Looking at doing one of these mountains while we are in Lucerne. Which one would you recommend and why?
Get a Swiss Travel Pass it covers all three. I've done Rigi. You take a boat from Luzern to Vitzau where then you transfer to the Rigi Bahn cog wheel train. Sit on the left side. You can never get enough of the mountain excursions they are all different.
Pretty sure that Mt Pilatus is only 50% discount with Swiss Pass but it's the
best of those three and a great adventure.
Really don't have time to do all 3 so that is why we are trying to get opinions on the best one out of the 3. Where is the best place to buy tickets? Can you just buy them after we arrive for the day or do they sell out?
Buy your ticket to the top of a mountain the day of.
Go the earliest time possible to avoid tour groups. You will notice more people coming as you are leaving after 10 am.
You can buy it online or at the Luzern Train Station where they have SBB offices.
The SBB offices in Luzern open at 6:30. Someone will chime in about which is better but in general Mt Pilatus is the most reputed of the 3.
Cannot compare, we did Mt Rigi from Zug while we were staying. Packed a lunch, took the cog train to the top. Hiked down to a restaurant near the gondola, took gondola down on the other side - Lake side, and boat back to Lucernne/Zug. All in all a great day.
Do Pilatus and Rigi.
Mt Rigi Excursion from Lucerne
The 'Swiss Travel Pass' actually covers the entire excursion to Mt Rigi from Lucerne.
There are 2 different routes you can take; one via Arth Goldau and the other via Vitznau. Considering this, I would recommend making your ascent via one of these routes and then descending via the other.
Therefore, you could start the journey by taking a train from Lucerne to Arth Goldau. From Arth Goldau, you would take the 'Arth-Rigi-Bahn' up to Rigi Kulm.
For your descent, you would then take the 'Vitznau-Rigi-Bahn' cog railway from Rigi Kulm down to Vitznau. In Vitznau, you would use your pass to board the boat across Lake Lucerne back to Lucerne.
You can check schedules for trains from Lucerne to Arth Goldau by clicking on 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our homepage (www.raileurope.com) and entering the route.
Mt Pilatus Excursion from Lucerne
The 'Swiss Travel Pass' would enable you to receive a 50% discount on the Mt Pilatus excursion from Lucerne. To receive the 50% discount on the Mt Pilatus excursion, you would purchase the 'Alpnachstad or Kriens to Mt Pilatus for Swiss Travel Pass Holder' option of the 'Mount Pilatus' pass. This would be purchased here: http://www.raileurope.com/activities/....
I have done Rigi and Pilatus only. The plus for Rigi is midway up there is a day spa (overnite a great value at spa hotel)with whirl swim pool, massages etc for a very reasonable rate. Bad part is there is a hike from ferry stop to Rigi train platform. Pilatus is easier all around to get to and get around. Both have cafes at top available to rest and eat. However there is never a guarantee about the fog coming in at either peak. It comes and it goes it can be clear at waters edge and fogged out at peaks. As a daytrip I prefer Pilatus as an overnite Rigi for sure.
The trip to Mt. Pilatus is very easily done from Lucerne and makes a nice day trip. You can buy a round trip ticket in the Lucerne station. There's a tourist info office there and they'll be able to provide the tickets and any details you need.
You might consider the Golden Round Trip - https://www.pilatus.ch/en/discover/golden-round-trip/ . You'll start with a nice boat trip from Lucerne to Alpnachstad. When you arrive there, walk across the street to the Pilatus-Bahn cog wheel train for the trip to the top. There you can enjoy the incredible views and have a nice hot lunch in one of the hotels there. For the return trip, take the cable car to Kriens and then return to Lucerne by Bus (the trip is only about 15 minutes).
One other point to mention. On the trip from Pllatus to Kriens, you'll have to change cable cars at Fräkmüntegg. As I recall, there's an adventure park and downhill toboggan ride there - https://www.pilatus.ch/en/discover/fraekmuentegg/ .
If you have a Swiss Pass, the coverage for the trips is shown in this map:
The Rigi excursion is fully covered. For maximum fun and scenery, I suggest the loop via Vitznau, Rigi Kulm, Rigi Kaltbad, and Weggis by boat, cogwheel train, and cablecar, instead of the return via Arth-Goldman suggested by RJean above.
For Pilates, if you do the Golden Round trip, the boat from Luzern to Alpnachstad is fully covered with a Swiss Pass. The cogwheel train up to the summit and cablecar down to Kriens are 50%.
Rigi offers more opportunities for hiking, if that is in the plan.
Now, let’s talk about what to do if you don’t have a Swiss travel pass.....
People quickly assume that a Swiss Travel Pass is best for everyone, because it worked for them. You need to price out what you plan on seeing and determine for yourself whether a Swiss Travel Pass, a half fare card, or no pass are the Best Buy for you.
I determined that a Swiss Travel Pass would not save me money. I purchased the golden round trip ticket from the front desk at my hotel for Mt. Pilatus. It made for a very enjoyable, and convenient day trip. The views were outstanding. I left Luzern about 8:30 am and returned about 4 pm.
Yes, I was wondering if that pass would be worth it since we will really only be going to one of the mountains and probably not much else since we will have to leave to get on board the ship.
You want to do the one that isn't covered with clouds.
I've only been up Stanserhorn, and it was spectacular. The cable car has an outdoor area on the top, which is super cool. The railing is at shoulder height and the car is very stable, so it's not as scary as it looks in pictures (I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to heights). Can't recommend it highly enough. That said, next year I'm going to try Rigi, and will take the boat there.
Consider what Nickelini said. you dont have to decide until you are there on the ground and see what the weather is on each of the mountains. We had planned to do either Pilatus or Rigi on the second day of our visit, but when we arrived on the morning of first night, the hotel desk clerk urged us to go right away as, Mt Pilatus was cloudless and sunny, showing us the live webcam feed. So we hurried up and went. Sure enough both places were socked in the next two days.