Most guide books will recommend visiting Mount Pilatus, Titlis, and Rigi from Lucerne. Why? These three are some of the closest mountains to visit from Lucerne. These three are, indeed, very good choices. Yet, these aren’t the only mountains close by worth visiting.
Central Switzerland has lots of awesome mountains and viewpoints to choose from. Bürgenstock, Stanserhorn, and Brienzer Rothorn are other examples of beautiful mountains near Lucerne worth visiting.
Below are the closest mountains to Lucerne listed by the shortest travel time. We have also included the advantages of visiting these. Given in parentheses is the height above sea level.
1. Pilatus (2,073 Meters)
From Lucerne, there are two ways to access Pilatus. Both take roughly less than 70 Minutes. The first is by going with the train up from Kriens, Lucerne. The second is by going by train from Alpnachstad, Obwalden.
Pilatus is a well-known excursion and viewpoint in Lucerne for both tourists and locals alike.
It wasn’t always this well-known though. In fact, back in 1370, the local government did not allow visitors to the Pilatus Lake on Oberalp. Locals regarded areas in the alps as scary places. The locals feared ghosts, witches, and dragons.
Good thing we do not believe the same thing nowadays as those who lived during the Middle Ages!
The genius Eduard Locher envisioned a futuristic train on Pilatus at the end of the 19th century. Pilatus has the steepest cogwheel railway in the world. It has a maximum gradient of 48% and an average gradient of 35%. The train links Alpnachstad in Obwalden to Pilatus Kulm at 2,073 Meters.
Why should you visit Pilatus?
Pilatus Kulm, the top of Pilatus, has great views of Central Switzerland, restaurants, a bar, souvenir shop, and a panorama terrace. Here, you can also find a short, secure way to enjoy the panorama. It lies between the peaks Esel and Oberhaupt.
The golden round trip is also a popular choice for tourists. It combines a ride on the steamboat, the red cogwheel railway, and going down with the cable car. Tourists can book the golden round trip from May to October.
Also in Fräkmüntegg, you’ll find the new Dragon Glider, a gliding mechanism that’ll take you to Drachenalp. There’s a rope park here in Fräkmüntegg too. A big playground can be found in Krienseregg’s Pilu Land.
Pilatus mountain is close to Lucerne and can be seen from the city, and definitely worth a visit.
2. Stanserhorn (1,849 Meters)
Stanserhorn is easily accessible from Lucerne. Fast trains can take you in 18 minutes to Stans, plus an additional 24 minutes riding the cable cars to Stanserhorn. The total travel time is around 44 minutes.
Between the borders of Nidwalden and Obwalden cantons is Stanserhorn. From 1,848 Meters, you can enjoy a fascinating panorama of the Bernese and Central Swiss Alps.
History of the Train and Cable Car
The businessman Franz Josef Bucher-Durrer helped realize the Stanserhorn train. He was already a successful businessman in his own right building various hotels. After Rigi and Pilatus built their own trains from the valley to the mountain, it was clear. Nidwalden also wanted to have the same. When the Stanserhorn train opened to the public in 1893, it was the steepest and longest cable car in the world. Unfortunately, lightning destroyed the hotel and mountain station in 1970.
There used to be three funiculars that went to the summit. Open wagons roll from Stans to the middle station of Kälti. Even after 100 years, this train still retains its original wooden carts.
Stanserhorn Train and Cable Car Today
Nowadays, Stanserhorn has a cable car with an open upper deck. From Kälti, one changes to the double-decker panorama cabin which glides up to Stanserhorn. In the station, passengers can go directly out of the roof without having to get back to the cabin.
From Stanserhorn, there are marmots, a restaurant, and an amazing panorama of Lucerne.
Why should you visit Stanserhorn?
The combination of the Oldtimer train from Stans and the open upper deck of the CabriO cable car is definitely worth experiencing.
Once above, the views of Lucerne over the lake up to the Bernese Alps are amazing. In the north, you see Jura, Vogesen, and the Black Forest. In the south, east, and west you see the Alpine world. You can view 10 Swiss lakes from above and over 100 kilometers of alpine mountain scenery.
If you would like to read more about Stanserhorn and CabriO, check out our article Ride the Open-air CabriO to Stanserhorn, Switzerland.
3. Rigi Scheidegg (1,643 Meters) and Rigi Kulm (1,752 Meters)
Although there are numerous ways to go up to Mount Rigi, the fastest is taking the inter-regional train from Lucerne to Arth-Goldau and from there taking the cogwheel railway up to Rigi Kulm. This trip takes as little as 80 minutes from Lucerne.
There are numerous ways to go up to Rigi from Lucerne. Listed below are some possibilities:
- There are steamboats from Lucerne leaving for Vitznau. From Vitznau, you can take the train going via Rigi Kaltbad to Rigi Kulm.
- From Lucerne, you can take a train to Arth-Goldau. From Arth-Goldau, you can take cogwheel railway up to Rigi Kulm.
- From Weggis, you can take the cable car direct to Rigi Kaltbad.
- From Rigi Kaltbad, there is a tram going to Rigi Scheidegg.
- From Goldau/Kräbel and from Gersau/Obergeschwend, there are cable cars going up to Rigi Scheidegg.
- From Küssnacht SZ, there is a cable car going to Rigi Kulm.
- From Vitznau, there are two small cable cars – one going to Vitznauerstock and the other to Gersauerstock. From both mountains, you have the possibility to hike going to Rigi.
Rigi is admittedly one of the most visited mountains in the entire Central Switzerland region. It lies surrounded by three lakes – Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug, and Lake Lauerz.
Why should you visit Rigi?
Rigi is popular for its spectacular viewpoints overlooking the lakes and mountains. Most people can also visit it by going up from one town with a cable car or train and going down with another, as there are numerous possibilities to visit the mountain.
Rigi Kaltbad is also a popular destination due to its mineral bath (Mineralbad). The new bath was designed by famed architect Mario Botta whose works include the San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art, National Bank of Greece in Athens, and Santa Maria degli Angeli in Monte Tamaro.
4. Bürgenstock Hammetschwand (1,115 Meters)
From Lucerne, take the boat to Kehrsiten-Bürgenstock. From Kehrsiten-Bürgenstock, take the funicular up to Bürgenstock Resort. The whole trip from Lucerne to Bürgenstock will take 43 minutes.
Enjoy a beautiful day by cruising on the lake by taking the fast ferry from Lucerne to Kehrsiten-Bürgenstock on the way to Bürgenstock Resort.
Right at the Bürgenstock Resort, one can hike on the rock path built between 1900 and 1905. There is a learning path on which twelve questions about geography and geology, history of tourism, technology, forest, and nature conservation are asked.
Why should you visit Bürgenstock Resort?
The Hammetschwand Lift in Bürgenstock Resort is the highest, free-standing outdoor lift in Europe. It is 152.8 meters high. Built back in 1905 by businessman Franz Josef Bucher, it was the first of its kind in the country. It was and is one of the most daring tourist facilities of the Belle Époque.
In less than a minute, you can go up to the observation terrace of Bürgenstock. This is the highest vantage point near the city of Lucerne and shows views of Lucerne, its lake, and the boats.
5. Zugerberg (1,039 Meters)
The total travel time from Lucerne to Zugerberg is 59 minutes. Take the train from Lucerne to Zug village. From there, change to a bus that will lead you to Zug, Schönegg. Once in Schönegg, take the funicular up to Zugerberg.
Zugerberg is a mountain located in Zug canton. The valley station, Schönegg, is accessible from the city of Zug itself. From the upper station, at a little below 1,000 meters, you can see the lakes Ägeri and Zug.
On top of that, there are hiking trails with beautiful flora and fauna in Zugerberg. They also have a sculpture trail and a playground called Schattwälldli. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding are popular in winter. The area also has a small ski lift for kids.
Why should you visit Zugerberg?
There are many reasons to visit Zugerberg, but I would recommend it to people who enjoy easy walks and hikes. Think of Zugerberg as the soft hills overlooking the surrounding areas in canton Zug, not a high alpine setting.
Many easy trails can be found here, such as the hike from Zugerberg to Grossmattstolle and the hike from Zugerberg to Geri. There is another interesting fact about this mountain: It is very family-friendly. In case you are in Lucerne and have young children, Zugerberg may be the perfect place for you. In addition to the Zugiblubbi Adventure Theme Trail, there is a nice playground within easy walking distance of the mountain station.
If you would like to learn more about Zugerberg, check out our article 8 Awesome Things To Do on Zugerberg, Switzerland.
6. Engelberg – Titlis (3,238 Meters)
The total travel time from Lucerne to Titlis is 80 minutes. Take the train from Lucerne to Engelberg village. From there, walk to the valley station of Titlis.
Engelberg is the largest mountain village in Central Switzerland located in canton Obwalden. It has a famous Benedictine monastery where monks still continue to live, work, and teach. There is also a cheese factory, a museum, and a number of old chapels.
Even before, the people of the monastery promoted trade in the village. Cattle and cheese sold at a profit or exchanged for other goods offered farmers more income.
From Engelberg, one can go up to the Titlis massif with the cable car. Titlis has one of the highest peaks in the region at 3,238 meters (10,623 feet).
Why should you visit Engelberg and Titlis?
The rotating cable car Rotair brings visitors from Engelberg over the glacier to the Titlis peak. From the mountain station of Kleintitlis, you can see the glacier and rock ridges. Furthermore, it is only 219 meters from the mountain peak. This is a spectacular panorama point. Important: This is a high alpine area! The 40-minute tour can be dangerous. Beginners should not attempt this without proper equipment and know-how.
Background of building Rotair
CWA Constructions SA (Olten) received the contract to build a rotating high-alpine cableway. The contract was based on the work of two students from TEKO Schweizerische Fachschule. The Federal Office of Transport assessed and approved the project in March 1989. Titlis Bergbahnen started building the first rotating aerial cableway of the world.
The ride from Trübsee to Kleintitlis at 3,020 meters is definitely exciting. The floor of the cabin turns during the 5-minute ride on its own axis. There is space for 80 guests inside the cabin.
Engelberg in Summer
In summer, there are several activities available – hiking, biking, golf, and mountaineering. It is also popular for families with the summer toboggan run, an adventure playground and the Globi (a popular Swiss cartoon character) themed trail.
Engelberg in Winter
In Winter, Titlis mountain is known for its diverse ski and free ride area.
7. Brienzer Rothorn (2,350 Meters)
The fastest way to go up to Brienzer Rothorn is by taking the train to Schüpfheim, then going on the bus to Sörenberg. In Sörenberg, the cable cars lead you up to Brienzer Rothorn. This trip takes 1 hour and 28 Minutes.
An even better way to experience Brienzer Rothorn, however, is to take the red steam train from Brienz which travels at a leisurely speed and takes one hour to reach the peak. This adds one hour to the journey but is well worth it.
In Switzerland, there are three dozen red peaks (Rothörner). 11 of these are in Bernese Oberland. 17 of these are in Valais. The peak of Brienzer Rothorn is located in 3 cantons – Bern, Obwalden, and Lucerne.
The mountain station of the cable car with the panorama restaurant is 2,288 meters above sea level. After leaving the restaurant, walk 62 meters up to the mountain peak. It is a good, wide path secured by a low wall. The point where cantons Bern, Lucerne, and Obwalden meet has a granite stone marking it.
Brienzer Rothorn is with 2,350 Meters the highest mountain of canton Lucerne.
Why should you visit Brienzer Rothorn?
Aside from having the possibility to ride one of the two remaining steam trains in Switzerland (the other being Furka) that travels regularly, the train travels in the UNESCO Entlebuch Biosphere.
The peak of Brienzer Rothorn is accessible in 10 to 20 minutes from the trains. The views are amazing – the Bernese Alps, Lake Brienz, Grimsel, and even Pilatus or Hohgant.
There are capricorns between Brienzer Rothorn and Augstmatthorn you can observe. After the trains have stopped running in the evenings, the Capricorns come. These alpine animals move about near the mountain hotel. It is one of the biggest capricorn colonies in Switzerland.
These animals are good climbers. They can go up steep walls and rock walls without issues.
Did you know that you can tell his age from his horns? The grooves on the back of the capricorn’s horns give information about his age. One groove means one summer.
8. Eggberge (1,447 Meters)
Eggberge Valley Station is reachable from the Lucerne Train Station with the CAR Tellbus Uri in just 40 minutes. The Tellbus has 13 connections per day. On Saturdays, it has 3 connections per day. On Sundays, it has 2 connections per day. From the valley station Flüelen (Talstation Eggberge), it takes 9 minutes to go up to Eggberge with the cable car.
Between Urnersee Lake and Schächen Valley lies Eggberge. It lies more than 1,000 meters above sea level, right above Flüelen and Altdorf.
Why should you visit Eggberge?
It is not as overrun as other places though it offers breathtaking views as well. Among its views are that of the Reuss Valley, Urnersee lake, Gotthard region, Krönten, Spannort, and the Rigi. This small holiday region with simple chalets and hotels is a good starting point for walks. Meadows and forests are just nearby. There are spots for paragliding because they have good wind here. Biking down to Lake Flesch is also possible.
In Winter, they also have a small ski lift and snowshoe trails. One example is from Hüenderegg to Selez until the small mountain restaurant in Alpstubli.
Here is a brief summary of the closest mountains to Lucerne and how far away these are (in kilometers, an approximate).
|Mountain||Height (m)||Distance from Lucerne (km)||Canton|
|Pilatus||2,073 meters||3.9 km||Nidwalden / Obwalden|
|Stanserhorn||1,849 meters||14.5 km||Nidwalden|
|Rigi – Scheidegg / Kulm||1,643 meters / 1,752 meters||25.3 km||Lucerne / Schwyz|
|Bürgenstock Hammetschwand||1,115 meters||26.4 km||Lucerne / Nidwalden|
|Zugerberg||1,039 meters||36.1 km||Zug|
|Engelberg – Titlis||3,238 meters||34.8 km||Obwalden / Bern|
|Brienzer Rothorn||2,350 meters||59.5 km||Lucerne / Obwalden / Bern|
|Eggberge||1,447 meters||68.9 km||Uri|
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