Mount Pilatus. Mountain in Switzerland, Europe

Mount Pilatus - Sightseeing and landmarks

Mountain in Switzerland, Europe

Mount Pilatus Photo © SteFou!

Mount Pilatus

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Lucerne from Mount Pilatus - Mount Pilatus
Lucerne from Mount Pilatus - Mount Pilatus. Photo by SteFou!
Mount Pilatus is a mountain located in central Switzerland, with several summits, the highest of which is 6,982 feet. The mountain over looks Lucerne and can be accessed from several sides. It is not known where the name comes from, but the most amusing legend is that the mountain looks like a fat man named Pilate, lying on his back and thus the mountain was named after him. It is more likely however, that the name comes from the meaning for cloud-topped, Pileatus. Like many mountains in Switzerland, Pilatus is heavily fortified with gun emplacements around the top of the mountain as well as weather and radar stations, though it is difficult to find and see the gun fortifications.

The mountain can be accessed by cable car, or cogwheel railway. From Alpnachstad (Wikipedia Article), visitors can take the cogwheel railway, the steepest in the world, to the summit of Pilatus. The track has a maximum gradient of 50% and it can be a little frightening when riding up the side of the mountain. The railway was built with private funds in 1889, and covers a distance of 2.9 miles straight up the mountain. The railway runs from Alpnachstad, to Pilatus Kulm, and is open from May – November, though sometimes will be shut due to snow. It takes 30 minutes from top to bottom, and slightly longer on the way down due to dynamic breaking. The ride is incredibly scenic and worth doing, though travel sickness is common.

Mount Pilatus - Mount
Mount Pilatus. Photo by SteFou!

Cable Car

Mount Pilatus - Mount
Mount Pilatus - Mount Pilatus. Photo by Paula Funnell
The Panorama Gondola takes thirty minutes covering a height difference of 2,949 feet. The windows of the gondola were purposely built to be large, allowing for incredible views across the alps. The aerial cableway is currently under construction, as a new terminus and cableway will be introduced in Spring, 2015. 18 million CHF is being invested in the new cableway, which will feature floor to ceiling glass panels, allowing for more spectacular views and a feeling of flying.

The Golden round-trip incorporates all aspects of Pilatus, offering a ride on the cogwheel railway, gondolas, aerial cableway and a boat trip. Starting off with a boat trip on Lake Lucerne, you then take a gondola to Frakmuntegg, before getting on the aerial cableway to reach the summit of Pilatus. From here you are able to take the cogwheel railway down the side of the mountain where the trip ends. The full Pilatus excursion costs 72 CHF for adults, and 36 CHF for children, and the Golden Round Trip, costs 106 CHF for adults, and 54 CHF for children.

Accommodations on Top

There are two hotels on the summit of Pilatus offering overnight views of the mountains, and incredible views at sunrise. Great if you want to really enjoy all the activities Mount Pilatus has to offer, you can choose from Hotel Pilatus-Kulm or Hotel Bellevue. Hotel Pilatus-Kulm was built in 1890, and was recently refurbished upgrading the exterior as well as all the rooms. The hotel features 27 rooms all decorated in a traditional Swiss style as well as three luxury suites. One night in a standard double room is between 160 CHF – 195 CHF depending on the season. Hotel Bellevue is slightly cheaper, at 140 CHF a night for a double room. This hotel accommodates pets, and offers basic hotel amenities on top of the mountain.

Pilatus features 10 restaurants, so you are sure to find something to suit every taste. The Sun terrace at Pilatus Kulm hotel is the best place to eat during the summer. Offering traditional Swiss mountain food including schnitzel and bratwurst, as well as a salad buffet, this is the perfect place to refuel after reaching the summit. The Chalet is located at the bottom of the mountain next to the cog railway, and is a great place to stop for light refreshments and snacks before heading up the mountain.

Mount Pilatus - Mount
Mount Pilatus. Photo by Paula Funnell


In the summer, visitors can experience Pilatus’s largest rope park, featuring ten different trails all linked between the trees. There is varying degrees of difficulty, so it is a great activity for families with kids of different ages. There is also the ‘Powerfan’, where you have the experience of free-falling for twenty meters, and ‘Monkey Trees’, where you are able to rock climb up tree stumps. The ticket price allows you to stay in the park for three hours and is 28 CHF for an adult and 21 CHF for children up to age 16. The park is open from April to October.
There are also extensive hiking routes, as well as mountain biking routes, and you can simply follow the well-marked paths, providing a great, free day out!

Getting There

To get there by car, follow motorway A2 towards Lucerne, and take the Luzern Süd/Kriens Exit. If travelling by public transport, take the train to Lucerne, and then bus number 1 towards Kriens to the Linde Pilatus stop. From the stop it is a five-minute walk to the bottom of the cogwheel railway.

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Author: hannahbarkan. Last updated: Jan 31, 2015

Pictures of Mount Pilatus

Mount Pilatus - Mount Pilatus
Mount Pilatus - Photo by Mark McLaughlin


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