Rigi: Queen of the Mountains

Summer is definitely changing to autumn here in Zürich.  There is a crispness to the air in the morning, yet still a bright blue sky and people hanging out by the lake, trying to take in every last ray of sun.  With this beautiful fall weather on its way, it seems like a perfect time to go for a hike in the mountains.

Rigi Mountain, SwitzerlandRigi Mountain, Switzerland

I had heard about Rigi, “the Queen of the Mountains,” known for its breathtaking panoramic views over the Alps.  So Olivier and I set off, hiking boots on and picnic packed, of course.  Only what was supposed to be a beautiful day with moderately cool weather, turned out to be a real scorcher!  As we made our way past farms with grazing cows, fields of wild flowers, up and around winding dirt paths, jumping over mini streams and rocks, I slowly peeled off layer by layer of clothing.  We made it to the summit in record time, whizzing past those yellow signs with arrows to follow.  But that was probably because I was sprinting towards every patch of shade we saw!  We passed plenty of fellow hikers on the way up, of all ages, some with hiking poles but all with bottles of water.

Rigi Mountain, SwitzerlandRigi Mountain, Switzerland

We took a train from Zürich to Küssnacht am Rigi (about an hour long and CHF 40 roundtrip), then a short ride on a local bus to Weggis.  A cable car then took us up to a point where we could start the hike.  You’ll see the summit far, far off in the distance, and it’s fun to think that within just a few hours, you’ll be standing at that very spot. Even more, once you return back to the bottom at that same spot, be sure to turn around and say, “wow, we did all that?!” It can be a bit strenuous at times, pretty steep paths and rugged terrain, but also plenty of easier, flat trails to follow and catch your breath.  It’s a great day’s activity either from Zürich or from Lucerne, and you can go at any pace that works for you.  We reached the end of the hike after climbing a total of 800m in altitude (about half a mile) in under 2 hours, where you are rewarded with restaurants and children’s playgrounds, plenty of benches to sit and relax, have your picnic and take in the views.

Rigi Mountain, SwitzerlandRigi Mountain, Switzerland

But that’s not quite the summit yet…

Rigi Mountain, Switzerland

Keep going up towards the antenna, where the real views are.  The top of Rigi reaches 1798m (about 5900 feet) and divides the lakes of Lucerne and Zug.  You’ll look out at the mountains that seem to be floating mid-air and you’ll gaze in awe at the vivid blue water below.  There are numerous panels that indicate the names of the assorted mountains and lakes you’ll be looking out at.  You’ll see people paragliding, or coming in off the train… There are so many ways to take advantage of Rigi, and all year round too.  We may have to make another visit this winter, with all those extra layers and snow-shoes too!

Rigi Mountain, SwitzerlandRigi Mountain, Switzerland

And for sure another picnic!  Wondering what was in our backpack?  A fresh Paillasse Rustico baguette, my favorite from Steiner (they have a stand at Jelmoli and at the airport), cherry tomatoes, radishes with salted butter (using my technique of freezing it the night before we left), a few types of charcuterie, nectarines that ripened perfectly on our way up the mountain, strawberries and homemade chocolate chip cookies. That left room for a refreshing ice cream on our way back down before hitting the trails again.  The Restaurant Bahnhöfli is worth a visit, if not just to walk inside and see the crazy ceiling covered in what seems like 100 cow bells of varying sizes.  It’s quite a sight!   And then off you go, the downhill hike always more fun than uphill!

Rigi Mountain, Switzerland

19 Responses to “Rigi: Queen of the Mountains”

  1. Lani says:

    My eyes are wide open with your fantastic views! Amazing scenery! Is this real or what? The photographs look like they are make believe but I know in my heart that you really took this hike!! Thank you for sharing this day with us your readers! And love your choice of picnic snacks….

  2. Amanda says:

    Oh, Kerrin! This hike looks amazing. Fantastic photos, as usual. After seeing this, I hope the hiking in Liechtenstein won’t disappoint…

  3. BBE says:

    Those mountains look amazing 🙂 I would love to see them cleaning the cow bells in that restaurant, that must be the noisiest dusting ever.


  4. josephine says:

    that’s so funny that you were running toward the shade during your hike. that’s probably what i’d have done! sounds like an ideal picnic. i’d love to take that same hike someday.

  5. Amy @ The Q Family says:

    Wow! What a view!! The cable car is sure to be a big hit for my kids. Can’t wait to see the pictures when you re-visit in Winter. 🙂

  6. snacksgiving says:

    Just discovered your blog! Seeing this pictures of Rigi, I am reminded how long it’s been since I went to one of those mountains..maybe now is the time …

  7. VeggieGirl says:

    STUNNING, STUNNING, STUNNING!! You are making me miss Switzerland even MORE now 😀

    And that restaurant sounds particularly great!

  8. Kerrin says:

    Lani, I promise, I really took the hike. haha!

    Amanda, thanks! And no worries, we’re totally looking forward to that hike in Liechtenstein. It will NOT disappoint. Not we just need to plan it…

    BBE, I never thought about that – cleaning those cow bells. Um, I wonder if they do at all!! Now I am picturing ringing one of them, and finding myself under a massive pile of dust! Thanks for the fun image!!

    Josephine, oh totally running toward the shade, it was SO hot!! But up at the summit, good luck finding shade. Not a leaf’s worth anywhere to be seen!

    Amy, it’s a very child-friendly place, with so many areas for them to play around in, restaurants and lots of different trains too. And the cable car affords even more different beautiful views – for adults too! 😉

    snacksgiving, so glad you’ve discovered MyKugelhopf! Now is definitely the time to head to the mountains – why not ?!

    VeggieGirl, thank you thank you thank you!

  9. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    So you say there’s a train that comes in at the top then? So when I visit, I’ll meet you there! 😉 Just stunning scenery you have there. I could see how it could be such a splendid hike to take when you can gaze around at this beauty. It could even distract me! Funny you mentioned about the water bottles. I don’t even think about it any longer, but I ALWAYS have one in hand – especially summer. Even travelling between different office buildings at work I make sure I have something to drink (most people do). I think I would have to take one of those water backpacks with a sipper device on a hike!

  10. Andrea says:

    Grüezi Kerrin,

    To me that is REAL Schweiz….climbing a breathtaking mountain – and eating chocolate, seasonal fruit and bread on top….all while smelling the beauty of fresh grass and cow manure. 🙂

    We’re (my hubby and me) are planning on bringing a group of friends over yonder next September. I would love to take them on this hike or one similar. What do you recommend for a 1/2 day activity? I assume the climb up Rigi is a full out day — however, seems awfully worth it from the photos. Time is a constraint however, so any suggestions you may have would be helpful.

    Danke du,


  11. jkiel says:

    what fun! (except for the heat…)
    I’d love to do that with snowshoes, we want to see your pics when you return in the snow! Your picnic sounds wonderful (radishes with butter? hmmm) – do you take wine as well (knowing that wine and heat don’t always mix well)?
    Thanks for sharing your great day of hiking and scenery!

  12. Kitchen Butterfly says:

    Stunning landscapes.

  13. Eileen @ Passions to Pastry says:

    Beautiful photos of Switzerland. I’m rather stubborn when I go to Europe, only wanting to be in France, but I think it’s time I venture elsewhere.

  14. Kerrin says:

    Julia, I love it – a water backpack with a sipper device! What a nifty idea, just think all the fans you would have on your hike!! As a matter of fact, I used to always have a water bottle in my bag, wherever I went, despite how heavy it got (always had a food magazine and my camera in there too)! That was until I moved to Zurich, where there are 1,200 (accurate figure) drinking water fountains in the city. It’s awesome for my jogs, never far from a quick sip!

    Grüezi Andrea, how very Swiss German of you! 😉 I’m with you on the real Schweiz – even though, I could probably do without the smells of cow manure, haha! Meanwhile, how fabulous that you’ll be heading this way next year. What lucky friends you have!! If you’ll be based in Zürich, then yes, Rigi would be best for a full day, to be able to take your time and enjoy it. Half a day – I’d say Uetliberg. Also beautiful views, great hiking trails, closer than Rigi. Check out a past post I did on it to get a taste:

    jkiel, I LOVE snow-shoes !! So this winter you’re sure to see some of that action, either back at Rigi or on other trails around here. My favorite winter “sport” !! As for the picnic, if you have never had radishes with butter, it’s a must. Take a fresh, crispy radish, dip in sea salt and then put a generous dab of high quality butter on top – and let me know what you think!! As for picnics on hikes, no wine for us – otherwise, we probably wouldn’t make it to the top! 😉 But picnics along the lake, relaxing in the sun – you bet! Rose is our choice for summer picnics.

    Kitchen Butterfly, even more stunning in person!

    Eileen, thanks. I understand the French thing – you’re talking to someone absolutely in love with every region and city in France, and who happens to be married to a Frenchman too ! 🙂

  15. giao {kiss my spatula} says:

    so happy to have found your beautiful blog! love switzerland…especially sprungli! 🙂

  16. Brooke says:

    Just found your blog! I am absolutely, 100% jealous. Switzerland is my favorite 🙂

  17. Kerrin says:

    Giao and Brooke, thanks. I am so glad you both found my blog too ! I absolutely love Switzerland myself, and am thrilled that you do too !

  18. Emma says:


    I just moved from Minnesota to Maine. I’m slowly making my way back toward these gorgeous Swiss landscapes!

    Lovely photos. Imagine the views you could capture if you were to paraglide down the mountain…

  19. Shella Tanzilia says:

    Wow! Amazing! Oh, I fall in love with your picture, hope will go there someday

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