Only just a half-hour’s journey onboard the Vitznau-Rigi railway separates the village on the lakeshore at 435 metres from the Kulm of the Rigi viewing and climbing mountain at 1798 metres. It is difficult to imagine how arduous the pathway up the «Queen of mountains» must have once been; more affluent guests could afford to have themselves carried up in a sedan chair. When the world’s first rack and pinion railway was opened in 1871, Vitznau became an important interim destination for travellers, who, on arrival by steamship from Lucerne, transferred to the rack railway.
A breathtaking panoramic view across the Alps, of 13 lakes and over the entire Swiss Mittelland through to Germany and France can be enjoyed from the summit of the Rigi. A network of walking trails of over a hundred kilometres extends down along the flanks of the mountain. The Rigi is also well known for its rich Alpine flora of around 1000 species. A cableway leads from Vitznau to Hinterbergen, where guests can enjoy the views from the sun terrace of the restaurant. A further small cableway transports visitors from Vitznau to the Wissifluh mountain restaurant, a starting point for many walks and treks.
The Vitznau Artillery Fortress was operated as part of the famous Gotthard Fortress in the Rigi rock during the 2nd World War. Its existence was kept highly secret for decades. Since its decommissioning in 1998, visitors have had the opportunity to discover caverns, munitions halls, galleries, casemates and armaments in the accompaniment of a knowledgeable guide – and even spend a night in Switzerland’s first fortress hotel.
In summer, venturing into the surrounding regions onboard one of the historic paddlewheel steamers or saloon motor vessels on Lake Lucerne, which provide a year-round connection between Vitznau and the excursion destinations of Lucerne, Pilatus, Stanserhorn, Bürgenstock, Klewenalp and Seelisberg, is particularly worthwhile. As a regional holiday travel pass, the «TellPass» is the ideal ticket for this.
Family-friendly ski and snowboarding pistes as well as toboggan runs, winter walking trails and cross-country ski trails await sun-seeking winter guests on the Rigi, which mostly lies above the sea of mist. Snow-assured pistes of up to around 2000 metres can be found on the Klewenalp, on the opposing side of the lake. Further ski areas in the region are the Sattel-Hochstuckli and Stoos.
- Rigi – Europe’s oldest rack railway has been travelling up the «Queen of mountains» since 1871, from where visitors can enjoy a magnificent view.
- Lake Lucerne – historic paddlewheel steamers and saloon motor vessels invite guests to discover the landscape from onboard ship.
- Vitznau Fortress – during the 2nd World War, the artillery fortress was operated as part of the renowned Gotthard fortress in the Rigi rock. Its existence was kept top secret for decades; it is now open to visitors.
- Lucerne – a 1-hour cruise separates Vitznau from the lively, central Swiss metropolis of Lucerne, an excursion destination that is well worth seeing, with a beguiling range of shopping attractions.
- Whitsun Market with “Rockstubete” (rock music by folklore band) – fun and culinary delights are waiting to be discovered by visitors at the various market booths on Bahnhofstrasse (May/June).