Gornergrat cog railway
Zermatt, in southern Switzerland's Valais canton, is a mountain resort renowned for skiing, climbing and hiking. The town, at an elevation of around 1,600m, lies below the iconic, pyramid-shaped Matterhorn peak. Its main street, Bahnhofstrasse is lined with boutique shops, hotels and restaurants, and also has a lively apres-ski scene. There are public outdoor rinks for ice-skating and curling.
Rail Travel Times:
St Moritz to Zermatt: 7 hours 30 minutes
Plan and Book:
Zermatt: See and Do
Zermatt lies at the foot of the Matterhorn. The town's touristic development is closely linked to what is most probably the world's most famous mountain. The vacation destination is a car-free zone, has preserved its original character and offers nearly unlimited possibilities as far as excursions are concerned. The location of Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn and in the middle of an enormous hiking and ski region makes it one of the world's most attractive vacation villages. The ski region encompasses 54 mountain railways and lifts as well as 360 kilometers of pistes. The region called "Matterhorn glacier paradise" is Europe's largest and highest lying summer skiing region. Numerous national ski teams train here in the summer.
The region is legendary amongst mountaineers: the Haute Route, a challenging international route that takes several days to complete, leads from Mont Blanc to Zermatt. Over 400 kilometers of hiking trails lead through and out of the Matter Valley, including the mule traders' trails, which date back to the 13th century (a part of these paths is paved).
Straddling the main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy, the Matterhorn is referred to as the Mountain of Mountains. Shaped like a jagged tooth, it's a magnet for adventurers looking for a mythical climb in Switzerland. It is a huge and near-symmetrical pyramidal peak in the extended Monte Rosa area of the Pennine Alps, whose summit is 4,478 metres high, making it one of the highest summits in the Alps and Europe. The four steep faces, rising above the surrounding glaciers, face the four compass points and are split by the Hornli, Furggen, Leone and Zmutt ridges. The mountain overlooks the Swiss town of Zermatt to the north-east and the Italian town of Breuil-Cervinia in the Aosta Valley to the south.
Zermatt in Winter
In winter, the snow-assured ski region offers 360 km of pistes in three varied ski areas: the Sunnegga-Rothorn, Gornergrat-Stockhorn, Schwarzsee and Matterhorn glacier paradise. Snowboarders and freestylers are able to hone their skills in the Snowpark Zermatt in which Olympic hopefuls also train. A crossover to the Italian ski region of Breuil-Cervinia and Valtournenche is possible from the Matterhorn glacier paradise / Theodulpass.
Zermatt in Summer
Walking, cycling, climbing and high-Alpine tours are popular activities in summer and autumn. Every year, the four-thousand-metre summits attract many Alpinists. 400 km of walking trails also guide guests who are not overly adept at climbing through the mountainscape around Zermatt.
At 3883 metres in altitude, Europe's highest vantage point able to be reached by cableway also offers a fascinating panoramic vista of the Matterhorn (4478 metres) and summits of the Swiss, Italian and French Alps. The glacier palace can be admired 15 metres beneath the ice surface. Six ski lifts as well as a cableway provide access to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, the highest summer ski region of the Alps on the Theodul glacier.
The cog railway operates between Zermatt and the 3089-metre-high Gornergrat. The summit offers up spectacular views of the Matterhorn, the glaciers and the Monte-Rosa massif.
Those in search of something different can try their hand at paragliding or off-piste heli-skiing accompanied by an experienced mountain guide.
Gornergrat - a cog railway wends its way up the mountain to an altitude of 3089 metres; a magnificent panorama.
Matterhorn Museum - houses the items of equipment used during the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 which ended tragically.
Matterhorn glacier paradise - the highest place in Europe (3883 m) able to be reached by a cableway, with a viewing platform and the highest glacier palace in the world.
Gorner gorge - a footpath across narrow bridges and steps as well as a fixed rope route guide visitors through the deeply scarped gorge.
Village of Findeln - original Valais settlement with a small chapel; it has Switzerland's highest rye crop fields at an altitude of 2100 metres.
Matterhorn Ultraks Skialp
Horu Trophy Zermatt - the Horu Trophy is one of Europe's largest Open Air Curling-Tournaments (January).
Matterhorn Ultraks Skialp - ski tour races in breathtaking mountain scenery (March/April every two years).
Patrouille des Glaciers - a cult ski mountaineering race from Zermatt to Verbier via Arolla (April, every other year).
Zermatt Unplugged - international stars at the Matterhorn (April).
Gornergrat - Zermatt Marathon - a race to the Riffelberg with an altitude difference of 1,853m (July).
Matterhorn Eagle Cup - Golf Tournament in the alpine landscape of the Gornergrat region (July).
Swiss Food Festival - feasting at the highest level (August).
Matterhorn Ultraks Trail - trail running at the foot of the Matterhorn (August).
Folklore Festival - Grand Folklore Pageant in the Village (August).
Zermatt Music Festival & Academy - the classical music and arts festival with soloists and ensembles of the Berlin Philharmonics (August/September).
Perskindol Swiss Epic - a six-day mountain bike stage race (September).
Gondala Fondue, gondala-fondue-zermattSwiss Food Festival
Text: My Switzerland