Mount Rigi in Switzerland – Tips on how to get there by train and boat

Mount Rigi panoramic view

Are you ready for a scenic day trip in Switzerland? How about a visit to Mount Rigi where you can combine a scenic train ride to the top of Mount Rigi and a boat cruise on Lake Lucerne. We did this trip and the breathtaking views of the surrounding lakes and mountains left us speechless. There are many walking and hiking trails to choose from. We only did a short hike and afterwards went on a boat cruise on Lake Lucerne.

Mount Rigi is a popular place to visit for the Swiss but also for international visitors. The stunning view over the lakes in Central Switzerland is probably one of the best you can get in Switzerland. No wonder that Mount Rigi attracts lots of people. With more than 120 km hiking trails there are also plenty of options for walkers and hikers.

Mount Rigi hiking in summer

We visited Mount Rigi twice. The first time was in winter when it was freezing cold. We loved it so much that we wanted to visit Mount Rigi in summer again.

The perfect tour: Train ride to Rigi Kulm – Hiking to Rigi Kaltbad – Train ride to Vitznau – Boat ride from Vitznau to Lucerne

We checked the weather forecast a couple of days before we planned to visit Mount Rigi and it looked promising.

The alarm clock is ringing. It’s time to get up. It’s a beautiful sunny summer day in Switzerland. Perfect! Today, we’re going to Mount Rigi. We board an almost empty train in Wil. We change trains in Winterthur and Zurich and the trains are getting busier. When getting off in Arth-Goldau, we realize that we are not the only ones who want the visit Mount Rigi on this beautiful summer day.

A footpath connects Arth-Goldau with the cog rail station Goldau, that’s where we have to board the Rigi Bahn. There are signposts but today it’s obvious which direction we have to go. We simply follow the stream of people. From the distance we already spot the Rigi Bahn. There is no need to hurry because the train is already full. We have to wait for the next one but it doesn’t take long. There are huge crowds on this nice summer day and additional trains are in use.

Rigi train to Rigi Kulm in summer

The cog rail takes us from Goldau up to the Rigi Kulm. The train stops a few times where you can get off and have different hiking options. We decide to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. 45 minutes later we unfortunately have to get off the train as we have already reached the final destination Rigi Kulm.

Upon arrival we learn by chance that a steam train is on the way up to Mount Rigi. Well, that’s worth to wait a few more minutes because we don’t get the chance to see a nostalgic steam train so often.

Mount Rigi steam train

It’s summer and we share the views from Mount Rigi with thousands of others

After Marcel has taken some great pictures of the steam train I say: “Let’s go to the summit.” We skip the tourist shop at the Rigi Kulm station and walk to the summit. The highest point on Mount Rigi is 1’798 meters above sea level. The difference in altitude from mountain to lake is, with its 1’400 meters, astonishing.

Mount Rigi panoramic view

Wow! The view from the summit is breathtaking. Far below us we see Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug and Lake Lauerz. That’s why we love Switzerland. We remember standing here in winter. Same view but different temperature and less people 😉 And the whole landscape was covered in snow.

Mount Rigi winter landscape

On the summit there is a tower where you get even better views overlooking the landscape with its lakes. We have to queue as everybody is busy taking a selfie or a group photo with the amazing view in the background.

PS: The advantage of visiting in winter during the week is that you almost have the view to yourself.

Mount Rigi is great for hiking

There are many hiking trails on Mount Rigi and it’s not possible to do all of them in a day or two. We’ve read that there are more than 120 km hiking trails in the area.

Mount Rigi hiking

We want to do a boat ride on Lake Lucerne in the afternoon therefore we only do a short hike from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Kaltbad. This hike is called the Classic trail.

Mount Rigi walking trail

The Classic Trail takes us from Rigi Kulm via Staffel, the Staffelhöhe, the Känzeli down to Rigi Kaltbad. The trail is well signposted and easy. The section from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Staffel is even asphalted. The path is steadily going downhill (all in all about 300 meters height difference) and it takes us about an hour for the 4 kilometers. We enjoy breathtaking views along the whole way.

Once we reach Rigi Kaltbad we wait for the train to Vitznau. If you want to do more hiking, you can continue on the panoramic trail. If you like to hover over the landscape you can also hop on the cable car in Rigi Kaltbad that takes you down to Weggis. Or you can hop on the cog railway that goes to Vitznau and then board the boat that travels from Vitznau via Weggis to Lucerne. That’s exactly what we do.

Vitznau station in Switzerland

The boat trip on Lake Lucerne is fantastic. The breeze and the sun in the face, that’s holidays. About an hour later we reach the beautiful city of Lucerne.

Boat cruise from Vitznau to Lucerne

Lake Lucerne in Switzerland

In Lucerne we take a short stroll through the city and then head back to Eastern Switzerland with our Swiss Travel Pass. One of the things we appreciate about public transport in Switzerland is that there is a connecting train every 30 minutes between major cities.

Lucerne Kapell Bridge in Switzerland

Do you want to see the view from the summit at Mount Rigi in winter? Here are a few photos of our visit in winter wonderland.

Mount Rigi in winter

Tips for your trip to Mount Rigi

Avoid visiting Mount Rigi on a weekend, if possible. Especially in summer it’s very crowded. If you are flexible we recommend visiting Mount Rigi during the week as there are fewer people. It seems that on nice summer weekends everyone is going to Mount Rigi.

How to get there

Most of the visitors arrive by train in Arth-Goldau where they change to the Rigi Bahn. There are other options to get to Mount Rigi. If you stay in Lucerne you can either take the boat to Weggis or Vitznau.

From Vitznau you can continue by the cog railway to the Rigi Kulm station. The journey takes about 30 minutes.

From Weggis you can take the cable car that brings you up to Rigi Kaltbad in about 10 minutes.

Are you ready for a hike? Then you can walk to Rigi Kulm (approx. 2.5 hours) or take the train from Rigi Kaltbad to Rigi Kulm (approx. 17 minutes).

Travel around Switzerland with the Swiss Travel Pass

The Swiss Travel Pass is a great all-in-one ticket to travel around Switzerland.

The Swiss Travel Pass is available for 3, 4, 8 and 15 consecutive days. In this all-in-one ticket the train ride to Mount Rigi and the boat cruise is included.

For more information check this: Tickets and Prices

Tips for hiking

With 120 km of hiking trails the options for hiking is huge. You can choose from easy walks to demanding hikes. There is something for everybody.

Find more hiking tips on the official website www.rigi.ch

Interesting facts about the Rigi Bahn

Mount Rigi train

The Rigi Bahn is the first mountain railway in Europe. The first train has operated in 1871 from Vitznau to Mount Rigi. On a stretch of 6’975 meters the cog rail managed a difference of 1’300 meters of altitude. That’s very impressive.

Conclusion

We enjoyed our visit to Mount Rigi in summer and in winter. Next time we would avoid the high season, school holidays and weekends (especially in summer). When visiting in winter we loved to be almost alone and it has its charm to visit in the shoulder season. On our next visit we would love to do the panoramic trail. It’s definitely on our bucket list.

Are you looking for more things to do in Switzerland?

How about a visit of the Jungfraujoch “Top of Europe” or the amazing Creux de Van?

Have you ever been to Mount Rigi? What is your experience? We would love hearing from you.

 

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