When visiting Luzern, a trip to a mountain can not be missing from your itinerary. Many tourists that have a tight schedule opt for a visit to Mount Pilatus. That makes sense, as Pilatus is very close to Luzern and convenient to get to. However, if you have some more time on your hands when visiting Luzern, I recommend considering visiting Mount Rigi. Rigi – dubbed the queen of mountains – is a lovely destination both during the summer and for a winter trip. Let me explain why!
The perfect mountain for activities
While Pilatus does offer various activities like sleighing and an adventure course, Rigi to me feels more like ‘being in the great outdoors’. There a plenty of hiking trails on the mountains that can be explored winter and summer. There are even some wintersport slopes that you can use when snow conditions allow!
Additionally, Rigi for some reason feels more ‘genuine’. There are many small villages on the mountain that are permanently inhabited, which means you will find quaint houses along your trail.
Part of the public transport network
Maybe one of the best things about Mount Rigi, is that most of its lifts and trains are part of the Swiss public transport network. This means that if you have a Swiss travel pass, GA or day pass, you can explore most of the mountain free of charge! This is truly amazing, as cable cars in Switzerland normally get pricy very quickly. Not at Rigi, if you already happen to have one of the above public transport tickets!
If you do not have any of the tickets above, a day ticket for Rigi Bahnen (who operates the trains, Luftseilbahn Weggis and Luftseilbahn Kräbel) costs CHF 72. Holders of the half-fare card pay CHF 36 for a day card. Planning on exploring the day for several consecutive days? Rigi offers multiple day tickets with great discounts. Check out their website for details on this offer.
Combine it with a lake cruise
My favorite way of exploring Mount Rigi, is by combining a trip there with a cruise on the Vierwaldstättersee lake. From Luzern, you can take a cruise to either Weggis or Vitznau to travel up the mountain. From Weggis you take the cablecar (Luftseilbahn) to Rigi Kaltbad, from Vitznau you can take the mountain train all the way to the Rigi Summit (Rigi Kulm). It is a great way to combine different modes of transport and see the mountain from different perspectives on the same day.
If you have the Swiss travel pass, a day pass or the GA (Generalabonnement), boat trips on the Vierwaldstättersee are free of charge.
Rigi Kaltbad – the main hub on Mount Rigi
If you are travelling up Mount Rigi from either Vitznau or Weggis, you can consider Rigi Kaltbad as your first ‘major stop’ on the way to the Summit. Rigi Kaltbad is a small village with plenty of reasons to spend some time here. There is a playground with the most amazing view, a little chapel so visit, a small supermarket, hotels and some restaurants. There even is a very popular spa resort with the same name that you can visit!
Rigi Kaltbad sits at an altitude of about 1400 meters, guaranteeing amazing panoramas over the lake and the surrounding mountains on clear days. Take some time here, or continue upwards to the summit of Rigi!
Be well prepared
As with any mountains, the weather on top of Mount Rigi can suddenly change. It is important to be prepared for weather changes when planning a trip to a mountaineous. Also, alway check the weather forecast prior to heading out to the mountains. Rigi has a number of live webcam streams that you can use to check out the current weather conditions. This limits the chances of unwelcome surprises in the form of fog, heavy snow or thunderstorms! (neither of those are going to make your Rigi trip particularly enjoyable)
Rigi Kulm – the summit
The top of Rigi is called Rigi Kulm. Here, a big antenna towers high over the surrounding flatlands and lakes. The only way to get to Rigi Kulm is by taking the Rigi Bahnen cogwheel train either from Art-Goldau or Vitznau. (The Vitznau line has a stop at the Rigi Kaltbad station)
The view from Rigi Kulm is amazing on clear days. You can see Zürich in the north, the majestic alps towards the south and the Jura mountains in the distances towards the west. During the winter, Rigi Summit will have snow most of the time. The top of Rigi measures 1797 meters above sea level. Yes, indeed a bit less tall than Pilatus on the other side of the lake!
On top of Rigi, you can have a meal at the Rigi Kulm Hotel or on of the small chalets in the vicnity, or simply sit and enjoy the views. There is a panorama deck next to the Rigi Kulm Hotel, and you can (partially) climb the antenna on the top for an even higher viewpoint.
Had enough of the high altitudes? There are different walking trails down the mountain that I really recommend. Do make sure you wear proper shoes, at the snow can be very slippery. More of a daredevil? There are sledding routes down Rigi Kulm where you pick up quite some speed! You can either bring your own sledge, or rent on in Rigi Kaltbad or at the top. As with (almost) everything on mount Rigi – the sledding activities (excluding rental) are included in the Rigi day pass or any of the other above mentioned passes!
Go and explore nature!
I personally truly love Rigi for how versatile this mountain is. You simply go up for a nice view, treat yourself to a spa day or be out in the nature all day – it is all possible. If you do decide to go for a hike, make sure to check out the trails in advance and grab a map in the train on your way up.
Last time I visited Rigi was in early February 2023, when the sun was shining over a snow-covered Rigi. Me and my colleagues made a trip to the top with the Weggis Seihlbahn and the cogwheel train, and then hiked down for about an hour to Rigi Klösterli. Here, we had a nice lunch in a small local mountain chalet , after which we took the train down to Art-Goldau. Especially the colleagues that were visiting us from Amsterdam truly had the time of their life on Rigi!
Rigi – Year-round fun
So to summarize the recommendations in this article: Rigi is worth a visit year-round. During the winter especially, it offers beautiful views over the alps while being very accessible. Also, Rigi gives you the opportunity to get away from the ‘touristy side’ of Switzerland that places like Jungfraujoch (and partially Pilatus) give.
Put on those hiking shoes, pack the sledge and explore the queen of the mountains! For more information about timetables, prices and activities, check out Rigi.ch.