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Mount Rigi in Winter: How to Soak in the Sun

With the high fog of winter slowly blanketing the Helvetic cities and lakes, an astonishingly beautiful autumn has come to an end.

Shorter days and the thick grey isolation drive many to the beaches of Thailand or the hamams of Istanbul. Alas, my small pocketbook and busy work schedule had me look for an easier escape from the winter doldrums. I discovered winter sun and fun on Mount Rigi.


A short train ride from Zürich

We purchased our train tickets for Rigi online, so we can simply hop on the train to Arth Goldau. From behind the train window, Lake Zurich looks rather dull under the grey sky. A far cry from its glistening beauty just a few short months ago...

After less than an hour, we transfer to the cogwheel train in Arth Goldau. Above the winter clouds, we enter an island drenched in sun and surrounded by seas of vaporous water. My girlfriend and I can see the neighboring mountain tops of Pilatus and Titlis protruding out through a sea of fog.

Mt. Rigi Cog Rail

High above the damp cold of the cities, we are enjoying a small part of the 35 kilometers of prepared winter hiking trails. Bundled up with winter boots, snow pants, ski jackets and knitted hats, the rays of the sun make the temperature feel warmer than what it felt like back in Zürich.

From the paths, the majestic panoramas take our breath away and we now understand why Mount Rigi has earned the epithet "Queen of the Mountains"...


Cool Runnings on Mount Rigi

For families or those who want a bit of youthful fun, Mount Rigi offers 10 kilometers of sledging trails of varying difficulties.

Mount Rigi - Sledding(Picture copyright Rigi Bahnen AG)

Toboggans can be rented on top at Rigi Kulm and returned at the bottom. Kids or those still learning how to control a sledge, try the run from Staffelhöhe back down to Rigi Kaltbad. It is shorter, wider and more gentle than others. In other words: Perfect for practicing!

Christian Langenegger

If you are feeling more adventurous, try the run from Staffel to Klösterli. A few sharp curves and some great speed make this run more technical. The granddaddy of all runs is from Rigi Kulm to Klösterli. For this, you need time and skills, but the views and the sheer exhilaration are worth every moment.

Church on Mt. Rigi, Switzerland

If sledging is not your thing, maybe one of the three snowshoe trails will tickle your fancy. Snowshoeing has become Switzerland’s fastest growing winter sport thanks to its relatively low cost and risk.

As relaxing an activity as it is, snowshoeing is a work out! Equipment can be rented at Rigi Kulm or Rigi Kaltbad.

Mount Rigi - Snowshoe Hiking(Picture copyright Rigi Bahnen AG)

Soaking in the sun at Rigi Kulm

After a half day of hiking and sledging, we are tired. We return our sledges to Rigi Kulm, where we enjoy some traditional macaroni for lunch (Älplermagronen). To make it even better, thanks to the RailAway ticket, we receive 10 percent off our meal.

Before venturing on, we enjoy a cup of coffee on the sunny terrace. With its lounge chairs, this is the mountain equivalent to relaxing on the beach with a margarita in hand... Enjoying the sun on Mount Rigi is easy: All 15 restaurants feature terraces to take in the golden rays.

The main foyer at the new Rigi Kaltbad station has reclaimed paintings that used to be part of the Hotel Bellevue. The walls feature images of the railway’s inceptor, Niklaus Riggenbach, the original steam engine, and a topographic map of Mount Rigi.

Rigi Kaltbad

Fun fact: The "Rigi Bahn" is the world's second oldest cogwheel train system, and the oldest in Europe. Rigi clearly combines modernity and tradition in one place.


Rigi Kaltbad is a spa with view

Our goal for the afternoon is to visit the thermal baths at Rigi Kaltbad. These beautiful granite baths designed by the famous Swiss architect Mario Botta feature clean lines and a delicate interplay of natural materials that are hallmarks of Swiss architecture.

Mineralbad Rigi Kaltbad(Picture copyright Rigi Kaltbad)

The pool stretches from indoors to outdoors. We soak in the warm, mineral rich waters while looking at the surrounding peaks. It is the perfect place to relax. The scented steam baths with local alpine herbs are not to be missed, either.

Mineralbad Rigi Kaltbad(Picture copyright Rigi Kaltbad)

Plan ahead of time and get a 20 percent discount on your train travel and admission to the Kaltbad spa. We could have spent the entire day in the baths without getting tired of it, but the sunset in Vitznau by the lake was to be the grand finale to our perfect winter getaway on Mount Rigi.


More Information

- RailAway combined offer Mount Rigi
- Timetable to Rigi Kulm
- Mineralbad & Spa Rigi Kaltbad

Mount Rigi - Train(Picture copyright Rigi Bahnen AG. This article was made possible thanks to the courtesy of RailAway AG.)


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