Mt Pilatus hike

Like every year in the summer, my husband’s parents came to visit us in Lucerne. Because they recently got crazy about hiking, their visit was supposed to be a series of hiking trips around Swiss Alps. Unfortunately due to the rainy weather, we’ve only managed to do one hiking trip. This was the trip to Pilatus, Lucerne’s home mountain.

Scenic Alpine landscape at Mt Pilatus

Our trip began in Alpnachstad where the the valley station of the mountain railway is located. Pilatus Bahn, as the railway is called, came to existence in 1889 and is with the gradient up to 48% the steepest cogwheel railway in the world.

Railway station of the Pilatus Bahn in Alpnachstad

After buying our train tickets, we’ve boarded the train and took a lift to the middle station Ämsigen (1359 m). From there we hiked all the way up to top of the Pilatus – Pilatus Kulm (2070 m).

Panoramic views from Ämsigen over Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne)

I liked the hiking trail from Ämsigen to Pilatus Kulm a lot. It is app. 3,4 km long and is quite steep at some points. It takes some effort to conquer it, but hiking through gorgeous alpine meadows and striking rock formations with some amazing views over Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne) made the effort much easier for me.

The mountain trains of Pilatus Railway

Cows at Pilatus

After app. 2 hours of hiking, we’ve reached the top of Pilatus – Pilatus Kulm. By the time we got there, the fog and clouds covered covered the mountain and hid the panoramic views over Lucerne and Vierwaldstätterse. Therefore, instead of walking to the viewing points, we went for a lunch at the restaurant of Hotel Pilatus-Kulm.

Fog and clouds were hiding the gorgeous panoramic views from the top of Pilatus

After lunch, the clouds and fog lifted for a bit. We walked to the Oberhaupt (2106m) and Esel (2118 m) viewing points. Despite the sky wasn’t clear, we were still able to take a glimpse of the amazing panorama over Lucerne and the surrounding area.

Panoramic views from Oberhaupt viewing point

On our way up to both viewing points, it became clear to us, Pilatus Kulm is very touristy place. Not only, it is gorgeous scenic place, but is also easy accessible from Lucerne by the mountain railway from Alpnachstad we took, and by the aerial cableway and gondola from Kriens. Therefore, it is not surprising to meet the tourists wearing the most inappropriate footwear for the mountains (e.g. heels) trying to walk uphill to the viewing points. Even though the trail to viewing points Oberhaupt and Esel aren’t difficult, the surface of the path is uneven. Watching tourists in inappropriate footwear struggling not to get hurt while super slowly walking those paths was rather painful.

Aerial Gondola connecting Pilatus Kulm with Fräkmüntegg

After we’ve caught a glimpse of the panoramic views, it was soon time to return back to the valley. We took a train back to Alpnachstad what proved to be a wise decision, because on or ride down it started to drizzle.


According to my Polar watch:

  • Starting point: Ämsigen (1359 m), end point: Pilatus Kulm (2070 m)
  • Ascent: 711 m
  • Length: 3.34 km
  • Time to complete the trail: 2 hours (1,5 hours of walking)


By public transport:

By train:
From Lucerne main railway station, take the train to Alpnachstad railway station.

By boat:
From Lucerne’s pier take the boat to Alpnachstad.

By car:
At the highway A8 drive in direction Sarnen/Interlaken, take exit Alpnachstad, then follow the signs to the station of the Pilatus Bahn.

Paid parking spaces are avaliable (5CHF/24h)

At Pilatus Kulm


53 thoughts on “Mt Pilatus hike

  1. California Globetrotter says:

    You love to tease me with enticing posts about Swiss mountains haha I wish we had visited Mt Pilatud while we were in Lucerne, but we found it to be so expensive and opted for Rigi-Kulm. But we’ll be back one day, and hopefully fit enough to conquer this steep mountain! #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sileas says:

    I admit, I took the lazy way and went all the way up by train 😛 I think it’s actually great how they made the mountain accessible to almost anyone! Thumbs up to the Swiss transportation system 😉 Very nice pics and video, I really loved the views from there too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad says:

      Hehe, no shame in that. 😉 I love the accessibility of Swiss mountains too. Swiss really did a great job building all those mountain railways, cable cars and gondolas. As you’ve said, thumbs up for them. 🙂 Thank you, I’m happy to hear you liked my pics and video. 🙂


    • Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad says:

      I did the same mistake once too. I definitely agree with you about the importance of proper research.
      I think, if you take a train and/or gondola to the top of Pilatus, you don’t really need hiking shoes – sneakers are sufficient. But I really cannot get over that few individuals in high heels and platform sandals who climbed to the viewing points. I don’t know what they thought when they decide to wear those shoes for this trip. A common sense could tell you those are not proper footwear for the top of the mountain. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ruth | Tanama Tales says:

    What a great hike! I went here many years ago but once at the top I couldn’t see anything. And it was summer! Well, that was a bit of a bummer but looking forward to going back. Would like to take some nice photos like you. #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Clare Thomson says:

    I’d really love to visit Switzerland in the Summertime. It looks so beautiful and we love hiking in any case. Thanks for sharing your experiences on #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 1 person

  5. oregongirlaroundtheworld says:

    Oh! We just got back from hiking in Northern Norway and I was just so full of awe and wonder and nature! Looks like I need to come back to Switzerland for some Alpine wonder. This is so beautiful and I love your video. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rosemaylily2014 says:

    Looks an amazing hike! I’ve been up Pilatus once – by the aerial cableway and gondola. Would have loved to do the cogwheel train but it was too early in the season. I was appropriately dressed though with sensible footwear. Who would think of wearing heels to go up a mountain?! Even in April when I was there, the summit still had a lot of snow and there are steep drops too. Even when it’s cloudy the mountains are beautiful!


  7. livevigorously says:

    Lucky you! The Swiss Alps are on top of my “to do” list!!! Thank you for your likes on my Thailand posts – Railay Rocks, Tale of 2 Snorkels & Princess Cave. I’ll our be back for more Alps inspiration. Happy trails!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. pottyadventures says:

    I can’t believe that some tourists were attempting sections of this in heels! That must have been painful to watch. Again, this looks stunning. Shame about the weather stopping you getting out for any more hikes. Thanks for joining us on #adventurecalling . I hope you can when it opens again tomorrow.


  9. TheHelpfulHiker says:

    It’s always such a joy to read about your hikes in Switzerland and see your gorgeous photos. It’s a shame that the weather wasn’t great, but it still looks like you managed a great hike. I can well believe that tourists were attempting it in inappropriate footwear, I’m often amazed at what people wear. Thanks for joining us #AdventureCalling

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.