Which one is better: the Matterhorn or the Gornergrat? Well, what if I tell you that you don’t have to sacrifice any of those just to settle for one option? Because my Gornergrat travel guide right here will show you how to visit both within one day.
It’s just a scenic cogwheel train ride away and the views to take in will blow your mind.
Visiting Gornergrat is one of the best things to do in Switzerland – not only for first-time visitors but also for returnees.
This dramatic mountain ridge is located in Zermatt. To get there, you need a ticket to a cogwheel train ride that starts at a railway station opposite Zermatt train station. The scenic train will slowly take you to an altitude of over 3000 meters above sea level, covering many awe-inspiring attractions along the way such as the Gorner Glacier and nearly 30 other mountain peaks piercing through the sky at a similar height.
In this article, I will share everything you need to prepare before getting there including the itinerary, travel passes, and what to expect.
How Do You Get to Gornergrat from Zermatt?
To reach Gornergrat, the best and most common way is to take the Gornergrat cogwheel train to the summit station. This 33-minute journey starts from ‘Gornergrat Bahn, the Matterhorn Railway Station’ which is located adjacent to Zermatt railway station.
Zermatt to Gornergrat Ticket and Discounts
You can purchase the tickets beforehand or right on the day you’re there. Even though a reservation is not a must, I highly recommend you obtain a travel pass. Some of the best deals you can get are from the Swiss Travel Pass and a Half Fare Card which all give you a 50% discount on the train ticket. Eurail Pass is an exception, unfortunately, it’s not involved in this journey.
For this specific Gornergrat visit, the magic wand is actually the Zermatt Peak Pass. This is the perfect call for those planning to stay in Zermatt for at least 2 days and explore all 3 peaks of Gornergrat, Glacier Paradise, and Rothorn as a whole. The Peak Pass provides you unlimited access to all lift and train rides within these areas.
Once you get on the train, take a seat on the right side to fully soak up the views over the rolling mountain ranges and catch a glimpse of the piercing peaks of Matterhorn and Gornergrat from afar.
The ticket price fluctuates depending on the season and may vary throughout the day. From 12 mid-day it’s significantly cheaper. Once you’re on the top, take some time to have lunch there. Then you’ll have plenty of time to explore the summit before sunset. On the way down, you can stop to see the Matterhorn before carrying on the downhill as the train will stop at multiple stations along the way.
How to Plan Your Itinerary and What to See Along the Way?
Once you’re on the train, the game begins. It gradually takes you to an elevation of 3089 meters above sea level. As we all know, the sudden shift in height causes effects. It’s completely normal to get out of breath for a tiny bit and you may feel a little dizzy. Take it slow and you’ll be fine.
Gorgeous Switzerland Landscape
On the flip side, the stunning and colorful vista along the way totally compensates for irritating nausea and headache. When the air is crisp and summer gets in the way, all the timer brick houses covered in blue roofs pop out, casting a dramatic and amusing scenery to enjoy, especially with the striking mountains serving as the backdrop of the landscape.
3100 Kulm Hotel Observatory
The next train station to take a break offers a wide terrace looking out to the snow-capped mountain. There are two observatories swathing around the main building, 3100 Kulm Hotel. It has a restaurant, a washroom, and a souvenir store.
At the back of the building, you’ll see a trailhead that eventually opens out to the Gorner Glacier known as the second largest glacier in the Alps. The trail is indeed a little rough and full of gravel but it’s not too bad. As long as you watch your steps along the narrow path, there’s a chance that you will be able to capture the entire 3100 Kulm Hotel at an excellent angle.
On the way down, don’t forget to stop for a quick stroll at the scenic Riffelsee lake. The lake is close to the Rotenboden train station. Once you get off, walk for another 5 to 10 minutes from the Rotenboden station to the lake. This little hike is on a mud path but nothing too extreme so you would be fine. The trail is well groomed and marked. Make sure to stay in line with the marked path even though some other people just try to disperse themselves all over the place.
Other than the train ride, hiking is pretty much the next popular thing to do. It allows you to admire all the corners with a very up-close angle on foot. The fact that the scenery around Gornergrat and Zermatt is a natural masterpiece, I highly recommend you to explore a little deeper if time allows.
A Sample One-Day Itinerary
You can hike from Gornergrat Bahn (the first cogwheel train station in Zermatt) to the top of Gornergrat for a summit discovery. Try to do this in the morning if you decide to hike. Then on the top, you can get some lunch there before hiking down to Rotenboden Station and eventually to Riffelberg visiting the mountain lake of Riffelsee. After exploring the lake with the reflection of the mighty Matterhorn, hike back to the Riffelberg station to take a cable car to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise crossing the Furi station.
Gornergrat is totally worth a one-day exploration. The train ride is absolutely stunning. But on top of that, hiking up and down the lush alpines makes Gornergrat even more worth it.
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