Zermatt is situated at the end of the Matter valley, at one of the most scenic spots in the Swiss Alps. Zermatt is extremely picturesque and most popular ski resort in Switzerland. In addition to winter sports, Zermatt offers a charming and bustling village, high mountain scenery, hiking trails and many other activities, but the first thing comes in our mind is, The Matterhorn. The Matterhorn is the ultimate symbol of Switzerland marketed worldwide and recognized even by children because of the Toblerone chocolate. Its triangular shape and the logo both are inspired from this mountain.
How to reach Zermatt
Zermatt is a car free town, so if you want to come to Zermatt by car, you have to park your car in Tasch, 5 KM from Zermatt, and ride the Zermatt shuttle train. If you are starting your journey from Interlaken or Bern, you have to take the train for Visp. After reaching Visp, you have to change the train here from main line to mountain train. When you get off the train, look for the stairs or ramp down to the underpass. Underpass is clearly signposted for Zermatt, go to that platform and catch the train for Zermatt. There is a ramp along with steps so you can easily carry your luggage. The train form Visp to Zermatt runs on meter gauge and cog railway, so it's much slower than normal intercity train. Train climbs almost 1,000 m from Visp to Zermatt. The scenery from visp to Zermatt is mesmerizing. We have seen the most beautiful scenery in Switzerland during this trip. Travel time from Visp is slightly more than 1 hour.
Outside Zermatt station the main street Bahnhofstrasse is lined with boutique shops, hotels and restaurants. Supermarket is in front of the station. There are many activities to do in Zermatt, but our destination was Klein Matterhorn. For going to Klein Matterhorn, you have to walk cross the town and reach the cable car station.
Zermatt is car free, so the only way to get around in the town is on foot, small electric taxis and horse carriage. We decided to walk through this beautiful town. From station walk on this beautiful Street Bahnhofstrasse till the square where you find village Church. From church square, turn left and walk into the street for some time. Walk over the river bridge turning right at the first street. This will take you to the cable car station.
How to get to Klein Matterhorn
Zermatt is in the backyard of the world's most photographed mountains - the Matterhorn. You can reach Matterhorn only if you are a climber, but we want to go to the Little Matterhorn (or Klein Matterhorn in German) which is possible for non-climbers along with children's by a set of cable cars. From the top of the Klein Matterhorn you can enjoy spectacular views of many 4000 meters upward peaks, in Switzerland, ltaly and France.
The trip starts from the Zermatt valley station and You need to take 3 different cable cars to get to the Klein Matterhorn. The entire ride from Zermatt takes about 45 minutes to 1 Hour.
* The first from Zermatt to Furi 8-seater cable car, which reaches an altitude of 1867 meters.
* The second from Furi to Trockener Steg 150 people capacity cable car, which reaches an altitude of 2939 meters.
* Third from Trockener Steg to Klein Matterhorn reaches an altitude of 3883 metres. There are two lifts from Trockener Steg. The old cable car and the newly opened 3S Bhan (three-cable system) which will take you to Klein Matterhorn in under 9 minutes.
At Trockener Steg cable car station you can visit the lnfoCube - 3S Bahn. The InfoCube is an experience centre where visitors set off on a virtual trip over the glaciers using VR goggles. Interactive information & Videos about Klein Matterhorn and the construction of 3 cable car can be viewed here.
Things to do at Klein Matterhorn
So, once you reach on the top of Klein Matterhorn, other than sightseeing from the observation platform, you can enjoy glacier Paradise, cinema Lounge and shopping.
As you reach the last Klein Matterhorn cable car station, you can find signs pointing towards an elevator that would take us to the observation platform. This is the highest observation platform in Europe. After leaving the elevator, climb the stairs and you are at the observation platform. From here you will enjoy the 360 degrees panorama and 38 Alpine peaks of more than 4000 meters with 14 glaciers.
we went there on a clear day and manage to see most of the peaks. Neither we know the name of the peaks nor we have counted but the views were breathtaking. The views where so mesmerizing that you can spend hours here without doing anything. The time we reach there suddenly one cloud came and stuck on the Matterhorn restricting the full view of Matterhorn. Till the time we were there, the cloud was also stuck there.
After this we went to the snow play area. Our kids want to play with the snow and we spend maximum time here. This area is the starting point of skiing slope. Other than skiing and playing with snow the only activity available at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is snow tubing which is available for free. You can do snow tubing as many times as you like. When the kids are done with throwing snow ball on each other and snow tubing, they quickly make their snowman.
At Klein Matterhorn there is also a Glacier Paradise. We skip this Glacier Paradise because a day before we have already visited the same type of glacier Paradise in Jungfraujoch. You have to take a lift and get down to the Glacier Paradise, since it's below the restaurant and shop level.
After spending sufficient time at Klein Matterhorn, we move to our next destination Gornergrat, for that we had already purchased Peak2Peak ticket.
The Peak2Peak tickets lets you discover Zermatt's two must see viewpoints, the Matterhorn glacier paradise and Gornergrat, on a single excursion. The Peak2Peak ticket is available from July to August and from November to April. The only "shortcut" the Peak2Peak Pass would enable you to do would be Furi to Riffelberg. From Riffelberg you have to catch a train and go to Gornergrat. On the return trip from Gornergrat catch the train and come to the Gornergrat Bhan station which is next to the Zermatt main station. Peak2Peak ticket costs us CHF 150 for two adults which include Swiss pass discount. Kids travel for free with fare paying parents having Swiss family pass.
Gornergrat (3,089 m) is one of the places one must visit when you are in Zermatt area. The Gornergrat is a rocky ridge of the Pennine Alps, overlooking the Gorner Glacier south-east of Zermatt. It can be reached from Zermatt by the Gornergrat Bhan railway (GGB), the highest open-air railway in Europe. Between the Gornergrat railway station (3,090 m) and the summit is the Kulm Hotel (3,120 m). Two astronomical observatories were installed in1960 in the two towers of the Kulm hotel Gornergrat.
There is an elevator to take you to the level of the hotel where there are rest rooms as well as dining options. You will get a great view of Matterhorn from here. From the back of the hotel, If you can climb, there is a viewing platform where you will be rewarded with better views and great photo opportunities. It offers a far view of Matterhorn and the mountain panorama.
In Zermatt it seems like everything is constructed around Matterhorn in mind. You can see the Matterhorn while travelling from train, from the cable cars or while staying at hotels. You should not miss Matterhorn views even while hiking so at every location you will find a Matterhorn View point.
During summer season also its very cold at Klein Matterhorn. Dress in layers and take warm clothes, caps, gloves, sunglasses and lip balm. When you are on the top of Klein Matterhorn, reduce your physical activities and let your body acclimatize with climate conditions. If you feel high altitude sickness or headache go slow. If you want to visit Klein Matterhorn and Gornergrat on the same day Peak2Peak tickets are cheaper. While going from Zermatt to Gornergrat sit on the right side of the train to get the best views, or left side when returning.
Many people stop at Rotenboden station to take the reflection of Matterhorn in the lake Riffelsee, but we have a limited time so we avoid that. If you have a round trip ticket you can hop off at any station, catch the views outside and hop on to the next train.
When we are satisfied with near, far and every kind of view of Matterhorn, we catch the next train and came to Zermatt and concluded our trip.