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How to Visit Mount Pilatus with Kids

How to Visit Mount Pilatus with Kids

If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland, visiting Mount Pilatus (also known as the Dragon Mountain) is a must-see that you should absolutely add to your list. 

This incredible mountain near Lucerne really shows off the beauty of Switzerland and getting to the top is half the adventure! There are a number of options that include boats, gondolas, hiking, and even a cogwheel railway, so even if you are Living in Switzerland I’m sure you will have a new experience here. 

Once you reach the top of Mount Pilatus, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. You can take a hike, enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants, or simply take in the stunning views. 

With so much to see and do, visiting Mount Pilatus is an unforgettable experience that you won’t want to miss, but before you hike up your boots, there are a few things to know so let’s dive in. 

Mount Pilatus from Lucerne: Visiting Guide

Mount Pilatus is a majestic mountain located in central Switzerland close to the city of Lucern. Even though its highest point is 2,128 meters (6,982ft) above sea level, it is extremely accessible as there are several cable cars to the peak making it a great day out for the whole family. 

On the way up there are a few intermittent stations that offer great views, restaurants, and other facilities, so if you don’t want to pay to go all the way up, you can still enjoy a mindblowing (and affordable) day out here. 

Once you reach the top of Mount Pilatus, you will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and you’ll see why it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland! There are several hiking trails that you can explore, as well as fun activities, restaurants, and cafes where you can relax and enjoy a meal or a drink.

Cogwheel railway on Mount Pilatus

Like Jungfraujoch, anyone can visit Mount Pilatus to enjoy the view as it is easily accessible with cable cars running to the top station. 

Riding cable cars and cogwheel railway doesn’t require any special skills and it’s also accessible for those with disabilities or children in strollers.

The weather conditions and crowds at Mount Pilatus vary massively throughout the year which can greatly affect your experience so it’s important to pick the best time to visit for your preference. 

That being said, if you have a severe fear of heights you may find the journey to the top of the mountain difficult as the cable car is suspended quite high in the air. 

Similarly, some of the outdoor activities such as the rugged hiking trails may be inaccessible to those with mobility issues, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other things to do to make the visit worthwhile. 

Generally, the best time to visit Mount Pilatus is during the summer months of June through to September. During this time, the weather is great making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking and sightseeing. However, keep in mind that this is also peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices.

If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of May or October. The weather may be slightly cooler, but you’ll have more space to enjoy the stunning views and activities.

During the winter months of December through March, Mount Pilatus transforms into a winter wonderland. The snow-covered peaks offer a unique and magical experience, perfect for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. However, keep in mind that the boat ride from Lucerne as well as the cogwheel railway are closed at this time.

How to Get to Mount Pilatus

If you’re planning a trip to Mount Pilatus, there are a few different ways to get there which combine trains, boats, busses, cable cars, gondolas, and the steepest cogwheel railway in the world! You can also hike to the top but I will talk about that later on as it is not so common. 

Each option offers its own unique experience and stunning views of the surrounding Swiss Alps but to help you choose, I will go through each leg of the journey one by one.  

Keep in mind you can easily combine different trips up and down the mountain if you want to get the full experience. I’ll also go into that in more detail in the tickets section below. 

Getting to the Base of Mount Pilatus

There are two villages at the base of Mount Pilatus called Alpanachstad and Kriens. Each one offers a different way to reach the top of the mountain. 

If you want to take the Cogwheel Railway to the summit of Mount Pilatus, you will need to first make your way to Alpanachstad. Alternatively, if you prefer to take the gondolas and cable cars to the top, you will first have to arrive in Kriens. 

For those of you with a car, the easiest way to get to both towns from Lucern is by car, but parking can be quite expensive and driving is not so exciting. For anyone looking for a little adventure, there is a scenic boat service that runs to both locations during the summer which is a very popular option. 

The boat ride takes anywhere from 1-1.5 hours but you won’t notice the time as you’ll enjoy mountain views from all sides! 

Alternatively, if you don’t want to take a boat, there is an affordable bus that runs from Lucern to Kriens (20 mins) or a train to Alpnachstad (30 mins).

Note that in winter, the bus to Kriens is the only way to reach Mount Pilatus as the boat and cogwheel railway do not run outside of the summer season. 

Cogwheel Railway (from Alpanachstad) 

Once you have arrived in Alpanchstad, the next step is simply to board the Cogwheel Railway and enjoy the thrilling ride. 

The journey up the railway will take around 30 mins and you will be reaching gradients of up to 48%, so prepare for a unique experience! 

Note that the cogwheel railway is closed from the end of November until early May due to early May, so make sure to book in summer if you want to ride it. 

Gondolas and Cable Car (from Kriens)

If you opted for the journey from Kriens to Mount Pilatus, there are a few more steps involved in understanding the route. 

In between Kriens and Mount Pilatus are two additional stops; Krienseregg (1026m/3369ft) and Frakmuntegg (1416m/4649ft).

There are two gondolas that run from Kriens to Krienseregg and Krienseregg to Frakmuntegg, followed by a final cable car (called the Dragon Ride) to the top of Mount Pilatus. 

Depending on which tickets you buy, you can choose to get off and explore Krienseregg and/or Frakmuntegg along the way or simply continue straight to the top. 

Things to Do on Mount Pilatus

During your trip to Mount Pilatus, you’ll find a range of activities to keep you entertained. From hiking trails to observation decks and a handful of adrenaline-pumping adventures, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the top things to do on Mount Pilatus.

Observation Decks

Of course one of the main reasons to visit Mount Pilatus is to take in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. 

There are plenty of observation decks on Mount Pilatus for you to explore the area from all angles so get your camera ready.  

The two main observation decks called Oberhaupt and Eselare are located up some stairs at the top of the cogwheel railway and offer incredible panoramic views of the Alps and the surrounding landscape after just 5 minutes of walking. 

Hiking Trails

If you want to really get amongst nature, Mount Pilatus has a range of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels, from easy walks to challenging hikes. 

For anyone looking for an easy stroll with incredible views, the Flower Trail is perfect. It takes just over 1 hour to complete with minimal elevation gain but offers a great up-close view of the mountain’s best wildflowers with informational signs dotting the path. 

Alternatively, the Peak Tour trail runs from the upper station of Mount Pilatus to Mount Esel, Oberhaupt, and Tomlinson in around 40 minutes each way. This is perfect for mountain lovers who want to read the top of the area’s more prominent peaks. 


With all that hiking you’re going to be hungry! Luckily there are a number of restaurants spread around Mount Pilatus to provide you with a delicious meal. 

For a fondue feast, try Pilatus-Kulm or book a fondue gondola from November to April for a unique experience. Alternatively, a great Sunday brunch is available at restaurant Frakmuntegg as well as a Tatarenhut spread for lunch with plenty of traditional Swiss meals. 

Things to Do on Mount Pilatus with Kids

Dragon Trail

Find out more about the mountain’s mythical legends on the Dragon’s Path which dips in and out of the rocky mountain to give you a unique perspective of the area. 

Along the trail, you’ll see the various points of interest that contribute to the dragon myths of Mount Pilatus making it a fun storytelling experience for all ages

Note that in winter you can only walk part of this trail so make sure to check the open trails before visiting if it’s high on your list. 

Dragon World

If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to check out Dragon World which is located in the Mythen Foyer at the top of Mount Pilatus. 

This interactive exhibit tells the story of the dragon that is said to have lived on Mount Pilatus. Kids can explore the exhibit and learn about the history and legends of the mountain while playing games and marveling at the special effects of the exhibition. 

Pilu Land

Another great choice for kid’s activities on Mount Pilatus is Pilu Land, a fun adventure playground located at Krienseregg (Get off at the first cable car stop!)

Kids can enjoy a range of friendly dragons-themed activities as they explore the educationally built playground including climbing, sliding, and more. 

There are also grills, benches, and many forested areas that are great for a family picnic, during a big day out. Many local families are there during the weekend.

Toboggan Run

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, check out the toboggan run on Mount Pilatus located in Fräkmüntegg. 

The run is 1,350 meters long and takes you through the forest at high speeds with fun jumps and steep curves making it an exhilarating experience with amazing views. 

Being the longest summer toboggan run in Switzerland, you’re sure to have a good time if you’re someone who loves a thrill! 

Ropes Courses & Dragon Glider

And last but not least, for even more adrenaline-fuelled fun for the whole family, why not try a high ropes course on Mount Pilatus?

While there is a small course for youngsters at Kriensereff, the main event takes place at Frakmuntegg with 10 levels of difficulty to choose from (some are exciting and scary even for adults). Get ready to jump from platform to platform, zoom down ziplines, and test your balance on a range of fun obstacles. 

They have a separate section for kids as young as 3 years old!

Before you head off, make sure to also take a ride on the Dragon Glider, a unique experience that will have you suspended in a hardness around 7 meters above the ground. You’ll glide through the forest down a metal rail with twists and turns which create a super fun ride for all ages.

Do You Need to Book Mount Pilatus Tickets?

Visiting Mount Pilatus is one of the most popular things to do in Lucerne so it’s important to book your tickets in advance to ensure you get a place on your chosen date. 

When we visited in June various time slots were completely sold out!

Make sure to check the forecast before booking as mountain weather is notorious for being fickle (even in summer) and if you visit on a cloudy day, there’s a chance you won’t be able to see anything.  

Types of tickets

There are many different types of tickets available for visiting Mount Pilatus which can be quite confusing. 

If you want to completely build your itinerary you can purchase one-way or round-trip tickets for each of the individual legs. This is particularly helpful if you want to stay at one of the mountain hotels overnight, however, it can get quite confusing if you are planning a simple day trip. 

So for anyone looking for the easiest option to buy tickets to Mount Pilatus, there are a few round-trip bundle options that include many different types of transport on one ticket giving you the full experience. 

Golden Round Trip (Boat + Cogwheel Railway + Cable Cars + Gondola)

This is the best round-trip ticket if you want to try all the different modes of transport on offer. 

You’ll start your day with a transfer by road to Kriens where you will start your ascent to the top via cable cars and gondola. 

Once you’ve enjoyed your time at the top of Mount Pilatus, it’s time to descend via the famous cogwheel railway before finishing your day off with a relaxing boat cruise back to Lucerne. 

This trip can be taken in either direction so if you prefer to go up the railway, and down the cable cars, that’s totally possible! 

Recommended Tours:
Mt. Pilatus Cable Car, Cogwheel Train & Lake Cruise Group Tour
Private Tour with Lake Cruise from Lucerne

Silver Round Trip (Train + Cogwheel Railway + Cable Cars + Gondola)

If you prefer to have more time on the mountain itself and don’t mind skipping the boat ride, the Silver Round Trip Ticket simply replaces the boat from the Goldern Trip with a train ride to Alpanchstad

Since the boat portion of transport is the most time-consuming part and also has the most restrictive schedule, the Silver Round Trip is a great option if you want a little more flexibility throughout your day and more time for activities. 

Kriens – Mount Pilatus Return (Cable Cars + Gondola)

This ticket simply gives you access to the area cable cars and gondolas that will take you from Kriens to Mount Pilatus and back. 

So whether the cogwheel railway sounds just a little bit too adventurous for you or if you are visiting in winter, this ticket gives you the flexibility to find your own way to and from Kriens but includes all your transport from there to the top.

Our experience:

We tried to do a Golden Round Trip, but since we stayed at Chateau Gutsch Hotel it gave us Lucerne Visitor Card which included a train ride and 10% on tickets to Pilatus, hence why we calculated that the Golden Tour made no sense in our case and we booked the tickets separately.

Hiking Up Mount Pilatus Option

For the extra adventurous amongst you, in addition to all the transport options above there is also the choice to hike up Mount Pilatus. 

The most popular trail is the one that starts at Alpnachstad and ends at the top of Pilatus Kulm. This trail is 8km long and takes approximately 4 hours to complete. Even though the trail is technically an intermediate-level trail with uphill switchbacks the entire way, you will ascent 1670m (5480ft) which is a lot of work and not to be taken lightly! 

Another popular trail is the one that starts at Kriens and ends at Mount Pilatus. This trail is longer than the Alpnachstad trail, but it is less steep. The trail is closer to 20km and takes approximately 8 hours to complete with 1,640m of elevation gain. 

If hiking the entire mountain sounds a little too much for you, don’t worry, you can take the cogwheel railway or cable car up to Pilatus Kulm and then hike down, or simply hike one section of the cable cars. 

This is a great option for those who want to experience the mountain but don’t want to hike the entire way.

What to Bring to Mount Pilatus

When visiting Mount Pilatus it’s important to pack appropriately for the weather conditions (even in summer) as well as the activities you plan to do. 

Remember that the weather can be pretty unpredictable so it’s much better to be over-prepared than underprepared, especially if you are visiting Switzerland with kids.


The weather on Mount Pilatus can change quickly, so it’s important to bring layers that you can easily add or remove as needed

I recommend bringing a waterproof jacket, sturdy walking shoes, pants/leggings, a hat, and sunglasses.

Snacks and Water

There are several restaurants and cafes on Mount Pilatus, but of course, they are quite expensive so bringing your own lunch can save you some money

If you plan on going hiking it’s also always a good idea to bring your own snacks and water in case you get hungry or thirsty exploring. 


Mount Pilatus offers some of the most stunning views in Switzerland, so don’t forget to bring your camera or phone to capture the breathtaking scenery.

Cash and Credit Card

While most major credit cards are accepted on Mount Pilatus, it’s always a good idea to bring some cash with you just in case.

And don’t worry, there are plenty of places to spend your money despite being on top of a mountain! 

Sunscreen and Insect Repellent

If you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors, I recommend bringing sunscreen and insect repellent to protect your skin, especially in winter! 

While the bugs might not be out to get you when the grounds are covered in snow, the sun will be 10 times as vicious as it reflects off the white surface and can get you from all angles. 

Where to Stay on Mt. Pilatus

If you’re looking for the ultimate mountain experience, why not book a room at the top of Mount Pilatus for an incredible night surrounded by beautiful peaks? 

There are two hotels on Mount Pilatus, Hotel Pilatus-Kulm and Hotel Bellevue, both offering incredible service and an unbeatable location. 

Hotel Pilatus-Kulm

This 4-star hotel offers a range of incredible rooms with unbeatable views of the surrounding mountains. The historic building was originally built in 1890 and was completely renovated in 2010 to provide a comfortable experience above the clouds. 

Hotel Bellevue

For a slightly more affordable option, Hotel Bellevue is a 3-star hotel that boasts the same great views as its counterpart. With just 20 double rooms available, Hotel Bellevue offers a more intimate experience for an unforgettable stay.  

Frequently Asked Questions about Mount Pilatus

What is the cheapest way to visit Mount Pilatus?

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to visit Mount Pilatus without hiking then the best option is taking the bus from Lucern to Kriens and then taking the cable cars and gondola to the peak. To reduce the cost even further you could choose to hike one or more of the cable car sections instead. 

How much time should I allocate for a visit to Mount Pilatus?

You should allocate at least half a day to visit Mount Pilatus but if you are planning on doing the Goldern Round Trip which includes a boat ride,  it’s better to allow yourself a full day so you are not too rushed.

What are the transportation options for visiting Mount Pilatus?

There are several transportation options available for visiting Mount Pilatus. You first must get to either Alpanachstad or Kriens via boat, bus, car, or train. From Alpanachstad you can then take the cogwheel railway straight to the peak, or from Kriens, there is a combination of 2 cable cars and a gondola to reach the top of Mount Pilatus. 

Can I see Mount Pilatus via webcam?

Yes, you can view Mount Pilatus via a few different webcams to check the weather conditions before going to the top. 

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