Because I wanted to ride a funicular (Switzerland with kids)


May 23, 2014 by Terumi

riding the cogwheel train and funicular in mount pilatus with kids was a switzerland treat

I think our travel formula has stayed the same since the hubby and I started traveling together back in college.  We always look for places based on the time we have, how much it’s going to cost (and what we can afford or want to pay) and some kind of weird or wonderful thing one of us heard about.  Now that we have kids we still try to look for travels based on the same criteria. Switzerland with kids on our Europe tour became a stop because we wanted to see the hubby’s cousin who had lived there for a long time AND we wanted to ride a funicular.

canal near the EMA hotel zurich with kids

We first heard about these when we were reading a Babar book (I think it’s in this one if you’re curious) a long time ago and I started to do a little research.  There is one near Sacre Couere in Paris and we rode that one, but we wanted to try a longer ride. And I’m not sure if a cogwheel railway is the same as a funicular (please feel free to let me know if you do) but they look the same to me.  And apparently the steepest cogwheel train is in Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland so I decided that when we went to Switzerland, we would definitely ride it.

We only had a few days in Switzerland so we stayed in Zurich at the EMA hotel, which was walkable to the railway station and some neat sites which made it pretty convenient.ema house breakfast was epic there was so much food and my kids loved it

The hotel also had an incredible breakfast that was delivered to our room daily!

tourists in zurich walking near a riverplaying soccer in zurich in a park was a great way to just hang out with kids

We hung out with the hubby’s cousin on one of the days and it was so nice to just unwind and let the guys run around and play soccer in the park near the canal and it felt like we could pretend we were living in Switzerland. Sometimes when we travel we’re so busy trying to take in all the sites we forget how wonderful it feels to just play.

eating fondue and raclette in switzerland with kids

We ate some raclette and fondue and we even found a Spaghetti Factory. (Totally not the same as our American Old Spaghetti Factory,but we definitely went there because it’s name made us giggle.)

spaghettie factory zurich is different than the one in the USA

To get to the railway in Mt Pilatus we found out that we would have to get to Lucerne which is about an hour drive away from Zurich and I wanted to do this relatively stress-free.  We decided that for all the variables involved in this trip, it was the easiest just to book a tour and we just did this at the tourism booth at the train station.  And now that we know we ARE IN LOVE WITH LUCERNE (because hindsight is 20/20) I think we could have even spent a couple days here instead of Zurich and rented a car to get around. But the boys are under 6 years old so they were free on the tour and it was so nice having someone else be responsible for the time tables and driving and we just sat back and relaxed.

lion monument in Switzerland is the saddest statue I've ever seen

The tour took us to see the lion monument in Lucerne and it was truly one of the saddest sculptures I’ve ever seen.

easter eggs in lucernce are festivemore lucerne

We also got to walk around the city for a bit and it was such a gorgeous place.  I may have taken a million swan pictures while we walked.

easter in lucerneopen-faced sandwiches and pastries in lucerne

more lucerneswans in lucernceswans in lucerncetulips in lucernelucerne on a sunny day
Then our bus picked us up again and took us a few minutes away to an egg-shaped tram that took us up the mountain.

mt pilatus trams and cherry blossoms with kidscowbells under our tram to see mt pilatus with kids

We loved that we could hear cowbells ringing when we passed over some pastures with animals grazing.  The boys saw some awesome playgrounds from this ride too and decided they wanted to come back WITHOUT a tour so they could spend some more time.

snow on mt pilatus from the tram

There was another tram ride after this one and then we arrived at Mount Pilatus.  It was absolutely spectacular and I want to come back and stay at the hotel here, the Hotel Pilatus-Kulm.

tunnel to hotel lobby at mount pilatus was a hit with our kidsmount pilatus hotel

I can’t imagine a cooler place to stay, especially since trams and railways are the only way to get here.

horn player in switzerland

on the top of mt pilatustram to mt pilatuseating snow

We ate at the restaurant and explored the mountain.  And then we saw the pilatus cogwheel railway

riding the cogwheel railway

It was definitely steep and I was a little terrified.

two cogwheel trains passing my kids were a little nervous

steep cogwheel track

Thankfully, this cogwheel train does not go very fast.  We loved that we could open the windows and we saw some alpine ibex as we headed down.

ibex on mount pilatus were just some of the animals you can see roaming around

So our trip to Mt. Pilatus and Lucerne was definitely successful and I’m really glad we figured out how to make it work with our itinerary.  It was so memorable and beautiful and it’s one of the places that the boys keep talking about now that we’re home.



  1. malaysianmeanders says:

    Hotel Pilatus-Kulm reminds me of one of the hotels in The Grand Budapest Hotel that was reached by funicular. Lucerne looks very charming and pretty. It’s no wonder you want to return. Hearing cowbells from the tram sounds special, too. I like how big that alpenhorn in your photo is. I think I’ve rode in a funicular in Montserrat (Spain), up to Pikes Peak (Colorado), and near where I live in Penang, but never in Switzerland.

  2. I’m in love with Lucerne now too. 🙂 Your photos of it are absolutely beautiful. This looks so fun and I’ve also always wanted to ride a funicular in Switzerland. Bonus for that alpine ibex (which I had to google). So glad you had a memorable trip there.

    • Terumi says:

      Thanks Mary! I had to google the ibex too;) I think you would love this place. There was even some kind of castle/structure overlooking the city too! We definitely needed more time to explore.

  3. tamarasw says:

    I rode on a funicular in Como, Italy. Such a cool experience!

Leave a Reply

Places we’ve been

Seattle with kids

About me: Terumi

Posts you might like:

What I write about:

Find me on Instagram


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Legoland Blogger 2016
%d bloggers like this: