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Day in Luzern and Rigi

Hi all,

We are stopping over in Switzerland on our way from Paris to Milan. We are staying two nights in Zurich and we leave on the third day on the Bernina Express. I am well aware that this is very little time, but its what we have to work with. The plan so far:

Arrive in Zurich HB at 2:50 pm
Get to hotel and check in
Walk around the lake and see the old town until dinner time
Dinner and Rest

Train to Luzern and this is where my questions lay. We will have a saver day pass for this day. I am wondering if something like this is feasible:
Arrive in Luzern and see: Historic Wooden Bridges, Lion Monument, Old town.
After lunch (~1:00 pm) take the ferry to Vitznau, and then cable car and train to Rigi Kulm
Walk down to either Kaltbad or Schneidegg
Train back to Zurich (Depart around 6:30 pm)

I have several questions:
1) For Luzern is this a reasonable itinerary?
2) What order should I see the listed sites in order to avoid backtracking if I am arriving by train from Zurich?
3) Have any people in the over 60 crowd done the hike from Rigi Kulm to Schneidegg and can tell you how you found it ? No mobility issues, just not as young...
4) Finally, anything I might have missed and any food suggestions?

Posted by
3805 posts

1) It is a perfectly reasonable itinerary to me. Half a day is enough for the highlights of Luzern.

2) maybe start with the Lion Monument (take the bus #1 if needed, it's covered by the pass), and work your way back to the old town

3) not done, but Kulm to Scheidegg looks long!! You will not have time. And Kaltbad is on the wrong line to get back to Zürich.
A very worthwhile walk is the one to Chänzeli viewpoint, accessible from the top of the cable car up from Weggis, or from the Kaltbad stop on the railway up from Vitznau.

4) By the way, boat to Weggis + 10 min walk + cable car is usually faster than boat to Vitznau + cog railway, and no less scenic.

Posted by
2717 posts

I don’t know if it is of interest to you but Lucerne is home of the Swiss National Transportation Museum. Trains, planes & automobiles. Boats too!

Posted by
5456 posts

Although it covers the high points, your ambitions for Luzerne city are ... modest. We like art museums, and there's a concert hall too. It is usually helpful to give the date or month of a planned trip, whether in high season or not. Google Maps will tell you if you want to do this entirely on foot, which I consider reasonable. Also locate the ferry dock on Google Maps.

You have to accept that allocating a specific day to a Swiss mountain ascent includes the possibility of a misty summit. There are webcams, but you have a rigid schedule. AFAIR, the cog railway is right beside the Vitznau ferry landing. The cable car is a different side of the mountain.

We did not do any mountain walking, because we were sleeping in Vitznau, and instead, walked back (along the shore and highway) from the cablecar to near the cog railway. This is (physically, not scenically) a road-shoulder walk, mostly without sidewalks, and I'm not saying you should do it. We also found a restaurant (along the road) to have lunch. I forget why we didn't eat up on Rigi. Probably it was crowded or steam-table-y.

Obviously you need to consider mountain temperatures, safe clothing and hiking shoes and gear.

Posted by
6622 posts

You can get to Luzern by train from the rail station in the Zurich Airport in 1.25 hours (and vice versa for the return). You could skip Zurich altogether. Going up the mountains is weather dependent, and i think the weather in the morning is usually better, but you can always check with your hotel (they have cameras on the mountains). So you might want to go up first thing, on whichever day looks like the best conditions.

We really enjoyed taking a cruise on the lake for a few hours.

Posted by
13055 posts

I assume they are traveling from Paris to Zurich by train, not flying.

Skipping Zurich and heading straight to Luzern would be a good suggestion if they weren’t going to ride the Bernina Express on day 3. But since they are, and they stayed both nights in Luzern, it would add an hour to their travel time to Chur to board the Bernina Express, and that is already a long travel day. So they would need to go to Zurich at the end of Day 2 to make that a better trip, which means changing hotels.

If they are OK with that, then it works—-the train from Paris to Luzern is only 30 minutes longer than the trip from Paris to Zurich (5 hours versus 4.5 hours, both with a single change at Basel).