Becoming In Love With Majestic Matterhorn A Zermatt Travel Guide

Discover the enchantment of Zermatt in just 2 days! Explore the car-free village, enjoy the day excursions to Gornegrat and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, immerse yourself in breathtaking sightseeing, and uncover essential tips for an unforgettable trip. Learn from the mistakes I made for a flawless trip. Let Zermatt weave its magic and create lasting memories in this captivating Swiss village.

Zermatt was the destination I was most excited about. Despite visiting Switzerland 4-5 times in the past, somehow, I never got around to seeing this touristy place. When I told my friends I was planning a trip to Switzerland, they forced me to add Zermatt to my itinerary. They acted as if they were Zermatt’s ambassadors, whose sole purpose was to market the village. Their enthusiasm rubbed off on me, kindling excitement in me.

Zermatt, a small car-free village carefully preserved in its original essence, is one of the world-famous ski resorts that attract people worldwide. This village connects the world to the Majestic Matterhorn, the most famous and most photographed mountain globally.

My first impression of Zermatt

The exhaustion from 12 days of constant adventure in Geneva, Lugano and Interlaken kept me snuggled inside the comforters of Hotel Du Nord, Höheweg in Interlaken, because of which, I couldn’t board an early train from Interlaken to Zermatt. After replenishing my energy levels and lazing around, I took a much after train at around 12:30 PM, which was my first mistake. The train journey continued to be an extension of the magical trip, with windows framed with heavenly landscapes. Like a small kid, I was constantly glued to the window.

I reached Zermatt at around 2:45 PM. Due to my late arrival, I missed the opportunity to hail a funicular ride from the valley station in Zermatt to Sunnegga as it was only processal till 4–4:30 PM. If you missed that, you have to wait till the following day, which made me contrition my decision to miss the 9 o’clock train.

Now coming onto the second mistake, which I committed way before the trip started. I was thrilled to find a Youth Hostel under my budget just 1.2 Km away from the Railway station. What a loot! But little did I know that the 1.2 Km was an incline and the hostel was at a hilltop.

In Lugano and Interlaken, the hotel was either close to the railway station or pedestrian-friendly, which was a huge relief for a heavy packer like me. Still, in Zermatt, it was a horror show when I saw the steepness of the cobblestoned street. I got mentally exhausted seeing it, and the scorching sun didn’t help either. But I had no other option than to tread the strenuous path. My heavy suitmatter rubbed salt in the health issue, which made the climb much more gruelling than it already was. I was dripping in extreme weariness when I reached the hostel, and my excitement converted into annoyance. I approached the receptionist with frustration taking control of my senses. I complained of them not mentioning the incline on the website, to which she replied in an unbothered tone, “You should have packed light.” Her words further twisted the knife in my health issue, and the misery didn’t end there. I had to wait a few hours as check-in was around 5–6 PM.

So far, my experience in Zermatt has been the worst. I thought my friends pulled some terrible prank on me and sent me to a dreadful place where people were rude.

I frantically dialled my friend, who had earlier recommended this place and took out my frustration on her; she patiently listened to my cribbing and replied, “Hold on a little and let Zermatt flick its magic wand.”

Day 1 – Exploring the car-free village of Zermatt.

With her reassuring words, I took a deep breath and decided to give Zermatt another chance. After settling into the hostel and freshening up, I explored the village. As I walked through the charming streets lined with wooden chalets and colourful flowers, I couldn’t help but notice the breathtaking backdrop of towering mountains, including the iconic Matterhorn. The beauty of the place started slowly working into my heart, melting away my initial frustration.

Checking out the best attractions of Zermatt

I thought a good way to start my exploration of Zermatt would be by knowing its history. So, I decided to visit the Zermatlantis (Matterhorn Museum). Under the glass dome, next to the village church, a bygone era opened underground: Zermatlantis. It demonstrated how Zermatt evolved from a community of mountain farmers to the renowned ski resort we know today.

The museum showmatters how the people lived in Zermatt in the 19th century. However, the most spine-chilling moment was learning about what happened on July 14, 1865, during the first ascent of the Matterhorn. The tale of victory and expired has baffled the world for a long. I was shaken to0 my core looking at the broken rope from the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. Four of the seven climbers lost their lives at that time. I wonder what must have gone through their minds when they didn’t even have proper hiking gear and communication tools—only their grit and perseverance to scale the mighty Matterhorn. The Matterhorn Museum timings are 15:00 – 18:00 (timing changes as per season), and the entry fee is CHF 12.00.

After taking my history lessons, I stepped out to check out ‘Bahnhofstrasse’, Zermatt’s main street, where I enjoyed a delightful walk with my eyes carefully browsing through the richness jewellery and clothing brands, bars, restaurants, boutiques, souvenir shops, bakeries and shops selling cakes and chocolates. I quickly grabbed my late lunch at McDonald’s (I was dying to have some crappy food), which cost me a blow up – 19 (17 CHF).

I think I walked to see Zermatt’s the village’s oldest street – ‘Hinterdorfstrasse.’ Situated near the main church, walking here with almost no tourists was lovely as I went in the off-season. I saw stables and barns built between the 15th and 19th centuries.

Additionally, I came across a memorial fountain honouring the legendary Ulrich Inderbinen, a mountain guide from Zermatt who made over 370 ascents of the Matterhorn. These sights portrayed how well the village persevered in their history and the people who embellished it.

As the sun was setting, I decided to capture one last look at the Majestic Matterhorn from Kirchbrücke Bridge, a famous vantage point to see the Matterhorn rising majestically into the sky. But not before spending some time at the adjacent Parish church of St Mauritius and Mountaineers’ Cemetery, where my eyes teared up seeing the graves of climbers who perished in the surrounding mountains in the 19th and 20th centuries.

As the golden hour approached, I plopped myself at the Kirchbrücke bridge, from where I witnessed the beautiful image of the Matterhorn soaring majestically into the sky to the southwest. The peak kept playing hide and seek through a cover of clouds and the sparkle of sun.

This short little walk around the Zermatt village revived a bit of my lost enthusiasm for Zermatt. Still, the next day was the day that made me a lifelong fan of Matterhorn.

Day 2 – Matterhorn Tours from Zermatt

Zermatt to Gornergrat Train Ride

I woke up early the next day to prepare for a fully packed day. I was super excited to ride Gornegratbahn – Europe’s highest open-air cog railway bringing passengers directly from Zermatt station (1,620 m) to the summit of the Gornergrat, 365 days a year. The ride takes 33 minutes and requires a vertical climb of 1,469 m. The line leads 9.4 kilometres over dramatic bridges, through galleries and tunnels, across forests of larch and Swiss stone pine, and past rocky ravines and mountain lakes.

To avoid huge crowds and get a clear picture of the Matterhorn, I took the first train at 7 AM from Zermatt station. I followed my local friend’s advice, and I got down at Rotenboden station (one station before Gornegrat) and walked for 10 mins to see the perfect reflection of Matterhorn in the still, quiet water of the Riffelsee Lake. The picturesque view compelled me to leave my camera aside and soak in the stunning scene playing in front of me. I realised why Matterhorn is so famous. I couldn’t get enough of its almost perfect pyramid shape. Its four-sided, ridged rocky peak towers 4,478 metres above sea level, in excellent isolation with no peaks around.

After spending half an hour at Lake Riffelsee, I boarded the next train to Gornergrat. It is one of those places everyone should visit at least once in a lifetime. The panoramic Swiss Alps and the glorious view of the Matterhorn are unforgettable from here. Especially the Gorner Glacier will stay with me forever.

I even tried ‘Zooom the Matterhorn’ wearing 3D glasses and sitting in a floating chair; I felt like I was experiencing a virtual paragliding flight over the Matterhorn throughout all four seasons.

The other attractions at Gornergrat worth checking are seeing the 29 mountains above 4,000 m, the Large sun terrace, the “Bernhard von Aosta” chapel, a Panoramic viewing platform and Photopoint to take ‘MyMatterhorn Selfie.’

How much does it cost to get from Zermatt to Gornergrat?

A return ticket from Zermatt to Gornegrat costs 126 CHF, but with a Swiss Travel pass, you get a 50% discount. Also, prices vary per season. Check out the official website before booking.

Trivia: The Matterhorn has appeared on Toblerone packaging since 1970

Zermatt to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

After returning from Gornegrat, I returned to Zermatt village, where I had a quick lunch before taking a bus to witness the Majestic peak from a different angle- the viewing point of Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.

My ride to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise was Klein Matterhorn Aerial Tramway, the highest cable car in Europe. Through the glass shields, I saw a breathtaking panorama surrounding me from all directions. There were three pitstops at different heights to get to the top.

The journey started from Matterhorn Express from Zermatt village with lush green valleys with a touch of bright yellow leaves and streaks of golden rays. After moving a few miles upwards, the vegetation changed to naked hills with specks of green grass sparsely spread around.

The second stop was Trockener Steg mountain station, where I descended to get closer to the lake. It is an important location where various universes meet and mingle. The ski runs end there in the summer, and the hiking trails start; this is where skiers and hikers cross paths.

Then I continued my journey via the new Matterhorn Glacier Ride up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. As we moved further upwards, the sparse green grass converted to a thick coat of snow that wrapped the entire mountain, indicating that I arrived at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. Be it any season, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is always adorning a garb of thick snow, 365 days, 365 nights. This place is open for visitors all year round. It took me around 45 minutes approximately to reach Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.

You can also experience a richness ride in the four “Crystal Ride” cabins covered in Swarovski crystals. It’s the highlight of the modern cable car. The four unique cabins provide a breathtaking vista during the nine-minute trip.

The temperature at the top was slightly high the day I visited Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, with a clear sapphire sky and no fog in sight, which proved to be a blessing.

As I stepped on the soft layer of flawless white snow, my eyes widened in utter disbelief at the view displayed in front of me, a distinct but equally mesmerising view of Matterhorn in utter beauty against the clear sapphire sky with hues of orange floating in the air. It felt like a piece from heaven fell on earth and was named Matterhorn.

When my friends visited this place, fog blurred their view of Matterhorn and the surrounding Alps. Still, I got to see the majestic Matterhorn in its eternal elegance. It was as if Zermatt was making up for my first wrong impression when I arrived.

I saw the Alps from Switzerland, Italy, and France from this viewing platform, along with some 38 mountain summits and 16 glaciers. Since it was a sunny day with no fog, I could see Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, to the east and the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau to the north.

The tranquillity I achieved that day with stunning views of Matterhorn will stay with me forever. Finally, I was happy I came to Zermatt. Though I wish I had more time to indulge in the adventure activities for which this place is known.

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise offers pleasant hikes in the summers and skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing throughout the year. When I was visiting Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, some famous skiers were present there to strike an advertisement for the upcoming ski season. Witnessing the pros do what they excel at was an exceptional experience.

Apart from snow activities, you can also visit the Matterhorn Glacier Palace, constructed entirely of ice and snow.

Zermatt to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Price

Broadly, two types of tickets are available to access Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. One is a full-fare ticket, and the other is a discounted fare ticket with a Swiss Travel Pass. A Swiss Travel Pass holder can purchase tickets at nearly half the rate. The ticket prices vary as per season. In peak season (July-Aug), a return ticket costs CHF 185.00, and in lean season (Nov-April), it costs CHF 135.00.

And, trust me, the expensive ticket price of Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is totally worth it.

Gornegrat Vs Glacier Paradise Express – which cable car excursion from Zermatt to Matterhorn is better?

While I loved both the rides, if I had to pick one, I would have chosen the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise ride simply because it is the world’s highest 3S cableway, connecting Trockener Steg with Matterhorn Glacier Paradise at 3883 metres.

And the interesting is that you can do both rides on the same day if you take the Peak2Peak Ticket, which allows you to visit both Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Gornergrat on the same day. First, you will visit Glacier Paradise. On the way back to Zermatt, you will ride the cable car to Riffelberg and then the Gornergrat railway to get to Gornergrat.

Other attractions worth checking out in Zermatt
Since I had only planned to spend two days in Zermatt, I couldn’t check many other things like going on some of the best Hikes in Zermatt, Switzerland or trying the paragliding or helicopter ride over the Matterhorn.

In matter you have more than 2-days, please check out these.

Five Lakes Hike

Because I arrived late in Zermatt and couldn’t catch the last cable car from Blauherd at 4:30 PM, so I missed this adventure. But this nature walk should definitely be a part of your itinerary. The Five Lakes Hike is a moderately easy one that passes past five alpine lakes: Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee, and Leisee. The Matterhorn can be seen reflected in three lakes, and most of the walk provides undisturbed views of Switzerland’s most famous mountaintop.

Charles Kuonen suspension bridge

The spectacular Charles Kuonen suspension bridge is nearly 500 metres long with a transparent bottom. It is a newer version since the original bridge was demolished by an avalanche in 2017. The two-day walk trip known as the Europaweg includes this bridge in its itinerary. Additionally, it serves as a link between Zermatt and Grachen. The Europahütte, worth visiting, is located at the end of the bridge. It offers a fantastic backdrop of many shots and photos that can become your next dp or Instagram upload.

Practical Tips to Visit Zermatt

How many days in Zermatt is enough?

You should spend at least 2-3 nights in Zermatt to have two full days to explore Zermatt and take at least one of the famous cable car rides.

How to Reach Zermatt?

By Air

Zermatt doesn’t have an airport of its own, so the nearest Airports are- Zurich, Geneva and Sion, followed by a rail trip to Zermatt. Sion has a limited flight schedule, so Zurich and Geneva are preferred more by travellers. From Zurich or Geneva, you can hail a train ride of approximately 3 hours to Zermatt.

By Road – Bus or Car

Zermatt, being a car-free village, you have to get down at Täsch if you travel by bus or car. Täsch is around 7 kilometres from Zermatt, and you have to catch a train to reach Zermatt. The ride gets breathtaking as you approach Zermatt, with mountains towering.

By Swiss Trains

The most practical means of transportation to get to Zermatt is by train. It’s also the only way to get to the town since no cars are allowed there. Every hour, direct trains depart from the airports of Zurich and Geneva for Zermatt. You should purchase a Swiss Rail Pass to make your travel even more convenient and affordable. It offers many other benefits, such as discounts on cable cars, free entry to museums and many more.

Is it worth taking a Swiss Travel Pass?

Absolutely. The Swiss Travel Pass is acceptable on all public transport in Switzerland, and you get almost 50% off on all cable cars and trains.

Local Transportation

Although Zermatt is a car-free village, walking is the best way to explore this beautiful village. But there are alternatives: bicycle, eTaxi, or eBus that run on select routes. Check out the timetable of the Zermatt bus Red Line and Green Line here. With any ticket of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG, you travel free of charge on all lines of the electric buses in Zermatt, winter and summer.

Where to Stay in Zermatt?

Zermatt is one of the most expensive tourist towns, which shakes up every traveller’s budget. After extensive research on inexpensive stays at Zermatt, I came across hostels with a much lower prices than the hotels in Zermatt. Hostels are different in Zermatt than they are in India. Unlike Indian hostel, where only solo travellers and youth stays, Zermatt hostels host everyone from solo travellers to families offering separate rooms, a good restaurant with a house chef, a central location and excellent services. The purpose behind hostels is to provide affordable stays so that more Swiss people travel.

Zermatt is also home to various chalets, some very old and others relatively new, as well as more than 100 hotels. The Monte Rosa, the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, and the Mont Cervin Palace are remarkable hotels. The Monte Rosa was the first hotel in Zermatt. Even non-residents can enjoy the warmth and charm that define Zermatt’s hotel legacy in any of the bars.

Visa Requirement

Every Indian traveller is required to hold a Schengen visa if travelling anywhere in Switzerland.

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