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The Best Time to Visit Zermatt & Gornergrat

If you picture a Swiss mountain town, you’re probably thinking skiers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts everywhere, small streets, and wooden chalets. That’s Zermatt! Zermatt is an absolutely charming town on its own, but Gornergrat makes it even better! Take a train right up close to the Matterhorn and see the Swiss Alps like you haven’t seen them before.

If you think Switzerland, you’re probably thinking of mountains, cows, green hills, and charming wooden buildings. That’s Zermatt! Zermatt is an absolutely lovely town and there’s so much to do. Whilst some destinations are catered to a specific season, the best time to visit Zermatt is truly ANY time. There’s something special about Zermatt during EVERY season!

Zermatt

Zermatt is a great destination no matter the season. The town is cute and charming, and it has amazing views of the Swiss Alps and the Matterhorn (possibly the most iconic mountain in the Alps). It’s a great place to stay if you’re going to be in the wilderness – it’s a beautiful town to come back to after a long day of skiiing or hiking.

Winter to Spring (December – April)

Late Autumn is one of the best times to visit Zermatt, in my opinion. The peak tourist season has started to dissipate before the winter peak season. There’s often less snow in late Autumn, as well, which means you can still get in the last few hikes before the trails close up for winter.

When winter comes, don’t worry! Zermatt is an incredible winter sports destination. There are loads of skiing/snowboarding routes, amazing chairlifts (the highest in Europe!), and of course, views of the mountains you’re skiing down. There’s also some winter walking, though some routes close if there’s too much snow.

When I went in March, there was snow just as tall as me! The winter walking routes (as well as hiking routes) will be closed when there’s that much snow. So It’s best if you like to ski.

Summer to Autumn (May – November)

Zermatt is a beautiful hiking destination. The weather is usually perfect for hikes – not too cool, but not too hot! You can choose from a range of short day hikes to longer day hikes. The grass is green, there are some beautiful wildflowers, and you still get the lovely views of the Alps. There are also hikes that you can do that will take you to mountain refuges, where you can get amazing lunch after a morning of hiking.

When in Zermatt, Don’t Miss…

  • Eating at the cute restaurants. You can surely pay a STEEP price in Zermatt, but there are quite a few cheap eats around. They’re mostly takeaway and crepes. Great for fueling up before a hike!
  • Visiting the cemetery. Whenever I’ve touched a beautiful mountain, whether that be trekking, summiting, or riding a cable car up, I like to pay my respects to the mountain. As crunchy granola as that may sound, there are many lives lost in the mountains, and paying your respects by visiting those who have lost their lives doing what they love is something I think consider important to do. The cemetery in Zermatt is absolutely beautiful.
  • Mountain coaster! This only operates when there is no snow. If you’re looking for something similar, check out Oeschinensee.

Gornergrat

If you’re keen to see the Matterhorn, it’s an easy trip from Zermatt up to Gornergrat. You can take the train (the Gornergratbahn) up the mountain. There are quite a few stops on the way up, which you can get off at to start hikes and ski routes from. If you’re just interested in a view (and possibly lunch), go all the way up to Gornergrat. At the top, you’ll be met with absolutely breathtaking views of the Alps.

The Gornergratbahn

This train is quite expensive unless you’re a Swiss resident that has the Abo card or if you have a Swiss travel pass, in which case you have 1/2 off.

It costs CHF 76 from November until April, and CHF 98 round trip from Zermatt to Gornergrat. You can buy one way or to one of the lower stops, which reduces the price. The full fare list can be found here.

Note that when there’s snow on the mountain, you might not be able to stop anywhere but Gornergrat unless you are skiing.

Looking for more ways to see Switzerland by train? Here’s a two-week train itinerary.

Altitude Problems?

Gornergrat is situated at 3100 m. That’s pretty high! You might get a headache- I suggest popping a painkiller if you do. If you’re feeling nauseous, think about going down on the next available train. Most people will be fine! Experiencing shortness of breath when walking uphill is pretty normal.

The Food Situation

At the top, you have the choice between a self-service dining hall or a restaurant. If you sit out on the terrace, you’ll have pretty much the same view. On the left, there’s the self-service, on the right, the restaurant.

Left: self-service | Right: restaurant

If you’re on a budget, I highly recommend bringing food up. Prices are steep (though everywhere in Switzerland is, and it’s actually not bad compared to Zermatt).

What to Do at the Gornergrat

  • Enjoy the view and possibly eat food! You can also ski down here in the wintertime.
  • There’s a store and you can sneak a peak (peak, peek, get it?) of the world’s biggest chocolate Matterhorn. There are actually 3 or 4 of them!
  • Movie buff? Night Manager used this as a filming location.

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