Paragliding from Mt. Pilatus

Paragliding Switzerland’s Mt. Pilatus: An Epic Adventure for Couples

What’s So Great About Switzerland’s Mt. Pilatus?

Mount Pilatus, Switzerland, nicknamed “Dragon Mountain” due to the folklore claiming that a dragon with magical healing powers lived at the top, is the majestic backdrop to Lucerne, Switzerland.

Visiting Mt. Pilatus from Lucerne, Switzerland was pretty high on my husband’s bucket list when we began planning a recent 25th Anniversary trip to two of our favorite countries—Italy and Switzerland.

Chris was sure to plan around an excursion to the top of the mountain to experience the best Mt. Pilatus had to offer:

  • Hikes
  • Views for miles of the Swiss Alps
  • Dramatic sunsets and sunrises
  • Romantic Getaway
  • Tourist day trip
  • Gondola ride
  • The steepest cogwheel train in the world
  • Tandem Paragliding off the top of the mountain!

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Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne is centrally located in Switzerland where residents speak the Swiss German dialect. It offers dramatic views of the Swiss Alps, including Mt. Pilatus and Mt. Rigi.

You may recognize Chapel Bridge as one of Lucerne’s famous landmarks.

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When you plan an adventure to Mt. Pilatus, be sure to allow yourself enough time to explore Lucerne and the surrounding area as well.

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Top 10 Places to Eat in Lucerne Before Visiting Mt. Pilatus

Well, you know you’ve gotta eat while you are traveling. Finding cool places to try before you arrive is always great advice. Yelp ranks the top 10 places to eat in Lucerne:

  1. Restaurant Parterre
  2. Fondue House du Pont
  3. Hotel des Alpes
  4. Wirtshaus Taube
  5. Restaurant Unterlachenhof
  6. Restaurant Stern Luzern
  7. Bellini Locana Ticinese
  8. Mill-Feuille
  9. Seehouse
  10. Restaurant zum Rebstock

Basic Language Terms to Know

It always helps to learn a few basic phrases or terms when you travel to a foreign country. With the four national languages of Switzerland—French, German, Italian and Romansh—these languages have influenced and enriched the Swiss-German vocabulary. Basic terms in Swiss German are:

  • Hello – Grüezi or Hallo
  • Goodbye – Uf Wiederseh, Ciao, or Adieu
  • Please – Bitte
  • Thank you – Merci
  • You’re Welcome – Gern

Interesting Facts and Lore About Mt. Pilatus

  • The Mount Pilatus elevation rises to its highest point of 6,983′ at Tomlishorn above Lucerne.
  • A medieval legend suggests that dragons with healing powers lived on the mountain.
  • You can take the Pilatus cogwheel train up to Mt. Pilatus. It has been functioning since 1889 and is the steepest cogwheel railway in the world.
  • One legend says that the body of Pontius Pilate lay in a former lake on the mountain.
  • Mt. Pilatus is part of the Swiss Alps.
  • The Dragon Ride is a cable car that transports customers to the peak of Mount Pilatus from Kriens, Switzerland.

Official website of Mt. Pilatus

How to Get to Mt. Pilatus from Lucerne

Mt Pilatus
Map courtesy of Pilatus.ch (adapted by simplyjolayne)

You have a variety of options when planning a visit to Mount Pilatus. You can hike up the mountain, take the cogwheel train, board the gondola/cable cars from Kriens, or take a combination of the cable cars and cogwheel train.

Hiking

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This guy just finished a 4-hour hike to Mt. Pilatus
  • Trailhead: Begin your hike at the trailhead in Alpnachstad
  • Destination: Pilatus Kulm
  • Length: 8km / 5 miles
  • Time: 4-5 hours depending on your pace
  • Elevation Gain: 1670 m / 5480 ft
  • Difficulty: Intermediate – a strenuous and exhausting hike as there are uphill switchbacks the entire way!

>> Related: My Favorite Crossbody Bag for Travel

Cogwheel Train

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Riding the steepest cogwheel train in the world features a whopping 48% incline on the trek up to Mt. Pilatus! Catch the Pilatusbahn from Alpnachstad; the train takes approximately 30-40 minutes to reach Hotel Pilatus Kulm.

Cable Cars: A Gondola and The Dragon Ride

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If you are coming from Lucerne (or Luzern), you will want to take a bus to Kriens to reach the cable car. (During the winter months, this is the best way to reach Mt. Pilatus).

The cable car option includes taking a small 4-person gondola from Kriens to Frakmuntegg and then the Dragon Ride (a larger capacity aerial cableway) from Frakmuntegg to Mt. Pilatus. If you take the cable cars, this trip will take about 30 minutes.

Golden Round Trip from Lucerne

The Golden Round Trip from Lucerne is the most popular option for tourists to visit Mt. Pilatus beginning from the Lucerne Railway Station. The ticket includes taking the bus from Lucerne to Kriens, taking the Mt. Pilatus cable car, riding the cogwheel train down to Alpnachstad, and then enjoying a scenic boat ride from Alpnachstad back to Lucerne. (You can also take this tour in the opposite direction).

Silver Round Trip from Lucerne

Another popular option for arriving at Mt. Pilatus includes the bus ride from Lucerne to Kriens, the cable car to Mt. Pilatus, and the cogwheel train back down the mountain to Alpnachstad. Instead of taking the boat ride, you take a regular train from Alpnachstad to Lucerne. The advantage of the Silver vs. the Golden Round Trip is that it is 20% cheaper and allows more flexibility time wise.

Do-It-Yourself Trip from Lucerne

This option gives you complete flexibility for your trip to Mount Pilatus. You can choose to take the cable car or the cogwheel train or a combination of the two. You will have to get your own tickets to and from Kriens and/or Alpnachstad. 

If you have the Swiss Travel Pass, you will receive a discount and kids with a Junior Travelcard get to travel for free with a paid adult ticket.

Buy Tickets Online

How Long Should You Stay on Mt. Pilatus?

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You can experience Pilatus as a day trip or have a truly fantastical couple’s getaway and spend the night at either Hotel Bellevue or the Hotel Pilatus Kulm.

Book now through Booking.com

Booking.com

If you plan to visit Mt. Pilatus as a day trip, many tourists ride either the gondola or cogwheel train to the top of Mt. Pilatus and explore, hike, and take pictures. Be sure to check the timetable for the last trip down the mountain each day.

It is a loooooong way down the mountain if you have to hike!

If you plan to visit BOTH Lucerne and Mt. Pilatus in one day, you will need to get an early start.

Chris and I stayed at Hotel Pilatus Kulm overnight and LOVED it. It was getting close to the end of the summer season, so when the last Dragon Ride and cogwheel train left the top of Mount Pilatus, the atmosphere was quiet and relaxed.

Checking In for Your Couple’s Getaway on Mt. Pilatus

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Mt. Pilatus Check-In Card

Whether you are planning for a couple’s weekend getaway or a mid-week adventure, staying on Pilatus is amazing.

When you reach the top of Mt. Pilatus via the Dragon Ride or the cogwheel train, you arrive at the lobby of Hotel Bellevue where you will find the Reception Desk for both of the Mt. Pilatus Hotels: Hotel Bellevue and Hotel Pilatus Kulm.

Our desk agent gave us a brief introduction and pointed out popular hikes and sites to see. She recommended the hike to Tomlishorn. It followed a path that skirted the side of the mountain and offered expansive and stunning views of the Swiss Alps.

The Check-In card (above) noted that sunset was at 19:50 (7:50 pm) and sunrise at 6:50 am.

>> Related:

Hike to Tomlishorn

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The hike to Tomlishorn took about an hour and a half. Chris and I hiked later in the afternoon and saw only one other person on the trail. As we walked along, we could hear the cowbells ringing from the valley below.

The hiking path skirted the edge of the mountain, and was clearly marked with a protective railing. The last section of the trail was rockier (as shown above), so you’ll want to watch your step along the way.

The views though? Stunning.

Hiking Gear for Mount Pilatus

Normally, Chris and I would be wearing hiking boots and carrying trekking poles, but as we were packing lightly for 10 days in Italy and Switzerland, we opted for trail shoes that gave the grip for hiking but doubled as our sightseeing shoes each day.

Camera Gear for Mount Pilatus

As noted above, Chris and I were trying to travel lightly for this trip. But… I still had to bring my camera equipment. And no doubt, you will want yours as well.

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Hotel Pilatus Klum

View from room 207 at Hotel Pilatus Kulm

Chris and I were excited for this overnight stay. We easily traveled up the mountain with our luggage in tow and deposited our bags and backpacks in our room before checking out the view and the mountain.

Watch the Sunset from Mount Pilatus

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Once seated for the dinner service, we placed our order for our first course with our waiter, Joshua, and then left to climb to Oberhaupt to watch the sunset. Many people leave partway through dinner to catch the sunset; it was an option our check-in agent suggested for us and highly recommended we do.

I suggest you leave the dining room at least 15-20 minutes before sunset to make the 10-15 minute climb and to catch the gorgeous evening views. It is totally worth the effort!

Couple visiting Mt. Pilatus at sunset

A Mt. Pilatus Sunrise

If you are an early riser, you may wish to get up early to catch the sunrise from Esel. It is a short walk from Hotel Bellevue. As noted on the check-in card, sunrise was at 6:50 am, and the staff recommended being at the top of Esel at least ten minutes prior to sunrise.

Chris and I chose to sleep in and were glad that we did as the sky was overcast when we did wake up.

Enjoy the View

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The views from Mt. Pilatus are magnificent. The little chapel in the distance is called the Klimsen chapel, built in 1861, and originally belonged to the Hotel Klimsenhorn which was destroyed in 1967.

Our room faced North and we had great views of the patio, the mountain peaks close to the hotel, the Swiss Alps in the distance, the paragliders, and the cogwheel train.

Eating in the Queen Victoria Dining Room

The dinner menu in the Queen Victoria Dining Room changes with the season. In fact, our stay at the hotel was the first night for the new Fall menu.

Menu for the Queen Victoria Room at Pilatus Kulm hotel

We were a little unsure if the evening meal was included in the cost of our stay, but were surprised to find that our only cost for the meal was our drinks.

Breakfast was also included in the hotel package Chris purchased: a continental breakfast spread of meats, cheeses, yogurts, pastries and bread, cereal, and fruit. It was more than enough to get us started for our day.

An Epic Paragliding Adventure from Switzerland’s Mount Pilatus

A couple of months before our trip, I told Chris that I would consider paragliding with him from Mt. Pilatus. He promptly did some research, found a reputable company, and made reservations for the both of us (before I had a chance to change my mind!) I did not allow myself time to think about the possibility.

As time came for our scheduled tandem paragliding session, we met up with Marcel in the lobby of the Hotel Bellevue, close to the reception desk, and followed him outside to the paragliding staging area. Marcel and Werner would be our tandem paragliding guides today to give us a bird’s eye view of the Swiss Alps.

You might say that paragliding is the proper way to see Switzerland!

Are you wondering if paragliding is safe? Be sure your tandem paragliding guides are fully licensed and insured. Schedule with a reputable company.

Tips for Your Paragliding Adventure:

  • Fly tandem with a licensed guide
  • Be aware that your flight is dependent on the weather conditions. Your guide will monitor the weather conditions prior to your take off.
  • The guides will bring all of the necessary paragliding equipment.
  • Wear closed toed shoes
  • Wear long pants
  • Wear a warm jacket. We didn’t bring puffy jackets for this end of summer trip, but would have appreciated the warmth while paragliding. As it was, our guides provided extra jackets as another layer that we gratefully wore.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take drugs before your flight
  • Listen to your guide. When he says, “Run!”, you run to catch the thermals.
  • Legs out straight on the landing unless your guide says otherwise. If you notice the tandem pack in the picture below, it comes with substantial padding to soften your landing.

Chris went first and easily glided off the mountain and quickly out of sight.

Man preparing to paraglide from Mt Pilatus in Switzerland

My turn. I may have been a little nervous but kept thinking, “If the people on the Amazing Race can do this and survive, so can I!”

Woman preparing to paraglide from Mt Pilatus in Switzerland

Wonder what we did with our luggage and backpacks? We left it with the clerks at the reception desk and they sent all of our gear down on the gondolas for us to pick up once we landed. Cool right?

I got set to go with Marcel shortly after Chris and Werner took off. I was just trying not to be nervous about running toward the edge of a mountain and jumping off. Turns out, there was nothing to worry about and the flight with Marcel was awesome. I even got to steer the glider!

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I’m Flying!

Once we landed in the field next to the gondola at the base of the mountain in Kriens, Marcel walked with us to show us where to retrieve our luggage. What an epic adventure!

Adventure and Paragliding Quotes to Inspire You

  • Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. ~ Helen Keller
  • Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. ~ Neale Donald Walsch
  • Your world is as big as you make it. Begin imagining. ~ Georgia Douglas Johnson
  • Any landing you walk away from is a good landing!
  • Do one thing every day that scares you.
  • Flying is the second greatest thing known to man. Landing is the first!
  • When was the last time you did something for the first time? ~ John C. Maxwell
  • The man who flies a paraglide must believe in the unseen. ~ Badmoon
  • Until you spread your wings you have no idea how far you will fly.
  • Whatever you are doing today, do it with all of the confidence of a 4-year old in a superhero cape.
  • Jobs fill your pocket. Paragliding fills your soul.
  • There’s just nothing like seeing the world from thousands of feet up in the air.

<< Related: 65 Awesome Travel Quotes for Instagram

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Final Thoughts on Paragliding Switzerland’s Mt. Pilatus on an Epic Couple’s Adventure

Let me just say that I am NOT a big adrenalin junkie. Paragliding was monumental for me. Turns out, there was nothing to worry about and Marcel and I easily glided off the mountain side. Chris and I both had an awesome experience.

If you are wondering if this epic adventure is right for you, I emphatically encourage you to give it a try. Would I do it again! You bet.

And visiting Mt. Pilatus, even on a day trip, is totally worth your time. If you have the opportunity to stay overnight, the atmosphere is welcoming, peaceful and romantic.

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15 Comments
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Jeanine
1 month ago

Wow what a fantastic experience, when we were in Switzerland the cog train had stopped for winter but this Mountain is on my list for next Switzerland trip and now (even though I am affeered of heights) I think if I am going to paraglide Switzerland is the place to do it… such an inspiring article thank you

Liv
Liv
1 month ago

Great pics! I went paragliding once and would love to do it again, adding Switzerland to the list!

Barbara
1 month ago

This is such a wonderful resource for planning! I love it! Thank you!

Jazmin Marie
1 month ago

Wow, that sounds like such a great experience! I love how well you documented this too, I want to do it as well. I have a few things I want to do in Switzerland & this post definitely made the list. Thanks for sharing!

Tanya T
1 month ago

Wow, this really is an adventure!

Linda (LD Holland)
1 month ago

Having jumped out of perfectly good planes over 150 times, I would certainly be up to trying paragliding at Switzerland’s Mt. Pilatus. Glad it was a great adventure for you. Even the trip up in the cogwheel train or the cable car up would be interesting.  There look like there are so many things to do in this area of Switzerland that we missed. Great reasons to head back.

Jill
1 month ago

Mount Pilatus looks stunning! And I’m soo excited to hear about your great paragliding experience – I’ve done it once in France but am looking for more places to fly! I’ll definitely be saving this for future adventures 🙂

Paul (Paul Passing Through)

This looks like a fantastic trip if you’re going to be in Switzerland. The views from nearby your hotel are incredible!

Melissa
Melissa
1 month ago

Love the pics! And such a great resource you put together

Hannah
1 month ago

Wow, paragliding Mount Pilatus looks like an amazing experience! I’d love to catch the sunrise and sunset! I could also spend hours admiring the view! I think I’d push past my fear of hights to give this experience a go – thanks for the great guide!

Jenn | By Land and Sea
Jenn | By Land and Sea
1 month ago

Now this is something we would totally do!

Shannon
1 month ago

This looks amazing! I would love to paraglide with my hubby. I went skydiving for the first time this year and loved it.

Isabella
5 days ago

I loooooove adventures like this. I’ve don my share of jumping off places so this is right up my alley. You guys are a great couple. Keep adventuring together- the sky is not your limit!