Does a trip to the highest cable car station in Europe sound thrilling to you? How about having 360° views across the Alps? If so, then put Matterhorn Glacier Paradise on your Swiss to-do list.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is an alpine wonderland of ski slopes, panoramic vistas, ice carvings, and a unique view of the Matterhorn. On this visit, you will ride a series of cable cars to the highest station in Europe and get panoramic views over the Alps. It’s an amazing experience and very easy to do from Zermatt.
In this post, learn how to plan your visit to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, how much it will cost, and if it is worth it.
We visited Matterhorn Glacier Paradise twice. As you will see from our photos, we had both a cloudy day and a sunny day.
Table of Contents
Interesting Facts about Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Klein Matterhorn, aka Little Matterhorn, is a mountain peak in Switzerland. This is the location of Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. At 3,883 meters (12,740 feet), Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the highest cable car station in Europe. It is considerably higher than Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe, which is also located in Switzerland. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise sits 429 meters (1,407 feet) higher than Jungfraujoch.
To get to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise you will ride a series of cable cars. The final leg of the journey, from Trockener Steg to the summit, is on a new cable car system that was completed in 2018.
The only way to get to the summit is on these cable cars. There are no hiking trails since Klein Matterhorn is always covered in snow.
How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Next we cover everything you need to know about how to visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, including how to get to here, ticket prices, and what you can do once you are here.
How to Get to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
To get to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, your journey will start in Zermatt. To get to the summit you will ride three cable cars, and to make things a bit more complicated, you have two routes to choose from.
Below is a map of Zermatt. I highlighted the location of the cable car stations between Zermatt and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
Map of the cable cars and hiking trails in and around Zermatt. Source: www.zermatt.ch.
The route you choose depends on two factors: the time of year that you are doing this and whether or not you want to make a quick detour for a unique view of the Matterhorn.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: The cable car routes and timetables change from month to month. There is both a summer timetable and a winter timetable, which you can see on the official website. Before you go, check the hours of the cable cars since they are not the same all year round. The cable cars can also close in the spring and fall for maintenance, so keep this in mind as well.
The first leg of this trip, from Zermatt to Furi, is the same no matter which route you choose. One gondola runs between Zermatt and Furi. Beyond Furi, you can take your pick between two different cable car routes.
The first cable car station, the Zermatt Bergbahnen, is located at the southern end of Zermatt. To get to the station, you can walk or ride the bus. From Zermatt Bergbahnen, ride the gondola to Furi.
The view of Furi cable car station with Zermatt in the background. This photo was taken from the Hängebrücke.
Zermatt to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise through Schwarzsee
This is the route to take if you want a unique view of the Matterhorn. It’s also the most popular route since it is the most scenic and these gondolas run on a longer daily schedule in the summer.
Zermatt to Furi: It is a 5 minute ride from Zermatt to Furi. In Furi, transfer to the cable car to Schwarszee.
Furi to Schwarzsee: It is an 8 minute ride to get to Schwarzsee. If you like, you can hop off the cable car and walk a short distance towards the lake to take of photo of the Matterhorn, take a photo with the ZERMATT sign, or walk down to Schwarzsee for a closer view.
The view from the gondola right before you get to Schwarzsee | How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
View of the Matterhorn and Schwarzsee | How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Schwarzsee | How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
The Zermatt sign is just a 2-minute walk from the Schwarzsee station.
Schwarzsee to Trockener Steg: Get back on the gondola in Schwarzsee and ride this to Trockener Steg (9 minutes).
Trockener Steg to the summit: Board the futuristic cable car, called the Matterhorn Glacier Ride, for the final leg to the summit (8 minutes).
Total Travel Time: 30 minutes, not including the time for transfers and photos. It usually takes 1 hour to get from Zermatt to the summit on this route.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: The above route does not operate all year. During most of May and October, the gondola from Furi to Schwarzsee to Trockener Steg does not operate (you will have to follow the route below).
Zermatt to Furi to Trockener Steg to Glacier Paradise
This route is slightly faster and more direct than going through Schwarzsee. However, it is not offered all day. In the summer, the cable car from Furi to Trockener Steg has limited hours, usually running only in the early morning hours. Check the official website before you go to confirm that these cable cars are running during the time you plan to visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
Zermatt to Furi: It is a 5-minute ride from Zermatt to Furi. In Furi, transfer to the cable car to Trockener Steg.
Furi to Trockener Steg: It is a 7-minute ride from Furi to Trockener Steg.
Trockener Steg to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise: Board the futuristic cable car, the Matterhorn Glacier Ride, or the red, older cable car for the final leg to the summit (8 minutes).
Two cable cars travel between Trockener Steg and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. The Matterhorn Glacier Ride are the newer, blue cars that run all day in the summer. If you are traveling to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise in the early morning, you will most likely ride the older, red cable car shown in the photo above. We rode the red cable car on our early morning ascent before hiking to Breithorn.
Total Travel Time: 20 minutes without time for transfers. It usually takes 40 minutes to get from Zermatt to the summit on this route.
Which route is better? We did both. I recommend the first route (Zermatt → Furi → Schwarzsee → Trockener Steg → Matterhorn Glacier Paradise) since you get to stop off at Schwarzsee, which is a nice place to visit. Plus, if you are visiting in the summer, this is the route you will most likely take, since it runs all day.
GETTING YOUR TICKETS: You can purchase your tickets online in advance or get them at the Zermatt Bergbahnen station (the first cable car station). The first time we did this (in July), we purchased our tickets from the ticket booth in the station. We started at 8 am and we had no issues getting tickets and never had to wait in line. On our second visit, we were here earlier, as this was the start of our climb to Breithorn.
Crystal Ride Tickets
For an additional fee, you can ride one of four Crystal ride gondolas from Trockener Steg to the summit. These cabins are decorated with Swarovski crystals and the floor is made of glass so you can see the glaciers below.
We frequently get asked if the extra money for the Crystal Ride is worth it. We have ridden the cable cars to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise two times, never having tickets for the Crystal Ride, and we don’t feel like we missed out on anything by not having the glass bottom floor.
The cable car route between Trockener Steg and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
View of the Matterhorn from the cable car
The view of Trockener Steg from the cable car.
How Much Does It Cost to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise?
Round trip tickets start at CHF 95 per person. This price will be higher during the peak summer months (round trip tickets cost CHF 120 in the summer). This price includes the cable car ride and entrance into Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. There are several optional things to do on Glacier Paradise which will have additional fees.
There are ways to save money when traveling to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. Here are your options.
The Peak2Peak Ticket 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 ride the Gornergrat railway to get to Gornergrat. Once you are finished in Gornergrat, you will ride the railway back to Zermatt.
It is also possible to do this in the opposite direction.
This ticket includes free admission into Glacier Palace.
Ticket prices start at CHF 197. Here is the link to get updated prices for your visit.
This is a great option for those with limited time in Zermatt. It’s worth it if you have clear skies, since you get to see the Matterhorn from two spectacular viewpoints in one day. Just be aware that the Peak2Peak ticket is only offered during the summer months.
Price Reductions with Travel Passes
Get a 50% price reduction with a Swiss Travel Pass or half-fare pass. Children who are 9 through 15 years old get a 50% discount with a Junior Card or a Grandchild Card. Children under 9 are free.
Things to Do at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
If you visited Jungfraujoch, the visit to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is very similar, just on a smaller scale with fewer visitors. Take in the view from the observation platform, visit the ice cave, and walk out onto the snow.
The Viewing Platform
At this point, you are standing at 3,883 meters and have 360° views over the Alps. From here, you can see 38 mountain peaks and 16 glaciers with views across Switzerland, Italy, and France. On a clear day, you will be able to see Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau to the north and Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, to the east.
Viewing platform | How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
View from the viewing platform | How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
From the viewing platform, you also get a spectacular view of the Matterhorn. At first, you might not even recognize it. Since you are looking at it from a different angle than the classic view from Zermatt, the mountain looks very different.
The Matterhorn | How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
If you look in the opposite direction you will see another mountain peak called Breithorn. It is possible to climb to the summit of Breithorn (keep reading).
Breithorn | How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
View of the steps to the viewing platform and the ski slopes | How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
There is also a spot where you can attach a love lock.
Touted as being the highest Glacier Palace in the world, this ice cave is filled with ice carvings and sculptures. If you already visited Jungfraujoch, this is very similar to touring the Ice Palace, so this may not be worth it, unless you really like to see ice sculptures.
To visit the Glacier Palace, there is an additional fee.
Visit the Cinema Lounge
This small cinema plays short film clips that showcase the beauty of this alpine world.
Go skiing in Switzerland’s highest ski resort. Slopes are open 365 days per year, so even in the warm summer months, you can go skiing.
Want to ski the longest slope in the world? Starting at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, there is a 25 km slope that ends in Zermatt, making it the longest descent in the world.
Learn more about skiing at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise here.
If you are looking to add a real adventure onto your trip to Zermatt, climb to the summit of Breithorn. This is considered to be one of the easiest 4,000+ meter mountains to climb in the region. To do this, you do need to be in excellent shape and have prior mountain hiking experience.
This hike starts and ends at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. It takes roughly 3 hours. The hike is 5.7 km with an elevation gain of 407 meters.
Hiking to Breithorn | How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
On top of Breithorn
The trail and the view on top of Breithorn | How to Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
How Much Time Do You Need at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise?
If you visit the viewing platform, watch a short film clip at the cinema, and tour Glacier Palace, you need about two hours (maybe less if you move very fast).
If you add on skiing or the climb up Breithorn, your visit could last all day.
Rather than returning directly back to Zermatt, you also have the option to visit Gornergrat (using the Peak2Peak ticket) or hike one to the trails that start at the cable car stations between the summit and Zermatt.
Day Hikes between Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Zermatt
If you like the idea of adding on a hike to this visit, you can hike from Trockener Steg to Schwarzsee, Schwarzsee to Furi, and/or Furi to Zermatt. All of these hikes are downhill. Of these, our favorite is hiking from Trockener Steg to Schwarzsee on the Matterhorn Glacier Trail. This is an easy hike with great views of the Matterhorn. To do this, visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise first, then ride the cable car to Trockener Steg, hike to Schwarzsee, and ride the gondola to Zermatt.
View from the Matterhorn Glacier Trail
Another awesome but challenging hike is Schwarzsee to the Hörnlihütte. To do this after visiting Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, ride the cable car to Trockener Steg, ride the gondola to Schwarzsee, hike out-and-back to the Hörnlihütte, and then ride the gondola to Zermatt.
Hörnlihütte and the Matterhorn
Is Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Worth It?
In my opinion, it is worth it. The views across the Alps are incredible and to stand on one of the highest, most easily accessible places in Europe makes this excursion worth the cost and the time.
For those who like the idea of adding on some time on the ski slopes, especially in the months of July and August, this an experience that is very unique to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
With that being said, make sure you get to Gornergrat. This was, by far, or favorite experience in Zermatt. The views from Gornergrat and the easy hiking trail to Riffelberg are jaw-dropping and not to be missed. Either add it on to this visit or do it on a separate day.
View of the Matterhorn from Gornergrat
If you only have the time and money for one high alpine experience and you are trying to decide between Jungfraujoch and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, I recommend Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. A visit here is cheaper, faster, and you have better views than what you get at Jungfraujoch. This is also much less touristy so crowds should be lower.
Helpful Tips to Have the Best Experience
Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise on a clear day. Watch the weather and pick the clearest day to visit Glacier Paradise. Check the weather forecast here.
The weather is generally clear in the morning. Clouds tend to move in later in the day.
Bring hats, gloves, and lots of layers, even in the summer. Wear sunscreen.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Famous for?
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the location of the highest cable car station in Europe. It is one of the most easily accessible destinations in Europe to get 360° views of the Alps. It is also famous for being a skiing destination 365 days of the year.
Can you get altitude sickness on Matterhorn Glacier Paradise?
At this elevation the air is thin and you will most likely feel the effects of the altitude. Zermatt sits at 1,620 meters. To get here, you will ascend over 2,000 meters (over 6,500 feet) in about one hour, which is a big gain in a short period of time. Many people will notice the effects from being at a higher altitude, which include mild shortness of breath and maybe even a mild headache or a slightly dizzy feeling.
Altitude sickness is rare but not impossible. Symptoms include headache, nausea and vomiting, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, notify a staff member and then take the next cable car back to Zermatt.
What is the best time of day to visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise?
The best time to visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is first thing in the morning. At this time, the weather is generally clearer and crowds are lower than midday and in the afternoon.
Is Matterhorn Glacier Paradise on the Swiss Travel Pass?
With the Swiss Travel Pass, you can get a 50% discount on tickets to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
Which is better, Jungfraujoch or Matterhorn Glacier Paradise?
Jungfraujoch and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise are very similar experiences, but of the two, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise was our favorite, since it had less crowds, better views, and the cable car rides to get to it are beautiful.
More Information about Zermatt
BEST OF ZERMATT: For more great things to do, read our article Best Things to Do in Zermatt. Learn how to plan your visit with our Zermatt Itinerary, which has suggestions for how to spend your time if you have 1, 2, 3 or more days in Zermatt.
GORNERGRAT: Learn how to visit Gornergrat and hike to Riffelsee and Riffelberg.
SUNNEGGA & ROTHORN: In our Guide to Sunnegga, Blauherd, and Rothorn, learn how to visit this area, what there is to do, and how to spend one day visiting the highlights.
HIKES IN ZERMATT: For a full list of hikes, check out our guide Best Hikes in Zermatt. We also have trail guides for the Five Lakes Trail, the Breithorn summit, how to hike to Hörnlihütte, how to hike the Matterhorn Glacier Trail, and the hike from Furi to Gorner Gorge to Zermatt.
More Great Cable Car Rides in Europe
If You Like this Experience…
Here are more thrilling cable car rides to the highest peaks in Europe:
- Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe (Switzerland)
- Aiguille du Midi & Panoramic Mont-Blanc (France)
- Zugspitze (Austria & Germany)
- Seceda (Dolomites, Italy)
- Cima Tofana & Tofana di Mezzo (Dolomites, Italy)
- Marmolada (Dolomites, Italy)
Do you have any questions about how to visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise? Let us know in the comment section below.
More Places to Go in Switzerland
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 to Riffelberg in Zermatt and hiking the Gastlosen Tour near Gruyères.
JUNGFRAU REGION: What exactly is the Jungfrau region of the Bernese Oberland? Find out in our Guide to the Jungfrau Region, which includes maps and important travel planning information. We also have articles about the best things to do in the Jungfrau region as well as the top hikes in the Jungfrau region. The Eiger Trail and Schynige Platt to First are our favorite hikes. A visit to Jungfraujoch is one of the most popular experiences in the Jungfrau region, but is it worth it?
LUCERNE: Learn how to spend one perfect day in Lucerne with a trip to Mt. Pilatus.
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.
We have TONS more information about Switzerland in our Switzerland Travel Guide, including Zürich, Lucerne, the Bernese Oberland, Zermatt, Lugano, and Lausanne.
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