If you’re ok with taking public transit and want to treat yourself to an easy walking tour: Take the Mount Rigi cogwheel railway to grab a little sample of beautiful Lake Lucerne around Lucerne and Vitznau!
For the most convenient way from Zurich to beautiful Lucerne, take the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) train. Lucerne’s spectacular Culture and Convention Center (KKL) by the renowned French architect Jean Nouvel may be under renovation, but the scaffolding is said to have been specially designed to enhance the building. How’s that for an outstanding tourist attraction!
If you want to overnight in Lucerne because you want Jean Nouvel and nothing but Jean Nouvel, stay at The Hotel Each room is wallpapered with a different movie scene, and the restaurant is not to be missed!
Anyone who needs a city view while bedded down at night or perhaps plans a bachelor party or a girls’ night out, look at what the Art Deco Hotel Montana has to offer.
After you’ve admired the Chapel Bridge and thrown away enough of your candy money on luxury watches, continue on by passenger ship to Vitznau. For those who are partial to noisy, shiny machines, we recommend the paddle steamers. It’s an out-of-the-ordinary experience, for youngsters of all ages!
There is plenty of time between Lucerne and Vitznau to imbibe a bottle of white wine and to fortify yourself with a plate of cold cuts. While thus engaged, pay special heed to the Japanese visitors and their photography habits. Amazing, all the things they can take pictures of ;-)
You will have reached Vitznau when the newly renovated Park Hotel Vitznau heaves into view. Or else when they announce it on the loudspeaker.
Here you deftly skip ashore, cross the forecourt and, before you know it, you’re sitting in the Rigi cogwheel train. It couldn’t be any more convenient…
What the ride up the Rigi looks like from above is seen in this brief aerial video by Swissview. You’ll find more great images for purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray disc on Swissview’s website.
If you’re not that keen on setting altitude records, skip a couple of stops and get off at the Rigi Cold Bath station. It offers anyone feeling a bit fatigued at this point a chance to recharge in the Mineral Baths & Spa Rigi Kaltbad, designed by Mario Botta, another star architect.
For all the rest, this is where the actual hike begins. Although the trail along the incline starts out wide, it gradually does turn into an adventure (sort of…) But, really, it‘s a hike made without problems in jogging shoes. We even encountered a gentleman plodding bravely along in the flip-flops he apparently was unwilling to give up!
The view of Lake Lucerne and Mount Bürgenstock is phenomenal! It may be old hat for us Swiss, but still, it is worth repeating – phenomenal !
Anyone made hungry by all that view can delight in an institution that’s common only to Switzerland: Self-service kiosks scattered around the great outdoors. In this case, apple cider and fresh cheese are on the menu, provided you serve yourself and drop the right change into the cash box. Where else on this planet would you encounter something like this? Unreal, these Swiss!
And of course, here it is not just the culinary set up that is special, but the view from this “restaurant” is really something else, too: You see Hohfluh out of the corner of your eye while you get the full-on view of Lake Lucerne. What more could you ask for? Or did you expect the bench you’re sitting on would maybe rotate on its axis?
From here, it’s not far to the Rigi-Scheidegg summit station. Anyone still (or again) suffering hunger pangs will find here more chances for provisioning themselves. One thing is certain; no one will ever starve up here…
So, now that you’ve made it to the top of Europe – almost, anyway – the cable car will take you back down to civilization. Descend first to the Kräbel Valley Station (quite a name, that!) and from there take the cogwheel railway back to Goldau to catch the SBB train back to Zurich.
And so endeth this little, low-degree-of-difficulty day trip. For this one, the double rope and crampons stay home, anyhow the ice ax. And, on a personal note, I lugged that bulky digital SLR around for nothing this time, because I took all the pictures with my new HTC One smartphone. Wouldn’t you know it …