View over Lake Lucerne from Pilatus Kulm
Things to Do Lucerne Region

Mt. Titlis, Mt. Pilatus or Mt. Rigi – Which makes the best day trip from Lucerne?

July 27, 2023 Last Updated on January 16, 2024

With their spectacular setting between the serene waters of Lake Lucerne and the snowy peaks of the Alps, the mountains make for an attractive day trip from the colourful medieval streets of Lucerne

However, many travellers find it difficult to choose between Mount Titlis, Mount Pilatus, and Mount Rigi and whilst they all make wonderful Lucerne day trips, most folks only have time to visit one.

In this guide, we compare the three most popular day trips from Lucerne, so you can decide which is the best for you.

Rest assured – no matter which of the Lucerne mountains you choose to visit, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Lake Lucerne and the surrounding Alps (weather permitting!).

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View from Mt. Rigi
Mt. Rigi – just like Mt. Titlis and Mt. Pilatus – offers breathtaking views.

Mt. Titlis vs Mt. Pilatus vs Mt. Rigi comparison chart

TitlisPilatusRigi
How to get there from LucerneTrain/Cable carTrain/Cable car/
Cogwheel railway/Boat
Bus/Boat/Train/
Cable car
Pre-purchased tickets available?Yes
BUY NOW
Yes
BUY NOW
Yes
BUY NOW
Discount with Swiss Travel Pass50%
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50%
BUY PASS
100%
BUY PASS
Discount with Swiss Half Fare Card50%
BUY PASS
50%
BUY PASS
50%
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Discount with Tell Pass100%
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100%
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100%
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Mount Titlis day trip from Lucerne

Highlights: Rotating cable car, highest suspension bridge in Europe, year-round snow, central Switzerland’s only publicly accessible glacier,

Best suited to: Those who wish to see and touch snow, regardless of the time of year

Summary of activities available: Titlis Cliff Walk, Ice Flyer, Glacier Cave, Titlis Glacier Park, Titlis Adventure Park, Trübsee Flyer zipline, hiking, scooter bikes, row boats, alpine flower park, mountain biking, Trübsee snow park, skiing, snow shoeing, tobogganing (not all activities available year round).

Pre-booked transport option: We like the Titlis Eternal Snow World full-day tour – click here for details and prices.

🇨🇭Read our full guide to visiting Mt. Titlis here.

Titlis Rotair cable car
TITLIS Rotair is the world’s first revolving cable car.

First ascended in 1739, Mount Titlis lies to the south of Lake Lucerne and is often visited as an alternative to the Jungfrau. It is the highest peak in Switzerland’s Uri Alps north of the Susten Pass, rising to 3,238 metres above sea level.

It is also home to the world’s first rotating cable car, known as the Titlis Rotair, which offers dazzling panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

At the top station, an illuminated tunnel carved through the ancient blue ice of the glacier leads to the Glacier Cave, while for the more actively-minded, there are various hiking trails that start at the end at the Trübsee cable car station. 

If that’s not enough, the Titlis Cliff Walk boasts the highest suspension bridge in Europe.

During the summer months, it’s possible to rent a row boat and explore Trübsee lake at a relaxed pace, or zoom across the sky attached to the Trübsee Flyer zipline.

Opting to make the journey from Lucerne to Mount Titlis also gives visitors the chance to get a bird’s eye view of the mountain’s glacier – the region’s only accessible glacier – from the Ice Flyer chairlift. 

Operating over both the summer and winter months, when it doubles as a ski lift for the ski run, the Ice Flyer Titlis provides a unique means of getting to the mountain’s free, child-friendly snow tubing and sledging run.

When it comes to warming up, there are a number of cafes and restaurants dotted about the mountain, generally around the cable car stations, which offer hot drinks, snacks, and traditional Swiss mountain cuisine.

Titlis Cliff Walk
Titlis Cliff Walk is just one of many activities available at the mountain summit.

How to get to Mt Titlis from Lucerne

  • Lucerne to Engelberg – train (or car)
  • Engelberg to Stand to Titlis – cable car 
  • Titlis to Stand to Engelberg – cable car
  • Engelberg to Lucerne – train (or car)

Getting from Lucerne to Mt Titlis is easy, whether you travel by car or train.

Train travellers can reach Engelberg station on the railway operated by Zentralbahn in just 45 minutes, 

A free shuttle bus transfers passengers from Engelberg to the valley cable car station in just a few minutes more.

By car, Engelberg can be reached from Lucerne in around 40 minutes.  There is a large car park at the valley cable car station.

From the valley station, the Xpress cable car travels via Trübsee before reaching Stand station at 2,400 metres. Passengers then change to the Rotair cable car for the final leg of the trip to the Titlis summit at 3,020 metres.

Reaching the summit takes approximately 30 minutes from the valley station in Engelberg.

The two cable cars are open throughout the year, except for a short period at the beginning of November when the Rotair car is closed for maintenance.

Click here to check cable car closure dates for this year.

Another way to travel from Lucerne to Titlis is by joining an organised Mount Titlis tour.

We like this tour which includes return coach travel from Lucerne, tickets on the Titlis cable cars, a ride on the Ice Flyer chairlift and the services of an experienced guide.

Trübsee on Mt. Titlis, Switzerland
It’s worth stopping at Trübsee on your way to or from the summit of Mt. Titlis as there are many things to do there all year round.

Staying overnight at Mount Titlis

Those wishing to stay overnight at Mt. Titlis can stay at Trübsee Alpine Lodge which is located at the intermediate station of Trübsee (at 1800 metres). 

The lodge, which is also known as Berghotel Trübsee, offers comfortable, modern rooms for overnight guests. Click here to check details and prices.

Mount Pilatus day trip from Lucerne

Highlights: World’s steepest cogwheel railway, Golden Round Trip offers multiple transport methods to reach the summit, incredible sunset and sunrise views for overnight guests,

Best suited to: Those who would like to experience various modes of transport, visitors who would like to stay overnight on a mountain summit

Summary of activities available: Christmas Market, Dragon Glider zip line, Flower Trail, Pilu Land, Pilatus Rope Park, Fräkigaudi summer toboggan run, Dragon Trail, sledding, bobsledding, snowshoeing (not all activities available year round).

Pre-booked transport option: Our top pick is the Mt. Pilatus Golden Round Trip – click here for details and prices.

Self-guided transport option: If you prefer more flexibility, you can pre-purchase your tickets but travel when it suits you – click here to check details and prices.

🇨🇭 Read our full guide on How to Visit Mt. Pilatus here.

Panorama gondola from Kriens to Fräkmüntegg on Mt. Pilatus
A panoramic gondola takes visitors from Kriens to Fräkmüntegg, the middle station on Mt. Pilatus.

Mount Pilatus, or Monte Pilatus, is a mountain massif consisting of several individual peaks that is easily-identifiable from its position overlooking Lucerne. Its highest peak is Tomlishorn, which rises to a height of 2,128 metres above sea level.

One of the main activities to enjoy while taking in the incredible views is hiking.

There are some 20 different routes, ranging from easy trails lasting an hour and a half to those rated difficult, which shouldn’t be tackled without the appropriate equipment and experience and can take six hours to complete. 

Winter sees many of the hiking trails closed, however, there are still plenty of activities on offer on the mountain, including skiing, tobogganing, and sledging.

Mount Pilatus also has the longest summer toboggan run at Fräkmüntegg, while Pilatus Rope Park has all manner of ropeways to clamber up and across.

Pilatus Bahn, the world's steepest cogwheel railway.
The Pilatus bahn is the world’s steepest cogwheel railway.

How to get to Mt Pilatus from Lucerne

  • Lucerne to Alpnachstad or vice versa – boat or train
  • Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm or vice versa – cogwheel train
  • Pilatus Kulm to Fräkmüntegg to Kriens or vice versa – cable car
  • Kriens to Lucerne or vice versa – bus

The heights of Mount Pilatus can be reached by the Pilatus Railway, which runs from Alpnachstad on Lake Lucerne to the summit at 2,132 metres.

With an average gradient of 35% and a maximum gradient of 48%, the railway holds the record for being the world’s steepest cogwheel railway line. 

Alpnachstad can be reached from Lucerne via the lake’s steamer services, giving you the chance to enjoy a Lake Lucerne cruise, or by trains on Zentralbahn’s Brünigbahn line.

The Pilatus Railway operates from May to November, weather permitting.

Getting from Lucerne to Mt Pilatus outside of these months is still possible, however, thanks to the cable cars running from Kriens (which can be reached by bus number 1 from Lucerne) that take passengers to the summit.

Cable car closures are limited to a short period in October/November. (See closure dates here.)

During the summer months, visitors can purchase a Pilatus Golden Round Trip ticket, which entitles them to take a boat from Lucerne to Alpnachstad, ride the cogwheel railway up the mountain, and return to Lucerne via the cable car and a bus ride.

> Click here to check details and prices.

Sunset at Mt. PIlatus, Switzerland
Guests staying overnight at Mt. Pilatus can witness magnificent sunsets.

Staying overnight at Mount Pilatus

When it comes to accommodation at Mount Pilatus in Switzerland there are two options –  Hotel Bellevue or the historic mountain Hotel Pilatus-Kulm.

  • Hotel Bellevue Pilatus is situated at the summit of Mt. Pilatus and offers twenty comfortable rooms with views of the Alps and Lake Lucerne.  Click here to check further details and prices.
  • For a bit more luxury, the other Pilatus hotel, Pilatus-Kulm should be your choice.  With thirty superior rooms and junior suites, this is the ideal location to a restful night’s sleep surrounded by a stunning alpine panorama.  Click here to check further details and prices.

Mount Rigi day trip from Lucerne

Highlights: Oldest mountain railway in Europe, thermal spa,

Summary of activities available: Mineralbad & Spa Rigi Kaltbad, toboggan runs, hiking, paragliding, horse-drawn carriage rides, rope park, cross-country skiing, sledging, skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding (not all activities available year round).

Best suited to: Visitors who would like to experience various modes of transport, railway enthusiasts,

Pre-booked transport option: Enjoy the Classic Rigi Round Trip – click here for details and prices.

🇨🇭 Read our full guide on How to Visit Mt. Rigi here.

Cogwheel train ascending Mt. Rigi with a view down to Lake Lucerne
The Mt. Rigi Railway is the oldest mountain railway in the world.

Sometimes known as ‘the Queen of the mountains’ (Rigi comes from Regina, the Latin word for queen), Mount Rigi is another mountain massif. 

It is surrounded by lakes Lucerne, Zug, and Lauerz, and on a clear day, it’s possible to see seven different bodies of water from the top. 

The summit, Rigi Kulm, lies 1,798 metres above sea level, in the Schwyzer Alps, due east of Lucerne across the lake.

The mountain claims ownership of not only the oldest mountain railway in Europe, but also the highest standard gauge lines on the continent – the Rigi Railways.

Like Mounts Titlis and Pilatus, Rigi is a popular site for hiking in summer with skiing and tobogganing possible in winter. 

Mt. Rigi boasts a hiking area of 90 square kilometres, covering some 120 kilometres of marked trails, which offer various viewpoints with expansive vistas across the region. 

The Classic Trail remains popular and leads from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Kaltbad (where you can relax with a hot drink or ice cream, depending on the time of year and prevailing weather conditions) via Staffel.

At just four kilometres in length, with a difference in altitude of only 300 metres and well-maintained paths leading down, it’s a great route for families looking to get a sense of the mountain.

Rigi Bahn
A relaxing ride on the Rigi bahn, with breathtaking views, is a great way to reach the mountain summit.

How to get to Mt. Rigi from Lucerne

Classic Rigi Round Trip:

  • Lucerne to Vitznau – boat or train
  • Vitznau to Rigi Kulm – cogwheel train
  • Rigi Kulm to Rigi Kaltbad – cogwheel train
  • Rigi Kaltbad to Weggis – cable car
  • Weggis to Lucerne – boat or train

There are a couple of different ways to travel from Lucerne to Mt. Rigi. You can travel either via Vitznau, Arth-Goldau or Weggis.

The first option is to take a train and bus, or boat, to Vitznau which takes about an hour. Services operate year round. You can then board the Vitznau-Rigi-Bahn rack railway to Rigi Kulm (via Rigi Kaltbad).

The second option entails catching a train from Lucerne to Weggis, a gondola lift from Weggis to Rigi Kaltbad, a resort town at 1,400 metres, and then a cable car for the final leg to Rigi Kulm.

Combining route options one and two above results in what is commonly known as the Classic Rigi Round Trip.

The third option is to get to Arth-Goldau which can be reached by train in around 35 minutes from Lucerne. From there the Arth-Rigi-Bahn rack railway transports passengers to Krabel where they join a cable car to travel on to Rigi Kulm.

The Weggis cableway is closed for a short period in November and then again in March/April. Click here for closure dates.

Mt Rigi ticket prices depend on the route you choose to travel. To save time queuing for tickets at the station, you can buy your train tickets here.

If you’d rather travel one way by train and the other by cable car, round trip tickets can be purchased here.

View of Lake Zug from Mt. Rigi
There are great views of Lake Zug from Mt. Rigi.

Staying overnight at Mt. Rigi

For an unforgettable overnight stay on Mt. Rigi, book a room at Hotel Rigi Kaltbad

A member of the Swiss Quality Hotels group, Hotel Rigi Kaltbad offers stylish 3-star superior accommodation and fine dining with a spectacular view.  Guests also have direct access to the Mineralbad and Spa Rigi Kaltbad.

Click here for more details and prices.

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Preparing yourself for the mountains

As each of these mountain peaks lies high above the snowline, and often above the cloud-line, you should not expect that the weather in Lucerne to be indicative of that on the mountains themselves. 

While you should prepare for low temperatures, it can get warm on the peaks, particularly in summer, so the best option is to dress in easily added or removable layers.

Gloves, sunglasses, and a warm hat shouldn’t be forgotten, alongside sturdy, closed shoes. 

Keep a close eye on the Mount Rigi, Mount Titlis, or Mount Pilatus weather before considering any trip into the mountains.  

Many hotels in Lucerne, as well as the Tourist Office, have webcams showing live video from the mountain summits. 

These live-streamed images can help you to determine if the Mt. Pilatus, Mt. Rigi or Mt. Titlis weather is suitable for a day trip.

Dragon Ride cable car at Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland
The Dragon Ride cable car offers spectacular views on the journey to or from the summit of Mt. Pilatus.

Visiting Mt. Titlis, Mt. Pilatus and Mt. Rigi from further afield

Whilst the transport details above are for visitors wishing to start their excursion to the mountains from Lucerne, it is also possible to enjoy a day trip to Rigi, Titlis and Pilatus from other locations.

You should allow a full day for a Zurich to Mount Titlis day trip or an Interlaken to Mount Titlis excursion. Day trips from Zurich to Pilatus and Zurich to Rigi tours are also best enjoyed over a full day.

Private tours to all three mountains are also available from Lucerne, Zurich, Interlaken and other destinations in Switzerland.

I hope this guide has helped you to choose between Mt. Pilatus, Mt. Titlis and Mt. Rigi for your day trip from Lucerne.

🇨🇭 To read our full guide to Lucerne > click here. You can also read our Lucerne Hotels Guide.


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Titlis, Pilatus or Rigi - which Switzerland mountain excursion is best?

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