Zermatt, Gornergrat & Riffelsee – Another Visit Before the First Snow

Hello everyone! Last time I went to Zermatt the second time because I checked the weather report and it says the first snow is coming to the village this week. I decided to go before the first snow because I wanna see Zermatt’s real face. Last time I went there it was winter and everything was covered in snow, the houses, the river, the paths, the roads, but this time it’s totally different, you can still see the green tree on the mountains, which surround the village. img_5314

As I said in my previous post about Zermatt, There are generally three routes you can choose if you wanna go up to the mountains with cable cars or trains. 1, to Gornergrat. 2, to Matterhorn glacier paradise/Schwarzsee (cable car station). 3, to Sunnegga and Rothorn.

  1. For more info about funicular train and cable car timetables to Matterhorn glacier paradise / Schwarzsee, Sunnegga and Rothorn, Gornergrat please click here.
  2. For more info about funicular train and cable car tickets to Matterhorn glacier paradise / Schwarzsee, Sunnegga and Rothorn, Gornergrat please click here. (you can use GA or half price card, and maybe 1-day swiss pass, for half price) (I didn’t see the official mentioning 1-day travel pass but it should work as GA.)
  3. If you wanna know more about what to do at the peaks please click here.
  4. For more info about what the mountains around Zermatt offer please click here.

Last time I chose the route to go to Sunnegga and Rothorn and this time I chose to go to Gornergrat. To be honest, I didn’t feel that the view of Matterhorn is so different, but when you’re on the Gornergrat train, you will Matterhorn is very close. Do you remember in my last post about Zermatt “Zermatt & Rothorn Paradise” I talked about “Try to find a path called “AHV-Weg, 3920 Zermatt” and it gives you a wonderful view of the village”? The Gornergrat train takes basically the same route when it goes to Findelbach (one in-between stop) so you can have a pretty nice view of the village and Matterhorn. Remember to sit on the right side when you go up! During high season, the train goes every 24 mins so enjoy the view, don’t run, you won’t wait for too long. 🙂




As I said before, the view of Matterhorn from Rothorn and Gornergrat is quite similar. However, I changed the chocolate because last time when I went to Rothorn I took the classic Toblerone and this time when I’m in Gornergrat I took the white chocolate haha. Next time when I go to Matterhorn glacier paradise I’ll take the black chocolate and take the same picture lol, and then my free advertisements for Toblerone are finished lol.

1. How to get to Zermatt

From Zürich HB you can take a train to Visp, and then a local train or sometimes a tour train will take you into the valley. This train can be quite crowded during busy seasons. I couldn’t find a seat in the second class and there are quite some people staring there, so I went to the first class and stood close to the door. After the staff checked my ticket, he let me sit in the first class, but I said I only have second class ticket . Then he said:” It’s ok, basically all the seat in the first class are empty anyway.” So touching haha. This is why I like the SBB service and sometimes they are really considerate and reasonable (Hopefully the managers are not gonna see my blog and fire him……). From Visp to Zermatt the direct distance is not very long but the train is very slow. Just sit and relax and enjoy the view. It feels you’re take a magic train, gonna go through a hidden gate, enter another world.

2. Zermatt – the Village

As I said in my previous post about Zermatt, it is a ski resort (around 1600m above sea level) and popular tourist village as it is completely surrounded by high mountains such as Monte Rosa (4634m, Switzerland’s highest peak), the Dom (4545m), Weisshorn (4505m), Matterhorn (4478m) and many more. Most of the above 4-thousand mountains in the Alps are around Zermatt or the valleys.

The village forbids combustion engine cars so there would be less air pollution that would affect the view of the Matterhorn. In the village, you can see a lot of e-cars which are super quiet and simple. When you arrive there you will feel the air is so fresh and clean.

According to Wikipedia,

The village was “discovered” by mid-nineteenth-century British mountaineers, most notably Edward Whymper, whose conquest of the Matterhorn made the village famous. The Matterhorn was one of the last alpine mountains to be conquered (in 1865), and the first expedition that reached the top ended dramatically with only 3 of the 7 climbers surviving the descent.

I still recommend the path I wrote about last time and if you still have enough energy and time after coming down from Gornergrat, you should go and check it out. It takes around 20-30 mins to walk from one end to the other and you can choose to take a bus back (You need to pay the bus as no GA or travel pass are valid for those eco-friendly buses in the village) or walk back through the city.


3. From Zermatt to Gornergrat

The Gornergratbahn goes from Zermatt to Gornergrat and stops at Findelbach, Riffelalp, Riffelberg, Rotenboden and the terminal station Gornergrat. It’s the highest open-air cog railway in Europe. the whole journey takes around 30 mins and climbs almost 1500 meters.

As I mentioned above, The Gornergrat train takes basically the same route as “AHV-Weg, 3920 Zermatt” when it goes to Findelbach (one in-between stop) so you can have a pretty nice view of the village and Matterhorn. Again, remember to sit on the right side of the train.


3.1 Stop Riffelberg

If you are interested you can get off at Riffelberg, which is the high slopes below Gornergrat. It was also mentioned by Mark Twain in his narrative.

  1. The viewing point here, according to Zermatt Tourist office is one of the best in this village. From this viewing point, Matterhorn is just 7.5km away.
  2. You can also visit the oldest mountain hotel, which was built in 1855, in Zermatt from this stop. At that time, people had to carry the building materials up to here as there were no trains. A lot of mountain climbers as well as members of British high society stayed here.
  3. If you are interested, visit the chapel “Bruder Klaus” but you have a get the key from the Hotel Riffelberg.

3.2 Stop Rotenboden and Riffelsee

This is a stop that I strongly recommend you to get off.


Here is a starting point for many hiking routes for hikers and mountain enthusiasts.

One thing you should never miss is a famous lake Riffelsee, where you can see the reflection of Matterhorn and other mountains (not in winter because at that time the lake will be frozen and covered with snow). This lake has attracted so many tourists as well as professional photographers, who are trying their best to capture a perfect photo of Matterhorn, together with its “brother”, the reflection on the peaceful surface of Riffelsee. When there’s no wind at all, you will feel total tranquility by the lake. Riffelsee is like a mirror when the water is still and when you walk around it, you will see the reflection of all the hills, paths and mountains.


It takes around 10-15 mins to walk form the Rotenboden station to the lake. However, the lake is 2757 meters above sea level and the station is 2815 meters above sea level. If you have health problems I suggest you walk slowly because of the lack of oxygen. Don’t go down or stand up all of a sudden and don’t run to the lake just because you’re too excited, otherwise you will feel dizzy or even pass out. I took a walk around around the lake and I found some alpine flowers. Considering it’s already autumn and on the mountains it’s so cold, I was so excited when I found a blue flower. By the lake you will see a board introducing to you the alpine flowers growing around this area. if you are a plant lover, probably in summer you can visit the lake and do some alpine flower hunting (just look at them and take some pictures, please don’t pick them up).

4. Gornergrat (terminal station)

The Gornergrat is 3089 meters above sea level and it offers a wonderful view of Matterhorn as well as more than 20 higher-than-four-thousand mountains around it. You can see Monte Rosa (4634m, Switzerland’s highest peak), the Dom (4545m), Weisshorn (4505m), Matterhorn (4478m) and many more. In Gornergrat, you should see the Gorner Glacier, visit the highest hotel in Europe – Kulmhotel Gornergrat, Bernhard von Aosta chapel and the summit of Gornergrat.


4.1 Gorner Glacier

Don’t forget to have a look the second largest glacier in the Alps, the Gorner Glacier, and if the first snow of the year hasn’t arrived when you’re there, look for the hidden green “emeralds” in the rocks of the mountains.


4.2 The highest hotel in Europe – Kulmhotel Gornergrat

This hotel is located 3100 meters above sea level, which makes it the highest hotel in Europe. There are restaurants, astronomical observatories (Kölner Observatorium für SubMillimeter Astronomie “KOSMA”) in both two towers and various shops.


4.3 Bernhard von Aosta chapel

In the 19th century, when the Kulmhotel Gornergrat was built, sunday service was done in the dining room of the hotel, and then the bishop wished for a chapel. That’s why the mountain sanctuary was built and stands at an altitude of around 3100 meters

4.4 The summit

The summit is 3112 meters above sea level and is the best place to view more than 20 mountains, which are above 4000 meter high. On the northern, southern, western sides you will see boards telling you what the mountains in front of you are and how high they are. On the eastern side is a path to walk around another small mountain. It’s also fun to feed some of the mountain crows if you have some snacks with you (I hope it doesn’t break the rules on the mountains……). I was actually at the beginning very afraid of them because of their speed of flying and sharp claws and beak (Also maybe because crows have a bad reputation in China……). However, after my friends persuaded me to try it, it’s quite interesting and I think the crows are more afraid of you than you’re of them. Anyway, I think they are quite friends, at least the one I met in Gornergrat.

After all these walking, visiting at an altitude of between 1600m and 3100m, I’m quite sure you will feel tired, but on your way back in the train or in the car, you will think of the view of more than 20 higher-than-4000m mountains around you and the tranquil Riffelsee with the reflection of Matterhorn, you will feel all your effort is worth it.

Zermatt, Gornergrat & Riffelsee – Another Visit Before the First Snow was last modified: October 11th, 2016 by Dong

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