With mountains as Rigi and Pilatus on the doorstep of Luzern, it isn’t strange that smaller funiculars and cable cars in the area get less visitors. However, in Switzerland especially, you don’t always have to be on top of the mountain to get amazing views. This is proven once again by the walk around Obergütsch and Sonnenberg that I wrote about a while ago. With an amazing view of Pilatus and the alps, this walk is perfect for a sunny day. The historic Sonnenbergbahn funicular is a great way to begin or end your walk in this area just outside of Luzern!
Hiking with a view
If you are in Luzern, but are tired of the touristy sights in the inner city, then get out of town! Take the bus to Obergütsch and enjoy a walk past vineyards, farms and green pastures. The hotel Sonnenberg is a great place to take a break, get something to eat and enjoy the lovely views.
From the hotel, you have three choices. You walk back the way you came from, catching the bus back at Obergütsch to the city center of Luzern. Another option is to walk into the forest behind the hotel and follow the route all the way to the famous Gütschwald and Château Gütsch.
The third option however is maybe the most picturesque. From the top of the Sonnenberg, a short climb from the Sonnenberg hotel, a historical funicular can take you all the way down to Kriens.
In the early 1900’s, the top of the Sonnenberg became the location for a grand hotel, meant to receive tourists from all over the world. During the same period, Switzerland was experiencing a true building boom of funicular routes all throughout the country. The idea for a funicular to the hotel was born, and in 1902, the Sonnenbergbahn began transporting people between Kriens and the Grand Hotel on top of the Sonnenberg.
The funicular route is about 800 meter long. During its trip, it covers about 200 meters in altitude difference. The top station of the Sonnenbergbahn is located on an altitude of 705 meters above sea level. While this being a humble hill compared to the alps in the difference, the Sonnenberg is tall enough to guarantee unobstructed views of the mountain ranges of central Switzerland.
A nostalgic trip on the Sonnenbergbahn
During its lifetime, the Sonnenbergbahn was almost taken out of operation and removed on several occasions. Luckily, the historic funicular is still making its rounds over 120 years after the very first trip.
Don’t expect a butter smooth ride experience by the way, the charming wooden carriages squeek and rock back and forth while making their way over the green hillsides. They are driven by a group of employees that the Sonnenbergbahn lovingly calls Bähnlimanne. It is with the Bähnlimanne that you buy your tickets for the funicular.
The trip takes about 8-10 minutes, with amazing views the entire time. The Kriens base station is only a short walk from the bus that takes you back into Luzern.
Want a sneak peak of the ride on the Sonnenbergbahn? I posted a video on the Instagram account of TheSwisspath.com not too long back.
Mind the schedule!
The Sonnenbergbahn runs from early spring well into the fall season. You can find the exact funicular schedule on the Sonnenbergbahn website. Important to mention that service is interrupted daily between 12.30 and 13.30 for lunch break.
You can buy tickets for the trip directly with the driver of the funicular. During our visit, cash money was preferred for payment. However, the website does note that credit card payments are possible now as well.
One-way tickets for the funicular currently cost CHF 8, with a return ticket costing CHF 12. Half-fare cards, Swisspass and GA subscriptions are not valid on the funicular and also don’t give any discount.
You can find more information on the Sonnenbergbahn, activities on the top and the timetable on the website of the Sonnenbergbahn. Happy nostalgic rides on the Sonnenbergbahn!