Taking a trip on the Gornergratbahn is a quintessential experience for many visitors to Switzerland. If you want to see the famous Gornergrat panorama with your own eyes or are try to decide whether to go to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise or Gornergrat, then this is the article for you.
Whether you’re wondering how to visit Gornergrat in winter or summer, what to do at Gornergrat once you get there, how much to budget for the Zermatt to Gornergrat train price or how long the Gornergrat to Riffelberg hike takes, this article shares all you need to know before you go.
Also covered are matters like whether the Gornergrat timetable is seasonal, why it’s a good idea to check the Gornergrat webcam before travelling and where you can see the Gornergrat glacier from.
Plus of course we answer the key questions of how to get to Gornergrat from Zermatt, Gornergrat weather throughout the seasons and where to buy your Gornergrat tickets.
From the location of the Gornergrat station for boarding the Gornergratbahn to what there is to do at the 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat at the summit, read on to find out all you need to know about planning your trip from Zermatt to Gornergrat.
Let’s start with a quick check of the various Gornergrat price options.
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What's in this Article
Quick Summary of Gornergrat Ticket Prices
|Travel date||Single trip||Round trip||With Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half Fare Card|
|Sep & Oct 2023||CHF 55||CHF 110||50% discount|
|Nov & Dec 2023||CHF 46||CHF 92||50% discount|
|Jan to Apr 2024||CHF 46||CHF 92||50% discount|
|May 2024||CHF 57||CHF 114||50% discount|
|Jun to Aug 2024||CHF 66||CHF 132||50% discount|
|Sep & Oct 2024||CHF 57||CHF 114||50% discount|
What is Gornergrat?
Gornergrat is a popular Swiss excursion destination for visitors to Zermatt. At more than 3,000 metres above sea level, the Gornergrat is a rocky plateau that many visit via the local mountain rack railway.
The Gornergrat can be found southeast of Zermatt, a popular Swiss resort town, in the Valais canton. It’s surrounded by a multitude of Swiss peaks, and also offers panoramic views over the Gorner Glacier.
Taking a trip up to Gornergrat is a must for many visitors to Switzerland, and there are two major components. The first is a memorable trip on the Gornergrat railway, and the second involves what there is to see and do once you’ve travelled from Zermatt to Gornergrat.
For stunning views, a soothing setting and a breathtaking ride on a Swiss mountain railway, and even perhaps a Gornergrat hike, experiencing this elevated location is not to be missed.
Where is Gornergrat?
Gornergrat is located close to the resort of Zermatt. Getting to Zermatt from Zurich and other Swiss destinations is simple, and it’s a popular summer hiking and winter sports resort. Zermatt lies in the canton of Valais, and is overlooked by the mighty Matterhorn.
Gornergrat is around three kilometres (or two miles) east of Zermatt. At around double the elevation of the resort, getting to Gornergrat involves tackling some serious height. The Zermatt to Gornergrat train was specially built for this precise purpose.
How to get to Gornergrat
If you’re wondering how to visit Gornergrat by train, the good news is that this is both easy and a really enjoyable journey. Other options for reaching the rocky ridge include the NostalChic Class train, and taking a hike.
Should you want to know how to visit Gornergrat by car, then the best way is to drive to Zermatt first. Then you can take a hike or a train trip to the summit from there.
Cogwheel train from Zermatt
The Gornergrat train (in German called the Gornergratbahn) is a cogwheel railway that’s been in operation for around a century-and-a-quarter. Unlike some other Swiss mountain transport, the Gornergrat rail service operates all year round.
The journey from Zermatt to the summit aboard the Gornergratbahn takes around half an hour. This will take you from an elevation of around 1,600 metres to more than 3,100 metres above sea level.
If you can, travelling before 9 am or after midday is recommended. Though departure times vary throughout the seasons, the Zermatt to Gornergrat Bahn does operate 365 days per year. In general, the trains start running during the early morning, and stop after sunset.
NostalChic Class train
The NostalChic Class train is also operated by Gornergrat railway, but offers a unique way to get to the summit. If you like to travel in style then you’ll love to travel via NostalChic Class.
The ‘Nostal’ in the name refers to the nostalgic vintage carriages, while the Chic hints at the deluxe interior.
The outstanding NostalChic Class experience includes drinks, a three-course sit-down dinner, dessert plus tea or coffee at the Riffelalp Resort, a window seat, a photo stop, the services of a guide and even a souvenir.
Your NostalChic experience will last around six hours and is limited to just 22 passengers.
This memorable Gornergrat experience commenced in summer 2023. Dates of operation after September 2023 have not yet been released.
As the elevation change between Zermatt and Gornergrat is over 1,500 metres, it’s an arduous uphill slog to hike to Gornergrat from Zermatt. This being the case, most people who want to hike at Gornergrat tend to hike downhill rather than uphill.
There’s a number of hikes at Gornergrat, and the trails are particularly popular in summer. If you want to walk further, you can also alight at any of the four stations located between Zermatt and the summit.
One of the easiest and most popular hiking routes at Gornergrat is to the Riffelsee Lake which we cover in more detail below.
The Gornergratbahn runs daily from early morning until after sunset. It operates 365 days per year.
During summer the first departure from Zermatt to Gornergrat is at 7am and there are two departures per hour from 8am until 4.24pm. The final departure of the day leaves at 7.24pm. Return trips commence at 7.35am and finish at 8.07pm.
There are fewer departures in spring, autumn and winter.
Locally, you may see the timetable referred to as the Gornergrat fahrplan (as fahrplan is the German word for timetable).
You can buy individual tickets for the Gornergratbahn. These are available as single or return fares. Booking yours online in advance is recommended as it saves you time while you’re on vacation.
Buying in advance can also help you to budget for your trip that will include Gornergrat in Switzerland.
Travel Pass holders
Holders of some Swiss travel passes can get 50% off their Gornergrat ticket. This includes those with a Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half Fare Card. Children aged between 6 and 16 also benefit from half price travel on the cogwheel railway.
Those with a Peak Pass, a pass specifically for use in the Zermatt region, can also enjoy free, unlimited travel on the Zermatt to Gornergrat railway. The Peak Pass also includes other rides, such as the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Furi to Riffelberg services.
Priority boarding is available for the ascent to Gornergrat. This costs CHF 10 per person, and means you can board the train several minutes before other passengers.
You can use a special waiting area, and choose the best seat once you’ve boarded early.
Priority boarding passes can be purchased from the Gornergratbahn station in Zermatt.
Where to buy Gornergrat tickets
|Regular roundtrip tickets||BUY HERE|
|NostalChic Class roundtrip tickets||BUY HERE|
|Discounted tickets with Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half Fare Card||BUY AT STATION|
Things to do at Gornergrat
Though the Gornergratbahn operates all year round, it’s worth noting that some activities are seasonal. If you want to stay at a hotel in Gornergrat, there is a choice of three.
Other things to do include the viewing platforms to see the Gorner Glacier and the Matterhorn at the summit, dining out, hiking, an Alpine Garden, a shopping mall and more.
The Golden Spot is a new selfie and panoramic picture spot. This historic carriage has been painstakingly restored, and is now the star of many a visitor’s photo album.
It’s named for the fact that the carriage has been completely gilded.
Zooom the Matterhorn
Zooom the Matterhorn is just above the train station at Gornergrat and offers a cool virtual reality experience for kids and adults. There’s also a miniature Matterhorn for kids to climb on, plus some film footage to watch.
Admission is included with your Gornergrat train ticket.
If you have the urge for a spot of retail therapy, you can find a small shopping mall at the 3100 Kulm Hotel in Gornergrat. There are a few shops selling Swiss specialities, and it has the honour of being the highest shopping mall in Europe.
Bernhard van Aosta Chapel
This little chapel dates from 1950 and is one of the most visited places of worship in Zermatt. Dedicated to St. Bernard of Aosta, the chapel is located between the Gornergrat station and the Kulmhotel.
With a simple interior and a dark stone exterior to match the surrounding landscape, the chapel is always open and is free to enter.
Stone by Stone
Look out for or build your own stone figures on the Gornergrat, and snap a selfie with your creation below the Zooom building.
3100 Kulmhotel restaurants
If you’re seeking a restaurant in Gornergrat, you can also find one at the 3100 Gornergrat hotel. In fact there are two, one being self-service style and the other more of a fine dining experience.
Things to do at Rotenboden
Europe’s highest Alpine garden can also be found at Gornergrat. Over 5,000 square metres of flora has enchanted visitors here since summer 2023. There are also majestic views over the Riffelhorn, the Matterhorn and Lake Riffelsee from here.
Hike to Riffelsee
The hike to Lake Riffelsee is the area’s most popular trail. Setting out from Rotenboden station, you can see the Matterhorn reflected in the water. The downhill route is only a couple of kilometres, and it takes about 40 minutes to reach the lake.
The hiking trail continues on from Riffelsee down to Riffelberg. Allow another 30 minutes for this section.
Things to do at Riffelberg
Meet the Sheep
Did you know that the local sheep at Riffelberg are fitted with GPS trackers? The blacknose sheep, which are unique to the canton of Valais, can be found around Riffelberg in summer, and you can try to track them down here.
Kids and adults alike love meeting the sheep and learning more about them from their shepherdess. You can use the WiFi on the train during your ascent to try and work out exactly where they are.
Restaurant at Riffelhaus 1853
The Riffelhaus 1853 restaurant offers unparalleled views of the Matterhorn, and also serves local cuisine. There’s also an outdoor terrace for more panoramas of the Matterhorn from Gornergrat.
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More Gornergrat activities
As well as the mega-popular and aforementioned hike to Lake Riffelsee, there are some more peaceful routes.
You can complete a circular loop round the Gornergrat for stunning views, take the Sun Path to Riffelberg via the railway line, or pass through a pine forest on the Riffelalp Round Walk.
Head out early to witness the Matterhorn reflected in Lake Riffelsee at sunrise with a local guide. Your unforgettable sunrise experience will be followed by a delicious breakfast at the 3100 Kulmhotel.
Matterhorn sunrise trips operated on Sundays from 7 July to 21 September 2024. Register is required by 4pm the day before.
Turn your visit to Gornergrat into a gourmet experience. The Gornergrat Gourmet Ticket includes train travel between Zermatt and Gornergrat and delicious food.
Your dining experience starts with an aperitif with finger food at 3100 Kulmhotel at Gornergrat, followed by a three-course meal at the Riffelhaus 1853 restaurant. You then continue on to Riffelalp for dessert and coffee at Restaurant Alphitta.
The gourmet experience is available from mid-December to mid-March, and from mid-June to early September. Register to take part by 4pm the day prior.
Winter walk and guided hike with fondue
Winter doesn’t put a stop to hiking at Gornergrat! From Christmas until Easter (weather permitting) it’s possible to hike from Rotenboden to Riffelberg (approximately 50 minutes), and from Riffelalp to Zermatt (approximately 90 minutes). Snowshoe and sledge hire is available.
Dinner with the stars
Combine a delicious buffet dinner with stargazing at the 3100 Kulmhotel at Gornergrat. There’s a dome room, observatory and terrace for seeing the night skies under expert guidance.
Just a 10 to 15-minute walk from Rotenboden station, the Igloo Village awaits. Here you can enjoy a delicious Swiss fondue and a hot drink at the outdoor bar whilst admiring the Matterhorn views.
You can also find Switzerland’s highest sledging run at Gornergrat. The ten minute trip between Rotenboden and Riffelberg is a real thrill in winter.
Skiing is also a popular winter pastime here, and you can buy ski passes between November and May. It can be worth checking the weather and webcam at Gornergrat before making any firm plans.
Can you stay at Gornergrat?
Yes, you can indeed stay at Gornergrat. Here are the top three hotels at the summit and close to the stations en route.
The best known hotel in Gornergrat is the Kulm 3100 hotel. This dates back around a century, and is named for the altitude. The hotel boasts 22 rooms, and you can see 29 mountain peaks when the weather at the Gornergrat is clear.
It’s the highest hotel in the Swiss Alps, and offers winter sports access in season, a pair of restaurants to suit all tastes, a small shopping mall and a stargazing observatory.
Riffelhaus 1853 is named for the date it originates from, rather than the altitude. It offers direct ski-to-door access in winter, a spa with a steam room and sauna and a hot tub. Some accommodation has Matterhorn view balconies, and all have partial or full mountain views.
This hotel also offers a good restaurant, a bar, a guest lounge, a library and storage for ski equipment and bikes on site.
The Riffelalp Resort 2222m lies about halfway between Zermatt and Gornergrat at Riffelalp. It’s a five star property with ski-to-door access, an outdoor pool and luxurious rooms with Smart TVs, Nespresso machines and in most cases a private balcony.
Stay at the Riffelalp Resort and you can enjoy the heated outdoor swimming pool with jaw-dropping views, the spa facilities, three restaurants and the services of a concierge. Bike and ski hire and passes can also be arranged via the hotel.
How long should you spend at Gornergrat?
To make the most of your trip to Gornergrat, allow at least half a day. As a minimum, you’ll want to spend one or two hours at the summit. Add another hour-and-a-half if you’ll be hiking from Rotenboden to Riffelberg.
You might also like to allow additional time to Meet the Sheep, and also to enjoy other activities and attractions at the intermediate stations between Zermatt and Gornergrat.
Best Time to visit Gornergrat
With the cogwheel train service running all year round, you can visit Gornergrat during any of the four seasons. The views are spectacular all year round, and include 29 Swiss peaks over 4,000 metres. The Matterhorn and Gorner Glacier are also highlights.
Visit during summer if you want to do some hiking at Gornergrat. This is also the only time of year for the Meet the Sheep experience, and the best time to see the flora of the Alpine Garden.
Winter is of course the best time of year for snow sports, including sledging and skiing. The Igloo Village is also magical at this time of the year.
Practical advice for visiting Gornergrat
Before heading to Gornergrat, it’s always wise to check the local webcam, as well as the weather forecast. At altitude, weather conditions can be far more extreme, and can change far more quickly.
It doesn’t tend to rain much at the summit. The wettest month is May, but even then there’s only an average of three rainy days.
In July and August, you can expect highs of around 10 or 11°C. Between November and March, temperatures don’t reach above zero even during the day. In January and February, overnight lows of about -16°C are usual.
For the train, it’s best to pre-purchase tickets. This can help you to avoid queues. Purchasing priority boarding will also give you the opportunity of securing a seat on the right hand side of the train. This will give you the best Matterhorn views during the ascent.
If you want to know where is the Gornergratbahn station in Zermatt, you can find it right opposite the main train station in the centre of the town.
Is Gornergrat worth visiting?
It’s well worth visiting Gornergrat. The trip by cogwheel railway is an experience in itself, and the journey from central Zermatt takes only about half an hour.
If you can, choose a clear day for the best views of the Matterhorn, numerous other mountain peaks and the Gorner Glacier.
Once you reach the summit – or the stations between Zermatt and the top – there are various activities to get involved in.
You can dine in the mountains, or stay over at a hotel with a spa. In summer you can follow hiking and mountain biking trails, or in winter do some skiing or sledging.
Visiting Gornergrat FAQs
Can you get on and off the Gornergrat train?
You can use your Gornergratbahn ticket to alight at any of the stations en route. Every section can be travelled just once.
As long as you get off and on at the same points and don’t repeat any sections, you can use your Gornergratbahn ticket to explore the areas around all of the stops.
Is it better to go to Gornergrat in the morning or afternoon?
A day with cloudless skies is the best time to visit Gornergrat. This is because the views from the summit are at their clearest.
For better light and less crowding, set off before 9 am or during late afternoon. The train is also less busy outside of the 9 am to midday period, particularly in summer.
How long is the ride from Zermatt to Gornergrat?
The trip from Zermatt to Gornergrat takes 33 minutes to complete – just over half an hour.
What are the stations of the Gornergrat railway?
The five intermediate stations on the Zermatt Gornergrat route are Findelbach, Riffelalp, Riffelboden, Riffelberg and Rotenboden. Zermatt is about 1,600 metres above sea level, and Gornergrat is nearly 3,100 metres above sea level.
Which is better: the Matterhorn or the Gornergrat?
The Gornergrat is the best place to enjoy panoramic views over the Matterhorn. Not only that, but you can also see lots of other mountain peaks, as well as the Gorner Glacier.
How to visit Gornergrat | Final Thoughts
Boasting the best Matterhorn views you’re likely to see, you can be sure that a visit to Gornergrat is not to be missed. Not only can you enjoy a ride on the Gornergratbahn 365 days a year, there is plenty to keep you entertained at the summit and the intermediate stations.
Whether you’re visiting to admire the stunning views, plan to hike from Rotenboden to Riffelberg, want to meet the sheep, or would like to enjoy a meal at the Kulmhotel, Gornergrat is the perfect destination.
Travelling from Zermatt to Gornergrat aboard the Gornergrat railway is one of the most scenic train rides in Switzerland, in our opinion. We’ve enjoyed this excursion on numerous occasions and can’t wait to return!
Have we convinced you to visit Gornergrat Switzerland? > Buy your tickets here.
🇨🇭 Ready to plan your visit to Zermatt? We have lots of useful guides including things to do in Zermatt and the best hotels in Zermatt. Our guides to the best mountain excursions from Zermatt and the Matterhorn Alpine Crossing give you more Zermatt day trip options. For even more information about the Swiss Alpine resort of Zermatt, read our Zermatt Travel Guide.