Get to Mount Rigi
You can get to Mount Rigi several ways. If you start in Lucerne you can take a Lake Lucerne cruise to Weggis or Vitznau. The Vitznau – Mount Rigi Cog Train takes you to the summit. If you go through Weggis, take the gondola to meet the Vitznau – Mount Rigi Cog Train just before its final ascent to the summit. Another way to get to Mount Rigi is on the other side of the mountain. Catch the Arth Goldau – Mount Rigi Cog Train which goes all the way to the summit. The two different cog trains are easy to tell apart. The Arth Goldau – Mount Rigi Cog Train is blue and the Vitznau – Mount Rigi Cog Train is red. Make sure you pick the right one when you come back down, because they stop right next to each other at the summit station.
Buy Tickets to Mount Rigi
Most people start their Mount Rigi day trip from Lucerne, but we started from Zürich. Our day trip involved two trains, two cog trains, a gondola and a lake cruise. I thought it would be complicated to arrange the trip on our own, but I was wrong. At the Zürich main train station, we bought and paid for all parts of the trip in one easy ticket. The train staff spoke excellent English and made sure we got the route we wanted, because you don’t have to ride any gondolas to complete the day trip. We left the Zürich main train station early in the morning and we were at the station in Arth-Goldau in less than an hour.
Arth-Goldau – Mount Rigi Cog Train
From the Arth-Goldau station, it’s easy to find the Mount Rigi Cog Train because you can see it from the platform. An overhead walkway takes you across the main tracks to the blue Rigi Bahn cog train. When it left its station, the Arth-Goldau – Mount Rigi Cog Train was full of people. Most of the passengers were elderly and carried hiking poles. The cog train stops at several spots as it goes up the mountain to let locals on and off. At one stop, most people got off and took a gondola up to Mount Rigi instead. We stayed on the cog train and enjoyed the views of the hiking trails that kept appearing below us. The blue Rigi Bahn cog train took us all the way to the summit. In German, the summit is called Rigi Kulm.
At the summit of Mount Rigi, the views are fabulous. On one side, you look down on Lake Lucerne and the city of Lucerne. Mount Pilatus is directly across Lake Lucerne. On the other side you look down to the towns of Arth-Goldau. To the south, the Alps spread out before you. You can see Mount Titlus and the Bernese Oberland. As we wandered the hill top, we watched paragliders taking tourists for an exciting ride down Mount Rigi and all the way back to Arth-Goldau on the valley floor.
Vitznau – Mount Rigi Cog Train
At the summit of Mount Rigi, two different cog trains finish their climb. We arrived on the blue Arth-Goldau – Mount Rigi Cog Train. For the next part of our journey, we took the red Vitznau – Mount Rigi Cog Train down the other side of the mountain. The red Rigi Bahn starts with some fabulous views of Lucerne on a very steep high ridge. After a couple of stops, we got off at the gondola station for Weggis. Other passengers continued on the red Vitznau – Mount Rigi Cog Train all the way down to Vitznau on Lake Lucerne.
From the red cog train station, you only have to walk a few minutes to the Weggis Gondola station. The gondola is surprisingly large. The Weggis Gondola runs on a regular schedule and in late August it wasn’t too busy. The views on the way down were just as fabulous at the views up on Mount Rigi. The descent on the Weggis Gondola is very steep. You look right down at the village of Weggis and the shore line of Lake Lucerne. When we reached the gondola station in Weggis, most people boarded a tour bus, but we continued on foot to the boat dock. The route is clearly marked with signs. Painted foot prints on the sidewalks help you find your way too.
Lake Lucerne Cruise
At the boat dock in Weggis, the schedule of arrivals and departures is clearly displayed. Boats from all over the lake dock for a couple minutes while they quickly load and unload passengers. The next boat to Lucerne was a popular paddle steamer that visits many villages around the lake. We waited an additional 10 minutes for the direct lake cruise to Lucerne. The choice was a good one because the paddle steamer was standing room only, while the direct Lake Lucerne cruise was nearly empty. In Lucerne the boat docks in the Old Town by the main train station. As you arrive, you get great views of the Church of St Leodegar, the Chapel Bridge and the Jesuit Church.
We chose to do a quick visit of Lucerne, because we’d been done a Lucerne visit before. We walked over the Chapel Bridge and the Spreuer Bridge on the Reuss River. Then it was time for a long overdue lunch. We picked a shady spot at the Gastmatt Restaurant on the Reuss River. The Gastmatt is right at the spot where the weir controls the level of Lake Lucerne. The water spills out of the lake to create the Reuss River. With umbrellas to protect us from the hot sun and a fine spray from the rapids on the river, the Gasmatt was a perfect spot.
After lunch we walked a short distance to the Hotel Château Gütsch free funicular and rode it up to the hotel. Hotel Gutsch has lovely views into Old Town Lucerne, Lake Lucerne and the foothills of the Alps. The hotel is high end, but their terrace is a wonderful spot to enjoy a meal with the view. After that we used Google maps to discover that we could catch the next train back to Zürich with just one minute to spare. The train ran exactly on time to the minute. What a wonderful day trip to Mount Rigi and Lucerne.