Lucerne is a small city located in central Switzerland next to Lake Lucerne. Due to its medieval architecture and surrounding mountains, Lucerne is one of the main tourist destinations of Switzerland. Behind the historic buildings you can see Mount Pilatus with an altitude of 2128 meters. During summer, the best way to experience both, the city, and its mountain Pilatus, is to purchase a Golden Roundtrip Ticket. How it works and what you can expect, is described in the following.
Golden Roundtrip Ticket
Purchasable from May to October each year, the Golden Roundtrip is a pass that allows you to experience the Mount Pilatus and Lake Lucerne all in once. While there are many different tickets available, this ticket is the combination of multiple forms of interesting public transportation such as cogwheel railway, aerial cableway and a boat ride.
There are two directions of performing the trip, but the starting point is always Lucerne. From there your goal is to reach the summit of Mount Pilatus from one side and go down on the other side of the mountain starting or ending with a boat ride from/back to Lucerne.
Click here for an interactive map of all the stations, timetables etc. of the Golden Roundtrip.
Starting Point: City of Lucerne
Lucerne is a highlight itself and should not be overlooked. If you do your Golden Roundtrip in the morning, make sure, you’ll go exploring the city during the afternoon. There are various things to do and sights to see such as the wooden Chapel Bridge, the Old Town, the Hofkirche, the Jesuit Church and much more.
From Lucerne you either take your boat ride on Lake Lucerne or a bus ride to the station of the cableway. The way I did the Golden Roundtrip was by using the bus ride and cable car first.
The bus stop is located just in front of the railway station on platform A. From there you have to take the bus line 1 and get off at the station “Zentrum Pilatus” in Kriens. It takes a 5 minutes’ walk up to the station of the aerial cableway, where you can purchase the Golden Roundtrip Ticket if you haven’t done it before online.
Aerial Cableway – Kriens to Fräkmüntegg
From Kriens the Panorama Gondolas will take you via the middle station Krienseregg to the Fräkmüntegg station in about 30 minutes. There you have to get off and change the aerial cableway to get on top of Mount Pilatus.
Although the Golden Roundtrip is possible by only using public transportation, you also have the chance to include some hiking. Get off the gondola at the Krienseregg station for various hiking options. For a circular easy route, choose the “Drachenmoorpfad”. This round walk takes you around moors and streams and includes a barefoot trail. After the route you can continue the trip with the cable car from the same station.
Another possibility is to hike from the Krienseregg station up to the Fräkmüntegg station. The hike will take about 2 hours and leads in a curve through the forest to a hut in Schönenboden. Somehow, I must have missed the part of Schönenboden and took the steep hike straight through the forest up to the next station, which was enjoyable as well.
“Dragon Ride” to the peak of Mount Pilatus
After reaching the Fräkmüntegg station, you have the possibility to enjoy the largest rope park in Central Switzerland and do some climbing before continuing with the so called “Dragon Ride” aerial cable car to the peak of Mount Pilatus. The cableway runs up the mountain quite steeply and by looking through its big windows, you can enjoy the view of Lucerne.
Arriving on top of the mountain, you’ll find yourself in the restaurant/hotel “Pilatus-Kulm”, which is a historic mountain lodge at 2,132m. You could enjoy a meal or go for another hike to explore the three different peaks around the top of Mount Pilatus.
Cogwheel Railway to Alpnachstad
Then you’ll go down on the other side of the mountain by using the steepest cogwheel railway in the world passing through the forests, tunnels, and meadows. The ride takes about 40 minutes, and you’ll arrive back down at Alpnachstad.
Boat Ride back to Lucerne
From there you’ll take a boat ride across the Lake Lucerne, stopping at multiple stations while enjoying the view of the surrounding hills and mountains. After 1 to 1,5 hours, you’ll be back in Lucerne and ready to explore the beautiful city.