It’s no secret that Matterhorn is what makes Zermatt one of Switzerland’s top destinations. Matterhorn, considered the world’s most beautiful mountain, is on most people’s bucket lists when they visit Switzerland.
The most beautiful viewpoints to see Matterhorn are obviously sought by tourists. Of those, Gornergrat is one of the more famous ones.
Round-trip tickets from Zermatt to Gornergrat with the Gornergrat Railway can cost up to CHF 110 per person, so it’s understandable why people wonder if it’s worth going. Is it worth visiting Gornergrat? Or is it just overhyped and expensive? Let’s find out more.
Gornergrat and the Gornergrat Rack Railway
Gornergrat is a rocky ridge overlooking the Gorner Glacier near Zermatt, Switzerland. It is located between the Gorner Glacier and the Findel Glacier and offers fantastic views of the surrounding Pennine Alps.
Gornergrat can be reached by the Gornergrat Rack Railway (GGB), the highest open-air railway in Europe.
Gornergrat Rack Railway
Gornergrat Rack Railway is actually a local extension of the Brig-Visp-Zermatt line. Gornergrat Rack Railway (or Gornergratbahn in German), the train that takes you from Zermatt to Gornergrat, started running in 1898.
The Gornergrat Railway starts in Zermatt, 1,604 meters above sea level. From there, it climbs along the side of the mountain at an average incline of 16% to the observation point in Gornergrat.
The original length was approximately 9 kilometers, with an upward climb of 1,414 meters. In 1909, 310 meters were added to the train route, and the end station was moved higher. This led to Gornergratbahn going up to 3,089 meters above sea level in 1909.
While Gornergratbahn was originally designed for summer, it’s been open for winter operations since 1950. Avalanche protection was added to the whole railroad line in preparation for winter operations. The train ride is made safer by an 800-meter-long avalanche gallery.
More than a century later, taking the Gornergrat Railway up to Gornergrat remains among the best things to do while in Zermatt.
Gornergrat: What to Expect
In addition to the Matterhorn, you can see 28 other mountains over 4,000 meters high. It includes the two highest mountains in Switzerland, Dufourspitze (4,634 meters) and Nordendspitze (4,609 meters).
Incredible Views from Gornergrat
Here are some of the high mountains that you can view from Gornergrat:
- Matterhorn – Cervino – 4,478 meters
- Dufourspitze – 4,634 meters
- Nordendspitze – 4,609 meters
- Liskamm (Ostgipfel and Westgipfel) – 4,527 meters and 4,479 meters respectively
- Castor – 4,228 meters
- Pollux – 4,092 meters
- Klein Matterhorn – 3,883 meters
- Dent Blanche – 4,358 meters
- Zinalrothorn – 4,221 meters
- Weisshorn – 4,505 meters
- Allalinhorn – 4,027 meters
Besides seeing all these high mountains, you’ll also get to see the third-largest glacier in the Alps – the Gorner Glacier.
Unforgettable Experience Aboard the Gornergrat Train
Gornergrat Railway operates 365 days a year. It’s a short walk from Zermatt’s main train station to the Gornergrat valley station.
It takes 33 minutes to get to Gornergrat from Gornergrat Valley Station. Amazing views await you on the way up. Opening the windows will let you take wonderful photos of Zermatt’s wonderful views.
Generally, people stay on the right side for better views of the Matterhorn. Don’t worry if all the seats are taken, you can also stay on the left side and you’ll see some great views.
If you’re able to, make sure you climb up to see the awesome panorama. The viewing platform of Gornergrat offers great views. You’ll get a 360-degree view of the mountains around Zermatt.
Hiking and Skiing around Gornergrat
Hiking around this area is also a good idea if you’re able. You would want to wear good shoes and have stable footing so you can go around the hiking trails without getting hurt.
Here are some of the hikes around Gornergrat:
|Hiking Trail||Description||Length (kilometers)|
|Gornergrat 360° Loop||Quick and easy round trip from the train station to the viewing platform on top.||1.1 km|
|Gornergrat to Riffelberg||A one-hour hike along the train path from Gornergrat to Riffelberg. You get fantastic views on the way to Riffelberg.||3.1 km|
|Meet the Sheep Theme Trail||Trail from Gornergrat to Riffelsee until Riffelberg. Watch videos about sheep and alps, flora and fauna, Gornergrat, and Gorner Glacier by scanning QR codes along the way.||5.7 km|
|Gornergrat to Riffelberg with Glacier Views||From Gornergrat, you will hike along the Höhtälli ridge where there is a steep descent towards the Gorner Glacier. You need concentration and hiking experience to do this trail.||6.3 km|
|Gornergrat to Riffelalp||From Gornergrat, you will pass by 5 mountain lakes and a forest until you reach Riffelalp.||7.9 km|
During winter, this area is perfect for skiing, winter hiking, and snowshoeing. You can go on the highest toboggan run in Switzerland and see the igloo village.
Zooom the Matterhorn
It’s also possible to try Zooom the Matterhorn if you want a multi-media experience. Through periscopes, a 3D cinema, and paraglider flights, it shows the Matterhorn and the surrounding alpine world. It’s also great for when the weather isn’t nice.
Gornergrat round-trip tickets will have Zooom already included in the price. For those who do not have it included in their ticket, it will cost CHF 12 per adult.
Dining around Gornergrat
When it comes to dining, you have several options:
- 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat
- Historic Hotel Riffelhaus 1853, Riffelberg
- Hotel Riffelalp Resort
Why is Gornergrat Worth Visiting?
Don’t miss Gornergrat if you haven’t been yet. There’s no doubt Gornergrat is worth a visit.
It is especially worth your time and money to go to Gornergrat if the weather is good and the panorama is clear. You’ll be able to see Matterhorn immediately after departing on a clear day. Toward the end of the train line, you’ll get better and closer views of Matterhorn.
There’s a good reason people want to see Matterhorn. A Swiss symbol and trademark, people find the Matterhorn fascinating because of its pyramid shape. The Matterhorn is one of the most photographed mountains in the world. Despite having so many other high mountains around, it still stands out.
If you would like to learn more about why Matterhorn is famous, you can check out our article Why Is the Matterhorn So Famous?
Gornergrat is worth visiting for anyone who loves mountain views is fascinated by transport and generally anyone who loves breathtaking panorama. If you are not a skier, I recommend that you visit Gornergrat in the summer, so that you can hike along well-marked roots from this region.
Stations of the Gornergrat Railway
|Station||Altitude (meters above sea level)|
|Zermatt GGB||1,604 meters|
How to Get to Gornergrat
|Train||Zermatt (1-minute walk away)|
Final thoughts: Is Gornergrat Worth Visiting?
When the weather is less than ideal and the visibility is low or the fog does not lift even at 3,000 meters, then you should wait until a better day when you can see clearly. My recommendation is that you should stay at least 3 days and 2 nights in Zermatt, and reserve the best day to visit Gornergrat if you want to go.
Indeed, going up Gornergrat, is a special experience that offers lots of awesome photo opportunities. Anyone who wants to explore the Alpine world surrounding Zermatt will find Gornergrat worth the trip. We were totally awed by the views and can’t wait to come back.
If you have more time or are looking for other alternatives around Zermatt, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Sunnegga-Rothorn are also great choices.
- Perren, Remo. The Gornergrat Railway. (GGB). Swiss express: the Swiss Railways Society Journal, 7 September 1989.
- Schneller, P. Das neue Stationsgebäude der Gornergrat-Bahn in Zermatt. Schweizerische Bauzeitung, 5. Dezember 1963.