Julie Switzerland 16 Comments

For one of the best views of Matterhorn, it’s hard to beat Gornergrat. A scenic, cogwheel train takes you from Zermatt to this alpine paradise. Once at the top station, you can simply enjoy the sweeping views of the Matterhorn and the Swiss Alps from the restaurant and terraces. Or, you can add on the short but stunning hike to Riffelberg that is well-worth the time and effort.

This was our favorite experience while in Zermatt. We could repeat this on every visit to Switzerland and never get tired of the experience. Just look at this view!

Gornergrat Best Hike

Hiking to Riffelsee

If you do one thing while in Zermatt, it should be a trip up to Gornergrat. Here’s how to do it.

Interesting Facts about Gornergrat

Gornergrat lies in an area called the Valais, several kilometers east of Zermatt.

To get here, you will ride the Gornergrat Bahn, the highest open air railway in Europe. The train operates 365 days per year and it takes 33 minutes to travel from Zermatt to Gornergrat.

Gornergrat Bahn

Gornergrat Railway and the Matterhorn | How to Visit Gornergrat

Gornergrat sits at an altitude of 3089 meters (10,134 feet). From the top station, you get to see the second largest glacier in the Alps (Gorner Glacier), Switzerland’s highest peak (Dufourspitze), and the Matterhorn.

For a very unique experience, consider an overnight stay at the Kulm Hotel, Europe’s highest-altitude hotel. Learn more here. 

How to Get to Gornergrat

Gornergrat Railway

The best way to get to Gornergrat is to ride the Gornergrat Railway to the top station.

It’s also possible to get to Gornergrat by hiking, either from Zermatt (5 hours) or from one of the upper railway stations. However, if you like the idea of hiking, we recommend a wonderful, easy hike that has you mostly walking downhill (keep reading!). This is a more pleasant experience than hiking up a mountain at a high altitude.

The Gornergrat Railway is located in Zermatt across the street from the main train station (look for the station with the sign “Gornergrat Bahn, the Matterhorn Railway”). Purchase your tickets in the train station. There is no need to purchase them in advance.

We visited Zermatt in early July and had no problems purchasing a ticket the same day. We got on the very next train.

Zermatt Peaks Map

Map of the hiking trails in Zermatt | How to Visit Gornergrat

Riding the Gornergrat Railway

For the best view, take a seat on the right side of the train. The views over Zermatt and of the Matterhorn are amazing!

It takes 33 minutes to travel from Zermatt to Gornergrat. Along the way, you will make several brief stops at other train stations.

Matterhorn from Gornergrat Railway

Zermatt from the Gornergrat Railway | How to Visit Gornergrat


Riffelberg Station Zermatt

The view of Riffelberg Station and the Matterhorn from the Gornergrat Railway.

How Much Does It Cost to Visit Gornergrat?

Ticket Prices

  • One Way, Zermatt to Gornergrat, in July and August: 63 CHF
  • Return Ticket in July and August: 126 CHF

Tickets are cheaper the remainder of the year. Click here for the full price list.

Discounts: If you have the Swiss Travel Pass, half fare card, or are a child aged 6 to 16 years, you get a 50% discount. There is no discount for a Eurailpass.

If you have plans to be in Zermatt for at least two days and visit all three peaks (Gornergrat, Glacier Paradise, and Rothorn), consider buying the Peak Pass. This pass gives you unlimited access to all lifts and trains in the area. In July and August, a 2-day pass starts at 241 CHF with reduced prices the remainder of the year. Learn more here. 

Priority Boarding

For 5 CHF per ticket, you can add Priority Boarding. This allows you to board the train before those who do not have Priority Boarding. By boarding first, you are guaranteed to get a seat on the right side of the train for the best views of the Matterhorn.

Is priority boarding worth it? Maybe. If you can get in line early, or if crowds are light, you should have no problem getting a seat on the right side of the train, so priority boarding is not worth it. However, if you arrive at the train station right before the train arrives and lines are long, it might be worth it to pay a little extra money to skip the line (or, save your money and wait for the next train).

I recommend purchasing a one-way ticket to Gornergrat. There is no cost savings if you purchase a return ticket, and doing so locks you in to taking the train back to Zermatt from Gornergrat. It is possible to hike a short distance to a lower train station or cable car station and return to Zermatt a different way. From Gornergrat, we recommend the hike to Riffelberg.

Things to Do on Gornergrat

Once you disembark the train at Gornergrat, you will be standing at an elevation of 3,089 meters (10,134 feet). It’s completely normal to feel the effects of this higher elevation. You will get out of breath easier and you might feel a little dizzy or lightheaded. When walking uphill and going up stairs, take your time.

Gornergrat Train Station

Gornergrat Train Station | How to Visit Gornergrat

First View from Gornergrat

Immediately next to the train station is a wide terrace that offers a great view of the Matterhorn. Take in the view and then walk up to the main building.

First View of Matterhorn

View from the terrace next to the train station | How to Visit Gornergrat

3100 Kulm Hotel and Terraces

The main building, the 3100 Kulm Hotel, also has a restaurant, restrooms, and gift shops. Two observatories sit on two corners of the building.

Gornergrat Building

3100 Kulm Hotel | How to Visit Gornergrat


Gornergrat Restaurant

For panoramic views of the area, continue up the trail behind the building. From here, you can see the Gorner Glacier, the second largest glacier in the Alps. You can also see the Monte Rossa Massif and Switzerland’s highest peak, Dufourspitze.

Hike the Scenic Loop

If you feel like exploring, follow the hiking trail off to the east. This trail is 0.4 km long and offers unique views of Gornergrat, the Gorner Glacier, and the Matterhorn.

Gornergrat Hiking Trail

Gornergrat Scenic Loop | How to Visit Gornergrat


Gorner Glacier

Gorner Glacier | How to Visit Gornergrat

How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelsee and Riffelberg

Gornergrat to Riffelberg Hiking Stats

Distance: 4 to 5 km point-to-point, depending on the route
Total Ascent: 60 m (200 feet)
Total Descent: 560 m (1,850 feet)
Highest Elevation (at the Gornergrat train station): 3,100 m (10,150 feet)
Lowest Elevation (at the Riffelberg Station): 2,600 m (8,500 feet)
Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
When to Go: July through September


Map of the hiking trail from Gornergrat to Riffelsee and Riffelberg.


Riffelsee Riffelberg Trail Map

Hiking route from Gornergrat to Rotenboden, Riffelsee, and Riffelberg.

Riffelberg Elevation Profile

Elevation profile: Gornergrat to Riffelberg

Hiking from Gornergrat to Riffelsee

Distance: 2 km (1.2 miles)
Time: 30 minutes plus lots of extra time for photos

This short, easy hike is a wonderful experience to add on to your visit to Gornergrat. On this mostly downhill hike, you will have awesome views of the Matterhorn and you get to visit the very pretty Riffelsee lake.

From the Gornergrat train station, follow the trail downhill, heading towards the Matterhorn. There are also numerous orange signs directing hikers where to go. Follow the sign to Riffelsee.

Zermatt Hiking Trail Sign

Hiking Trail Sign | How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg

Along the way, you can climb the hill in the photo below, which is labeled on Google Maps as Steinmännchen, for nice view of the Matterhorn.

Gornergrat Hike

The rocky hill (Steinmännchen) in this photo makes a nice detour off of the main hiking trail. It’s a great photo spot with good views of the Matterhorn and the Gornergrat station.


Matterhorn from Gornergrat

View of the Matterhorn from Steinmännchen | How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg


View of Gornergrat

Looking back at Gornergrat station from Steinmännchen | How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg

Back on the main trail, continue the walk to Riffelsee.

Hike Zermatt

Julie Tyler Kara Zermatt


The farther down the trail you go, the more the views open up. Now you can see Riffelsee in the photo below.

Panoramic View of Matterhorn

More great views of the Matterhorn | How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg


Earth Trekkers

Riffelsee Zermatt

Overlooking Riffelsee | How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg

If you get lucky with the weather, and it is not too breezy, it’s possible to get a photo of Matterhorn’s reflection in Riffelsee lake (we didn’t get so lucky). 


Riffelsee on a breezy day | How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg

You can end your hike here and make the short walk to Rotenboden and take the train back to Zermatt. Or, keep going for more gorgeous views of the Alps.

Hike from Riffelsee to Riffelberg

Distance: 2 to 3 km (1.2 to 2 miles)
Time: 30 to 60 minutes, plus lots of extra times for photos

From Riffelsee, it takes approximately 30 minutes to hike to Riffelberg. There are two ways to get to Riffelberg. We followed the Swiss Topwalk trail (#23) to Riffelsberg (2 km). Another option is to take the Riffelseeweg Trail (#21), which is a slightly longer trail (about 20 minutes additional hiking time and 3 km).

Just beyond Riffelsee, another, smaller lake comes into view. This is another beautiful spot for photos. 

Riffelsee to Riffelberg Hike

Things to Do Gornergrat Switzerland

We often get questions about where we took the photo below. It is taken on the rock on the far side of this small lake. In the photo above, you can see the rock.

Zermatt Switzerland


Beyond the second lake, here is the view of the Matterhorn from the hiking trail. 


Hiking from Riffelsee to Riffelberg

A short distance past the second lake, the trail will split. We went right, following the Swiss Topwalk, which is the shorter of the two options. If you don’t mind a slightly longer hike, you can take the Riffelseeweg Trail, #21. Here are the views from the Swiss Topwalk.

Swiss Topwalk Trail

Swiss Topwalk Trail | How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg


Swiss Alp Panorama

Best things to do in Gornergrat

More awesome views of the Matterhorn | How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg


Riffelberg Station

Riffelberg Station | How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg

As you descend, the landscape gets a little greener and the views open up. From here, you can see Zermatt off in the distance.

View of Zermatt

Zermatt in the valley | How to Hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg

Once you arrive in Riffelberg you have a decision to make. It’s possible to continue the hike all of the way down to Zermatt (2 hours). Or, you can take the Gornergrat Railway back to Zermatt (CHF 40) or ride the Riffelberg Express to Zermatt (CHF 37.50). The Riffelberg Express is a cable car that runs from Riffelberg to Furi. Once in Furi, change cable cars to continue to Zermatt (included in the CHF 37.50).

You can purchase your tickets for the train and the cable car at the stations in Riffelsberg.

We rode the cable car back to Zermatt, just to have a different view.

OPTIONAL: Combine Gornergrat with a visit to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. Visit Gornergrat in the morning and Glacier Paradise in the afternoon. From Riffelberg, take the cable car to Glacier Paradise, transferring in Furi. This saves you the time (and money) for a ride all the way back to Zermatt and then up to Glacier Paradise.

Summary of the Visit

How Much Does This Cost?

If you ride the train to Gornergrat and the cable car from Riffelberg to Zermatt, you will pay CHF 100.50 per adult in the summer months, without a discount.

How Long Does it Take?

This visit takes between 3 to 3.5 hours: 30 minute train ride, 30 minutes at Gornergrat, an hour and a half for the hike and time for photos, and 30 minutes to ride the cable car or train back to Zermatt. If you plan to have a meal at the restaurant or explore the hiking trail next to the restaurant, add more time to this estimate.

Tips to Have the Best Experience

If you have several days in Zermatt, visit Gornergrat on the day with the clearest weather, so that you have the best view of the Matterhorn. Check the weather here.

If you have a crystal clear day in the forecast, consider combining a visit to Gornergrat with Glacier Paradise. This will save you money and time.

Bring sunscreen. There is no shade on the trail and since you will be at a higher elevation, it’s easier to get a sunburn.

Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

Gornergrat, Glacier Paradise, or Rothorn?

Gornergrat is one of three high alpine experiences that you can have in Zermatt.

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the highest you can go in the region, at an elevation of 3883 meters (12,740 feet). It’s a great experience, however, you don’t get the iconic view of Matterhorn so it can be disappointing for some people.

Rothorn is another very popular alpine experience that offers great views of the Matterhorn. Some people say that this is their favorite view. However, this is the farthest viewpoint from Matterhorn, and yes, the view is incredible, but the view from Gornergrat was our favorite.

At Gornergrat, you are very close to the Matterhorn. And with easy hiking trails that offer spectacular views of not only the Matterhorn but also of Zermatt, we loved every minute of this experience.

If you only have time for one high mountain experience while in Zermatt, Gornergrat gets our vote.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Get to Gornergrat? 

The best way to get to Gornergrat is to ride the Gornergrat Railway to the top station. It’s also possible to get to Gornergrat by hiking, either from Zermatt (5 hours) or from one of the upper railway stations. The Gornergrat Railway is located in Zermatt across the street from the main train station.

Is a Visit to Gornergrat Worth It? 

Visiting Gornergrat and hiking to Riffelberg is one of our favorite experiences in Switzerland, so yes, it’s worth it. For the best experience, plan your visit for a day when the weather is clear, so you can enjoy those spectacular views of the Matterhorn.

How long does a visit to Gornergrat last?

If you simply ride the railway to Gornegrat and enjoy the views from the outdoor terraces, a visit will last roughly 2 hours, which includes the travel time on the Gornergrat Railway. If you add on the hike to Riffelsee, add on another 45 minutes to your visit. If you do the entire hike from Gornergrat to Riffelberg, add on 2 hours. So, it takes roughly 4 hours to visit Gornergrat and hike to Riffelberg.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Panorama Ski Lodge and highly recommend it. We had a two-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen, large living room, and unbelievable views of the Matterhorn. This was our favorite hotel in Switzerland and probably one of our favorite stays in all of Europe. On a return visit to Zermatt, we would stay here again. Just so you know, this hotel is located on a hill (which is why the views are unbeatable). To walk into Zermatt, it is a 15 minute downhill walk. To get back to the hotel, it’s a very steep uphill walk. However, you can hire a taxi to take you back to the hotel to avoid this strenuous walk.

Panorama Ski Lodge Zermatt

View from our apartment.

If you have any questions about how to visit Gornergrat and hike to Riffelsee or Riffelberg, let us know in the comment section below.

More Places to Go in Switzerland:

ZERMATT:For more ideas on what to do, read our article Best Things to Do in Zermatt. Another nice hike is the 5 Lakes Trail. For more alpine views, learn how to visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (and find out if it is worth it). 

MORE GREAT HIKES IN SWITZERLAND: The Bernese Oberland is one of Switzerland’s top hiking destinations. Hike the short, incredibly scenic trail from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg,  walk the Northface Trail from Mürren, or hike from Schynige Platte to Faulhorn, a longer, more challenging, but awesome hike in this region. We also recommend hiking the Gastlosen Tour near Gruyères.

JUNGFRAU REGION OF THE BERNESE OBERLAND: If you are planning a trip to the Jungfrau region, check out our Guide to the Jungfrau Region, which includes maps and important travel planning information. We also have a separate article about the best things to do in the Jungfrau region. Get more information on how to visit Jungfraujoch, where to stay in the Jungfrau region, and how to add on the thrilling Mürren Via Ferrata to your visit.

LAUSANNE: Lausanne is another beautiful Swiss city with lots of great things to do and it also is a great home base for day trips in the area, such as Gruyères and Montreux, Vevey and Chateau de Chillon.

SWITZERLAND ITINERARY: If your visit to Zermatt is part of a bigger trip to Switzerland, check out our Switzerland Itinerary, which has suggestions on what to do if you have 7 days, 14 days, or even longer.

EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe and the 20 Best Hikes in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our 10 Days in Europe itinerary guide, which has 10 great itineraries for your next trip to Europe.

Read all of our articles about Switzerland in our Switzerland Travel Guide.


Zermatt Hike Gornergrat to Riffelberg Matterhorn


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Comments 16

  1. Avatar for Irene Ong
    Irene Ong

    Hi Julie,
    Enjoyed reading your blog on hikes in Zermatt and it really helps my planning for our trip in Oct 2022. I’ll be in Zermatt from 24 Oct to 26 Oct. I’m keen to go on the hike from Gornergrat to Riffelsee and Riffelberg. Will the hiking trail be open during that time ?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      The trail might be closed in October. From what I know, the hiking season lasts through September. If there isn’t snow on the trail in October, it could remain open. You can still ride the train to Gornergrat but there is a chance that you won’t be able to hike these trails. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Leah Smith
    Leah Smith

    Hi Julie – just want to give a huge thank you shout out to you and your Earth trekkers site! You are literally my go to when planning our trips and you are always spot on and very helpful in your detailed descriptions and how to’s. INVALUABLE!!
    We hiked from Gorgergrat to Riffelsee today as the sun came out in Zermatt – A bucket list hike for sure!Thank you for all you do – and keep on traveling – because we are following in your “literal footsteps” – Leah and Mike – Napa Valley

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Leah and Mike. You’re very welcome and enjoy the rest of your time in Zermatt (and Switzerland)! 😊 Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Alan
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  4. Avatar for Debby Schlesinger
    Debby Schlesinger

    I LOVED this Blog about the Gronergrat to Riffelberg hike 04/11/2022. We will be traveling to Switzerland in July 2022. My husband has booked a guide to climb the Matterhorn. I will be doing this hike with a friend. Do you have a printed form of the blog that I could bring along? Or how could I obtain a printed map? I attempted to print, but the pics didn’t show up. I’ll also check your “Things to do in Switzerland”, as we will be touring throughout the country & have not “nailed down” an itinerary yet….so suggestions are welcome. We all enjoy hiking, nature, vistas and adventures. We will be traveling by train/public transport mostly, so a train map would be a welcome addition as well. We plan on purchasing (at least) a Swiss “half pass” for the trains & railways. Does this cover the Gondolas as well? (We will spend time in the Jungfrau region, in Grindelwald). Any tips would be welcome.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Debbie. That’s exciting that you are planning a trip to Switzerland in July (we’ll be in the country at the same time) and that your husband is going to climb Matterhorn! We don’t have a printable version of this article other than what you can print from the browser. As far as maps, I got most of the them from this website, so you could check this website to see if they have a printable version of the trail maps and train routes in the area. The only map that doesn’t come from the Zermatt website is the Google Earth map in this article, since that uses GPX data from our hike. The Swiss Travel Pass covers the gondolas also. The Swiss Travel Pass also gives a reduction on the Peak Pass, if you plan to also visit Matterhorn and Rothorn.
      Take a look at our Switzerland itinerary for ideas on how to plan your time. If you like hiking and adventure travel, plan on spending 3 or more days in Zermatt and 5 or more days in the Jungfrau area. Lucerne is also very nice. For all of these areas, you do not need a car. Purchase a Swiss Travel Pass for the length of your stay and this will either cover most of your transportation or give you discounts for some areas (such as Zermatt, Jungfraujoch, etc). And if you fall in love with the area (it’s hard not to), a future trip to consider is the Haute Route. The four of us are hiking it this summer (a 2 week trek from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland) and it looks like an unforgettable experience!
      I hope you have a great time in Switzerland! Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Allyson Sanborn
    Allyson Sanborn

    Hi Julie!
    Well, our plane tickets and hotel are booked, so now I just need to figure out the hikes we want to do! We will arrive in Zermatt on a Saturday evening in June; Sunday we hope to do the Gornergrat/Matterhorn hike you recommend combined with Glacier Paradise; Monday we would do the Rothorn hike; Tuesday we will take the train to Zurich… is there anything else nearby that you’d suggest doing on the same day as the Rothorn hike?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      If you haven’t seen it, here is our post on things to do in Zermatt. The Gorner Gorge sounds great. If you like the idea of walking across a very long suspension bridge, you could go to the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, which I read is the longest suspension bridge in the world. I hope you have a great trip to Switzerland! Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for Cinthia

    Hey guys, what a great family trip!
    I’m going to Switzerland on February and looking for hiking options. Do you think any of your hikings are ok during winter without a guide?
    Thank you so much, I love the posts! 🙂

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Cinthia. From what I know, the main hiking season starts in June, once the snow melts. I don’t know how much hiking goes on in February but skiing is big this time of year. If you have a hotel booked, email them your question because they can probably give you more accurate information. Have fun in Switzerland! Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Antonio

    Wow, you’ve got the amazing shots. Really enjoyed reading your article. I’ve been hiking around Gornergrat a few times and honestly, it never gets old. I really like your tip about getting a priority boarding pass for the train ride. Keep it up.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  8. Avatar for Becca

    I am wanting to spend at least a day visiting these mountains next month! We will have a car we are driving around various cities. If I want to do this day trip up to Gornergrat, how many days should I dedicate to the Zermatt area? Is there anything else I should do while in the Zermatt area?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Becca. Just so you know, Zermatt is a car free town, so you won’t be able to drive here. You will have to take the train in from another town. Here’s some info for you to read. To do this hike, you need one day and one night in Zermatt (and keep you fingers crossed that you get good weather). With a second day, you can also ride the cable car up to Glacier Paradise (high alpine experience similar to Jungfraujoch) and/or up to Rothorn, for more amazing views of the Matterhorn. We spent 2 days and 2 nights in Zermatt and saw all three things I just listed. Gornergrat was definitly our favorite. Plus, the town of Zermatt is lovely. Enjoy! Cheers, Julie

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