The Rigi is one of the most famous mountains in Switzerland. You may wonder how a mountain of 1797 metres in altitude can have such fame. The answer is simple: the spectacular and magnificent 360° panorama over the lakes of Central Switzerland and the Bernese Oberland Alps.
To reach the summit, you can take a rack railway, the first one that was already in operation in Europe in 1871.
How to get to the Rigi?
If you want to make sure that your visit to the Rigi is a success, you will need to decide where to go and what to visit first. There are several ways to get the Rigi Kulm. If you want to climb via Weggis or Vitznau, we will need to drive to Lake Lucerne.
The Rigi is one of the tours that you must have marked in red in your holiday calendar. It’s funny how a mere commercial nickname, called “Queen of the Mountains“, can evoke so many dreams and preconceived opinions about a place. And it succeeds as so many people visit this incredible viewpoint every year.
Three routes to the top of the Rigi
From Lucerne follow the signs to Küssnacht am Rigi and you will reach Weggis, a beautiful village on Lake Lucerne. From there you can take the cable car, which will drop you off at Rigi Kaltbad station and connect you with the cog railway to Rigi Kulm.
There is a cog railway, which goes directly to Rigi Kulm. The trains are coloured blue.
The small red cog railway departs from this charming lakeside village and takes you up to the top without changing trains.
Vitznau – Rigi Kulm: an unforgettable journey
We recommend to visit the most popular slope of the Rigi with the rack railway from Vitznau.
The Vitznau railway station (438 m) is very idyllic, as it is located next to the ship station where the ships from Lucerne arrive. So after leaving the ship, you change to the red rack railway, just a few metres from the lake.
The Rigi Railway runs slowly up steep slopes and passengers enjoy fantastic views over the village and Lake Lucerne. There are several intermediate stops, which allow visitors to tailor the excursion to their abilities.
The rack railway runs through a wonderful landscape where dark wooden chalets alternate with grassy, intensely green slopes. Down below, the blue lake and the mountains that flank it, such as the Bürgenstock with its famous panoramic lift.
After a 50-minute drive you will reach Rigi Kulm (1’752 m). A blue sky dominates the landscape.
The first thing that catches your attention is the big telecommunication tower on the top of the mountain. Around the tower is a circular path where you can see all the wonders. But if there’s one thing that distinguishes this area, the number of lakes. From the top you can see up to thirteen of them, including Lake Lucerne and Lake Zug. On days with exceptional visibility, 24 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons can be seen from this privileged vantage point.
Once you have completed the whole tour, you can decide whether you prefer to go back or have a drink at the Rigi Kulm restaurant. Further down is the Kessiboden, an alpine inn with a wide selection of Swiss dishes.
Rigi Staffel and Rigi Kaltbad
After admiring the view from the top of the Rigi, we recommend you the descent to Rigi Staffel (1’603 m). A descent of only 200 metres of unevenness and barely half an hour of road, which serves to photograph the excellent landscape that will appear. The path winds along the road and leads to some small mountain restaurants, ideal for stopping and recharging your batteries.
On Rigi Staffel there is a giant trampoline and a small carousel next to the restaurant.
From here you can take the cog railway again or walk on to Rigi Kaltbad (1423 m).
From our point of view, a visit to Rigi Kaltbad is worthwhile for three reasons. One of them is the fantastic Mineralbad & Spa Rigi Kaltbad, a spa designed by the famous architect Mario Botta and located in a fantastic setting. Even if you don’t want to pay admission, you can still visit the swimming pool and the designer loungers.
If you are travelling with children, the second must-stop is Rigiland, a beautiful playground in the middle of a dense forest. The children will have a lot of fun with the slide, the cable car, the carousel, the tunnels, cabins and other swings.
In the areas most exposed to the sun, there are canopies to protect against the sun and barbecue areas.
The third interesting point is the possibility of hiking to the Känzeli lookout point, a spectacular panoramic path of short duration and easy to reach. It is ideal if you are travelling with children and even with prams. From the vantage point you can admire the Alps, the heart of Lake Lucerne and the beautiful city that gives the lake its name – the view is breathtaking! The Känzeli can be reached from Rigi Kaltbad in about 15-20 minutes on foot.
This hike is the last activity of the day. Finally you have to get back on the train to admire the landscape of Vitznau and Lake Lucerne.
The Rigi excursion is highly recommended for a day in the mountains and is ideal for children as there are many activities to keep them occupied.