In a majestic setting where three lakes meet, easily reached by cog railway or cable car, with a panoramic view of the highest Alpine peaks and a varied range of leisure activities – no wonder the Rigi is one of Switzerland’s most popular mountains.
The Rigi, also known as the Queen of Mountains, towers majestically between Lakes Lucerne, Zug and Lauerz. The highest point on the Rigi-Kulm at 1,797m asl is where visitors can admire a magnificent panorama over Lake Lucerne and the nearby Alps, and to the Swiss Plateau looking north.
Back in the 18th century, the Rigi’s unique location made it a famous destination for travellers across Europe. In some ways, it was the pioneer mountain of Alpine tourism. Queen Victoria, no less, was even carried up the peak in a sedan chair. The 19th century saw spas and fashionable hotels opening one after another in Kaltbad, Rigi Kulm and on the Scheidegg, with later additions above the Klösterli monastery and on the Staffelhöhe. The modern era of mass tourism dawned in 1871 with the construction of the Vitznau-Rigi Railway, which went down in history as Europe’s first mountain railway, and the Arth-Rigi Railway in 1875.
Several trains dating back to the early days still operate today, with public nostalgia trips scheduled on weekends between July and September. For one journey up the mountain, these lovingly restored steam locomotives dating back more than 100 years use about 500kg of coal and 2,200 litres of water. Together with the modern panoramic cable car from Weggis, the Rigi railways carry 600,000 passengers up the mountain each year. The range of leisure activities and events on offer in both summer and winter is constantly being expanded.
In autumn, as the days start to get shorter and the fog cover begins to cloud the mood, it is well worth heading up the Rigi. That liberating feeling when the Rigi Railway rises up through the fog is indescribable. On its sunny terraces, the warm temperatures can be enjoyed alongside glorious views of the blanket of fog below and the surrounding mountains.