I am traveling with my daughter & 3 grandchildren, and we are stopping in Lucerne, Switzerland on our way from Paris to Venice. We arrive in the afternoon and leave the next day, but, while in Lucerne, we were hoping to take a side trip to Mt. Pilatus to let our grandchildren take the alpine slide there, as well as enjoy the beautiful scenery on Mt. Pilatus. I suspect that this side trip might not work with our tight schedule, but I can't find any information as to how long this would take. Only information I did get was the route from Lucerne - boat trip to Alpnachstad; then change to cogwheel train to Pilatus. Does anyone know if the Alpine slide is doable? And if so, what is the best way to get to it from the town of Lucerne. Thank you.
Is this the same information that you already have:
Also pay heed in the afternoon the clouds are known to roll in
It's very easy to get there, not far away at all, [it sounds much harder to get there than it actually is] , but as others have said, weather is your most important variable.
The boat ride is about one hour and the cogwheel train takes 30 minutes. Add in other items like lines, etc. figure another 30 minutes. The decent is about 40 minutes by cable car and gondolas. Add in time to catch views on Pilatus, ride the alpine slide, and bus back to the boat dock, you could be looking at a minimum of 5-6 hours. Not sure when you are leaving the following day, but to be honest it may not be workable for you.
As noted, weather is something to watch if you won't be heading there until afternoon. Also, I think how long it will take depends on when you'll be going. I was there in early October and on a Saturday and was surprised by how many people/tourists were there - was thinking I was off season! I took the boat ride to Alpnachstad to catch the cogwheel up to Mt Pilatus. I thought I would just get right on the cogwheel but unfortunately, it was busy and filled up so I had to wait for the next one which was about a 40 minute wait. And then it's about 30 minutes up to Mt Pilatus on the cogwheel. I imagine if it wasn't the weekend or a busy tourist time, you might not have to wait for the cogwheel - but that's something to consider as well. I didn't ride the slide but I stopped at the area that had the ropes course and slide on my way back down and it looked fun. If you do this, you take a gondola down to town of Kriens and then walk a little ways to a bus stop and it's maybe 15 minutes on the bus back to Lucerne (and I waited about 15 minutes for the bus to arrive).
I think you can also take the train instead of the ferry from Luzern to Alpnachstad which would save you some time.
The Rodelbahn is in the activity area Frakmuntegg below the summit of Pilates, closer to Luzern. There is no need to take the boat or train to Alpnachstad and cogwheel train up from there. You can just ride the lift up from Kriens, a suburb of Luzern. I believe there is a bus or tram there from the Luzern train station; it is only about ten minutes away to the base station of the lift.
What time will you be arriving in Lucerne? Keep in mind that you'll need time to get to your hotel, check in and drop your luggage, which will cut into your sightseeing time.
It may be possible to fit the Fräkigaudi toboggan run into a shorter time frame, especially if you're willing to forgo a trip to the top of Pilatus. I assume this is the one you're referring to - https://www.pilatus.ch/en/discover/fraekigaudi-toboggan-run/ .
If you're mainly concerned about doing the toboggan run, the quickest solution would be to take the Bus from Lucerne Hbf to Kriens. The trip is under 15 minutes as I recall, and you can disembark at Kriens, Zentrum Pilatus. From the bus stop, walk to the Kriens Pilatusbahn station, which is another 10-15 minutes. You should be able to see the cables so just walk up the hill towards those. Take the small cable car to Fräkmüntegg. As I recall you can walk to the toboggan run from there.
Depending on how early you finish the toboggan run, you can return to the cable car station and take the large cable car to the top of Pilatus. You'll have to check the operating hours of the cable car to determine whether you'll have enough time to get to the top, have a short look and then get back to Kriens.
Given the very short time you have to work with, I'm not sure you'll be able to use the Alpnachstad and cog wheel Funicular route. You can travel either by train or boat from Lucerne to Alpnachstad which takes up to an hour or so, and then you'll need time to walk to the Pilatusbahn station, buy tickets and wait for the next departure. As others have noted there could be a long queue and therefore a wait before you'll be able to get on the cog wheel train.
Is there any way you could allocate more time to that portion of your trip?
I greatly appreciate all the info that you all have given me. Your insights and recommendations have been HUGE in helping me plan for this part of our European vacation. We'll be arriving in Lucerne about noon on July 11 and plan to leave the next afternoon, taking the latest train possible to Venice - hopefully around 14:00. I haven't been able to secure these train tickets or get the exact schedules yet because the trip is too far off. After reading all your comments, I'm thinking about maybe taking the grandchildren on just the Alpine slide in the afternoon of our arrival and then doing that Mt. Pilatus Self-Guided Trip the next day (on July 12), which the website says lasts for about 3 hours and begins at 8:30 that morning. I'm hoping this will give us plenty of time to get back to Lucerne, retrieve our luggage at the hotel and then be at the train station for the trip to Venice. What do you all think? I am a bit nervous about the length of time we might have to wait for the cog wheel train going up the mountain, as well as the cable car ride back down, as this will be on a Friday in mid July. I'm wondering if, by taking this Self-Guided Trip (which includes the cable car and cogwheel train), this might give us a leg up on being able to board the train & cable car sooner. I appreciate any thought you all might have on my ideas about all this. Again, many many thanks for your input. Linda
Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays Lindah! Just so you know, I bought the roundtrip ticket to go up Pilatus and still had to wait for the cogwheel. There are people that arrive in Alpnachstad from various means (car, train, boat) so it's first come, first served for loading on the cogwheel. Be the first one off the boat and walk fast to the cogwheel station (and you do have to stop at a booth to get the actual cogwheel ticket, which I didn't realize right away - and then get in line). I went up a little later in the morning than the ticket time you are considering so being earlier may be helpful. I did hear someone say that the day before I went up, there was a 2 hour wait to get on the cogwheel - and it was a sunnier, clearer day the day before I went. So, if it's a nice day, expect crowds. Also, I wonder if it might not be as crowded to do it backwards? Go up Pilatus from the Kriens side and come down on the cogwheel? I think it might be fun to do it this way - but you would probably have to just purchase tickets separately for each leg of the trip (which the Rick Steves book says is slightly cheaper anyway)!
I vaguely recall that it's possible to buy all the tickets for the Pilatus trip from the Tourist Information office in the Lucerne station. If that's still the case, you wouldn't have to waste time buying tickets for the Pilatus cogwheel when you arrive in Alpnachstad.
However this doesn't eliminate the issue of the very short time frame that you have for this trip.
After checking out of your hotel, you should be able to store your luggage at the Lucerne station - https://www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/services/lockers.html which might save some time.
Again, THANK YOU for all this valuable info. Happy Holidays!!