Best Hikes in Zermatt

Best Hikes in Zermatt

Zermatt – home of the Toblerone Mountain, aka the Matterhorn. For some, a trip to Switzerland is unfinished without a visit to Zermatt, where on a good day the Matterhorn dominates the skyline. We’ve hiked around here a couple of times now and would like to share some of our favorite hikes in the area with you. Most of them have views of the Matterhorn, and the one that doesn’t takes you across a huge pedestrian suspension bridge 85 meters (280 feet) above the ground! 

Contents

Zermatt – An Easy Hike to the Town Cross

So, the first hike on this list is a very relaxed hike starting in the town center of Zermatt. It takes you past some old wooden houses that are propped up on what look like giant mushrooms. Once out of the town, the walking signs take you further up above the town and through some fields. Not too long hence you’ll be approaching a giant cross from where you can get a pretty nice view of the town and the Matterhorn. We did this hike in the evening and the view of the fully lit town and the Matterhorn silhouetted in the dark was gorgeous! You don’t always have to hike far for a great view in Switzerland!

For lots more details, we’ve written a full post on this hike here.

Start: Zermatt Station
End: Same – Loop Hike  
Time: 1 h 
Distance: 3 km 
Canton: Valais 
Difficulty: T1/T2 (easy/medium) 
Altitude: 150 m ↑ 150m ↓ 
Popularity: 3/5
Season: Summer (Jun – Oct) 
High point: 1740 m (no name) 

Zermatt Easy Town Cross Hike
This is the viewpoint with a cross that we were aiming for! The cross is quite visible from the town.

Gornergrat and the Hohtälli ridge 

At 3090 meters up, Gornergrat is one the highest train stations in Switzerland! If you want you could hike up from Zermatt to Gornergrat but since it’s rare to be able to hike around without serious equipment at 3000 meters we took the opportunity to hike up from Gornergrat itself to a peak called Hohtälli at 3273 meters. There are two ways to this peak from Gornergrat – one via the Hohtälli ridge and the other up a relatively easy hiking path alongside the ridge. We first tried the ridge but had to turn back as not all the snow had melted off and we didn’t fancy walking across a steep snow patch. We ended up taking a second shot at the peak, up past the Gornergratsee and then up a wide track to the peak. The views from here are great. The Matterhorn is of course in sight but so is Switzerland’s tallest mountain, Monte Rosa, and other famous 4000m peaks like Liskamm and the twins Pollux and Castor.

Read all about our hiking adventures up to Hohtälli here.

Start: Rotenboden Station
End: Same – Loop Hike
Time: 3 h
Distance: 8 km
Canton: Valais
Difficulty: T3 (difficult in places on the ridge)
Altitude: 550m ↑ 550m ↓
Popularity: 3/5 (though some parts, like the summit of Gornergrat, are very popular!)
Season: Summer (July – Sep). You may encounter some snow even in summer.
High point: Hohtälli 3273 m
Public Transport: To Rotenboden: 40 min from Zermatt

Hohtalli_Zermatt Hiking_Matterhorn Views
Riffelsee, Riffelhorn & the Matterhorn.

Zermatt’s Glacier Paradise Walk 

This was one of the most varied hikes we’ve ever done. We started at the top of the Glacier Paradise station in Zermatt and headed down from there. If you’d like to see a glacier but aren’t interested in the dangers associated with hiking across them, then this hike is a great option for you. The path essentially skirts around the end of a retreating glacier. A few years ago the glacier would have directly ended where the path started but as it has retreated we had to venture slightly off the path to get to the end of the glacier.

On top of having a look at the glacier, we had a up close and personal view of the Matterhorn and could see people at the bottom of the trail beginning their ascent to the Matterhorn hut. From here the path wound its way through moraine (basically heaps of rock) and skirted around the Matterhorn giving us a beautiful side on view of the mountain. We hiked all the way back down to Zermatt via forests, a hydroelectric dam and the hamlet of Zmutt, but you can also cut this walk in half at Schwarzsee cable car station!

Start: Trockener Steg Cable Car Station
End: Zermatt Station
Time: 4.5 h
Distance: 15 km
Canton: Valais
Difficulty: T2/T3 (medium/difficult)
Altitude: 200 m ↑ 1500m ↓
Popularity: 5/5
Season: Summer (July – Sep)
High point: Trockener Steg 2929 m 
Public Transport: To  Trockener Steg: 40 min from Zermatt

Zermatt Glacier Paradise Hike
The Matterhorn straight up, front and center! Boom 😀

Zermatt: Up the ex-glaciated Gornera Valley

If you’re looking for an ‘alternative’ hike in Zermatt, this might be an option to consider. There’s a reason part of the area of this hike is called the ‘Gletschergarten’. Not too long ago it was buried under the weight of glaciers. Now it’s a wild landscape freshly carved by a river and dotted with giant stones that the glacier pulled down with it. And the best part is that we started the hike from the train station in Zermatt! Once you get past Schweigmatten the landscape gets wilder with few trees, few people and just a valley shaped by the elements. One of the giant rocks served us well as a lunch spot – we enjoyed clambering up and down the rocks. From Gagenhaupt we traced our steps a wee bit and headed up to Riffelalp from where the funicular takes you back down into Zermatt. There had been a recent cold snap when we went there so the path was studded with icicles and a dusting of snow for a bit of extra atmosphere!  

For more details, check our post here.

Start: Zermatt Station
End: Riffelalp Station
Time: 4 h
Distance: 11 km
Canton: Valais
Difficulty: T2 (medium)
Altitude: 800 m ↑ 200m ↓
Popularity: 2/5
Season: Summer (July – Sept)
High point: 2296 m (no name)
Public Transport: From Riffelalp: 25 min to Zermatt

Looking back down across part of the Gornera Valley 🙂

Randa – Suspension Bridge Hike to Europahutte 

And last but certainly not least is a loop hike near the town of Zermatt further down the valley in Randa where you get to walk across the 494m-long Charles Kuonen suspension bridge with a 85 meter drop to the bottom! It really is a gigantic bridge – it’s apparently the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world. For one of us that isn’t a fan of heights and swaying bridges the crossing was a bit hairy especially since the wind had kicked up and the bridge did a fair amount of swaying as we crossed it! And if you go in sub-optimal weather make sure you have enough clothing with you because it can get quite chilly up there on the bridge. But otherwise, it was a fun hike up through the forests, across the bridge and to the Europahutte which offers a fantastic vantage point for the large mountains such as Weisshorn on the other side of the valley. I must warn you though – there’s no view of the Matterhorn here so it’s not a hike to do if your aim is to see the Matterhorn!  

For more details, check out our post here.

Start: Randa Station
End: Same – Loop Hike
Time: 4h
Distance: 8 km
Canton: Valais
Difficulty: T2 (medium)
Altitude: 850 m ↑ 850m ↓
Popularity: 3/5
Season: Summer (July – Oct)
High point: Europahütte 2264 m
Public Transport: To Randa: 15 min from Zermatt

Zermatt Randa Suspension Bridge
The 494-meter long Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge

Our take on the popular Zermatt 5 lakes hike

So, most websites on Zermatt mention the 5 lakes hike as a must-do hike in Zermatt and it feels like we’d be leaving you hanging if we didn’t mention it at all in this post. We’ve actually never done the 5 lakes hike , as hikes such as those listed above were always more tempting for us. I guess in a way that means that we wouldn’t put it in our top 5, but then we haven’t actually hiked it either! There’s more information here, for example, if you want to check it out for yourselves.

Zermatt 5 lakes hike view
A view of part of the 5 lakes hike from the opposite side of the valley! You can see the white paths and one of the lakes.

Some notes about transport in Zermatt

Zermatt is a car free town. This means cars are no permitido in Zermatt for leisure purposes. Zermatt is a very small town though, so covering it by foot is easy. If needed though they have 24-hr e-taxis, which are cute electric golf-cart like buggies that shuffle people and their luggage around the town! More info on them here: https://www.zermatt.ch/en/Media/Listen-Gewerbe/Zermatt-taxi-companies.  There’s also a couple of bus routes around the town, along with the funiculars up to Sunnegga and Gornergrat and a whole load of cable cars to get you around.

Getting to Zermatt: by Car 

You can still get 99% of the way to Zermatt by car. You’ll just have to leave your car at the large park and ride facility in Täsch. This is a town about 5km and 12 mins by train from Zermatt. So, most folks with a car park there and take the shuttle train which runs every 20 minutes into Zermatt.  Here’s a link to updated parking info & prices: https://www.zermatt.ch/en/arrival/mtt/Parking-and-changing-trains.  

Getting to Zermatt: by Train 

There’s a single-track cog railway line, known as the Matterhorn Bahn, that heads 1000 meters (3280 feet) up into Zermatt from Visp twice an hour. If you haven’t been ferried up a narrow valley on a train before then it’s quite a scenic ride and a testament to Swiss engineering skills! In winter though during bouts of heavy snow the road and train line up to Zermatt can sometimes both be shut due to avalanche risks. So, we’d say it’s open nearly 365 days a year but not quite!

Getting to Zermatt: by Helicopter 

And finally, for those of you with a loooot of cash to spare, we were entertained to discover that you can also get to Zermatt by helicopter! When it snows heavily in winter the helicopters can sometimes be the only way in and out, but they will apparently ferry you in at other times too. These taxi flights are offered by Air Zermatt: https://www.air-zermatt.ch/en/experience/taxi-flights.  

Hohtalli_Zermatt Hiking_Matterhorn Views
The Gornergrat Bahn and the Matterhorn.
Zermatt_Electric Buggys
Zermatt and its electric buggies!