Trip to Rigi during 12 hour layover Zurich airport

Trip to Rigi during 12 hour layover Zurich airport

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7 posts
new member
Aug 29, 2016 - 4:12 PM

Hello this is my first post so please be gentle lol.

We have a 12 hour layover on December 17th, arriving is Zurich Airport at 10:40am and departing Zurich airport at 10:50 pm. Our bags will be checked through to our final destination.

We would like to go to see Mt Rigi heading up either by cable car or cog rail and doing the opposite on the way down combined with a boat trip on lake Lucerne and then back to the Airport.

Do you think this is doable in the time we have or am I stretching it and maybe just go up one way and down the same way?

Alternatively if it is not a nice day and the view is not great we may head to explore Zurich or Bern

What are your thoughts on this and what would be the best plan of action?

thank you in advance

2554 posts
top member
Aug 31, 2016 - 12:55 AM in reply to pieshops

Hi pieshops -

Welcome to My Swiss Alps.

<<"We would like to go to see Mt Rigi heading up either by cable car or cog rail and doing the opposite on the way down combined with a boat trip on lake Lucerne and then back to the Airport.">>

Sounds like you might fit that together. Please make sure to get back to the airport well ahead of your departure. However, in mid -December, you need to pay careful attention to the available transport. Many services have reduced schedule then. gi

and , timetable-fares/timetable/

Use the timetable: metable

If you cannot figure it out from that , let us know.


7 posts
new member
Sep 1, 2016 - 11:30 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Ok so now after researching this I am so so much more confused, I thought this was going to be easy but there seems to be many ways to accomplish this trip.

The basics - we don't have a ton of time so from the time we leave the airport to the time we get back I figure we will have 9 hours approx for this excursion, I al ready figured in customs time etc at airport.

Wish list - old style cog railway up and cable car down or vice versa.

Other then that we are open for anything and any itinerary, we just want to be able to spend as much time at the top as possible.

Any specifics on how to accomplish this you;ld be greatly appreciated. I figure the earliest train we will be able to take from the airpot will be about 11:40 am.

7 posts
new member
Sep 1, 2016 - 11:31 PM in reply to pieshops

additionally the boat trip is not necessary but would be nice if time permits

2554 posts
top member
Sep 2, 2016 - 9:15 AM in reply to pieshops

Hi Pieshops-

You can certainly fit that trip into the time that you have. If you are arriving from a substantially different time zone, you'll need to keep jet-lag in mind. It can make a simple journey more prone to minor errors, and thus cause you to miss a train or connection. Luckily, during the day, there are frequent trains and buses along the various routes, but on my first day or so in from the 'States, I always plan with contingencies in mind.

That is particularly important for the lake boats, because they have more gaps in their schedules, and reduced service in Winter.

Perhaps the best way to describe your options is to take them in order of simplicity.

It will help a lot to know if you are able and willing to walk approximately 600-7oo meters on paved surfaces down hill from the lower station of the cable way at Weggis to the lake boat dock at Weggis. The descent is about 65 meters over a linear distance of about 400 meters as the crow flies. Or, from the parking lot, about 45 meters, because the "platform" for the cable car is elevated above the parking lot with a bunch of stairs.

How would you feel about doing it uphill?

The German for this style of cable way, with a very large car holding dozens of people, is die Luftseilbahn. So, if you are using the timetable you will see the abbreviation "LSB" after the names of some stops: metable

Please read the intro page in that link.


This link to a very detailed topo map will show the route. I have turned on an overlay showing transport stops. If you zoom out and move the map around, you can get the lay of the land. Turn off the transport stops for clarity as you zoom out. yer=ch.swisstopo.pixel karte-farbe&layers=ch.bav.ha ltestellen-oev, tlm3d-wanderwege&layers_visi bility=true,false&X=20 9627.00&Y=675823.00&zo om=9

Although the map shows bus stops along the route, they are only in use once or twicea day for scoll buses. Kids who live up on the mountain come down to go to school.

This map is simpler, and helps with tourist services under Points of Interest. I have not yet figured out how to make it show altitudes, which are very important in Switzerland. They significantly affect or even control the weather, among other things.,209594&z=51 2


Absolutely simplest route from Zürich Flughafen to Rig-Kulm and return-

Take a train to Arth-Goldau. Probaby have to change at Zürich main station (Hauptbahnhof. Hbf).

Walk 200- 300 meters to the lower station ( die Talstation, valley station) and take the cograil to the top. Return the same way.

I have attached a screen grab for the 1oth. The timetable is reissued every year in mid-December, so I could not show the 17th.

On that route, there is 99.99 % certainty of no changes in the new timetable. Check in early December

In the screen grab, I have selected the first journey within your time window ( 1147) and expanded it by clicking on the "+" sign to the left of the journy.

Indeed, you will change at Züri HBf.

Note that, if you use that feature of the timetable, a route map is available from the footnotes. 9None of that works in the screen grab, of course.)

So, by the simplest route, you can get to the top of the Rigi for lunch, arriving at 1347.

On your return by the same route, you can leave at 1604 and arrive at 1813, or at 1704 and arive at 1913.

I'd take the 1604.

Next best route- (caveat...see noe at end....boat schedules uncertain on the December 17th.

ZFH-Luzern- boat to Vitznau - cograil up up Rigi Kulm.

Depart ZFH at 1147, arrive at Rigi-Kulm at 1447. 3 hour journey. Have 1 hr 17 minutes up there. Return at 1604 via Arth Goldau, get to ZFH at 1813

The safest version would be to go to the Rigi by that route through Luzern and Vitznau, then return down to Arth-Goldau by cograil, for good train connections to ZFH.

Next safest - Return by the same route: cograil down to Vitznau,boat to Luzern, train to ZFH. You can check the timetable...use Vitznau as a "via or "Connection" point.

You could leave at 1500 arrive ZFH at 1813.

If you wait to take the 1700 departure from Rigi Kulm via Vitznau and boat, you arrive at ZFH at 2013.

How about the cable car?

The most scenic route of all is technically possible. Go via Luzern/boat to Vitznau/ cograil to Rigi-Kulm. (ZFH 1147 arrive Rigi Kulm at 1447.)

Return by cograil for the first part departing Rigi Kulm to Rigi Kaltbad LSB station ( 3 minutes walk from the cograil station). cable way to Weggis LSB Talstation, walk 15 minutes down hill to boat landing (Schiffstation), boat to Luzern, train to ZFH.

That gets complicated, and I'll need to spend more time with the timetable than I'll have for the next day or two. I;ll get bacjk on that. Some of the routes end up with a whole series of bus and train transfers, which I would not recommend.

Until I (or you) work that out with the timetable) I'd stick to going via Luzern/boat/ Vtznau. or via Arth Goldau, and returning by one of those routes.

There is one complication with the Vitznau routing on December 17th...the boat schedules change on December 11, I need to reconfirm those particular routes.. which cannot be certain until later in this year. The boat schedules do get cut back in the winter. timetable-fares/timetable/

Summary at this point-

You are 99.9% likely to be able to go and return via Arth Goldau.

Probably can get a boat ride in there, via Vitznau, at least on the trip to the Rigi..

Should be possible to come down via cableway to Weggis, but needs more work to sort out schedules at the bottom. Not guaranted, and might involve some complex bus and train routings from Weggis onward.


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7 posts
new member
Sep 2, 2016 - 11:44 AM in reply to Slowpoke

this is awesome, thanks so much for the help.

Walking that distance downhill is no problem at all, preferable to walking that distance uphill.

2554 posts
top member
Sep 2, 2016 - 9:07 PM in reply to pieshops

Hi Pieshops -

I think that in some cases I picked a return time that was too least, thet would get you back to ZHF earlier than necessary.

We/you can do some more work with the timetable for that detail.

I'm wondering if Arno or Annika know when the new timetable becomes available for planning after December 10th?

Might be wise to use it to check out the boat options.

By the way, on December 17th, sunset down at Weggis or Bürgenstock is at 1638. rgenstock_weggis_switz erland.6427.html n/switzerland/lucerne

You will return in the dark.

With favorable weather, you might see a nice sunset up on top of the Rigi.

The sunrise was a famous travelers destination: en-us/rigi-kulm-legendary-sunrise.html


7 posts
new member
Sep 2, 2016 - 9:12 PM in reply to Slowpoke

you are awesome thanks so much

2554 posts
top member
Sep 4, 2016 - 7:19 AM in reply to pieshops

Hi Pieshops-

I spent some time with the paper time table book.

Since your return to Zürich airport will be critical, and the boat schedule from Vitznau or from Weggis to Luzern will be the critical path for your return journey, if you go back down to Vitznau or take the cable way and walk to Weggis, that is waht I looked for.

In the Fall schedule, boats leave Vitznau for Luzern at 1449, 1549, 1649, 1749, 1811, and 1849. On weekdays only, 1911. Also on days4-6 (Thursday through Saturday, at 2011, which is tooo late to get you back to the airport, anyway.

In the Fall, They leave Weggis 16 minutes later ( same boat) at 1505, 1605, 1705. [no 1827...bypasses Weggis] and on workdays, (Monday through Friday), at 1926, but there is no late boat after the 1926 from Weggis.

You are concerned with the Winter schedule, on a Saturday (day 6 of the week).

Boats from Vitznau leave for Luzern at 1449, 1549, (1649 Sundays only) 1749 and 2011.

From Weggis- 1505, 1605, (no 1705), 1755 ( Monday through Friday) and 1805.

To arrive at Weggis for the 1805, you must leave Rigi Kaltbad at 1725 on the cable car ( LSB) and arrive at the valley station at 1735, then rush in the dark to the ship landing , taking a nominal 15 minutes, arriving at 1750, and catch the 1805, assuming that you do not get lost. I'd consider doing it in the daylight, or even in the dark if I had done it once before. Will you be jetlagged?

You might try to do it on an earlier run.

Then, you would have to work the timetable to see what goes down from Rigi Kulm on a Saturday early enough for you to catch the 1749 boat at Vitznau ( easy fast connection) or make the walk from the valley station of the LSB to the ships landing in Weggis and catch the 1805 boat to Luzern.

Trains from Rigi Kulm down to Vitznau all stop at Rigi Kaltbad. From the train station it is about a 3 minute walk to the LSB station...allow a little more in the dark.

Here are the options- in Winter-

Option 1- with multiple connections and no boat -

Depart Rigi-Kulm at 1600, via Rigi-Kaltbad -First ( same as Rigi Kaltbad) at 1613, to Vitznau at 1640. No boat at 1649 on a Saturday. Catch a bus to Küsssnacht am Rigi Bahnhof at 1652, arrive 1722, and get a train to the airport via Zürich leaving Küssnacht am Rigi at 1726 arriving at the airport at 1847 ( 2 hours before your flight) with changes at Arth Goldau ( 7 minutes connection...easy) and Zürich main station at 1828 with a 9 minute connection incoming and outbound on the main train platforms close to each other.

If you went via Weggis, you still have to walk to the ship landing to catch the same bus to Küssnacht am Rigi, thence to ZFH.

I'd do that , but I'd not recommend it to you the dark.

Option 2-

Catch the 1749 boat from Vitznau or the 1805 from Weggis.

Take the 1700 down from RigiKulm to Vitznau at 1740.

or, get off at 1713 at Rigi-Kaltbad, walk three minutes to the cable car (LSB) , just miss the 1710 cable car and catch the 1740cable car from Rigi Kaltbad First to Weggis at 1750, and run very fast in the dark to catch the 1805 boat. I'd not try to do that myself.

I'd not recommend it for a first time visitor, and I'd strongly recommend against doing it if you will be jet-lagged ---but it is not impossible.

The Swiss are very helpful to travelers.

If I were doing that, I'd explain to the operator of the cable car what my situation is in English, and ask if he or she could ask the passengers if any of them could drive you to the boat landing. More than likely, he or she will know the regular passengers, and would be willing to ask for a ride in general anyway, in Swiss German....

If you catch the 1805 boat, (same boat that leaves Vitznau at 1749) you arrive at Luzern ship landing at 1841, catch the 1910 to Zurich main station at 1956, which continues with out change of train arriving at Zürich Flughafen at 2013.

Same results if you ride down to Vitznau arriving at 1740 and catch the same boat , departing Vitznau at 1749.

Thus, that is all theoretically possible.

If you want to go up by cograil, you can do the best trip - train to Luzern from ZFH at 1147 - you should be able to make that and stash your luggage in a locker , as long as you are not sitting at the back of the airplane, and you buy your tickets from a ticket machine., or a short line at the ticket counter.

It can be tight if you are not fast with those chores. I'd worry a bit. and, if you miss that 1147, the rest of the schedule gets messy....5 minutes on top of the rigi, for example.

Or, a complex route via multiple buses which stlll gets you to the Weggis ship landing 18 minutes before the UPHILL walk to the cable car at 1410. Don't try it if you are jet lagged

See attached screen grab.

Summary- there a lot of ways to do the routes that you desire, but they all involve tight timing at one point or another, or, only a few minutes at Rigi Kulm.

By backing off on the routing to take part of the trip on the less scenic route ...via Arth Goldau... you have more flexibility and some time up top..

How hard are you prepared to work at it, and can you use the complex contingency plans with multiple changes of buses, remembering that sunset is at about 1640?

I think the safest route which still allows the cable car is to go up from Weggis, in spite of the walk. Then , you can go down via Arth Goldauu for the fastest return to Zürich. and get the boat ride in, too.

Then, get up to the top at 1447, stay 1 hour and 5 minutes, catch the 1600 down to Rigi Kaltbad, and catch the 1805 boat with a long wait at the boat landing, or catch the bus as noted and go via Küssnacht am Rigi.

If you can make the 1147 train, it will help a lot.

If you leave out the cable car, life is a lot simpler.



Last modified on Sep 4, 2016 - 7:32 AM by Slowpoke
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7 posts
new member
Sep 6, 2016 - 11:08 AM in reply to Slowpoke

we certainly would like to avoid the bus if possible, thanks so much for the info, now to make plans thanks again

2554 posts
top member
Sep 6, 2016 - 1:35 PM in reply to pieshops

<<"we certainly would like to avoid the bus if possible, thanks so much for the info, now to make plans thanks again">>

You are welcome. Ask again if necessary.

For those buses, you can pay when you get on board. I have used them.

If you read and/or speak German, the bus will be less of a problem. I just recall what happens when something does not seem to work just right, and you have to ask in German. I speak enough and read enough to get by....but I have had a few moments of panic when I was rushing for a tight connection ( or the last connection) and missed being able to ask in English. Luckily, English is almost always spoken by the bus drivers in the high tourist regions....n contrast, out in the back country, it's a problem.

Good to know you can make the trip; hope you can make your choices to match your wishes.

Just remember that it gets dark early.


93 posts
active member
Sep 7, 2016 - 2:17 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Pieshops, If I were you, instead of rushing to Rigi, just explore Zurich. I tried to squeeze in Rigi but you would be disappointed not having spent anytime at the top of Mt Rigi, rather if you have plans in future again, save the Rigi's trip. Just take it easy and explore Zurich old town/boat ride combined with a stroll on Zurich's most popular Bahnhofstrasse shopping that way you don't have any tension of returning back on time to the airport. Just my two cents.


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