Gornergrat is one of the finest scenic trails in the Zermatt area. Coupled with its amazing panoramic views of the 20 peaks over 4000 meters high is one of the most exquisite trails that you should never miss. There is a network of scenic hiking trails that climbs the Gornergrat ridge, Rifflelalp to a viewpoint and you can never miss these amazing views while in the area. The loop is composed of a short ride via Gornergrat Cog railway with the best trails that will truly make your experience in the region quite memorable. The hike begins in Zermatt and it rises through the steep slopes below the plateau of the iconic Matterhorn (remember the mountain on Toblerone chocolate package? It’s the one, probably the most popular mountain in the world) above the Zermatt valley. On the western part, you will see a massive 4000 meters high mountain including Weisslorn, Ober Gabelhorn Massif, and Dent Blanche.
Zermatt is definitely top location in Switzerland and everyone who visits Switzerland and Swiss Alps can have an ultimate experience right there.
What you need to know about Gornergrat hiking trail
Distance: 11.2 hard kilometers.
Elevation: from 1597 m to 3127 meters, so elevation gain is a bit more than 1500 meters.
Difficulty level: it is not technical at all, but it’s long and hard.
Time needed: around 5 hours. If you would decide to hike all the way back to Zermatt: then it is 9 hours.
Best time to do it: Mid summer – early Autumn
How to Get to Gornergrat
Ok, so first you need to get to Zermatt. Zermatt is a very unique village in Switzerland as you can not get there with your own car, you will have to leave it in Täsch, a village before Zermatt. In Zermatt only electric cars can drive, but it doesn’t mean that you can go there with your Tesla. No no, only the local public and small hotel cars are driving around. This is maybe the first place in the world where people decided to save the nature as much as possible.
There’s a huge parking place in Täsch. Very huge. So you can easily leave the car there. From Täsch you can actually hike to Zermatt, I did it once, it is a very easy hike, you can check it out here: Hike from Täsch to Zermatt. The hike from Täsch has just very slight elevation changes, so it’s very comfortable hike, but if you hike straight from Täsch to Gornergrat then your hike will get closer to 7 hours in total – one way.
While you hike to Zermatt, you are going to be all the time very close to the train rails, so it’s a nice point to observe the red Swiss trains.
Another way is by train. Trains from Täsch to Zermatt goes few times an hour, so no problems there. You can check all the latest train prices and schedules right here: Swiss trains. Trains as well go quite often from Zürich or any other big city to Täsch.
Once you are in Zermatt, you will have to cross all the village and continue hiking out from Zermatt. Zermatt is a very beautiful and old Swiss village, so don’t hurry, enjoy it, explore it.
While in Zermatt, you can visit the information center and ask about weather conditions in Gornergrat: maybe it is snowed in, maybe very foggy, maybe it’s even dangerous to go there on that day. Better get that information before, than later, on the mountain.
Let’s have a look at the map of this long and beautiful hike:
Actually, if you don’t feel like doing this all long hike, you can start in different places or even start it in Gorngergrat and hike down. The views are going to be amazing in each possible hike trail you choose, just if you start in Zermatt, you are going to have the ultimate hiking experience.
So, if you wish to shorten the hike, you can take a train from Zermatt and go to: Furi, Riffelalp or Riffelberg train stations. The train can take you pretty fast (in 10-20 minutes) very high up and you would start your hike right there. The hiking directions are very well visible in all points of the hike.
You can check all information about trains going up here: Gornergrat trains.
But if you decide to do the full hike, let’s have a look what is awaiting you.
In total you will need to walk just 11 kilometers, but these are going to be hard kilometers, elevation gain is more than 1500 meters, so I suggest you doing this just if you are in a very good shape.
During the hike you will see many mountain restaurants, so don’t worry if you feel the need to re energize, coffee with snacks will be available.
I always suggest people to take at least 2 liters of water for the hikes in the Swiss Alps, but for this one I think 3 liters is needed. Do not forget to sip every 10-20 minutes even if you don’t feel the need at that moment. As well: warm clothes. It can be pretty hot in Zermatt, but once you get higher than 2500 meters the temperatures can drop, wind can start or you may even get some snow.
I think the best place to rest during this hike is in Riffelalp, as it’s a mid point and you will have been already gained more than 600 meters in elevation. There’s a big restaurant and big resting place for hikers up there. Riffelalp is at 2222 meters altitude, magical number 🙂
Afterwards the hike will get more intensive, you will have just around 6 kilometers to go, but almost 1000 meters in elevation to gain. So pace yourself, 2-3km/h is a perfect hiking speed up there.
As well, if you didn’t have time already, appreciate all the 4000m peaks around you. It is a very special place in Switzerland as you can see that many high peaks, it’s like a national white peaks park 🙂 Matterhorn is the most popular one for sure, but other huge ones are there as well.
Do not forget to visit Rifelsee, it’s a very beautiful lake sitting at 2757 meters. A lot of iconic Matterhorn pictures are done right here.
Once you reach Gornergrat, I suggest you to enjoy the lake right next to it, it’s a very popular destination to rest and take some pictures.
Afterwards you can go to Gornergrat hotel and have a lunch in the restaurant or visit the local chapel. It is even possible to spend a night in that hotel, but it’s pricey, it can be around 300-400 CHF for one night stay, but as far as I know, it’s one of the highest hotels in Switzerland (highest locations). You can check all reservations and information of it here: Gornergrat Hotel. If you have money to spare, that’s a perfect place to do so.
After you finished your hike, you can hike down, but it would be additional 4 hours, so I think the best way is to take train back from Gornergrat to Zermatt. The ticket should cost you around 38 CHF and very very fast you will come back to Zermatt.
What to consider before the Gornergrat hike?
The Gornergrat hike is not technical at all, but it’s long and hard. It’s just 11 kilometers, but you will have to earn them all.
I would definitely take these things with you:
- 3 liters of water for each.
- Good warm clothes. Even if it’s hot in Zermatt, it can get pretty chilly up there, especially in the end.
- Good sturdy hiking shoes. You will have to hike a lot through rocks, so better to have strong hiking shoes. Even Goretex is better.
- Hiking poles. It is always nice to have something which takes off the pressure on your joints.
- A hat. The sun in the mountains can be pretty stingy. Sunscreen as well. The best is a hat which covers the neck as well.
- Have some cash if some places won’t have credit card machines and you will be craving for coffee or croissant.
All the hikes around Zermatt are stunning, because it is in a very unique place surrounded by these majestic mountains. The Gornergrat hike is definitely one of them, it leads you to a beautiful location where far away views open up and you are always very close to the biggest mountains in the Swiss Alps.
If you don’t have too much time, you can use the train and go straight up and start your hike in the higher position: maybe in Riffelalp can be your best solution.
If you don’t feel like sweating all day and fighting for each meter: go straight to Gornergrat with train, take amazing pictures at the top and hike down to Zermatt: the views are going to be amazing all the time. And you won’t be that tired.
But if you want to earn it: you can even start in Täsch, hike to Zermatt and continue all the way to Gornergrat.
Spend one night in Zermatt and do other hikes next day 🙂
If you have any questions about Gornergrat hike, please let me know, I will do my best to help you!
You can check all other recommended hikes on golookexplore right here: Hiking in Switzerland.
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