One Week in Beckenried
Our One Week in Beckenried, Switzerland began with an Easy Jet flight from Gatwick to Zurich. Easy Jet is less than half the price of a similar flight in Canada and for that price you get to sit in the very first row on an Easy Jet flight.
The weather forecast indicated this was the only full day of sunshine for our One Week in Beckenried, so we changed our plans to skip Zurich and head straight for Engelberg and Mount Titlis. Later on during the week, I would realize that a forecast of rain in the foothills of the Alps can still involve many hours of sunshine each day.
Swiss Rail SBB App
The SBB App turned out to be just as amazing as I’d hoped it would be for planning our day trips in Switzerland. The app showed us the next train route to Engelberg would leave the airport in 10 minutes. We found the train track and then with a few clicks on the app, I bought tickets while waiting at the track. As always, the Swiss train arrived right on time. On the way toward Lucerne, it was so easy to show the ticket on your phone when requested. The Swiss Pass Half Fare Card and the Tell Pass for the Lucerne area that I’d purchased previously were both automatically loaded into the app at the time of purchase and were showing right above the Engelberg ticket I’d just purchased. Too slick!
In Switzerland the trains and buses all run every half hour in urban areas and every hour in more remote rural areas. The SBB App shows you a map of how you will transfer between gates or buses and even shows the train configuration. What an amazing transportation system!
One Week in Beckenried – Engelberg, Mount Titlis
With a short transfer in Lucerne, it took less than 2 hours to reach Engelberg. The Engelberg valley portion of the route was beautiful. The train uses its cogs through a tunnel at the very end of the route. The only time we used a cash machine on our entire trip was at the Engelberg Station, because we needed coins to store our bags. Then we made the 10 minute walk to the Mount Titlis gondola station.
The route up to Mount Titlis starts on a smaller size gondola. You can opt to get out at the Trubsee or continue up without disembarking. Next you ride the large Titlis Rotair revolving gondola to the top. The Rotair makes one full revolution during its short ride, so everyone gets a view in every direction.
The weather was sunny and warm at the 10,600 foot elevation. I ended up doing the Cliff Walk and the Ice Flyer by myself, as my wife didn’t want to walk through the slippery slush to these venues. I rode the 6 person Ice Flyer by myself, which made me shout out a bit as the chairlift went over a steep chasm below. The Cliff Walk provided another great look down too. After lunch we rushed back down to the train station, where we retrieved our bags minutes before the hourly train departed to Stans. From Stans we caught the bus to Beckenried, which stopped right in front of our lodging at the Hotel Nidwaldnerhof.
Mount Titlis Slide Show
One Week in Beckenried – Nidwaldnerhof
Our accommodation for our One Week in Beckenried was the lakefront Nidwaldnerhof Hotel and Restaurant. I’d booked it based on their web site and this hotel exceeded all our expectations. The room (named Schwyz) overlooked Lake Lucerne and Mount Rigi. We enjoyed sitting on the balcony enjoying the views every evening. The restaurant has a large glassed-in seating area and a huge lakefront patio with tables set among over-sized blue umbrellas. Meals were a pleasure at the Nidwaldnerhof.
Breakfast was included in the hotel pricing. The individually prepared eggs to order were a special treat each morning. We opted for the half board option, so each evening we chose a 3 course meal off the menu. Staff were very friendly. They spoke English well, but one of the things I liked best about Beckenried was that this was a decidedly Swiss vacation area. Other guests rarely spoke any language other than German. The Nidwaldnerhof made our One Week in Beckenried one of our all time favorite vacations.
With an indication that sunny skies would disappear by noon the next day, we headed out before breakfast for Fronalpstock. You can reach the first gondola at Morschach in just over an hour if you plan your trip on the SBB App. First you catch a non-stop #310 bus from Beckenried Post to Altdorf. During all our time in Switzerland, we never showed a ticket to board a bus and passengers always load from any available door. This route to Altdorf was surprising as the bus takes a four lane highway, including a long distance in a tunnel.
Despite the accuracy of Swiss transportation, I often found it quite stressful. The 20 minute bus ride to Altdorf was scheduled to arrive at the station at 8:03 and the train you catch next departs at 8:06 for Brunnen. My apprehensions were unfounded as usual. We waited for exactly 2 minutes on the platform before the train to Brunnen arrived. In Brunnen we then waited 20 minutes for the #504 bus up the switchbacks to the gondola station at Morschach.
The Morschach gondola was automated so that the only attendant was at the top of the ride. The views over the Schwyz valley were lovely in the morning sun. From the Morschach gondola, it was a short walk to catch the final two part chairlift ride up to Fronalpstock. Early September here was pure solitude. There were no other passengers in sight for our ride up. The only sound was cowbells from grazing dairy cattle. At the top we walked to a number of Lake Lucerne viewpoints where you can see Lucerne, Beckenried, Brunnen and Fluelen. At the Gipfelrestaurant, we enjoyed lattes and croissants on the panorama deck by ourselves. There’s nothing like being a tourist when there’s no one else around!
Next we took the Fronalpstock chairlifts back down to the village of Stoos to ride the Stoos Funicular. The Stoosbahn is the world’s steepest funicular with an incline angle of 48 degrees. The cabins are circular and rotate to keep you level as you descend. The lead cabin gives you great views of the valley and the peaks. At the bottom, we lined up and returned to Stoos a few minutes later. Then we retraced our route back down the Morschach gondola and caught the #504 bus back to Brunnen.
In Brunnen we only had to wait about 5 minutes to catch a boat ride on Lake Lucerne. The sun was shining brightly now and I decided to continue our adventure by heading to the Stanserhorn Cabrio Gondola. We got off the boat at Treib, which was its first stop. The funicular to Seelisberg was waiting for us. This funicular has pleasant views over the green hillside pastures to the blue waters of Lake Lucerne. I guess we weren’t surprised when the bus to Stans was waiting patiently for us at the top of the funicular run. The bus takes about an hour to reach Stans as it wanders through the pastures around Seelisberg and Emmentten.
At the Stans train station, there are no signs telling you how to reach the Stanserhorn gondola, but it’s a very short easy 4 minute walk west and across the tracks. After the ticket booth, you take a small funicular train ride to the Cabrio gondola station. Only a few passengers were taking the sunny afternoon ride up, so it was easy to get a prime spot on the open top gondola. The ride in the open wasn’t scary at all and the views were great.
At the top, there is a gigantic viewing platform with self serve restaurant seating. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that the view of the Alps from here was even better than the view of Lake Lucerne on the way up. Right below the platform you look down on green pastures and Swiss farm homes. This transitions quickly to views of the Alps, including the Engelberg valley, Mount Titlis and even the Eiger and Jungfrau peaks. Amazing.
We finished the most exhausting day of our one week in Beckenried with a bus ride back to the Nidwaldnerhof. The good weather and the threatening forecast had made us overextend ourselves, but the rain the next day confirmed it was worth the effort. We had taken 5 bus rides, 6 gondola rides, 5 funicular rides, one train ride and one boat ride. We certainly got our money’s worth from our Tell Pass on this day, as all of it was 100% covered by the pass!
Lake Lucerne in the Rain
The rains came on the second full day of our One Week in Beckenried. We took a boat from the dock near the Nidwaldnerhof to Lucerne and wandered the old town in overcast, drizzly weather. Later we took a boat ride from Lucerne to Kehrsiten, where you can link to the funicular up to the Burgenstock Hotel. On the funicular ride up, we disappeared into the fog. The fog made us give up on the idea of visiting the Hammetschwand Elevator that day.
The Hammetschwand Elevator is reached by an easy 45 minute cliff side hike from the hotel, but the weather was terrible. Instead we headed to the bus stop, which we couldn’t find in the fog. We missed the bus while searching for it and ended up sitting in the bus shelter for an extra hour watching the rain and fog. Not the best day, but later in the week we would return to enjoy the beauty of this location.
One Week in Beckenried – Mount Titlis Again!
The next day started with overcast skies in Beckenreid, but the webcam at Mount Titlis showed sunshine in the higher elevations of the Alps. I decided to repeat the Mount Titlis experience. The Tell Pass covers unlimited visits! The combination bus and train ride took less than an hour to reach the Mount Titlis gondola. This time we did the Ice Flyer together and then quickly descended part way back down to the Trubsee. We walked along the lake to reach the charilift to Jochpass.
Only a handful of people were using the chairlift and the Jochpass was in its own small patch of sunshine, so this part of the day was magical. We hiked down the other side of the pass until we could see the Engstlensee and in the distance the Tannersee. The full day 4 lakes one way hike would have been too much. So, we returned via the Trubsee to enjoy lovely weather our lakeside hotel in Beckenried.
While enjoying the sunny weather on the Nidwaldnerhof lakefront patio, I marvelled at how amazing this day had been. That was partly because of the unexpected sunshine and partly because we had taken it easy. A German beer served on the lakefront patio before our 3 course dinners meant I was falling in love with Beckenried.
Klewenalp, Stockhutte, Niederbauen
With a forecast of some possible morning sun, the next day we walked 10 minutes from our hotel to the Klewenalp Gondola. Beckenried and Lake Lucerne were blanketed in fog, but it was a lovely sunny day at the top of the gondola. We headed out on the 1.5 hour hike down to Stockhutte. Unfortunately we didn’t know there were two possible routes and we ended up on the shorter, much more difficult switchbacks down through the forest. It turns out that the slightly longer route would have been an easy path along the valley floor with open views for most of the hike.
At Stockhutte we took the gondola down to Emmetten where a 5 minute walk leads you to the Niederbauen gondola. The Niederbauen gondola holds 8 people and goes up a long way, which makes it very popular with paragliders. The views over Lake Lucerne are extensive and the paraglider launches were entertaining. On the way down, we shared the gondola with a farmer and 30 wheels of cheese.
Later that afternoon, while Viki napped, I rode the Klewenalp gondola again. Unlike the busy areas in the Jungfrau region, I shared the 80 person gondola ride with one other person. Lake Lucerne was a beautiful blue this afternoon. At the top, I searched out the spot where we had missed the easier and more scenic route down to Stockhutte. Later in the week, we would enjoy a second and much more pleasant hike on this route.
Hammetschwand Elevator rises 50 stories bolted to the cliff side.
Up the Hammetschwand Elevator
With a forecast of overcast conditions for the entire day, I was torn between a rail trip to the Oberalp, a hike to the village of Bauen or a second attempt to visit Burgenstock for the Hammetschwand Elevator. A small blue patch of sky opened up over Burgenstock to help with the decision. We rushed to the elevator with typical Swiss precision on a bus / train / bus ride that took less than an hour.
The trail to the Hammeschwand elevator is easy to find at the east edge of the Burgenstock Hotel grounds. The cliff side trail and switchbacks are wide and safe with lovely views along the route. The hike to the elevator from the hotel takes about 40 minutes. We were pleased to find out the Hammetschwand Elevator also accepted our Tell Pass. The skies and the lake were a beautiful blue for our ascent up the elevator. The lovely weather and the strangeness of a glass elevator attached to a sheer cliff side made this one of our most memorable experiences of our one week in Beckenried. At the top you catch views not only toward Lucerne but to the Alps, Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus.
Hammetschwand – Back Down
We spent only a few minutes enjoying the views at the top of the elevator before riding down again and retracing our route to the hotel. To catch the Hammetschwand back down, there is a typical elevator call button. When the elevator arrives at the top, there is no attendant. You get in and don’t need to push a down button. The ride begins automatically when the doors close. You meet the cashier at the bottom where you present your ticket.
On the hike back to the hotel we could see the rain clouds quickly approaching Lucerne. We also crossed paths with the first group of local tourists who had arrived by boat from Lucerne, but they were too late. The lovely views had already faded away in the approaching storm.
Burgenstock to Lucerne
After a bit of a wait at the hotel, we rode the funicular down to Kehrsiten and then immediately caught the boat to Lucerne. On the boat ride, heavy rains poured down on us. When we reached Lucerne, we decided to return to our lakeside hotel at the Niwaldnerhof. The quickest option was a train to Stans and our very familiar Bus #311 from there to our hotel in Beckenried.
After lunch at the local bakery in Beckenried and a short rest, the day had again turned sunny. We rode the Klewenalp gondola up for an afternoon coffee in the sunshine. The views of Lake Lucerne, Beckenried and Brunnen were lovely. We hoped to sit outside for dinner at our hotel that evening, but instead enjoyed thunder, lightning, heavy rain and a magnificent double rainbow from our inside seating.
Kelwenalp / Stockhutte Again
Our last day in the Lake Lucerne area was forecasting afternoon clear skies, but the weather was already looking promising at breakfast. The plan was to visit Bauen by boat this day, but we altered plans to start with yet another trip up the gondola near our hotel to Klewenalp. The 80 person gondola was nearly full this weekend morning, as locals were heading up to try the various hiking routes at the top. I showed my wife the trail route we had missed earlier in the week and she decided we should give the 1.5 hour hike a second try. This was a much more enjoyable hike the second time around.
When we reached Emmetten at the bottom of the Stockhutte gondola, we had an hour to get to the Beckenried boat dock including a 45 minute wait for the bus first. In our impatience, we decided to hike down to the boat dock instead of waiting for the bus. What a big mistake! The hike down soon turned from easy into a forested, steep and treacherous switchback descent. After 40 minutes of slippery wooden steps, our legs were shaking and we were sweltering in the mid day heat. We made the steam boat in Beckenried with a few minutes to spare. To add insult to injury, the bus we could have taken arrived a couple minutes before the boat did.
The first class steamboat ride on the Gallia was a pleasure. We snacked under the open air awning encircled by turquoise waters and sail boats. Our journey took us to Treib, Brunnen, Rutli and Sisikon before we reached Bauen. The weather was perfect in Bauen, but we only had just over 10 minutes to walk to the small village church beside the lake. The church turned out to be a very quick and easy find. A few minutes later we were on another boat back to Beckenried.
We finished our visit to Lake Lucerne with an outdoor 3 course dinner at the water’s edge of the Nidwaldnerhof Hotel patio. The evening was the perfect ending to one of the best vacations we have ever had. Living among the locals instead of tourists, the lovely views and exquisite daily cuisine at the Nidwalnderhof Hotel, plus the myriad of easily accessible day trip options in Beckenried made our vacation incredible.
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