Mount Stanserhorn is only a short distance from Lucerne, yet it might as well be invisible to most tourists. However, riding on the “roof” of a cable-car going up and coming down Stanserhorn is guaranteed to open your eyes and grab your full attention!
Switzerland is a great place to visit, as it should be – the Swiss more-or-less invented tourism as we know it today. This year Chris and I made our second visit to Lucerne, where we discovered one of the most unexpected adventures of our Swiss vacation. Young or old, you just have to ride on the Stanserhornbahn, a cable-car that features an open deck on the “roof” of the actual cable-car! Never heard of such a thing? Neither had we, but it was only introduced in 2012.
Our adventure began at the Lucerne train station, where we boarded the Luzern-Stans-Engelberg Express train. Only a few minutes later, we hopped off in the picturesque town of Stans and walked for five or ten minutes before coming to the beautiful little station of the Stanserhornbahn.
The journey up Stanserhorn occurs in two steps. First, we rode in a wonderful “vintage” funicular, dating back to 1893. A funicular is a small passenger car that rides on a track but does not have an engine. The funicular is pulled along by a cable between the rails of the track. The funicular ride only lasted a few minutes, taking us up the hillside to the base of the real mountain, at the Kälti station of the cable-car route.
In some ways, the CabriO cable-car resembles the front of a British double-decker bus, the kind with an open top. You could ride in the lower section, fully protected from bad weather, or climb up the spiral staircase to the roof deck! We arrived early in the morning when the weather was still nice, so we went upstairs to enjoy the view and take photographs. Luckily, there were only a few other tourists so it was easy to move around on top of the CabriO without getting in anybody’s way.
We arrived at the summit station and were pleased to find a very large restaurant with an indoor, revolving dining area; an outdoor dining or picnic area; a viewing platform with a fantastic view; and free washrooms. We were not so pleased to see the clouds creeping in, so we hiked around a bit to get some photos while we could. In fact, our best photos were taken as the clouds rolled through the valleys below us!
If you have children with you, they will soon discover the marmot enclosure with its marmot family! This is located only a short distance up the trail to the summit of Stanserhorn.
Clouds had engulfed the peaks by the time we left, so we rode in the lower section of the CabriO. As we reached the Kälti station, the clouds gave way and after riding the funicular down into Stans we spent a few pleasant hours exploring this charming, unspoiled Swiss village.
Lucerne is a wonderful place to visit, but there may be too many alpine attractions in the area vying for your attention. Mount Pilatus, Mount Titlis, and Mount Rigi are all popular places to visit, but the Stanserhornbahn CabriO cable-car transforms Mount Stanserhorn from a routine mountain trip into a unique, exhilarating, child-friendly adventure that you and your family should place at the top of your “must see” list!