Switzerland is world famous for mountain hikes, and Mount Rigi is superb. While the cogwheel railway and cable car are very impressive, there is something so much more rewarding about climbing to the peak of a mountain rather than just catching a train (my wallet was also begging me not to spend the CHF 72 on a return ticket).
I’m not the biggest fan of crowds and tourists, so this path was perfect – while hoards of visitors rushed to the cogwheel train to fight for the best window seat, only two people set off on the trail in front of me. I passed a handful of people along the way but for the most of the journey it was just me, my camera and the breathtaking view.
Location: Lucerne, Switzerland
Entrance fee: No
Altitude: 1,798 m
Trip duration: 4 – 5 hours one way
Sweat O’Meter: 💧💧💧💧
Before you go
Pack: Lunch, snacks and plenty of water. While there are cafes and restaurants towards the very top of the mountain, there is very little for the first few hours so ensure you’re prepared.
Wear: Lots of layers and non-slip shoes are a must.
Most tourist information points have a map of Rigi which has an overview of the trails.
Getting to the starting point
This hike starts in Vitznau. You can get here via boat from Lucerne, they run hourly from the dock opposite the bus station. Tickets cost around CHF 25.Alternatively a cheaper option is to catch a train from Lucerne to Küssnacht, then number 2 Post Bus from right out the front of the train station to Vitznau. Tickets cost around CHF 10 and the bus departure time syncs with the train arrival.
Getting onto the trail
Once you’re in Vitznau, walk up to the main road and turn left towards the church (the bus will drop you on the main road so walk back the way the bus came). Turn right at the church and look for the yellow signposts and yellow painted diamonds. If you come to any un-signed forks in the path, always veer left. You’ll walk up a residential street and past grapevines before the path turns to gravel. You’re on your way!
The hike will take between 4 and 5 hours depending on your ability and rest times.The first 2 hours is at a very steep incline and passes by hillside chalets, through dense forest areas and alongside the cogwheel train tracks.Take your time, catch your breath, and there are plenty of quiet, shady spots with incredible views to stop for lunch along the way.The trail passes by the following cogwheel stops nearing the top of the mountain:
Rigi Kaltbad Rigi Staffelhöhe Rigi Staffel Rigi Klum (peak)
Once you reach Kaltbad you’ll start to notice more people on the trail, and this crowd continues to thicken at each cogwheel stop approaching the peak.
Reaching the destination
The path begins to flatten slightly and as you turn a corner, you’ll see the tall TV tower. The crowd becomes denser and denser as you climb the last paved section of the trail right to the peak.I took plenty of stops for photos or just to catch my breath, as well as 15 minutes for lunch and I reached the top right at the 4 hour mark.
There are alternate trails to continue on to other nearby towns, but after the 4-5 hours on the walk it’s quite rewarding and relaxing to ride the cogwheel back down to Vitznau. A one-way ticket can be purchased before the hike near the bus stop or at the top of the mountain, and cost CHF45.