Swiss mountain Stanserhorn sits high above Lake Lucerne between Nidwalden and Obwalden. While the height of the mountain is just 1,898 meters above sea level, the views are still spectacular. Here, you can see the Bernese and Central Swiss Alps. On a clear day, the mountains can be seen as far as Germany. In addition, you can see ten lakes surrounding you.
The ride up to Stanserhorn offers a number of special experiences. From the valley station, you will ride an old-fashioned train. It is more than a century old. As of now, it ranks among the steepest in the world and goes up to 63% steepness.
You can see up to ten lakes in the vicinity of Stanserhorn in Switzerland. These lakes are: Lake Zug, Lake Wichel, Lake Lucerne, Lake Sempach, Lake Sarnen, Lake Hallwil, Lake Gerzen, Lake Bannalp, Lake Baldegg and Lake Alpnach.
History of Stanserhorn
The area of Stanserhorn was covered in ice more than 16,000 years ago. As the ice melted, animals and plants began to flourish. There were high-alpine and arctic plants in the highlands. In the lower parts, near the lakes, they were said to have palms and subtropical plants.
In contrast to what it used to be during the Ice Age, the area around Stanserhorn is no longer surrounded by glaciers. Previously, it was part of three glaciers: Reuss Glacier, Engelberg Glacier, and Aare Glacier.
The highlands of Valais and Graubünden still have similar glaciers.
Stanserhorn Mountain Railway and Cable Car
After Rigi (1,871 meters above sea level) and Pilatus (1,889 meters above sea level) had their own means of transportation to reach the mountain peaks, it was only a matter of time before they did the same for Stanserhorn.
Stans is the site of the valley station. Three separate sections were built over 3,670 meters to reach the Stanserhorn.
Stanserhornbahn opened in 1893 and was considered the world’s steepest and longest funicular in the world at that time.
Prior to the advent of the CabriO, people were taken to the top of Stanserhorn by funicular. Back in the day, the nostalgic wooden trains moved slowly and steadily. Trains powered by local energy brought passengers from Stans to Stanserhorn.
In 1970, they decided to construct a new cable car after a lightning strike destroyed the hotel and station. It was originally planned to build a rotating cable car, but the project didn’t move forward. Titlis was eventually able to build this rotating cable car instead of Stanserhorn.
These days, the old-timer car is only visible on the lower part. The trains still run between Stans and Kälti. They use old-time trains designed to resemble original wooden carriages.
From Stans upwards, people will ride the new CabriO, which opened in 2012.
On the rooftop deck of the CabriO, you can enjoy the views from outside instead of from behind windows. Because the cables are on the side rather than overhead, the space is completely open. You can enjoy the views of Central Switzerland, the surrounding lakes and mountains from the rooftop deck.
The cable cars run every 30 minutes except for the first and last rides, which have only a 15-minute interval between them. When there are a lot of people, they do it in 10-minute intervals. Stanserhorn is about a 25-minute ride from Stans.
How to Get to Stanserhorn
Stanserhorn is an easy drive, train, or ship ride to Lucerne.
Traveling by Train
You can take the train from Lucerne to Stans. From Stans, you will take the funicular to Kälti. From Kälti, you will move to the cable car which will lead you up to Stanserhorn. The total travel time from Lucerne is 44 minutes.
Traveling by Ship
Another option is to take the ship until Buochs, and then take the bus until Stans. This route will take longer than the train, going for over an hour from Buochs.
Traveling by Car
By car, you can take the Gotthard Highway until Stans-Nord and then park directly in the valley station parking lot.
Stanserhorn cable cars run from April to October.
What to Do in Stanserhorn
Near the Valley Station is a playground called Robinson Spielplatz.
There are different hiking routes in the mountain, mostly with a medium level of difficulty. Several paths lead from Stans, Wirzweli, or Kerns to Stanserhorn and back. A short walk around the mountain peak is possible, or you can start in the valley and work your way up. There are beautiful views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, as well as kilometers-wide alpine peaks.
On Stanserhorn itself, you can also choose to do a short trail that lasts approximately 30 minutes. There is also a chance to run into marmots on Stanserhorn if you’re lucky.
Where to Eat in Stanserhorn
There is a restaurant on the mountain peak called Rondorama, which revolves around its own axis. On selected dates, you can also have a candlelight dinner at this restaurant.
The revolving restaurant called Rondorama is the first one of its kind in Central Switzerland. The restaurant’s capacity is 200 guests, and 80 can be accommodated on the rotating plate. This plate completes a full rotation in 43 minutes.
The restaurant is a self-service restaurant that is open as long as the cable cars run.
It’s quite easy to get to Stanserhorn from Lucerne if you’re already based in the city. The route going up the mountain combines the past and the future, beginning with a nostalgic train and ending with an open-air, roof deck cable car.
There is a short trail that allows you to enjoy the panoramic views from the mountain. Several mountain paths lead to and from Stanserhorn if you want a longer hike. As this is a mountain path and not a normal trail, it is important to wear appropriate shoes.
If you have already seen Pilatus and Titlis and want something different, Stanserhorn is another good option for a day trip. Stanserhorn offers beautiful views of Central Switzerland, especially its lakes.
Stanserhorn rangers will be happy to assist you while you are there in case have any questions.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.