Vitznau lies in an idyllic bay of Lake Lucerne at the foot of the Rigi. This holiday resort in central Switzerland is a popular starting point for numerous excursions around the lake, primarily and naturally, up the famous regional mountain.
Only just a half-hour’s journey onboard the Vitznau-Rigi railway separates the village on the lakeshore at 435 metres from the Kulm of the Rigi viewing and climbing mountain at 1798 metres. It is difficult to imagine how arduous the pathway up the «Queen of mountains» must have once been; more affluent guests could afford to have themselves carried up in a sedan chair. When the world’s first rack and pinion railway was opened in 1871, Vitznau became an important interim destination for travellers, who, on arrival by steamship from Lucerne, transferred to the rack railway.
A breathtaking panoramic view across the Alps, of 13 lakes and over the entire Swiss Mittelland through to Germany and France can be enjoyed from the summit of the Rigi. A network of walking trails of over a hundred kilometres extends down along the flanks of the mountain. The Rigi is also well known for its rich Alpine flora of around 1000 species. A cableway leads from Vitznau to Hinterbergen, where guests can enjoy the views from the sun terrace of the restaurant. A further small cableway transports visitors from Vitznau to the Wissifluh mountain restaurant, a starting point for many walks and treks.
The Vitznau Artillery Fortress was operated as part of the famous Gotthard Fortress in the Rigi rock during the 2nd World War. Its existence was kept highly secret for decades. Since its decommissioning in 1998, visitors have had the opportunity to discover caverns, munitions halls, galleries, casemates and armaments in the accompaniment of a knowledgeable guide – and even spend a night in Switzerland’s first fortress hotel.