Mount Titlis, Switzerland


We’re taking you up to Mount Titlis, one of
the most scenic destinations in Switzerland, high in the Alps. It’s an easy day-trip from Lucerne so we’re
leaving our Hotel des Balances in the heart of Lucerne where we’ve been staying. We leave after breakfast and we will be back
to town by 2:30 in the afternoon. Easy walk alongside the river, in a few minutes
we arrive at the train station in Lucerne, a very nice modern and functional building,
of course. It’s easy to enter the station through the
lower level, down by escalators and walk through their little shopping mall, a variety of sundries
and foods available here. Back up the escalators, you’ll see the signboard
with the train schedules and departure platforms, and you keep going up. Now the ticket office is one flight up from
ground level. Here you can purchase your train ticket as
well as the ticket for the cable car that you’ll need at the end of the train line to
bring you up to Mount Titlis and then back down again. Well, this morning we’re heading up to Mount
Titlis from Lucerne, and the best way to get there is simply take the train. It’s a lovely train ride from Lucerne to Engelberg,
about one hour, very scenic and then you change from the train to a cable car at Engelberg,
and you ride up Mount Titlis, about 10,000 feet high, so you want to be prepared for
some cold weather. It will be freezing most likely because there’s
a glacier and so we are guaranteed have snow on the ground. And we’re hoping for clear weather because
there’s a very nice view when you get up to Titlis if the weather is clear, which is generally
the case. Sometimes it’s partly cloudy, and you wait
5-10 minutes for the clouds to part and you’ll almost always have a very nice view looking
into the central Alps the Bernese Oberland. On a good day, you can see all the way to
the Jungfrau, which is in the middle of the Swiss Alps. So it’s a lovely ride. Altogether it takes about two hours from Lucerne
to the top of Titlis. And then spend about one hour up there and
then two more hours coming back down to Lucerne. So we’re planning to catch the 8:41 train
and then 5 hours later we are back in town, roughly we should be back here about 2:30,
and that gives you enough time, one hour at the top you’ll find is sufficient, and we
will show you more when we get up there. If you have the Swiss Travel Pass there is
no charge for the train ride and you get a discount on the cable car. There is one departure every hour to Engelberg
and of course they famously run on schedule. Well folks, let me just tell you little bit
about this ride. It’s one hour to Engelberg, which is the end
of the train line. It’ll make a few stops along the way, but
we don’t get out. We don’t change trains. Here we go. And it’s very scenic, as you’ll soon find
out. The first 15 minutes we’re going through the
suburbs of Lucerne, and then we’re into the countryside. You are going to see some cows in the pasture. Also, you’ll see the green fields, the grass
and clover, that’s the silage, there are growing crops for the animal feed and they harvest
it and roll it up in white drums and store it for the winter, and they are able to get
maybe three crops out of one plot of land during the season. And they fertilize it. We might be lucky enough to witness the fertilizing
operation. And then at Engelberg we get out of this train. And then we continue on. We walk over to the cable car. It’s about 1/2 mile walk to the cable car
and then we trade these train tickets in for cable car tickets. We go to the window and it’s an even trade
and then we go up. So from here to the top of the mountain, it’s
two hours, 11 o’clock, we will be up there. The outskirts of Lucerne have been steadily
growing in recent years with more housing, but it’s still a small city, population under
one hundred thousand, quarter-million in the broader metropolitan area. Garden plots for flowers and vegetables by
the apartments. One of many great things about traveling by
train is it’s very easy to strike up conversations and you’ll run into all sorts of international
travelers. While the train is quite comfortable, it’s
narrow-gauge, different than the intercity trains or international trains, and there’s
a nice view of Lake Lucerne, briefly, a couple of times as you are riding along. Actual travel time between Lucerne and Engelberg
is usually just 43 minutes. The train does stop 3 or maybe 4 times along
the way, pick up a few people, or drop them off. There are various hiking trails along the
way, and some activity centers. One of the famous recreation centers is Wirzweli,
very popular with the little kids. You see groups here getting off, and there
is a van that will shuttle them up to their mountain plateau. It’s about 1600 meters above sea level and
there’s a lot of activities for young and old up there. Nature, relaxation, real good times year-round. Alternatively, you could drive from Lucerne
to Engelberg if you have a rental car. There is parking available in Engelberg. Or you could come up by tour bus. There’s package tours that you can purchase
ahead of time, or in Lucerne, but we always find that the nicest way to get there is by
train to Engelberg at the end of the train line, and then transferring up to the cable
car to the mountaintop. Unusual to see a parade of cows along the
main roadway there, and you’ll see other farming activities. There’s going to be tractors, they’ll be out
cutting the grass, they’ll be fertilizing, they’ll be stacking up their woods, and other
kinds of farming activities along the way. Stay alert looking out the windows and you’ll
have lots of photo opportunities. You’ll notice most homes are built in that
traditional chalet style with the wooden architecture and a steep roof to keep the snow off. The larger buildings are usually multifamily. You’ll have a second look at the same scenery
on your way back after visiting Titlis because it’s the same train track round-trip ride. However, you might be a little tired after
the Titlis excitement. So it’s best to pay full attention on the
way there, especially if you have good weather. It might get cloudy or even rainy on the way
back. I’ve done this excursion about 25 times and
never get bored of it, it is always so beautiful. Really, getting to Titlis is half of the pleasure
of the day. You’ll find that once you’re up on the mountaintop,
that’s also a lot of fun, running around in the snow. But this train ride is one of the more scenic
rides in Switzerland and that’s really saying quite a lot. So don’t look at the train ride as just simply
a necessary burden of getting to Titlis. Not at all. You want to take full advantage of that beautiful
scenery out the windows, both sides of the train, left and right as you go. Neither side is better, they’re both good. Look for the little round church with its
onion-dome steeple and mountain backdrop. Slide the train windows down for your best
photographs and view. That way you don’t get any reflection of the
window glass in your picture and also you get a more unobstructed view. You can even stick your head out the window
a little bit to look forwards or backwards. If it’s too cold, then you’ve got to keep
them up for courtesy to other passengers but usually between spring and fall, it’s fine,
pull them down. If you paid the higher price for the first-class
seating you might find the windows don’t go down. It’s an air-conditioned car. Whereas in second-class it’s even better because
the windows usually do slide down, giving you better access to that good shot, and you’ll
save some money. Second-class train in Switzerland is almost
as good as the first class and sometimes you’ll get a better view. As the train gets closer to Engelberg the
mountains get higher and you’ll see quite a bit of snow up top. The seating arrangement on this train is nicely
set up so that you can have conversations and make some new friends along the way. The Swiss contented cows enjoy their outdoor
pastures throughout most of the year and that’s one of the reasons they produce such great
cheese and milk chocolate. There is one very tall waterfall along the
way, and you’ll notice there is the river that flows along the train tracks. That did cause a problem some years ago. There was a big flood and it washed out some
of the tracks. As a result, the Swiss rebuilt the train tracks
and created a much smoother and faster ride. Another example of a dramatic vista you can
get if you’ll just stick your head out the window and look forward. Just don’t lean out too far. Several covered wooden bridges offer scenic
highlights to look for. There is a footpath that continues along most
of this routing. You could walk along the stream and there
are some side trails. There’s actually some other cable cars that
will take you up the side mountains, so that’s another option. If you’ve got all day, you could walk it,
with constant views of the river. You’ll notice I have been showing you all
a lot of this train ride, but we’re almost there. We will be arriving in Engelberg in just a
moment and then taking our cable car rides to the top of Mount Titlis to frolic in the
snow. It’s worth sharing the details of this scenic
train ride with you because it really is spectacular as you been seeing. And the best scenery is in the final moment
rounding the bend coming into Engelberg town. Ironically, after watching an hour of scenery
go by, you might be a little jaded and miss the grand finale. Then we level off and get to Engelberg, end
of the line. Everybody out and walk a few hundred yards
from the train station with the majestic peaks towering all around us, over to the cable
car. The Engelberg train station is at the end
of the line so there’s no great rush to get off, the train is going to be parked here
for quite a while, so everybody leisurely gets off and walks along this platform. It’s a small station. We’re out here in a country town. Engelberg is a place we’re going to show you
a little bit more of after we go up to see Mount Titlis. It’s a ski resort in the wintertime and it’s
a year-round destination because of Titlis. There’s a post office in the station, if you
happen to have some things to be mailed out. This is typical of the Swiss postal services. They sell packing boxes right here in the
station. Very handy for the traveler. You could take a free shuttle bus from the
train station over to the cable car which would save a little time, because the distance
is 800 meters or about 1/2 a mile. It’s an easy walk. Either way, it’s a lovely walk as we will
show you. But take a look in front of the train station
and see if the buses there. You might as well hop on. You’ll find that Engelberg has some pretty
little gardens, nice houses and spectacular mountain vistas. After sitting on a train for an hour, it’s
good to walk, get out and stretch your legs, get some cool fresh mountain air, and walk
over to the cable car if you like. The walk is especially pleasant along the
stream, and it just takes about 10 minutes to walk over to the cable car. You can see the cable cars going up the hill
from the road, and then you had right on into the Titlis Rotair cable car lobby. It’s a relatively new facility they’ve created
with bigger cable cars that easily hold 6 people, escalators getting you there, and
a nice smooth direct ride, changing cable cars only once. Because I’ve been here so many times, maybe
25 times in the last 30 years, and photographed nearly each visit, I have a lot of different
kinds of moods and years of pictures to show you, from warm green hills ranging over to
snow-covered fields. For example if you’re visiting in the month
of May, which we often do, you can never tell, the ground might be covered with snow. Or you might have only snow at the top with
the glacier. You’ll find out when you get there. But one way or the other, you’ll nearly always
have wonderful views. You’ll be reaching a intermediary landing
stage of the cable car and at that point you’ll see they’ve got some scooters available. Now we are going to take you on a scooter
ride on the way back down the mountain after we get up to the top and frolic around in
the snow. Then we change cable cars to the bigger one. We all get here and stand. It can hold as many as 80 people. This is a rotating gondola. We will be rising in elevation from 3500 feet
in Engelberg all the way up to 10,000 feet at the top of the mountain. It’s a very clear sky, which is a great sign
that we’re going to have excellent visibility as we look deep into the heart of the Alps
when we get to the top. Sometimes you’ll have skiers on board because
there’s always snow at the very top and the ski season is quite long here. With this round shape of the cable car, it
seems like everybody can get a good view and get a piece of that window looking out. Dear guests, welcome toTitlis Rotair, the
world’s first gondola with a revolving floor. We will reach the top of MountTitlis in about
four minutes time. Temperature on top of the moment, 2°C plus. I wish you all a nice and exciting day. Have fun. Thank you for coming. And then as we get to the top, it’s that spectacular
payoff that we’ve come to see, mountains covered with snow. It’s real easy to just follow the crowd. You get off the cable car and into the pavilion,
and take an elevator up a few flights to the viewing platform. That should be your first stop, to go on outside
to the open air terrace, and from there you’ll get some of the best, views of all into the
mountains. We will be showing you many different views
and angles during the program ph, otographed at different times of year in different viewing
conditions. We’re here at the top of Mount Titlis. And it’s a spectacular clear day today. You can see right into the heart of the Swiss
Alps. It is called the Bernese Oberland in this
section and is very much the center of the country. They call it a massif, and the mountains we’re
looking at are mostly 12,000 feet high, even 13,000 feet high. A couple of the famous ones are the Jungfrau
and the Munch and the Eiger. Now when you’re at the top of Titlis it really
only takes one hour to see the sights. You can look at the different viewpoints,
especially in this direction. This is the main viewpoint looking into the
main mountain range of the Alps, and there’s other vistas and perspectives all around you. And then you can have a hot chocolate, maybe
some apple strudel. And then there’s also this terrace right over
here where you can sit, you can have a coffee, you can have snacks over there and that’s
really pleasant. So there’s a facility with four levels. It’s got a restaurant, cafeteria, shops, and
they make it very comfortable, they’ve civilized all of the mountaintops here in Switzerland
and made it really a pleasurable experience for you. And then of course walking on the glacier
is another part of the fun here when you’re up at Titlis. Not too cold, sunny, and snow all over the
place. It feels like about 38°, 39° and very comfortable. It’s the glaciers so the ground is freezing,
there’s snow on the ground. You don’t even need a heavy jacket. The idea is you bring about 3 or 4 different
layers of clothing. So it’s just so comfortable and pleasant. Or maybe you’ll run into some snow. [yodelling, oohoo, oohoo]
This scene was photographed during an April tour. It was snowing. That’s a little bit unusual for mid-April,
but what a bonus for us. This was really a lot of fun
The video is a combination of several different visits to the top of the mountain at several
times of year, May and summer, and in September. Just love it, love it. [laughter]
These magical sites put everybody in a good mood so it’s like a party up here. [laughter]
It’s summertime but there’s always snow on the top of Mount Titlis because it’s a glacier. You can walk right onto the glacier from the
panorama terrace and frolic in the snow. It’s cold enough that the snow never melts
but in the summer with typical sunshine you’re going to feel comfortable with just a light
jacket. Because Mount Titlis is the highest peak in
the area there is a huge telecommunications tower up on top of it. One of the most exciting attractions is called
the Titlis Cliff Walk. It’s a pedestrian suspension bridge that gives
you these dramatic views looking all around, and even straight down 500 meters beneath
your feet. [laughter]
It’s claimed to be the highest suspension bridge in Europe and there is no extra charge
for walking on it, so by all means take advantage. It opened up at the end of 2012. It took them 5 months to build it and it has
become a really popular attraction, sometimes called the world’s scariest bridge. It’s really a little spooky for people who
are afraid of heights It’s this open, metallic, very sturdy walkway and you are just suspended
between the peaks. This bridge is so popular that the concept
has really caught on and expanded throughout Switzerland. Now you find quite a few of the mountain peaks
that have an attached bridge or outside metal walkway to give you some added thrills. It’s opened up some previously inaccessible
vistas with a relatively minimal effort. You’ll get views from the sky bridge that
are slightly different from the main viewing platform. You could take this staircase down inside
the glacier, walking through the ice tunnel, and we’ll bring you there shortly in the program
but on the other hand, you could just turn around and walk back along the sky bridge
and back out onto the snowfields for some more fun on the glacier, and walk around a
little bit more, maybe even barefoot. Walk, don’t stand. Just keep walking. [laughter]
You can also ski up here. Even in the summertime they have a summer
ski school, and in particular in the wintertime there’s many ski runs all around the mountain
village of Engelberg. You can slide down the snowy slope on your
butt if you like. Some people grab a piece of plastic or cardboard
and there’s an inner tube ride that you can get to if you ride down on the Ice Flyer chairlift
to the lower sledding area. If you feel adventurous you can ride the inner
tubes. And you shoot down the hill pretty fast. It’s really, anybody can do it. [laughter]
With all the different activities and vistas you can enjoy up here, maybe the best part
is just walking around on the snow and then going underneath it. We are standing on a glacier. A glacier is a river of ice, it’s compacted
snow and that’s what we’ve got here. There is ice underneath us. You’ll see the ice tunnel goes through the
ice. It’s an ice tunnel that they’ve carved right
into the foundation of the glacier itself and there is lighting inside, they have some
ice sculptures inside, and, there’s secure footing on a good rubber mat walkway, and
it’s a lot of fun. You walk in the tunnel and it goes around
in a small loop circle, just takes a few minutes, but be sure to look for the ice grotto while
you’re up top at that complex of cafeterias, cafes and gift shops up on the mountaintop. Surprisingly, the temperatures are comfortable
anytime between April and September. Well it’s going to be freezing, just barely. And you really don’t feel the cold. In typical Swiss fashion they have civilized
this mountain peak and provided creature comforts while bringing you right into this wild natural
environment. The Titlis viewing platform at 10,000 feet
has an elaborate multistoried restaurant, cafe and gift shop complex, along with an
ice cream snack bar and coffee bar out on the terrace. The deck functions something like an outdoor
living room with its comfortable seating, its benches and tables, and there’s railings
on both sides. You have access to the interior restaurants
as well as walking out on the snowfield from here. So it’s really a central focal point of the
entire experience up here at 10,000 feet high, providing the best single viewing point for
looking into the peaks, and also a terrific place to take your pictures, as several of
my groups have enjoyed on recent trips. Just get your camera up high so you can see
the mountain backdrop. Here comes a variety of views from that same
vantage point on the platform looking out into the heart of the Bernese Oberland, into
the very central part of the Swiss Alps during different visits, so you’ll see some different
lighting, some bright clear skies, some slightly cloudy skies, and it really seems a little
bit more dramatic when there are some clouds to enhance the mountains framing them with
some dark shadows and highlights. And if visibility is not so good when you
first arrive up their, wait around, it’ll probably clear up. The weather changes rapidly on the mountaintops. And we stay up here for about one hour. It’s enough to walk around, have a look, take
our pictures and then we continue back down the way we came up. As you have seen there’s a lot to do up on
the top of Titlis, so you could easily spend 2 or even 3 hours up here, especially if you’re
going to have a meal. But if you’re a little pressed for time, one
hour can do it. Get out there, walk around, take your pictures
and ride the cable car back down the hill. And for some more fun on the trip down by
cable car, you can get off the cable car at the next-to-last stop and rent a scooter to
coast down the final mile. It is just a simple standup foot scooter. You hold onto those handlebars with both hands
and it’s a wonderful ride. It goes around zigzagging down on the road,
which is at times a gravel road, a dirt road, but mostly it’s a paved road. So it’s really quite safe, quite fun. You’ve got good brakes with these scooters
so you can slow down yo, u can stop, take a picture. Don’t try and take any pictures while you’re
moving because you’ve got to keep both hands on the handlebars. And wear that little protective helmet that
comes with the rental. The current price is SFr.13 for the ride and
if you’d like to include a barbecue meal down at the bottom, that would be SFr.35 extra
in a nice package. For a slightly longer scooter ride you can
walk over to the Untertrubsee station and whiz all the way down Engelberg. No pedaling required. Just hang on. The rides are offered between May and October. If you’re here in the wintertime you can rent
an electric snowmobile, riding on a closed track. It’s so easy to ride the scooter you’ll catch
on within a minute so that you can enjoy the ride and look out at the nice views as you
go gliding by. Then return your scooter at the bottom and
walk over to Engelberg. You can be back down in Engelberg by 1 o’clock,
catch the train and be back in Lucerne by about 2 o’clock. One train leaves every hour. Check the schedule, perhaps at the station
before you go up to Tillis, that way you can time your visit and arrive at the train station
in relaxed style to catch the train. Now if you just missed the train, that’s okay,
you can go take a walk in Engelberg town, maybe grab a bite to eat. It’s just around the corner from the train
station and it’s really quite pleasant. The main street is for pedestrians. There are several bakeries and convenience
stores that offer sandwiches to go. So that’s a good plan. You can get a meal and then go catch your
train and you can have lunch while you’re traveling from Engelberg back to Lucerne. That’ll save you some time, because you’re
probably quite hungry by now and you do have that one-hour train ride, so that’s a good
opportunity to both travel and eat. Or if there’s enough time in Engelberg itself,
there are some nice restaurants where you can sit down and have a good meal, such as
the Spannort Hotel and Restaurant, except they are closed between the middle of April. all through the summer, and reopen in the
middle of November. It’s a winter resort area mostly for skiing
up here in Engleberg. But you’ll certainly find other restaurants
and outdoor cafes and sandwich places here, or just some window-shopping to poke around
and kill some time waiting for your train. You could even spend a few days here in Engleberg. There are some hotels open year-round and
summer time there’s hiking. They’ve got 500 km of hiking trails, and in
the winter it is the largest ski resort in central Switzerland. They’ve got 14 ski lifts, 82 km of downhill
skiing. When you finish with Mount Titlis you return
to town the same way by train, enjoying the scenery a second time in reverse, or maybe
you’ll be taking a snooze. Scenery always looks just as good if not better
the second time around. You’re going in a different direction, seeing
it from different angles, and perhaps the weather is better this time going back than
it was coming up in the morning. By the way on the weather, you never know
if it’s going to be clear or cloudy at the top of Mount Titlis, even if you check in
the morning from your hotel, you ask the desk clerk, they look at their TV or they call
the mountaintop. These conditions change radically. So, within 15 minutes, within an hour. it can easily go from very cloudy to clear
or vice versa. So just take a chance and go for it. Once again, passing by the Werzwili excursion
van, and it is just bursting with kids. They just finished their excursion up on the
mountain and they’re coming back to the train. Fortunately, they have their own train car
reserved so they’re not going to be sharing our car. They’re going to have a lot of fun on this
ride back to Lucerne, and we will be able to see them, say hi, and then continue relaxing
in our own car in quiet comfort. And that wraps up our grand visit up to Titlis
from Lucerne. We have a lot of other movies about Lucerne
and Switzerland in our series. Be sure to have a look for them. Our normal schedule on this afternoon is rest
up a bit and then head out again by train over to Zürich, another one-hour train ride,
and there we spend the late afternoon and early evening wandering the beautiful lanes
of that great city of Zürich. Look for that in our series too, along with
Interlaken, the Jungfrau, Zermatt and the Ticino.

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