Photography trip to Pilatus Mountain in Switzerland

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The Pilatus Mountain is deservedly one of the best-known viewpoints of Switzerland.

The view over Lake Lucerne, as the sun gently rose on the horizon and the first sunrays touched my home, the Bernese Alps in the south, was an incredible feeling. We were able to capture those emotions during our photography trips to Pilatus in June and July.


Bernese alps panorama

How to get there

Cableway- or cog railway

Mount Pilatus can be reached in different ways. The easiest yet nonetheless exciting option is taking the aerial cableway from Kriens. It is running all year long.

However, my favorite in summer is traveling by cog railway from Alpnachstad. One way is about 30 minutes and the perfect opportunity for a quick trip after work since it runs until late in the evening. Sitting in the historic railway, you might already see Ibexes playing on the steep slopes. Get your camera ready!

Cog Railroad pilatus schweiz
cog railroad pilatus switzerland
ibexes pilatus


If you do not have an all too tight schedule, take one of the many hiking paths to reach the top. The ascent is not really technical, but long. For the 1600 meters in altitude, plan about 5 hours if you want to take pictures on the way up. I always plan my trips with the Outdooractive App. Hikes can be planned, saved, and shared on your Desktop. Synchronized with your smartphone, the path can be tracked offline. You can also download my tour to your account.

Photography tips

Viewpoint "Esel"

You can already take nice pictures from the platform next to the Hotel. However, a quick stroll of 10 minutes takes you to one of the higher viewpoints and an even better overview of central Switzerland.
Sunsets are photographed the best from the viewpoint “Esel” to the southeast of Hotel Bellevue. I feel like this is the best view on Lake Lucerne. Additionally, the path up the hill makes a perfect compositional element for wide images. I chose a small aperture of F/18 so that I got a nice sunburst. The sun was rising fast and no time for a tripod. Luckily the stabilization of my G9 helped me with the handheld exposure of 1/8″.

If you brought a telelens – I always keep my small Lumix 45-175 mm in my bag – there is a nice opportunity for layer shots of the mountains. The rising sun fills the valleys with beautiful warm light.
A telelens is necessary on Pilatus, because there are many Ibexes up here. If you are lucky or patient enough, you might even photograph them standing on an exposed ridge with the city of Lucerne in the background.


Sunrise from Pilatus

Lumix G9 | Olympus 7-14 @7mm | ISO200 | F18 |1/8"

pilatus morning light layers mountains lucerne

Mountain Layers

ibex on pilatus sitzerland


Lumix G9 | Lumix 45-175mm @175mm | ISO800 | F5.6 | 1/400"

Viewpoint "Oberhaupt"

On the opposite side, there’s the other viewpoint “Oberhaupt”. A short walk takes you up again. Up here you will get epic panoramic shots of the hotel and City lights.

Good to know: the milky way is rising exactly behind the hotel early in summer – pretty cool. With a fast wide-angle lens, you’ll get unique astro-photographies. To compensate for the bright lights of the hotel, I shot multiple brackets and stacked them in Lightroom and Photoshop.

A quick guide on how to photograph the milky way can be found here.


Milky way over Pilatus

Lumix G9 | Olympus 7-14mm | ISO1600 | F2.8 | 8",15",30" HDR


Watching Lucerne

Lumix G9 | Leica 12-60 @28mm | ISO400 | F3.6 | 3.2"


We stayed the night in Hotel Bellevue, this gave us the opportunity to shoot sunset and sunrise. We brought our heavy backpacks to our rooms and met up for the included dinner in the restaurant. A welcome change, since on our photo trips we usually sleep somewhere on the ground. Dinner was incredible and so was the staff. We would love to come back someday ;).

Those two trips to Pilatus were really successful and exciting. We returned with nice pictures and experiences back home.

For more details on the different offers on Pilatus, check out


Pilatus sunrise

Personal photography-workshops

Would you like to take pictures like this? Join me in a personal photography workshop. Be it on Pilatus or somewhere else in beautiful Switzerland. I will put together an offer that absolutely fits your learning goals.

contact me


Paedii is a Swiss-based outdoor photographer. He focuses on vast landscapes and constantly improves his own photographic style.

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