As a country that is almost two-thirds covered by mountains, it goes without saying that no trip to Switzerland is complete without a visit to a mountain peak.
Thankfully, reaching the peaks of many mountains in Switzerland is easy. The well-connected Swiss public transport network makes it possible to enjoy a mountain excursion in Switzerland with incredible ease.
There’s a range of transport options waiting to whisk you to the Swiss mountain summits including funiculars, cogwheel trains and cable cars.
And, with the Swiss Travel Pass, mountain excursions are heavily discounted, and in some cases, fully covered.
Not sure what the Swiss Travel Pass is? Read our detailed guide to the Swiss Travel Pass > here.
There is no one single mountain excursion that is a must-do for every visitor.
Which mountain peak you should visit depends on a number of factors including which area you’re staying in, how much time you have and what kind of experience you would like to get.
If you’d like to touch snow, one of the higher peaks like Mt. Titlis, Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn would be a good choice.
If you’re afraid of heights and don’t want to travel in a cable car, an excursion by mountain railway or funicular is a great option. Mt. Rigi, Mt. Pilatus and Jungfraujoch are just three mountains that can be reached by train.
In this article, we tell you about some of the most popular mountain excursions in Switzerland (there are too many to mention in one article) and the discounts that you receive as a holder of a Swiss Travel Pass.
To see the discounts offered to Swiss Travel Pass holders for each mountain excursion in Switzerland, you can refer to > this map.
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What's in this Article
Reduced Prices on Mountain Excursions with the Swiss Travel Pass
As we’ve already mentioned above, most mountain excursions in Switzerland are discounted for holders of a Swiss Travel Pass.
The discount offered varies but as a general guide the following reductions apply:
- 100% discount for Mt. Rigi, Stanserhorn, Stoos, Klewenalp and Brunni
- 25% discount for Jungfraujoch (Wengen to Jungfraujoch section and Eiger Glacier to Jungfraujoch section)
- 25% discount for Locarno to Orselina funicular
- 50% discount for most other mountain excursions
You can learn more about the discounts available with the Swiss Travel Pass in Episode 21 of our podcast.
Mountain Excursions in Central Switzerland
There is no other major city in Switzerland that is so close to the mountain peaks as Lucerne.
You can spend the morning strolling around the Old Town and the afternoon admiring the views from a mountain peak.
This makes it the perfect base to explore more of the Alps and mountain peaks in central Switzerland.
Discount: With the Swiss Travel Pass, Mount Rigi is fully covered.
At 1,798 metres above sea level, Mount Rigi is certainly not the highest mountain in Switzerland – it’s a peak of the pre-Alps – but it is definitely worth visiting.
The good thing about Mount Rigi is that it’s fully included in the Swiss Travel Pass so you don’t have to pay any money to go up there.
There are multiple ways to reach Mt. Rigi so we suggest doing a round trip.
Start by taking a boat from Lucerne and enjoy a one hour cruise across Lake Lucerne to Vitznau. Then board the cogwheel train for the ride up to Mt. Rigi.
This was the first mountain rack railway built in Europe and is now over 150 years old.
Alternatively, you can take a train from Lucerne to Weggis and then a cable car to Rigi Kaltbad, one of the intermediate stops before the summit of Mt. Rigi.
On your return journey, why not take a different cogwheel train from Rigi Kulm (the summit) to Arth Goldau, where you can take a regular train back to Lucerne?
You can either do a half-day or full-day excursion to Mt. Rigi as there are quite a few things to do there.
There’s even a couple of hotels on Mt. Rigi so you can spend the night on the mountain, too.
There are lots of hiking opportunities, a lovely thermal spa, and wonderful 360° degree views from the summit.
The big advantage of the relatively low height of Mount Rigi is that it doesn’t have any impact on your wellbeing up there.
When you go to the very high peaks, you can feel the lack of oxygen up there, but you don’t feel anything on Mt. Rigi so it’s a mountain peak suitable for people of any age.
Open: Mt. Rigi is accessible all year round.
Journey time by train from Lucerne: 54 minutes to Vitznau, 45 minutes to Weggis, 30 minutes to Arth-Goldau.
Read more: How to Visit Mt. Rigi
Discount: Fully covered with the Swiss Travel Pass.
Another marvelous mountain close to Lucerne is Stanserhorn. It’s not one of the most famous mountains but it’s the perfect mountain for individual travellers.
Stanserhorn is another peak of the pre-Alps so it’s not too high (1,900 metres) but it offers the perfect combination of tradition and high tech.
To get to Stanserhorn you first need to travel from Lucerne to Stans.
At Stans you board the historic funicular railway to the Kälti mid-way station, before changing to the futuristic CabriO cable car for the journey to Stanserhorn.
As the name implies, the CabriO is an open air aerial cable car, so you can enjoy the ride up on the rooftop of the gondola. If you’re afraid of heights there is also space in the gondola itself.
The cable car station is a little below the peak of Stanserhorn so you can enjoy some easy hiking trails up to the peak.
One of the unique features of Stanserhorn is its volunteer rangers. They can tell you where to get the best views, where the most beautiful flowers grow, and provide information about the local wildlife and the history of Stanserhorn.
If you’re feeling hungry, you will find a self-service revolving restaurant at Stanserhorn.
Open: The Stanserhorn Railway operates from early April to mid-November.
Journey time by train from Lucerne: 17 minutes to Stans.
In addition to Mt. Rigi and Stanserhorn, there are three more mountain excursions that are fully covered with the Swiss Travel Pass. These are Stoos, Klewenalp and Brunni, all located in Central Switzerland.
Get your Swiss Travel Pass here to visit these mountains for free.
Discount: With the Swiss Travel Pass, Mount Titlis is discounted by 50%.
A higher, and more well-known mountain in the same area as Stanserhorn is Mt. Titlis. Its peak reaches 3,000 metres.
Mt. Titlis is reached from the lovely village of Engelberg. To get there, you can take the Lucerne Engelberg Express, a picturesque train ride that takes about an hour.
Then it’s a short walk from the train station to the cable car station which will take you up to Titlis. The cable car ride is in two sections.
The first section from Engelberg to Trübsee is in small gondolas, and for the second section from Trübsee to Titlis you travel aboard the Rotair gondola, the world’s first revolving gondola.
You can stop off at Trübsee to enjoy a hike or visit the small lake, and there are activities available all year round including a Snow Fun Park and a zipline.
There’s also a mountain lodge here should you wish to stay overnight.
On top of Titlis there is snow all year round, thanks to a glacier, and there are snow activities throughout the year. You can take a ride on the Ice Flyer chairlift across the glacier and visit a glacier cave.
There are also plenty of hiking opportunities at Mt. Titlis, and it’s a popular ski resort, enjoying the longest ski season in Switzerland.
We recommend you allow a full day for your excursion to Mt. Titlis.
Open: Mt. Titlis is accessible all year round.
Journey time by train from Lucerne: 45 minutes to Engelberg.
Read more: How to Visit Mt. Titlis
Discount: With the Swiss Travel Pass, Mt. Pilatus tickets are discounted by 50%.
Possibly the most famous mountain in Central Switzerland is Lucerne’s ‘house mountain’, Mt. Pilatus, which is also nicknamed the ‘Dragon Mountain’.
When visiting Mt. Pilatus there are two ways to reach the summit.
The first option is to take the world’s steepest cogwheel train which departs from Alpnachstad, a 17 minute train ride or a 1 hour (approximately) boat ride from Lucerne.
The cogwheel train ride from Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm takes just 30 minutes.
The other way to get to Mt. Pilatus is by an aerial cable car from Kriens via Fräkmüntegg. Kriens can be reached from Lucerne by bus.
A popular itinerary is known as the Golden Round Trip which includes travel one way via the cogwheel train and the other way by cable car.
At the peak, called Pilatus Kulm, (which is 2,132 metres), there is a beautiful hotel dating back to 1890. It’s a beautiful place to spend the night or, if you don’t have that much time, to enjoy a delicious lunch.
There are a few hiking trails and of course the views over Lucerne are just stunning.
If you’d like to stop at Fräkmüntegg on your journey to or from Mt. Pilatus, there is a rope park, the Dragon Glider flying fox and a summer toboggan run.
Mt. Pilatus is suitable for either a half-day or full-day excursion.
Open: The Alpnachstad to Pilatus cogwheel railway operates from late May until mid-to-late November, whilst the Kriens-Fräkmüntegg-Pilatus Kulm cableway closes for maintenance for around two weeks from late October.
Journey time by train from Lucerne: 17 minutes to Alpnachstad, 24 minutes to Kriens.
Read more: How to Visit Mt. Pilatus
Mountain Excursions in Jungfrau Region
The Jungfrau Region is one of Switzerland’s most-visited destinations thanks not only to its location in the Bernese Alps, but also for the many activities on offer.
The largest town in the region, the holiday resort of Interlaken, is well-known for its multitude of adrenaline sports and its position between two beautiful lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
It’s the scenery and the mountain excursions that draw most visitors, though, with excursions to Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn amongst the most popular in all of Switzerland.
Discount: Does Swiss Travel Pass cover Jungfraujoch? Not entirely but you can travel for free to Grindelwald or Wengen and get a 25% discount for the remainder of the trip.
One of the most well known peaks in Switzerland is the Jungfraujoch which is one of the Bernese Alps.
Jungfraujoch is also called ‘Top of Europe’ because it is here you will find the highest railway station in Europe at 3,474 metres.
There are actually quite a few possibilities to reach Jungfraujoch.
Firstly, you can take a train from Interlaken to Kleine Scheidegg, either via Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen. Then, at Kleine Scheidegg, you change again to the Jungfrau rack railway all the way up to the peak.
On the way between Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch the train goes through a tunnel which is carved through the Eiger North Face. This is one of the most difficult climbing routes all over the world.
The other option to reach Jungfraujoch is by the Eiger Express, which is a brand new gondola which travels between Grindelwald and Eiger Glacier. At the Glacier station, you change to the Jungfrau rack railway for the final leg of the journey.
The good thing about the Eiger Express option is you save a lot of time, so it is a great idea to travel in one direction entirely by train and use the cable car and train combination in the opposite direction.
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On Jungfraujoch, there are various restaurants and numerous things to see and do. These include the Sphinx Observatory which offers perfect views over the Aletsch Glacier, the biggest glacier in the Alps.
There is an Ice Palace (with carved ice sculptures), a few shops and a Snow Fun Park (open only in summer) where you can try snow tubing, sledging, skiing and ride on a zip line.
It is recommended that you allow a full day for this excursion.
As you are travelling to such a high altitude, you are likely to be very tired after your visit, but it’s a one once in a lifetime experience going up there, so it’s well worth it.
Open: The Jungfraubahn (train) operates 365 days per year, whilst the Eiger Express is closed for maintenance for five days during November.
Journey time from Interlaken: 20 minutes to Lauterbrunnen, 30 minutes to Grindelwald Terminal, 34 minutes to Grindelwald (station).
Discount: With the Swiss Travel Pass, Schilthorn ticket prices are heavily discounted. You travel to Mürren for free and get a 50% reduction from Mürren to Schilthorn.
Facing Jungfraujoch is actually the other famous mountain peak in the region, which is called the Schilthorn.
Schilthorn is on the other side of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The Lauterbrunnen Valley itself is very beautiful and is home to 72 waterfalls.
This was the valley that inspired JRR Tolkien to create the place Rivendell in his famous novel Lord Of The Rings.
Again there are two options to reach Schilthorn. The first option is to travel by cable car from Stechelberg, and the other option is to take a cable car and train combination from Lauterbrunnen.
Both routes go via Murren where all passengers take the Schilthorn cableway to the summit.
Schilthorn is famous for the 1969 James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” which starred George Lazenby, and there are lots of Bond-themed exhibitions up there.
A must-visit is the 360 Degree Restaurant Piz Gloria which featured in the movie, but the main highlight for many visitors are the spectacular 360° views from the observation deck.
So impressive is this view, it has actually been coined ‘the Swiss Skyline’ and, on a clear day, you can see as far as Mont Blanc in France!
Open: The Schilthorn can be reached year round except for 4 days in April and three weeks in November.
Journey time from Interlaken: 20 minutes to Lauterbrunnen, 42 minutes to Stechelberg.
Read more: How to Plan a Schilthorn Excursion
Mountain Excursions from Zermatt
Zermatt is a charming, car-free alpine village surrounded by various 4,000 meter peaks.
The village is watched over by the impressive Matterhorn and there are two popular mountain excursions which offer fantastic views of the pyramid-shaped peak.
Of course, if you hold a Swiss Travel Pass, Zermatt’s popular mountain excursions are half price.
Discount: 50% reduction with the Swiss Travel Pass.
The excursion to Gornergrat is by a cogwheel train which takes you up to 3,000 metres above sea level. There are a few stops along the way where you can get off and reboard a later train if you wish.
The journey from Zermatt to Gornergrat takes 32 minutes and the views are spectacular.
At the summit of Gornergrat there is an old observatory including a hotel and restaurant, and this is the place where you get the most stunning views of Matterhorn.
There’s also a viewing platform above the hotel which overlooks the Gorner Glacier and has Matterhorn views.
At Gornergrat, you are also very close to the highest peak of Switzerland. Matterhorn is not the highest peak of Switzerland, although it’s the most photographed peak.
The highest peak is actually the Dufourspitze (or Monte Rosa), which is visible from Gornergrat.
Open: Gornergrat can be reached year round.
Journey time from Zermatt: 32 minutes to Gornergrat.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Discount: On an excursion to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Swiss Travel Pass holders receive a 50% reduction.
Another great excursion from Zermatt is a trip up to the Kleine Matterhorn, also known as Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
You reach Kleine Matterhorn by the Matterhorn Glacier Express cableway.
This is the highest accessible peak in Switzerland and is more than 3,800 meters above sea level. You really feel the height up there.
There’s a restaurant up there, and a Glacier Cave as well as a number of other things to do and of course the Matterhorn views are impressive.
Open: 365 days
Journey time from Zermatt: 45 minutes to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
Mountain Excursions in Ticino
Perhaps surprisingly, the southernmost canton of Switzerland, Ticino, is also home to many mountain peaks.
The special thing about the peaks in Ticino is they look different to the high peaks of the Alps. Rather than the rocky cliffs of the Alps, these mountains are more like rolling hills and are tree covered.
There are numerous mountain excursions available in Ticino but two popular trips are to San Salvatore and Monte Generoso.
Monte San Salvatore
Discount: 50% reduction with Swiss Travel Pass.
San Salvatore is a mountain close to the capital of Ticino, Lugano.
To reach the summit you take a cable car from Paradiso, another town located on Lake Lugano. It seems like you are in paradise already!
After a short ride up to the peak, you have a beautiful 360 degree view over Lugano, Lake Lugano and the valleys in the Ticino.
Many visitors come for the hiking possibilities at Monte San Salvatore. Since everything is well connected, you can hike down and then take a postal bus or a boat back to Paradiso or Lugano.
The nature here is different to the mountains in the northern part of Switzerland and you’ll see lots of chestnuts, one of the local specialties, being grown here.
Open: year round except for the month of October and the first couple of days in December, and one week in March.
Journey time from Lugano: 2 minutes by train and 5 minutes by foot to Lugano-Paradiso funicular station.
Discount: 50% reduction with Swiss Travel Pass.
A little bit further south and on the way to Mendrisio, which is almost at the southern tip of Switzerland and close to the border to Italy, is Capolago.
Here you can take a cogwheel train up to Monte Generoso, which is another mountain which provides incredible views over Lake Lugano.
On top of Monte Generoso, is a unique building which was designed by the famous Swiss architect, Mario Botta.
The Stone Flower is a masterpiece of architectural design and houses a restaurant. It’s worth a trip up to Monte Generoso just to see the building but you’ll also be rewarded with beautiful views.
Open: The Monte Generoso railway operates from the beginning of April until early November.
Journey time by train from Lugano: 15 minutes to Capolago-Riva S. Vitale.
Two More Mountain Excursions in Switzerland
Discount: 50% reduction withe the Swiss Travel Pass (postal bus rides free).
Mount Santis is the peak in Appenzellerland in the eastern part of Switzerland.
There is a cable car going up there but it’s a little off the beaten track still as not too many international tourists go up there.
You can reach Mt. Santis from two sides. The first option is to take a postal bus from the Toggenburg Valley to Schwägalp where the cable car station is located.
Alternatively, you can take the bus on the other side from Urnasch and Appenzell to Schwägalp, so you can easily do a round trip.
On the peak of Mt. Säntis, which is 2,500 meters above sea level, you get beautiful views over Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, because it’s right in the northeast eastern corner of the country.
There are two interesting exhibitions and a couple of restaurants at the summit.
An excursion to Mt. Säntis can be easily combined with a visit to the town of Appenzell, which is very picturesque.
Open: Year round except from mid-January to the beginning of February.
Journey time from St. Gallen: 58 minutes by train and bus to Schwägalp.
Discount: 50% reduction with Swiss Travel Pass.
Another lesser-known mountain peak which is again in the Bernese Oberland is the Brienzer Rothorn. This mountain is located beside the town of Brienz on Lake Brienz.
From Brienz you take a steam cogwheel train up to the mountain peak, which makes it quite a unique experience in Switzerland.
Up there of course you have a restaurant, you can do some hiking, and you can enjoy the views. But the trip itself is an experience in itself.
The Brienzer Rothorn excursion is a great one day or half day excursion out of Interlaken.
You can do the trip from Interlaken to Brienz in 20 minutes by train, take the steam train up and down the mountain and then go back to Interlaken by boat across Lake Brienz, making the perfect day out.
Open: The Brienz Rothorn Bahn operates from early June until late October.
Journey time from Interlaken: 20 minutes by train or 80 minutes by boat (seasonal) to Brienz.
Shorter Mountain Excursions in Switzerland
If you only have a couple of hours to dedicate to a mountain excursion, there are options for you, too.
Two great examples of shorter mountain excursions include Harder Kulm from Interlaken and the funicular from Locarno to Orselina, both of which also offer stunning views but don’t require as much of a time commitment.
There is even an accessible peak out of Zurich. This is called the Uetliberg, and although it’s quite a small mountain, you get beautiful views from the peak over Zurich city.
It’s accessible within half an hour from Zurich city centre.
As you can see, there are peaks and views and accessible mountains all over the country.
Regardless of whether you have just a couple of hours or a full day, want to touch snow or see a glacier, would like to do some hiking or just sit and enjoy a meal or a drink with a view, there is a mountain excursion in Switzerland that’s just right for you.
And with the Swiss Travel Pass in your pocket, you will benefit from substantial discounts, too.
The reduced prices on mountain excursions is just one of the many Swiss Rail Pass benefits. You can read about the other benefits of the Swiss Travel Pass here.
🇨🇭 Are you ready to buy your Swiss Travel Pass? Get yours here.
Good to Know
Where to buy tickets for mountain excursions
If you hold a Swiss Travel Pass, you do not need to purchase the discounted ticket for your mountain excursion in advance.
You can simply present your Swiss Travel Pass at the ticket office at the cable car station to buy your ticket at the reduced rate.
For excursions that are fully covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, you just show your Pass at the ticket office and you’ll be given a ticket to enter the cable car.
In the case of the Mt. Rigi train, you can just show your Swiss Travel Pass to the ticket inspector onboard the train.
You’ll also find more detailed information about buying, activating and using your Swiss Travel Pass in > this article.
We always recommend you check the webcams of the mountain peak you are planning to visit before you set off on your excursion.
Webcams show live footage of the weather conditions so you can prepare for your visit.
It may be fine and sunny in the valley where you are staying but cloudy on the mountain top, or vice versa.
Checking the live weather situation can help you to decide whether to go ahead with your excursion or postpone it for another day.
Just as the weather conditions in the lowlands can be vastly different to those on the mountain summits, so can the temperatures.
Even in summer, temperatures on the mountains can be very low so be sure to dress appropriately.
We recommend you take a warm coat or jacket and sturdy, covered shoes, regardless of the time of year you visit. During the cooler months, a warm hat and gloves are also suggested.
Take advantage of the fantastic Swiss Travel Pass discounts – buy your Pass here.