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Postcard from Zurich: Day Trip to Lucerne and Mount Pilatus

Dear Luke and Leia,

Today we took a day train trip from Zurich to Lucerne and nearby Mount Pilatus. Whenever we think of Switzerland, Swiss cheese, snow-capped mountains and gorgeous mountain lakes come to mind. This trip has it all, every icon you can probably think of.
A Day Trip From Zurich to Mount Pilatus in Lucerne Switzerland has very efficient train service. The train ride was beautiful and we decided to start our day with seeing Mount Pilatus. We took a gondola to the top of the mountain and it proved to be half the fun. Stunning views surrounded us as we climbed the mountain. Higher and higher we rose and it brought the full view of Lake Lucerne and the city around it. Even with the famous Swiss cheese you need cows and we were rewarded with that as well, complete with the cow bells.

Gondola ride to the top of Mount Pilatus
Gondolas ascend to the top of Mount Pilatus
Linda enjoying the spectacular views from the gondola.
Linda enjoying the spectacular views from the gondola.
A zip-line is available at Mount Pilatus.
A zip-line is available at Mount Pilatus. What a view!
View of Lake Lucerne from gondola to the top of Mount Pilatus.
View of Lake Lucerne from gondola, halfway to the top of Mount Pilatus..
View of Lake Lucerne and the city of Lucerne from Mount Pilatus.
View of Lake Lucerne and the city of Lucerne from Mount Pilatus.
A train to the top of Mount Pilatus is also available.
A cogwheel train to the top of Mount Pilatus is also available, for those who don't like heights.
We heard these cow bells all the way up on the gondola.
We heard these cow bells all the way up on the gondola.

At the top of Mount Pilatus

Next on the list was seeing the snow capped mountains that make up the Swiss Alps. The top of the mountain has a visitor's center, an observation platform and a historic hotel.

There are also some really good trails, including one called the Dragon Trail. Nana was fascinated to learn that dragons were once said to live in the caves on Mt. Pilatus. We hiked another trail to the highest point and were rewarded with a view of Lucerne and a 360-degree view of snow capped mountains – even now, in August! And to top it off, far below on the observation platform we could actually hear a busker play an alphorn, that 8-foot-long straight horn you sometimes see in ads about Switzerland.

The best thing I saw was a base jumper riding the thermals with his parachute. His was a far better view than the one we had, stuck on the ground.

Snow capped Swiss Alps
Snow capped Swiss Alps
Visitor center on top of Mount Pilatus.
Visitor center on top of Mount Pilatus.
Mount Pilatus visitor center.
Mount Pilatus visitor center.
Make sure you do the hike to the top of Mount Pilatus..
Make sure you do the hike to the top of Mount Pilatus.
View of Lake Lucerne from Mount Pilatus.
View of Lake Lucerne from Mount Pilatus.
Looking toward the Matterhorn of the Swiss Alps.
Looking toward the Matterhorn of the Swiss Alps.
High above the visitor center.
High above the visitor center.
Riding the thermals on Mount Pilatus.
Riding the thermals on Mount Pilatus.
Parachutists over Mount Pilatus visitor center.
Parachutists over Mount Pilatus visitor center.

The Lucerne part of our day trip

After we had our fill of Mount Pilatus, we returned to Lucerne to see the up-close view of the city and the lake around it. We loved the wooden covered bridge that crossed the azure lake and was lined with boxes of colorful pansies. It's called the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) and was originally built in 1333; it is the oldest covered bridge in Europe.

Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), wooden covered Bridge on Lake Lucerne.
Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), the wooden covered Bridge on Lake Lucerne.

Colorful flowers line Kapellbrücke covered bridge, Lucerne.

Photo of Kapellbrücke covered bridge on Lake Lucerne.

Because we had to catch the train back to Zurich we had a limited time to explore the city and no time for an official tour. What we did see was great architecture, fun street performers and a fantastic city that makes great use of its lakefront. Lucerne, set against the back drop of the Swiss Alps and a deep blue mountain lake, deserves more than the paltry amount of time we were able to give it.

Jesuit Church in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Jesuit Church in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Solo cellist in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Solo cellist busking in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Human statue along Lake Lucerne.
Human statue along Lake Lucerne.

View of Lucerne and its lake.

Beautiful mountain Lake Lucerne in the Swiss Alps.
Beautiful mountain Lake Lucerne in the Swiss Alps.

It is time to close for now and get ready for our last city visit before embarking on our river cruise. We miss you two, as always.

Love,

Nana and Pap

Train up to Mount Pilatus from Lucerne, Switzerland.
Train up to Mount Pilatus from Lucerne, Switzerland.
Chapel Bridge on Lake Lucerne.
Chapel Bridge on Lake Lucerne.
View from the top of Mount Pilatus.
View from the top of Mount Pilatus.

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Written by Dan

Professional photographer specializing in street, food and travel shots at As We Saw It travel blog. Enjoys catching children at play, showing their innocence in every situation … we all can learn that, to be content with what our Father in heaven has provided. Photography is unique in that it captures light in all forms, and since the Bible says YHVH (God) is light, photography captures Him in many forms.

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24 thoughts on “Postcard from Zurich: Day Trip to Lucerne and Mount Pilatus

  1. Dan and Linda, Your photos are amazing. We are spending 2 days in Zurich and want to visit Mt. Pilatus. Did you go on a tour or do an independent adventure. We are leaning toward an independent self-guided tour.
    I almost moved to Lucerne when I was in high school. I am so looking forward to visiting.
    Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Lorna. Sounds like you are going to have a wonderful trip, and we’re happy you will be able to finally say you’ve been there. (It’s better as an adult, we think.) Take lots of photos and let us know how it went!

      I think you can do it on your own and have a fabulous time. We went on our own, without much of a plan, except to see Lucerne’s bridge and Mt. Pilatus. This tour is similar to what we had in mind, but we just took the public buses. The trade-off was that we really didn’t know what to see in Lucerne, or where to go, which wasted some of our time.

      Originally, we had hoped to take a scenic boat ride, but our day started late and so we missed the last boat back. Big regret; I think Dan would have gotten some awesome shots while we were on the lake. I guess that’s the advantage of having a tour guide; they can keep you on schedule, lol.

      If you change your mind and decide to take a tour,

    1. Yes Carly, Lucerne was fantastic. It seems many people have skipped Switzerland for too many reasons and have created a hidden gem in Europe now. Next time we are there we want to see Bern, Geneva and Interlachen.

  2. Oh, how gorgeous are your photos! I have visited Lucerne but only to take a quick trip across the bridge, have lunch and talk a short walk. I am so inspired to return and retrace your day trip. So beautiful !

    1. Well I know you live in France, Annette, so you have the good fortune of being able to do just that. It sounds as though you spent your time in other parts of Switzerland. What would you recommend for our next trip?

  3. Oh, Linda, what a gorgeous trip! You made me really jealous because we’ve spent a day in Lucerne this past spring but didn’t have enough time to go to Mount Pilatus. It looks absolutely spectacular and the weather was perfect. I think I’ll have to go back to Lucerne. It’s such a wonderful city.

    1. I feel that way nearly about every place we visit, Anda, but just when I begin to plan a return visit somewhere, something comes along to tempt me to visit somewhere new.

    1. You’re right about the weather, Ruth. Even in summer it can be unpredictable. We were thrilled to have had such good visibility up there. Glad you had a good time anyway.

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