One of the advantages of traveling with children is the fact that they wake up early (unless there’s some jet lag involved). When we went to Zurich, our little one was 5 years old and obviously she would wake up very early, giving us the benefit to explore and see as much of the city as we could. The first day we explored Zurich, but on the second day we took a day trip to Luzern.
Two reasons brought us to Luzern: the Chapel Bridge and Mt. Pilatus. The Chapel Bridge was a given, but Mt. Pilatus would be a big highlight. Think, how come you go to Switzerland and do not go up a mountain? So, having woken up early, we took one of the fantastic and always on time Swiss trains to Luzern and upon arrival went to the Tourist Office at Luzern’s Railway Station to check the times and buy our tickets.
Even though I had done my research beforehand, I decided to just stay in line and ask for information anyways. I loved the experience of interacting with Swiss people: they are always cordial, willing to help, have a big smile and will not treat you any different if you don’t speak their language!
To visit Mt. Pilatus you have 3 options:
1) You can go hiking: just get on a train to Alpnachstad or a bus to Kriens and hike all the way to the top. That was really not an option for us because we had a 5 year old in tow, it was a very hot day and we did not have proper hiking clothes/shoes/equipment.
2) You can take the Golden Round Trip: this seemed like a fantastic idea, since you hop on a boat from Luzern to Alpnachstad (between 50-90 minutes ride) and there you go up on the steepest cogwheel train in the world (40 minutes ride), reach the Pilatus Kulm, take your pictures, have a hot dog, then take two types of aerial cable cars (30 minutes ride) for your descent to Kriens, where you will take a bus ride (15 minutes) back to Luzern. There is no doubt that the views of the Alps from the boat would have been amazing, but the idea of staying on a boat with a 5 year old for over an hour was something we thought would not be too much fun for her.
3) You can take the Siver Round Trip: we opted for this one. The difference between the Golden and the Silver Round Trip is that instead of taking a boat from Luzern to Alpnachstad, we took a train from Luzern to Alpnachstad (20 minutes ride) and then everything else was the same as the Golden Round Trip.
On our descent to Kriens, we took the first aerial cable car, which is bigger (I thinks it’s good for 20-30 people) and stopped at the final station, which is about half way down from Pilatus Kulm and saw there was a summer luge track. My husband and daughter went for a ride and she loved it! After some much needed ice cream, we hopped on the smaller aerial cable car (I think it’s good for up to 4 people) and before reaching Kriens, we stopped at Krienseregg so that our little one could enjoy the playground themed around Pilu, the dragon mascot of Mt. Pilatus.
On the final aerial cable car ride to Kriens, we could see the famous Swiss cows with bells, that were sounding pretty loud and we could hear from the cable car. It was a beautiful day and would not have done it any different.
Upon our return to Zurich, we went to the hotel and by the time we had our showers and were ready to go to dinner, a major storm started and we ended up having our dinner at the hotel’s restaurant – but that is a story for another post.
I would highly recommend a visit to Mt. Pilatus as a great family bonding trip. The memories we have from that day are still so fresh in our minds and we always go back and watch videos we made showing our little one’s excitement with all the new things and scenery she was discovering with us. Great memories, can’t wait to go back to Switzerland!
Links for more info:
* Mt. Pilatus: http://www.pilatus.ch/en/
* SBB (Swiss Railways): http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html