly memorable trip. 

Should you be short of time, there’s more good news. Half a day is enough to take in all that the mountain has to offer. 

Due to the Stanserhorn cable car timings during peak season, you can even visit in an evening.

Watching the sunset and seeing the city lights below is, as you might imagine, a magical experience, as is the possibility of dining by candlelight.

🎧 The information contained in this article is also available in episode 96 of our podcast. Listen here.

If you’re considering a visit to this Swiss mountain peak, this guide is for you. Covered here is all you need to know about planning your excursion. 

By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to include a visit to Stanserhorn mountain in Switzerland on your holiday itinerary.

From how to reach Stanserhorn from Lucerne or Stans, to how the Stanserhorn weather affects tourism throughout the year, read on for the full lowdown. 

Also included are details about the Stanserhorn restaurant, how and where to buy Stanserhorn tickets, the discounts available when visiting Mount Stanserhorn with a Swiss Travel Pass, Tell Pass, or Swiss Half Fare Card, and more.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to visit Mount Stanserhorn. 

[This post may contain compensated links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.]

Summary of ticket prices for Mt. Stanserhorn

Type of ticketPrice
Regular round trip ticket from StansCHF 82BUY HERE
With Swiss Travel PassFreeBUY PASS HERE
With Swiss Half Fare CardCHF 41BUY PASS HERE
With Tell PassFreeBUY PASS HERE

Where is Stanserhorn?

Mount (or Mt.) Stanserhorn in Switzerland is in Nidwalden canton, close to the Obwalden canton border. 

The mountain is near the popular city of Lucerne, and as such makes a great day or evening trip destination. It’s possible to reach the summit in an hour – or slightly longer – via train, funicular railway, and CabriO cable car. 

About Stanserhorn

View of Lake Lucerne from Mt. Stanserhorn
Mt. Stanserhorn offers stunning views of Lake Lucerne.

Mount Stanserhorn’s peak is 1,898 metres above sea level. It’s not Switzerland’s highest peak, by any means. But when heading here visitors feel as if they’re truly among the mountains. 

Stanserhorn is a lovely, laid back kind of place. Things to do include dining at the revolving restaurant, learning about the area from the rangers, hiking the circular summit trail, skydiving, and of course taking in the magnificent mountain, lake, and city views. 

Getting to Stanserhorn is also a memorable and very enjoyable part of the experience. 

Tourists first discovered Mount Stanserhorn when the world’s steepest funicular was built back in 1893. Then, the mountain railway ride was split into three sections, meaning you had to change twice. Journey times were therefore much longer than they are today.  

Once, there was a hotel at the summit of Stanserhorn, but unfortunately this was destroyed by fire in 1971. Afterwards, the restaurant was rebuilt, but not the hotel. So now, there is no hotel, but the restaurant remains. 

Following the fire, it was decided that a cable car would be better than travelling the whole route by funicular railway. While the first section of the funicular was kept, the two upper sections haven’t been used since the 1971 fire. 

Now, when travelling up the mountain by the cable car that replaced the two upper sections, you can still see the old funicular tracks.

The new double-decker, open-air CabriO cable car opened in 2012, offering visitors a unique way to ride up to the summit of a Swiss mountain. 

About the CabriO cable car

CabriO cable car to Mt. Stanserhorn
The CabriO cable car is the world’s first (and only) open-air double-decker cable car.

When thinking about how to visit Mt. Stanserhorn by cable car, it’s interesting to know something about this one-off mode of transport. 

The CabriO cableway is an open-top cable car, and is named according to the German word for a convertible vehicle.

It was the world’s first double-decker, open-air cable car, and remains the only one. Therefore, taking a ride on the CabriO cableway is an experience unique to Mount Stanserhorn.

During the ride, you can feel like you’re standing among the mountains by going up onto the upper deck of the cable car. There’s a staircase inside, so you can change decks during the trip.

As the cables are at the sides rather than on the top, you can enjoy uninterrupted views, taking pictures without any cables getting in the way.

The fact that the cables aren’t directly overhead also improves safety. Even on the way up, you can savour sweeping views over Lake Lucerne, before looking out over the mountains and the city from further up.

Whether you come from Lucerne or from Stans, you’ll take the funicular railway, and then the cable car, to reach Stanserhorn. 

You can book your boarding pass in advance to reserve your spot. In this case, you don’t need to wait in line to buy a ticket on the day, saving you time.

>> Click here to buy your ticket

How to get to Stanserhorn

The most popular starting points for a day trip to Stanserhorn are the Swiss city of Lucerne, and Stans. Depending on timings, it can take as little as an hour to complete the trip from Lucerne to Stanserhorn. 

With a population of around 8,000, Stans is Nidwalden canton’s capital. The Alpine town sits at the base of Stanserhorn, and is also home to one of Switzerland’s loveliest squares. 

From Stans

👉 Stans to Kälti [funicular] – Kälti to Stanserhorn [CabriO cable car]

The first part of the mountain ascent involves a ride on the nostalgic funicular from Stans to Kälti, the middle station on the mountain.  The short journey takes around ten minutes.

At Kälti, passengers then transfer to the CabriO cable car for the final part of the journey to the Stanserhorn summit.

If you’re thinking about how to visit Mt. Stanserhorn in winter, then this is not possible. Services depart only during the summer season, between April and November.

From Lucerne

If you’re wondering how to get to Stanserhorn from Lucerne, then the good news is that it’s very easy. The journey is also pretty quick. Depending on timings, it can sometimes be completed in as little as an hour. 

Three sectors are involved. Firstly, you’ll take a train from Lucerne. Secondly, you can ride the remaining section of the historic funicular railway, before changing at the middle station, Kälti.

The last leg is a trip on the famous Stanserhorn CabriO.

Whilst you can’t take a train ride from Lucerne to the Stanserhorn funicular station directly, the journey to Stans train station takes just 15 minutes. It’s then a five-minute walk from the train station to the funicular, which is located on Ennetmooserstrasse, Stans.

The mountain railway and cable car trips take around 10 minutes each.

Funicular and CabriO cableway services operate frequently throughout the day during the summer season, with departures every half hour.

When there’s more demand, more services are supplied to meet this, and can run as often as every 10 minutes. 

The Stanserhorn funicular departs from the station on Ennetmooserstrasse in Stans. Each sector – the funicular and cable car rides – then take about 10 minutes each.

With the change at the middle station, Kälti, the journey time is around 25 to 30 minutes from Stans. 

From Zurich

If you are staying in Zurich, you don’t need to miss out on an excursion to Stanserhorn.  You can catch a train from Zurich to Lucerne and then follow the instructions above, or you can join a day trip from Zurich to Mt. Stanserhorn.

We recommend this full-day Mt. Stanserhorn Discovery Tour which also includes an introductory city tour of Lucerne and free time for sightseeing in the city.  The tour is partly guided and includes all transport.

>> Click here for details and prices  

Stanserhorn Timetable

Stanserhorn-Bahn-Standseilbahn
A nostalgic funicular dating from 1893 takes visitors from Stans to the middle station at Kälti.

Funicular railway and cable car services to Stanserhorn operate between mid-April and late November. In season, they operate at least half-hourly, but departures can be as frequent as every 10 minutes. When demand is high, extra services are provided. 

Daily operating times are between 8.15 am and 4.30 pm from Stans. From the station at the summit of Stanserhorn, services run between 8.30 am and 5.15 pm. 

If you’re considering an evening trip to Stanserhorn, then services are available between Thursday and Saturday. So even after a busy day of exploring Lucerne, you can enjoy unwinding on the mountain in the evening, seeing the spectacular sunset.

Evening services on Saturdays are available between early May and late November. On Thursdays and Fridays, evening Stanserhorn transport is available between early June and late October. 

When these services operate, the last cable car and funicular heads back down to Stans at 11 pm. By then, it will be dark, so you can see the city lights of Lucerne, as well as those from all the surrounding small villages.

The last service to the mountain leaves at 10.15 pm. But do bear in mind this wouldn’t give you much time at the summit!

Stanserhorn Prices

If you want to buy a stand-alone ticket, then it’s recommended to book this in advance online. Currently, the adult ticket price is CHF 82, or CHF 41 with a Half-Fare Card.

If you have a Tell Pass or Swiss Travel Pass, travel to Mt. Stanserhorn is free and therefore you don’t need to buy a ticket. Should you wish to purchase a boarding pass, a small fee of CHF 2 applies.

Read on to find out more about discounted and inclusive tickets. 

Stanserhorn Discounts

Stanserhorn-Bahn-CabriO
It’s a unique experience riding in the CabriO open-air cable car to Mt. Stanserhorn.

If you’re working out how to visit Mt. Stanserhorn by train and cable car, and are wondering about fares, the good news is that various discounts are available. You can even ride for free if you hold the right travel pass! 

The Mt. Stanserhorn cable car price and funicular ride is included for holders of the Swiss Travel Pass, as well as the Tell Pass covering central Switzerland.

Swiss Half Fare Card holders also benefit from a 50% discount on ticket prices.

>> Buy your Swiss Travel Pass, Half Fare Card or Tell Pass here

The same discounts apply to train tickets between Lucerne and Stans, if you’re visiting Stanserhorn from the city. 

Children aged under six travel for free. Under-16s travelling with their parents, meanwhile, can ride for CHF 20.

For adult Swiss Travel Pass holders who also have the Swiss Family Card, accompanying children aged six to 15 travel for free.

This means you could have a fantastic family day out, without paying anything extra for transport, if you’ve already bought your Swiss Travel Pass in advance.

🇨🇭 Read more: How to choose the best Swiss rail pass for your trip

Where to buy Stanserhorn Tickets

If you like, you can book your ticket and boarding pass in advance. This makes life easier as your space is reserved, and you don’t need to wait in line. You can do this in advance on the Stanserhorn website.

Alternatively, if you’re unsure what time you’ll arrive for your journey from Stans to Mt. Stanserhon and don’t want to pre-book your boarding pass, you can buy your ticket online here.

If you already have your boarding pass, but have to wait for your departure time, you can wander around the village or have a coffee instead of standing in line.

Things to do at Stanserhorn

If you’re looking for things to do when you get to the top of Mount Stanserhorn, here are the options.

Observation deck

One of the perks of visiting Mount Stanserhorn is the proximity to other mountain peaks. Though the mountain is not the highest, being so close to – and among – the mountains is something expected, that visitors really enjoy.

To one side, there are panoramic views over Lake Lucerne, while on the other, you can take in classic snow-capped mountain vistas. Mount Stanserhorn is a laid-back place, with lots of benches to sit on while admiring the views. 

Circular summit trail

Marmots at Mt. Stanserhorn
Look for the local marmot population on the circular summit trail.

The most popular Stanserhorn hike is the circular summit trail – or Stanserhorn circular trail. This takes about 30 to 45 minutes to complete, including a photo stop. You can see 100 kilometres of mountains en route, plus 10 Alpine lakes. 

You can look out for marmots while hiking at Stanserhorn, too. The circular trail commences at the revolving restaurant, and takes you down to the Adlerfluh, towards Murmeli Park, where you should be able to spot marmots.  

Rangers

If you want to learn about local flora and fauna during your visit, then you must talk to the on-site rangers. The Stanserhorn Rangers are available daily from 10 am to 4 pm, during the tourist season. 

At least one ranger should always be present to answer your questions. They can also show you where to spot eagles soaring overhead, or point out the most beautiful Alpine flora. 

Tandem Delta Flights

For an aerial view over Stanserhorn and the surrounding mountains, why not book a tandem delta flight?

Mt. Stanserhorn is the highest take off point in Switzerland so you will witness magnificent views of the nearby lakes and Alpine peaks.

Accompanied by a certified tandem pilot, this is one experience you’ll never forget.

> Click here to check details and prices

Stanserhorn-Ranger-zuerrer
Rangers are on the mountain every day to provide information about the local flora and fauna.

Relaxing

The fact is, you don’t have to do a whole lot to enjoy a daytime or evening trip to Mount Stanserhorn. It’s a really relaxing place to be.

All you need to do is to take a seat and savour the views, if that’s all you feel like. 

Taking the funicular and cable car rides to Stanserhorn’s summit is a relaxing activity in itself.

A leisurely hike, a delicious meal made from local Swiss produce, chatting with the rangers, and capturing the views on camera from the observation deck are all very undemanding, yet enjoyable, pastimes. 

Restaurant

The revolving restaurant at Stanserhorn serves food made with ingredients from Switzerland and the Alps. It’s very much a local kitchen, specialising in dishes made from fresh, seasonal produce.

The Stanserhorn restaurant completes a full revolution every 45 minutes or so, giving you 360-degree Alpine views throughout your meal. It’s open daily during the summer season. 

During the warmer months, the restaurant opens for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with hot meals available from 11 am. Before that, breakfast options include Swiss bircher muesli. 

The restaurant is generally self-service, and reservations are not required. However, candle light dinners are available on Friday and Saturday evenings, and you will need to book if you want to enjoy this very special experience. 

Typical dishes you can dine on include schnitzel, streckwurst, and goulash.

The house speciality is Älplermagronen, which is mac and cheese, or macaroni cheese, with an Alpine twist. This is served in an edelweiss pot, and made using only Swiss cheese. 

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How long should you spend at Stanserhorn?

Around three hours is a good amount of time to allow for your trip to Stanserhorn. Half a day is ideal, as this gives you enough time to drink in the views, take a hike, encounter nature, and perhaps dine at the restaurant.

Best time to visit Stanserhorn

Woman on viewing platform at Mt. Stanserhorn
Spectacular Alpine and lake views can be seen from the observation platform at Mt. Stanserhorn.

You can only spend time at Stanserhorn between mid-April and late November, as mountain transport doesn’t operate outside these months. 

Throughout the season, there is transport available to visit Stanserhorn in the morning and afternoon. During the peak summer months, you can also visit Stanserhorn on Saturday evenings, between early May and late November. 

On Thursday and Friday evenings, Stanserhorn transport is available between early June and late October. 

During the evenings, you can watch the sunset, see the city lights from above, or dine by candlelight. Keep in mind that you can only do this on weekends, though. 

Otherwise, any time of day is good. Afternoons will be warmer than mornings or evenings, of course, whenever you choose to visit. 

Stanserhorn weather

Due to the weather at Stanserhorn, the mountain summit closes for the winter season. 

Temperatures between early May and late November, when you can visit, do vary.

Spring and autumn daytime highs can be around 0°C to 10°C (32°F to 50°F), while summer peaks may reach 16°C (61°F). It’s never hot, and can be cold or wet, so layering your clothing is a good idea. 

There is a webcam at Stanserhorn so you can check out current conditions before you visit. You can find that, plus the latest forecasts, here

View from Mt. Stanserhorn
Mount Stanserhorn can be reached from Lucerne in just one hour.

Practical tips for visiting Stanserhorn

Evening trips

If you want to visit Stanserhorn during the evening, then it’s really important to check in advance if evening transport is available on your chosen dates. 

This is a great way to save time, while helping you to make the most of every single day you have in Switzerland. 

Reserve your seat

Another way to save time is to reserve your spot before travelling, which you can do online. This means you can avoid waiting around. 

It might even give you some time to see something of Stans before taking the funicular, including the attractive town square. 

Don’t forget your camera

It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to take a fully-charged smartphone along – or your camera plus spare batteries. 

You might also like to take a portable power bank for back-up. 

Book a candlelit dinner

Stanserhorn Canlde Light Dinner
A candle light dinner is available on Friday and Saturday evenings. Reservations are required.

While reservations aren’t required for the self-service restaurant, you will need to book a table if you want to enjoy dinner by candlelight at Stanserhorn’s revolving restaurant. 

This very special experience is available during Friday and Saturday evenings.

Is Stanserhorn worth visiting?

Stanserhorn is worth visiting for the journey there and the mountain summit itself.

Mt. Stanserhorn is the only place you can experience a ride on an historic funicular AND the world’s only open-air, two-storey gondola. 

From the cable car and the mountain, you can see 100 kilometres of mountains, 10 lakes, the city of Lucerne, and the surrounding Swiss villages.

You can also hike the circular summit trail, dine at the revolving restaurant, or learn local facts from the rangers. 

At only an hour or so from Lucerne, Stanserhorn is well worth visiting, and half a day is sufficient time.

On summer weekends, evening visits are also an option, when you can enjoy a candlelit meal, sunset, and views of Lucerne’s illuminated city skyline. 

Stanserhorn FAQs

Hiking trail signs on Mt. Stanserhorn
There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a hike at Mt. Stanserhorn.

How do you get to Stanserhorn?

You can reach Stanserhorn by taking a train from Lucerne to Stans. You will then take a 10-minute trip on the Stanserhorn bahn (funicular), followed by a 10-minute journey on the CabriO gondola, to the summit. 

How do I get to Stanserhorn from Lucerne by train?

To reach Stanserhorn by train, you can travel from Lucerne Station to Stans. You can then take the funicular railway to Kälti, the middle station, before switching to the CabriO cable car to Stanserhorn. 

Is Stanserhorn free with the Swiss Pass?

Yes, holders of the Swiss Travel Pass can travel on both the funicular railway and cable car for free to access Stanserhorn.

As the world’s first double decker, open-air gondola, travelling on the CabriO cableway is a unique experience, as well as a way to reach the summit. If you wish, you can pay an optional CHF 2 fee to reserve a guaranteed departure time. 

🇨🇭 Read our complete guide to the Swiss Travel Pass here.

What is the world’s first open air cable car?

The open-air, double decker CabriO to Mount Stanserhorn, near Lucerne, is the world’s first open-air gondola. It opened in 2012, and has a roofless top floor.

The cables are also at the sides, rather than the top, for uninterrupted views from this upper deck. 

How high is the cable car at Stanserhorn?

The CabriO cableway to Stanserhorn is 1,898 metres above sea level.

Which is better – Stanserhorn or Rigi?

Only you can decide whether Mount Stanserhorn is better than Mount Rigi, or vice versa. Rigi is bigger, and busier, with more things to do once you get there, and is worthy of a full day trip.

You can visit Stanserhorn in half a day. It is smaller, and quieter, with less to see and do, but has a more natural, peaceful feel.

Reaching Stanserhorn also involves riding on the CabriO cableway, the world’s first open-air, double decker gondola, which is a unique experience.  

Stanserhorn-Rundweg-zuerrer
Allow at least 30 minutes for your stroll on the Stanserhorn circular trail.

Final thoughts about visiting Mt. Stanserhorn

You can really enjoy a relaxing, natural experience at the summit of Stanserhorn. Apart from the adrenaline rush if you choose to skydive, the pace of life here is pleasingly slow. 

Visiting Mount Stanserhorn also provides visitors to Switzerland with a great contrast to city life. You could have a very busy morning in Lucerne, seeing all the sights there, before heading up to Mount Stanserhorn for the afternoon or evening. 

That way you can completely unwind for the remainder of the day, taking a leisurely hike along the circular trail if you feel like it.

You could also enjoy lunch or dinner with a view, or learn all about the local area from the on-duty ranger. Plus, of course, drink in those unparalleled panoramas of the mountains, lakes, and city. 

As the summit isn’t particularly high, visiting Stanserhorn can really make you feel as though you’re at one with the mountainous Swiss landscape.

Taking a trip on the two-storey, open-air CabriO cableway is also an experience unlike any other, and therefore not to be missed. 

Whatever you decide to do there, a trip to Stanserhorn is essential for everyone visiting the Lucerne area. And if you hold a Swiss Travel Pass, your trip might not even cost you a single franc!

🇨🇭 Ready to plan your trip? Find the perfect place to stay in our Lucerne Hotels Guide and read more about visiting central Switzerland in our Lucerne Travel Guide.


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