A Cliff Walk to Europe’s Highest Outdoor Lift
There is no doubt that Lucerne and its neighboring Cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden and not to forget Obwalden are stunning, breathtaking and gorgeous. I had to add all three expressions as this is what we felt during our visit.
We came for a 2-night stay in the city and had to choose carefully amongst all the attractions offered around Lake Lucerne or it’s original Swiss German name, the Vier-wald-stätter-see.
We fancied a combination of breezy lake air, a bit of altitude gain, a chic environment and why not to squeeze in a gentle hike. Something was missing…. Ah yes, we also wanted to visit Europe’s highest outdoor lift.
That narrowed it all down to the Hammetschwand Lift up at the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne.
Why does the Hammetschwand Lift exist?
A bit of history because we love it;
The owner of the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, Franz Joseph Bucher – Durrer only wanted the best for his guests. Guests often remarked that there was no shady path to walk on and were disappointed at not being able to visit the top of the Bürgenstock Mountain in comfort.
Bucher – Durrer did not wait long. In 1900 work began to build the long-desired path on the north side of the Bürgenstock mountain. A rocky and exciting path with tunnels and phenomenal views took shape. (This path has since been modernised and makes an easy hike for the whole family.)
To bring his beloved hotel guests to the top of the mountain in comfort, he used lift technology, which in those days was a very modern invention. It was important for him to stand out from the crowds and offer something his clients could only find at the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne. 5 years later, in 1905 the 165m Hammetschwand Lift and the path were finished. It took a staggering 3 minutes to reach the top.
The path and the Hammetschand Lift became a well known attraction and it was no surprise that it attracted prominent figures from around the world.
So when you go up there, feel special, as this was all that the former owner Franz Joseph Bucher – Durrer ever wanted his guests to be.
Where is the Hammetschwand Lift?
Situated high up in the rocky mountain walls of Mt Bürgenstock overlooking Lake Lucerne. The Hammetschwand lift is still in the Canton of Lucerne however the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne and the Hammetschwand restaurant on the top is on Nidwalden’s soil.
Once at the top of the Hammetschwand Lift, you will be standing at an altitude of 1,132 meters.
How to get to the Hammetschwand Lift?
The easiest and most enjoyable way is to combine, ship, railway and a gentle hike. Start your family adventure from Lucerne main harbour quay.
Buy a combined ticket at the ticket office from where the different boat adventures are departing. The fastest crossing on the lake is with the brand new Bürgenstock Resort Catamaran which goes direct. Here is where our chic part of our adventure is fulfilled. The catamaran is quiet and feels very smooth when it is gliding over the water. A nice and enjoyable trip of about 20 min.
When you arrive at the other side, Kehrsiten, a nice little hamlet greets you. There is unfortunately not much time to explore it as the funicular train which will bring you up to the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne is already waiting.
Hop on and enjoy an exciting ride up to the Resort with breathtaking views. If you are lucky and you can manage to sit in the first (lowest) cabin then check out how steep the route is.
The chic part is continuing. The resort has kept its very high standards and with the 4 different hotels on offer there is a luxury feel to all of it.
By all means, check out their hotels and maybe even a night at the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne for a treat. The Spa looks amazing!
The hike along the famous Felsenweg path to the lift
As you walk out of the souvenir shop which is located at the exit of the Funicular train, you will get a feel of the luxury the Bürgenstock Resort is all about. Don't be shy and explore the Panorama Terrace before you start the hike.
You will see at the end of the large open space a big path indicator signpost. Follow the sign marked Hammetschwand Lift.
You will soon be on the actual path and have the lake and the most amazing view over the lake, mountains, villages, woods and meadows on your left.
Benches along the walkway give you time to rest if needed, or just simply to take in the beauty that is presented in front of you.
There is a short cut along the way up some stairs which cuts down about 10min of your 30-40min walk to the Hammetschwand lift.
If you are asking yourselves on the way what are all the surrounding mountains, lake and villages are called, then check out the viewing platform with information boards just before the entry to the lift.
The good thing is for all families with smaller children and people that need walking aids, the path is push-chair friendly and most probably also wheelchair friendly. But check again with the reception of the resort to be a 100% sure.
You are now about to enter the highest outdoor lift in Europe. Enjoy the ride, it is short but the view and the experience is second to none.
What to do when on the top of the Hammetschwand lift
You do not need any activity offered once you on the top. Simply exit the lift and enjoy from the glorious vantage point, an unbelievable view. You’ll be looking out over Lake Lucerne and see the mountain peaks of Mount Titlis to your left and Mount Rigi which is located right opposite the lift platform. On the clearest days the Berneese alps and Lake Zug may even be seen in the background.
Make sure your camera chip has plenty of storage available as believe me you will be snapping away one or two photos.
Have lunch at the self-service restaurant serving simple swiss cuisine or make use of their firepit station and grill your own sausage.
Alternative hikes back to the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne
There is the possibility to hike different loops back to the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne if you do not want to take the same way back.
From the top of the Hammetschwand lift, follow a narrow alpine path signposted “Bürgenstock 35 min” along, which will bring you back to the resort. It is the dark green route on the map.
A further option is to head down with the lift and carry on, on the Felsenweg. This is a 5,3 km loop from start to end. Again, on the Felsenweg you will encounter the mentioned tunnels, which will bring you on to the back side of the Bürgenstock mountain. Keep heading direction Honegg and the Bürgenstock Resort. By the way you are now in Canton Nidwalden. Careful it is no longer push chair friendly.
Arriving by Car to the Resort
Alternatively, if you do not want to get the full experience of the catamaran ride and the funicular train ride up the mountain, then you can drive up to the Bürgenstock Resort direct from the motorway exit Stansstad and follow the signs «Bürgenstock» There is parking on the outskirts of the resort but it is quite expensive.
Free parking: Drive to parking Honegg and start your 5,3km hike here. 46°59’38.1″N 8°23’59.5″E
The Hammetschwand Lift opens for the summer season normally around the end of April through to October from 9.30 am – 6.00 pm
In winter and bad weather with rainy, windy or icy conditions, the Hammetschwand Lift is closed. Hammetschwand Lift prices.
Boat and Funicular time table.
Whichever way you decide to arrive and hike, it will be an amazing day with some breathtaking views.
Our suggestion get the full experience and arrive via Lucerne.
You may also like the following easy family hikes in Switzerland with kids
- Family walk in Crans Montana – Bisse des Miriouges
- Activities for Families In Nendaz – Tracouet Station Lac Noir
- A Family Hike at La Grande Dixence Dam
- Easy Hike around Lake Sanetsch
- Tseuzier Lake – Best family friendly hike with little kids
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