Rigi, exciting view on Lake Lucerne and the Alps
How did this name evolve? The humanist Albrecht von Bonstetten wrote a description of the Swiss confederation in 1479. He named the mountain Regina montium or “Queen of mountains”. However, this claim is greatly disputed and most likely the name was derived from a local name for the grass and rock bands that form the mountain. The whole massif is almost entirely surrounded by the water of three different bodies of water: Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug and Lake Lauerz. In 1816 a hotel was built near the Rigi summit. Later on it was replaced by a huge 300 bedroom Grand Hotel. When you reach the summit you can enjoy the fantastic panorama as many famous visiters have done so before you as well.
Mark Twain also visited Rigi during his tour of Central Europe in the late 1870s. He wrote about his travels in chapter 28 of his “A Tramp Abroad.” He famously missed the sunrise a couple of times because he looked at the wrong side…
Several engineers proposed projects to build a railway to the summit already in 1859. Hence, one engineer came up with an idea to build a kind of railway powered by balloons! Finally, three Swiss engineers, Niklaus Riggenbach, Ferdinand Adolf Naeff und Olivier Zschokke designed and built the Vitznau Rigi cog railway. It was Europe’s first mountain railway. And on May 21, 1871, the first train departed on its inaugural ascent from Vitznau to Rigi Staffelhoehe – a milestone in the history of Mt. Rigi. On June 27, 1873 the railway was extended to Rigi Kulm (1,752 m).
Soon after completion of the Vitznau Rigi cog railway (VRB), another cog railway, the Arth Rigi cog railway (ARB) was built connecting the station of Arth-Goldau to the summit. Both railways were once strictly separated and competitors. The only connection was a transfer table in front of the joint depot building on Rigi Kulm. It was not until 1990 that a connecting track was built between the ARB and the VRB in Rigi Staffel.
The narrow-gauge Rigi–Scheidegg railway (Rigi-Kaltbad-Scheidegg-Bahn, RSB) to Rigi Scheidegg, which was completed in 1875, began in Kaltbad. This railway was closed in 1931 and finally abandoned in 1942. The Weggis–Rigi Kaltbad cable car (Luftseilbahn Weggis–Rigi Kaltbad, LWRK) from Weggis, also operated by the Rigi Railways, has ended in Kaltbad since 1968.
The reccomendation we give you is to make a round trip by boat, cog railway and train. You will then experience three totally different modes of transport. Also you will get to see both sides of the mountain. However depending your itinerary, and available time, you could also plan a short hike. When you travel in winter, you should not hesitate to plan a trip to the Rigi. You can rent a sledge and try to sled down, a thrilling experience!
You have a large choice of restaurants, from simple to luxury. When you decide to go on the round trip you can also visit the restaurant on the boat.
You can hike on a scenic hiking trail which follows the abandoned railway track of the Rigi-Kaltbad-Scheidegg-Bahn. You will have panoramic views on both sides of the mountain. At Scheidegg you can board a small cable car that brings you down to the railway station and continue to Arth-Goldau.
Included is some time at the restaurant for drinks or a meal. Add an extra 2 hours for the panoramic hike described above.
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