Walking along from the boat station, towards the Park hotel you come to the Kurpark, a small peaceful park on the lake shore. Lovely views and a tea house just above make it an idyllic place to linger and chill out, watching the boats come and go. I was fascinated with the sundial monument here too. Further along from the Kurpark is the small harbour with little boat houses and scenic waterfront gardens to enjoy.
The tourist board (just by top steps of Rigi Station) has produced a handy leaflet of a circular walk around Vitznau giving info on the local buildings plus either end of the walk leads up through forest paths to the high path above the village giving lovely views over the town. The walk takes up to about two hours - simply follow the white sign, can be done in any order and in fact we split it into two halves - one we did late afternoon after a trip out and the other on our last full day. Here I shall put some views over the village and in other tips I'll put about some other interesting finds in the town.
There are umpteen hiking options on the Rigi - just get a map and follow any number of the well marked paths. An easy option is to hike down from the summit station - Rigi Kulm to Rigi Kaltbad - a mountain village in its own right with shops and another hotel with an excellent restaurant by alll accounts. The path follows a cliff edge and affords wonderful views. Only about an hour or so and at Rigi Kaltbad there is also a gondola which can whisk you down to the lakeside resort of Weggis.
The ride most people arrive at Vitznau for is for the mountain train ride up to the Rigi Kulm - the boats arriving at the landing stage are timed to perfection to co-incide with the train ride. On Sundays throughout the summer there is a special nostalgic steam train making the upward journey - best to make reservation for this. Its a wonderful train journey - we use it a few times during our stay for a couple of walks. The first time we started off in cloud and pondered what we would or wouldn't be able to see at the summit but as we ascended we rose above to the blue skies and the sea of cloud sitting on the lake below, an awesome magical memory of our holiday.
The website has all the usual info regarding fares, schedules and train stock as well as hiking suggestions on the Rigi - over 100km of paths to enjoy.
On part of the Vitznau circular town walk it heads up to the Muhlebach Waterfall, flowing over the Nagelfluhsteon and forming the backdrop of this village. By the waterfall is a swiss flag on the rock. This denotes the Vitznau Artillery Fortress which has umpteen tunnels behind the rock wall. There are spy holes in the rock and also for guns but we had a struggle to make them out. On certain days the fortess is open to the public for tours but we opted not to do this with such lovely weather during our stay.
The fortress was constructed inside the Rigi cliffs as part of the Gotthard defence duing WW2. It was kept secret for many years and was always operational (strange for a neutral country) In 1998 it was decided it was no longer need for military purposes and was opened to the public so that they could see the munitions depot, tunnels and the living quarters.
Just before the deluxe Park Hotel (see hotel tip) is a small harbour (not to be confused with the boat station for the navigation on LAke Lucerne service. A pretty little place to admire the views across the lake and colourful with the flowers and small coloured boats. Oh and just across the road there is an interesting little hotel with its own quaint restaurant - see the other pics to see what I mean!
The increasing population and visitors to Vitznau created the neeed for an evangelical church - the first in the Lucerne area in a dominantly catholic country of Switzerland. Its a vey pretty building with its rustic stonework and steps up to it. The catholic parish church is along the same road too - in fact fairly near our hotel and boy do those bells chime for ages at 6am every day!
The Rigi Bahn - Europe's first mountain railway had a huge influence on the village of Vitznau as visitors flocked here to ascend the hills by the steep cog wheel railway and the village grew according in popularity and population.
Today the old school house houses a small museum on the inaugaration of the railway and the boat landing stage and its effect on the village. Worth an hours perusal if the weather should turn inclement. Art exhbitions are often housed on one of the floors too - take care not to wander in officed on the ground and first floor though!
Just a few metres up from the top Rigi station to the actual summit of the Rigi - Rigi kulm. Here a wonderful 360degree panorama can be enjoyed, impossible to do it justice with a few pictures. A whole range of mountains can be seen, including Titlis and my favoured Bernese Alps. This handy telescope I'm using in the picture has the names of the mountains on it and you just pointed the arrow to the name and looked through and there was the mountain, really neat I thought and made a change from thosse panorama boards depicting the alps.
Just below the summit by the train station is a large hotel and restaurant - must be a wonderful place to stay up here and see the sunrise and set over such a panorama.
The boat house at the landing stage of Vitznau is an historical building and at the side of it is a replica of Tells workshop - of the longbow fame. At certain weekends demonstrations of the construction of the crossbow, using 20 different skills that a craftsman mastered in those days, can be seen in the workshop.