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The Hidden Way Up Mount Pilatus

Of all places and mountains in Switzerland, Mount Pilatus is one of my favorites. Pilatus is located conveniently in the center of Switzerland, about an hour's drive from Zurich, right at the foot of the Central Swiss Alps. There are hiking trails, restaurants and lots of other activities on the mountain. The best about it all is that from the top of the mountain you have a great view of the Alps and Lake Lucern.

In order to get up to the top you officially have two options:
1) Take a cable car from Kriens to Frakmüntegg and then up to the summit of Pilatus
2) Take worlds steepest cog rail train from Alpnachstad straight up to the summit

Although these two options are quite interesting and certainly enjoyable, I recommend you visit Mount Pilatus off the beaten path and take a bit more adventurous way. Not to mention that the hidden or alternative way up Mount Pilatus is also quite a bit cheaper.

The alternative Way up Mount Pilatus

If you are up for the challenge and don't mind hiking a bit this is what you should do: From wherever in Switzerland you start, you drive to Hergiswil which is on Lake Lucern. In Hergiswil there is also a really interesting glass factory called 'Glasi Hergiswil' with a show room and a visitors center. It's definitely worth a visit on your way back from Mount Pilate.

Back to the directions: once you are in Hergiswil you must follow the signs towards 'Alpgschwänd' and then onwards to the the station of the cable care. It is very easy to find but if you have troubles finding it you can always ask someone for directions to the cable car that goes up to the restaurant 'Alpgschwänd'.

This cable car is owned by the restaurant 'Alpgschwänd' and operates on demand only. Therefore, once you get to the station and have parked your car, you have to use the telephone in the cable car station to order your gondola. The person operating the cable car will then direct you to sit in the gondola that is already in the station and will set the cable car in motion. Once at the top, you'll have to pay your fare and since you will be returning the same way make sure to get a return ticket and ask for the days operation hours.

The restaurant 'Alpgschwänd' is the starting point for your hike. Check the yellow arrows for directions and start towards 'Fräkmüntegg'. From then on, simply follow the yellow signs. The path is good and it should be no problem reaching your goal in about an hour or hour and a half. It's mostly uphill on the way there which makes it mostly downhill on the return trip. The hike is very enjoyable with great views, partly in the forests and with the occasional cow heard that will meet you with loud mooing.

'Fräkmüntegg' is the middle station of the cable car going up Mount Pilatus from Kriens. Once you reach it you can choose between several options:
a) Take the cable car and go up to the summit of Mount Pilatus. You'll be able to enjoy the great view of the Swiss Alps if the weather is good. The ride is a bit pricey so take that into consideration as well.
b) Ride the summer toboggan run
c) Try your skills in the ropes course

There are also some restaurants where you can eat, have a cold drink or buy an ice cream. Whatever you choose, make sure to pick a great spot for lunch. I recommend the benches in front of the little chapel between the ropes park and the toboggan run. It is a quiet spot with a great view over Lake Lucern.

In order to get back to your car and home, simply reverse these steps! Remember to make sure you reach Alpgschwänd before the cable car closes!

Cross on Mt. Pilatus

More Information:

  • Information and prices of the ropes course, the toboggan run and the Mount Pilatus cable cars can be found on the Mount Pilate Website.
  • Information about the restaurant and cable care at 'Alpgschwänd' can be found here: Restaurant Alpgschwaend
  • Opening hours of the glass factory in Hergiswil can be consulted on their official website: Glasi Hergiswil



  1. Very good idea and surely will do! Planning to visit Zurich in summertime and that's a really great idea.


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