Some experiences are special beyond words, and reveling in the sight of the majestic Matterhorn was certainly one such moment. Viewing the Toblerone mountain from multiple angles, at different altitudes – not something you get to do every day!
In fact, if someone were to ask me what my favourite pick for our trip to Switzerland is, I’d probably choose our visit to Zermatt. This charming little village is the gateway to two stunning Swiss peaks, namely the Matterhorn and the Gornergrat. My personal view is that for anyone visiting the region, Zermatt is an absolute must-see location.
It is a little tricky visiting Zermatt for the peaks though. Being able to view the Matterhorn mountain peak or Gornergrat depends on the weather conditions. If you’re there on a warm, sunny day – you’re privy to gorgeous views and can capture impressive snapshots. If it’s cloudy or rainy, you’ll probably go back rather disappointed.
Given the unpredictability of weather in the Alps, make the most of it if you’re there on a bright, sunny day!
It sounds rather ambitious but peak hopping is a viable option for those who are in Zermatt for just a day and don’t want to miss anything out. By starting your day early at around 8 or 9, you can cover both the Matterhorn mountain and Gornergrat, and that too, without rushing. If this is what you’re planning to do, you need to ask yourself which peak you should visit first; the answer should depend entirely on what you want to see first. For us, it was the Matterhorn paradise that took priority.
Owner of Swiss Travel Pass, however, get a reduction of 50% on peak to peak pass. Also, they can use the pass on any of mountain stretches within Zermatt. Isn’t it cool? It sure is a great option for anyone who wants to see more and save!
The journey from Zermatt to Klein Matterhorn takes roughly 45 mins. The route begins at the valley station which is 1640 metres above sea level. Here, you board the gondola to the mid-point Furi, the station being at an altitude of 1867 metres. At Furi, you board a cable car that takes you across the forests and meadows surrounding Zermatt. The forestry is followed by a rough, rocky, alpine landscape, the viewing of which, is interrupted upon reaching the second mid-station Trockener Steg, at 2939 metres. This is the final stop before where you board another cable car which ferries you to the highest viewing platform in the Alps, at a whopping 3883 metres above sea level.
Upon reaching this juncture, you’re confronted with panoramic views of the 38 peaks and 14 glaciers that comprise the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps. You can feel that the temperature is cooler here and the air thinner. You’ll find yourself mesmerized by the beauty surrounding you, but also somewhat slower on account of the weather change.
Apart from the spectacular views, I thoroughly enjoyed the cable car journeys as well. The audio commentary in their interior had us well-informed about the Matterhorn mountain, before we reached our destination!
You would think that visiting the Alps is all about nature exploration but there’s much more to it! Here are some things to do while you’re here.
For the cinema-goers who don’t want to miss out on any movie magic during vacations, the uber-cool Cinema Lounge in the Breithorn Tunnel is the place to go. The silver screen projects clips on a number of interesting themes ranging from mountaineering and freeride skiing to flora and fauna of the Alpine world.
When you’re up in the Alps, enjoying the snowy sights, you’re bound to feel some hunger pangs at some point. Head to the Restaurant & Lodge Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and you will not regret it. The restaurant, which was recently renovated serves food that warms the soul. The large glass windows offer wonderful views of the surrounding mountains which make for great ambience while you’re dining. The Peak Shop is worth exploring too.
The world’s highest Glacier Palace is located in the area between Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and the Breithorn. It has a remarkable display of ice crystals and sculptures residing 15 metres below perennial snow. This is a fascinating place for both children and adults.
Once you’ve explored the Matterhorn Klein to your heart’s content, it’s time to move over to Gornergrat. You have two options for accessing this peak:
One, you can switch cable cars from Furi. Head on to Riffelberg via the Riffleberg Express which is a well-paced cog rail.
Two, you can access the Gornergrat beauty by getting on the idyllic cog rail exclusively servicing it. The cog railway is located right across the train station of Zermatt and transports you to Gornergrat Bahn in much comfort.
My first impression of the Gornergrat was that it’s one of the best vistas I’ve seen in the Swiss Alps. I was pleasantly surprised to find that It offers a more expansive view of Matterhorn.
The cog rail to Gornergrat Ridge has many stops along the way. If you buy round-trip tickets, you can get down at any of the stops to take in the Alpine beauty and click spectacular snapshots. Since the train is comfy with big windows, even the view from within is very enjoyable. I would recommend sitting on the right side of the train when going and left side while returning because that way, you get to see the Matterhorn for at least 30 minutes, which is quite a while.
Amongst the stops on the way to Gornergrat, there are four stops which are typically considered the best starting points for hiking. Once you reach the top, which is 3090 metres above sea level, you are exposed to a stupendous view of the Matterhorn and also the Monte Rosa Massif. You’ll see the Dufourspitze which stands tall at an altitude of 4643 metres and is touted as the highest peak in Switzerland. And when you need a quick bite to refresh you after all the sightseeing, the restaurant at the Gornergrat Ridge will serve you sumptuous delights.
When you’re heading back via Gornergrat Bahn – if you have the time and energy – you can stop at Rotenboden. Here, you can see the Matterhorn beautifully reflected in the Riffelsee Lake if the weather is clear.
Riffelsee Lake can also be reached while returning from the Gornergrat bahn. You need to stop at Furi and take the Riffelberg Express. Easy-peasy, right?
The bottom line is, if you plan intelligently and weather permits so, you can cover both Klein Matterhorn and Gornergrat in one day! It’s a wonderful adventure in my experience.
We would like to thank Zermatt Tourism Board for making this trip possible. All opinions are our own.
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