When travel returns to some normality in the near future, add the Lucerne-Lake Lucerne region to your must visit destinations in Switzerland. More specifically the iconic city of Lucerne, and the two mountain peaks in Titlis and Pilatus!
This is the second blogpost in my Grand Tour of Switzerland travel series in partnership with MySwitzerland. Catch up on my recent blog post in which I showcased some of my weekend highlights in Neuchâtel to add to your Swiss bucket list!
We spent a weekend here as part of our Grand Tour of Switzerland, and in this post I will be sharing with you all our itinerary and must-see/do activities. I’d also included a detailed comparison between Mt Titlis and Pilatus so you can decide which is the better option for you to visit so be sure to read till the end!
Where is the Lucerne-Lake Lucerne Region?
Set against the backdrop of a scenic lake, impressive mountain panoramas, and accessibility to limitless day-trip excursions, the region is a fascinating destination all year round! Vince and I had previously visited Lucerne and Mt Rigi once in 2018, and we knew it wouldn’t be our last visit. And certainly enough, we came back!
The Lake Lucerne region is nestled right in the heart of Central Switzerland. While it’s named after the cultural stronghold in the city of Lucerne, the region actually comprises 5 cantons: Uri, Schwyz, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Luzern and Zug.
Visit the Country’s Most Visited Museum: The Swiss Transport Museum
It was raining cats and dogs on Friday, but thankfully our first activity was an indoor one, at the Swiss Transport Museum. This is the most visited musuem in Switzerland, definitely high on your in the list is must-see attractions in Lucerne!
How to get to the Swiss Transport Museum
The Swiss Museum of Transport is located along the lake in Lucerne and can be reached easily reached by public transport. From Luzerne main station, take buses 6, 8 and 24, and alight at Luzern Verkehrshaus. It’s only a 15 minute ride!
This sprawling museum is divided into different sections: From Aviation, Maritime, Spacecrafts to Railways. There’s even a hall dedicated to vintage Cars and Mortorbikes!
Most of the exhibits are real-sized, play-based and highly interactive. Kids get to try their hands on being a pilot for a day through a helicopter flight simulator; go down an emergency slide, hop on board submarines and cruise vessels. If you have children who are into choo-choos and vehicles, this would be their piece of transport paradise!
There is also an outdoor play area featuring a large aircraft display, as well as a huge sandpit where children get to be Bob the builder riding construction trucks and bulldozers.
Personally, I found the railway pavilion the best, and rightfully so, since this is a country of trains and mountains! Keep a look out for a real steam-powered locomotive from the 1930s fitted inside the hall!
Instagram alert: Don’t forget to take a snapshot at these massive Swiss traffic signboards!
Tickets are steep at 36CHF, but considering the size and the quality of the exhbits, but I do find it well worth the price.
My Tip: There’s just SO MUCH to see and do in this museum, you would be much better off spending your entire day here to make the most out of your money. We spent about 2.5 hours inside, but it still wasn’t enough time for us to see everything without feeling like we were rushing. There’s also a cafeteria inside the museum, and you can also have your food outside in the outdoor area which is nice for picnics.
The Planetarium and Chocolate Museum (additional fees applies) is also located in here, unfortunately we didn’t have the time to visit, but have heard great reviews about them.
Go on a guided City Tour in Lucerne
After the museum, we embarked guided tour around Lucerne. I used to find city tours unnecessary, and would just wander around without understanding the roots of the place I visit. Lately I’m appreciating having an expert around who’s able to explain the makings of a city and thread a string from its historical past, to the present, to the future. It instantly opens up my eyes to sounds, patterns and details which I would have unknowingly walked past without notice.
Instead of the usual historical sites, we decided on an off-the-beaten path city tour. Our guide Claudia brought us to cute old-school chocolaterie, we explored some of the local neighbourhoods in Lucerne and also bought some local coffee beans back home!
Tourist Information (railway station)
CHF 16.– (with guestcard)
Children (6-16 years) CHF 5.–
Scale up to Titlis in the world’s first revolving cable car
The trip up to Titlis involves 3 gondolas. Keep your eyes peeled during the final leg of ascent from Stand to the Titlis summit station, as youhop onboard the Titlis Rotair, the first revolving cable car in the world! Once it breaks through the fluffy white clouds, the views are simply AMAZING, and everyone on board gets an equal view of the gorgeous craggy cliffs and distant snow-capped peaks.
Explore a Natural Ice Cave
Once out of cableway mountain station, a corridor will lead you straight to the frosty heart of Titlis: The Glacier Grotto.
Spanning a 150 metre long and situated 10 metres below the glacier surface, this frozen ice cave is over 5000 years old and illuminated beautiful shade of turquoise-blue. That’s not artificial by any means, but rather caused by natural refraction of light on the ice. I know it’s only May now, but once you’re inside it feels like an eternal winter! Definitely a cool experience.
Go on the Highest Suspension Bridge in Europe
I’m going to let you in on a secret: I wanted to visit Titlis ONLY BECAUSE of its incredibly famous Cliff Walk…but unfortunately the weather was not in our favour: The bridge was closed as it had snowed heavily the day prior and it was not safe for walking! It was abit of a bummer, but I guess that only gives me more reason to be back next time!
If you have the chance to visit Titlis during the summer, be sure not to miss it!
How to get to Mt Titlis
- From Zurich/Lucerne, take the train (arrives hourly) to Engelberg station. From Lucerne, the train ride is about 45 minutes.
- From Engelberg station, either take a 10 minute walk, or transfer via the free shuttle bus to the valley station. NOTE: shuttle bus only available during weekends and public holidays only in low season
- Take the ‘TITLIS Xpress’ gondola from the valley station to Stand. You have the option to alight mid-station at Trübsee.
- From Stand, transfer to TITLIS Rotair and arrive to the top of the Titlis.
Other tips for Titlis:
- For daytrippers: Check the weather forecast and webcams on titlis.ch or engelberg.ch first, before setting off on your trip, so you know ahead how the visibility at the top is like and if the cablecars are operating. The last thing you want is to make a wasted trip!
- Trains arrive on the hour from Zurich/Lucerne so you can plan your own day trip. Free bus runs from train station to Titlis cable car every 20-30 minutes. (or walk the 10 mins)
- Sunglasses are an absolute necessity up in the mountains. The sun will reflect over the snow and are very blinding, especially on a a sunny day.
- In the summer, make sure to head your way mid-way down to Trubsëe for a different viewpoint, when the green slopes contrast with the snowcaps across the valley. It’s a great option for a scenic hike. You can also rent a boat for a lazy ride around the lake. I can imagine it being really beautiful when the weather gets warmer.
As if one day of mountain is not enough, we continued the following day….up to Mount Pilatus! It was a completely different experience as we did more outdoor adventure activities up here.
How to get to Mt Pilatus
From Lucerne take Bus no. 1 in the direction of Kriens to stop “Kriens, Zentrum Pilatus” (approx. 15 minutes), then take a 5-minute walk to valley station Kriens. From there, the cable cars will bring you to the Pilatus summit.
Monkey around at the Pilatus Rope Park
This star highlight of our weekend is at the Pilatus Rope Park! Set among the wooded forest of in Frækmüntegg, the park is the largest in Central Switzerland, and offers 10 different parcours course for all thrill-seeking adventurers.
The last time I did such outdoor activities was almost a decade ago for in high school. I’m no daredevil by nature so I was feeling very nervous, but my #fomo outweighed my fear of heights..I decided to jump right into activity! My stomach nearly flipped and my legs were SHAKING while walking on a tight rope in mid-air. However, there’s no turning back, once you step off, you just have to keep going!
The sense of accomplishment once you finished and look back at the all hurdles you crossed…it’s priceless. Also the adrenaline rush while ziplining down the mountains, I think I will remember that feeling for a long time.
Safety is of paramount importance for such high-risk activities. Before embarking, there is a 10 minute briefing on how to use the safety equipment and harness, plus the to-dos and not-to-dos while climbing. For instance, you must ALWAYS ensure that there is at least one karabiner attached to the structure fixture, to prevent falling. The sites are also monitored at all times by site instructors.
If too much speed is not for you, you can also try the Dragon Slider. It’s a gentle flight that goes at a comfortable speed of 12km/hours, where you can throw your arms out wide and glide down from Fräkmüntegg to the Drachenalp. Check out the flight experience in my Youtube video!
For parents with young children (4-8 years old), there is now a kid’s trail for young climbers at Pilu Land.
Slide Down the Longest Toboggan Run in Switzerland
We ended our weekend with a SWOOSH, by sliding down the Frakigaudi, the longest toboggan run in Switzerland! I wasted no time in sitting down on the go-kart, grabbing the joystick and basically screamed all my way down :’) It’s an incredibly liberating experience, abit like a Uncle Ringo roller-coaster ride, but even better with a view! Everyone should do this at least once in their lifetime 🙂 Again, more visuals on Youtube.
Tips for Pilatus:
- There’s a restaurant terrace right next to the Pilatus Rope Park where you can enjoy lunch. Otherwise, consider packing sandwiches up, as there are tons of outdoor picnic tables anyway.
- If you are considering going to the adventure park, wear sturdy hiking/sports shoes (covered, waterproof, no open-toes)
Where to stay in Lucerne
For our accommodation, we stayed at Hotel Continental Park Lucerne. Our hotel was located in prime spot, next to the train station, and the Old Town is also just within walking distance. It was the perfect arrangement for us since we were doing mostly daytrips, so accessibility to transport and connecting buses were important. Staying so centrally means that you can really make the most of your time in Lucerne!
The furnishings and services at the hotel were basic, but sufficient for our needs. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are looking more for a relaxing getaway stay, because I find that it’s really more of a sleep-eat-and-head-out accommodation. For a pampering staycation option, consider the luxurious Hotel Château–Gütsch perched above the city, with a dream view over Lake Lucerne!
Titlis or Pilatus: WHICH IS BETTER?
If you are looking for a daytrip and only have time for ONE mountain, now that can be quite a tough choice! To help you I have consolidated the key considerations and made a comparison between Titlis and Pilatus below:
|Time Spent||Full Day||Full Day|
|Price||96CHF (Engelberg to Titlis, Return)|
Please check here for full 2021 pricing details
|72.00 (Kriens/Alpnachstad–Pilatus Kulm, Return) |
Please check here for full 2021 pricing details
|Kid-Friendly||Yes||Yes, but more targeted programmes and facilities for kids|
|Highlights||Titlis Cliff Walk, Ice Flyer, Glacier Cave, Titlis Adventure Park, row boats, alpine flower park, mountain biking, skiing, snow shoeing, tobogganing||Dragon World, Pilatus Rope Park, Frakigaudi summer toboggan run, Dragon Trail, Flower Trail, Pilu Land, sledding, snowshoeing|
|Kid-Friendly||Yes||Yes, but Pilatus has more targeted programmes and facilities for kids|
|Views||Beautiful and majestic mountainous views from above 3,000m||Great views of Lucerne and lake|
Choose Titlis if you are an avid skiier looking for year round snow, and other winter sports activities. I would personally recommend for the active, sporty crowd and young adults.
Pilatus is your go-to mountain for a more family-oriented holiday. It has plenty for young kids and parents will find it well-suited for a fun summer vacation with abit of adventure: such as like the Pilatus Rope Park, the Dragon World and summer tobboganing.
Get A Tell-Pass
Want to visit the Lake Lucerne region? Then you need your Golden Ticket: The TELL-PASS!
The Tell-Pass is the regional transport card that allows you to discover the Lake Lucerne Region all in one single ticket – Enjoy unrestricted travel on trains, buses, boats and aerial cableways throughout the Lake Lucerne Region!
In addition, the Bonus Partners offer variety, fun and enjoyment throughout the Lake Lucerne Region! Spas, museums, outdoor activities, city tours – We got the Tell-Pass during our stay too, so I would highly recommend getting one to make the most use of your stay.
There is also currently a new promotion going on at the moment: All guests staying two or more nights in the cantons of Lucerne or Obwalden and purchase a 3, 4 or 5 day Tellpass will get the second one FOR FREE! Children travel free of charge.
In collaboration with Lucerne Tourism, I am currently giving out A PAIR of tickets to the Pilatus Rope Park on my Youtube Channel! Hop over to participate and win!
3 days CHF 220.–
4 days CHF 240.–
5 days CHF 250.–
For more information and to find out the list of participating hotels in the Tell-Pass promotion, click here:
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Until next time!