Mount Rigi

Fun, close, and easy! Rigi is a mountain peak (‎1,797 m) southeast of Luzern with amazing 360 panoramic views and better family hiking options than Mount Pilatus across the lake. You can reach the summit by cogwheel train, an exciting ride because the climb is so steep and views spectacular.

There’s plenty of room to run around once you get on the mountain, with fenced in observation areas making it safer for small children. At the top, there is a restaurant and kiosk and more restaurants along the hiking paths. You can do a short walk down an easy paved path to the next train stop or continue on a longer panorama trail described here.

It’s best to go in the early morning because the top often gets covered with clouds around noon. You can check the conditions on the website with their live webcam. It’s a great place to take visitors and easy with kids too.

Location:   Central Switzerland
Address: Mountain trains leave from Vitznau or Arth Goldau
Car: ~50 mins from Zurich to Vitznau
Parking: Bahnhofstrasse 7 6354 Vitznau
Train: ~45 mins from Zurich to Arth Goldau
CHF 21.80 Adult return with Half-fare
Trail: optional 1 to 2.6 km trail or longer
Condition: paved and dirt, strollers ok
Skill: easy
Open: year round, hiking best May to November
Price 2017: varies on your start and end point
Sample day pass Adult CHF 72
child free with adult during summer,
SBB Halbtax and Junior Card accepted
Services: restaurants, picnic with fire pits on trail
More info: www.rigi.ch

Overview

Many visitors simply ride to the top of Rigi at Rigi Kulm to catch the view, which is definitely worth the experience. The top is called Rigi Kulm and you can reach it by cogwheel train from either Vitznau (west) or Arth Goldau (east). You can combine this trip with a ferry ride from Luzern. It’s an unforgettable, particular for visitors. I explain more about how to get there in the next section.

Here is the Rigi panorama map (click to expand). There are many hiking options as shown here.

At the Rigi Kulm summit, there is a very short paved panorama path above the hotel/restaurant as shown below. Strollers ok here.

If you want a short walk, you can walk along the tracks to Rigi Staffel (about 1 km) or Rigi Kaltbad (2.6 km), shown on the map below. For a longer hike, I can highly recommend the Panorama trail to Rigi Scheidegg, described in this post.

Getting There

The top is called Rigi Kulm and you can reach it by cogwheel train from either Vitznau (west) or Arth Goldau (east). The cogwheel train from Vitznau has the nicest views, particularly from the lake. But by public transportation, it’s most convenient to take the train from Arth Goldau.

By car: Drive to Vitznau and park in the lot near the Rigi train.

By ferry: Get yourself to Luzern and catch the ferry to Vitznau. The Rigi cogwheel train station is adjacent to the ferry dock.

By train: If you are coming by train, it is much more convenient to reach Rigi through Arth Goldau on the east side of Rigi, shown below. To reach Vitznau by train/bus, it would double the length of your trip.

In any case, buy return tickets to Rigi Kulm. If you plan to hike, you can get a slightly less expensive ticket that does not include the stops you skip while hiking.

Impressions

Approaching Vitznau by ferry from Luzern

The Vitznau base station by the lake.

View of Lake Luzern riding up the mountain.

The train line ends at Rigi Kulm. There are toilets and a kiosk next to the train station. Walk up the short paved paved shown below to the hotel/restaurant and observation terrace.

The hotel and restaurant at the top of Rigi Kulm. The restaurant at the top is self-serve and the options are the typical Swiss fare and expensive. The kiosk near the train stop has some decent budget options, like hot dogs, bratwurst, and ice cream, a more affordable option for kids.

Nice place to lounge.

Keep walking up the paved path to reach the summit. This sign shows there is steeper path to the left and a more mild path to the right.

There is a paved path at the top circling the summit, with a fenced barrier.

There are a couple silly photo opps at the top. I find them irresistible, don’t you think?

The view northeast toward Zurich overlooking Lake Zug.

You can climb up some sort of radio/weather tower and get a bit of a higher view.

Trails from the top

There are a lot of trails down from the top of Rigi Kulm. For a short walk, just hike along the train tracks down to Rigi Staffel (1 km) or Rigi Kaltbad (2.6 km). We also really like the longer Panorama trail to Rigi Scheidegg, described in this post.

Here’s the trail down to the next train stop, paved, pretty short, a bit steep in parts.

There are friendly goats and cows along the trail.

One time we walked from the top down to the Rigi Kaltbad station (about 1hr) and ate at the Alpina restaurant near the station. It was pretty good and very traditional with yummy rösti with fried eggs (shown below). I’d go there again.

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2 comments

  1. Great picture! I have some too of Rigi, may I add them to your post? (When I have a minute). Also, I believe it’s Vitznau, not Vitnau. Just so people know what to look up.

    We took the cog train from Arth Goldau, which is an alternative to Vitznau (I think the train schedules from Zurich to Arth Goldau were more convenient for us than to Vitznau). You can look up train schedules for the cog trains here, and for the trains from Zurich to Arth Goldau or Vitznau here.

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