While staying in Lucerne, Switzerland for a couple days as we worked our way from Zurich to Venice by train prior to a cruise that was supposed to depart from Venice, we took a day trip up Mt. Pilatus, which is fairly close to Lucerne. We started our journey with a boat ride leaving from the docks near the Lucerne train station, and a trip up the mountain on the world’s steepest cogwheel train.
At the top of the mountain there’s a gift shop, several places to eat, free restrooms, trails to several viewpoints, the entrance to the aerial cableway, and 2 hotels. The first thing we noticed was a trail on the mountain’s edge. Most of that trail was through tunnels, but it did have window-like openings through the rock and some larger open space viewing areas, from which there were some great views both looking down the mountain and up to the structures at the top.
From some of the viewpoints you could see the cable cars when they came or went from the top of the mountain. This cableway is called the dragon ride. Ancient myths associated Mt. Pilatus with dragons.
We could also see a little white church partway down the mountain in the snow with no obvious way for anyone to get to it.
After hiking down that frozen trail we came back quite cold so we looked around the building a bit, had a hot drink and small snack at the serve yourself café upstairs.
Having warmed up we went back outside and hiked up an icy stairway to a viewpoint high above the buildings. Bitter wind up there blew the snow around driving icy pieces into any exposed skin – mainly faces since pretty much every other bit of anyone was covered. This was pre-covid so nobody was wearing masks, but they could have come in useful up there as a bit of a wind break for the face.
Besides 360° views of the surrounding area it had a snow-covered bench next to a sign pointing out the distance to a variety of places. Nobody stayed up there long. We came back down thoroughly frozen – again. If we had planned a winter vacation rather than being on our way to a cruise we definitely would have brought warmer clothes.
There was another trail leading to the highest peak, which would have been fun to take on a warmer day. It was a longer trail with quite a bit farther to go than the short one to the high viewpoint so we skipped that one since it was so cold and windy.
When we had first got off the train a long line of people waiting to go down the cableway filled quite a large area of the building. After coming back in from the viewpoint we noticed there was nobody waiting and decided it would be a good time to go down the aerial cableway dragon ride. There were just 5 people in our car, though it could have held many more.
It was really nice having so much open space in the cable car as people could move about freely for better views or photos. These large cars descend to the gondola station and from there people take the much smaller panoramic gondolas the rest of the way down.
The gondolas started in a snowy area. You can look out the back and see the view looking back up the mountain as well as looking out the front at the view going down.
Partway down the mountain the gondolas passed through another station, which was also surrounded in snow. People can get out there or just stay in as it passes through.
Somewhere between there and the city it passed over the snowline and just like that the world was green again.
Homes up there all had quite a hefty supply of wood. One had a roof pretty much covered in solar panels. Another had sheep and goats.
We passed by a lot of gondolas going up the other cable on our way down. Most of them looked just like the one we were in, some occupied and some not. Then one odd one went by, some sort of utility gondola used for bringing supplies up the mountain.
Tour busses waited at the gondola station for their groups, and there was a bus stop nearby, but not for the bus back to Lucerne. Signs pointed down the hill for bus 1, which is the one that goes back to the train station. It’s a bit of a walk into the city, but eventually you get to the sign for the bus 1 bus stop. Other busses stop there too, but the ever-changing sign says which is there when one stops as well as which ones are coming and how long until they arrive.
The bus did make other stops along the way, but there was a screen in the bus that said what stop it was at, as well as which ones are coming up next and the train station is huge and pretty easy to recognize when you get there. It’s one of those multi-level stations with all sorts of entrances, shopping areas, food, and multiple platforms. It also has a bus area, but for long distance busses, not the one we were on which just stopped on the road.