How to see the Matterhorn in Zermatt with the best view

The pyramid-shaped mountain printed outside every pack of Toblerone chocolate is actually Switzerland's famous Matterhorn  one of the highest summits in the Alps and all over Europe. It also happens to be my favorite chocolate in the whole wide world, so I must say that my motivation to see the Matterhorn up close was pretty strong. In fact, to say that I was extremely excited to go to Zermatt last June was probably the understatement of the century. :) 

We were based in Zurich, so we had to wake up extra early in order to catch the earliest train bound for Zermatt and have enough time to come back at night. Before boarding the train, we checked first the weather just to make sure that the Matterhorn won't be playing an awful game of hide-and-seek with us behind the thick clouds. It's a good thing that the town of Zermatt maintains a neat website with webcams and panorama livecams of Gornergrat and other mountain viewpoints in Zermatt. I highly recommend that you check this out first, so you'd know what to expect.

From Zurich, we changed trains in Visp to get to Zermatt. The journey took around 3 hours and 45 minutes in total, but the scenic views made the long trip totally worth it.
Train ride directions to see the Matterhorn with the best view 
↠ From across Zermatt Train Station, go to Bahnhofplatz Zermatt and purchase your ticket. At the time of writing this (July 2019), return ticket costs CHF 38/each + 50% off if you have a Swiss Pass. 
↠ Ride the train up to Gornergrat Bahn, which takes around 30 minutes. At the top, you will find Kulmhotel Gornergrat  a three-star hotel that has two restaurants, a small shopping mall, and a beautiful Matterhorn viewpoint. 
↠ On the way back down from Gornergrat station, you can also go down Rottenboden station, and walk 12 minutes to get down to Riffelsee, a stunning alpine lake above Zermatt town. From there, they say that you can see a picture-perfect reflection of the Matterhorn in the lake which looks absolutely breathtaking.

They say that it's an easy trail, but to be honest, since it was a downhill trail and the snow was super thick when we went there, it became a tad bit tricky for my non-existent trekking skills to handle. On top of that, we did not see any Matterhorn reflection at all since the lake was completely frozen. My advice? Be extra careful, wear proper boots, thread lightly, and make sure the lake is not frozen before you go there.

↠ From Rottenboden, hop on the train again to head back down to Zermatt.

One tip: Make sure to bring a bar of Toblerone with you for a nice photo souvenir of the experience. 

How to avoid altitude sickness when going up to see the Matterhorn
The train ride up to see the Matterhorn is an amazing experience you will definitely cherish for the rest of your life. But although not everyone experiences it, altitude sickness is real, and can be a very serious thing. Remember that the Gornergrat railway station is the second highest railway and actually said to be the highest open-air railway in Europe, which has a whooping altitude of 3,089 meters or 10,135 feet. Since the air at the top is very thin, you really need to watch out for your oxygen level.

So how to avoid altitude sickness? Stay hydrated, don’t rush, don’t over-exert yourself, and do things as slowly as possible. But if you feel any difficulty breathing or feel some sort of light-headedness as you ascend, don’t panic. Just pause, sit down comfortably, pace your breathing, and relax. You will be fine. You just need some time to acclimatize or make your body get used to the high altitude.

Based on our experience, the second you start feeling uneasy, you just need to relax, purse your lips as if you are whistling, breathe in slowly through your mouth, and exhale. When you breathe in through your mouth with lips pursed, you’d instantly feel that amazing cool air passing through. We did this little exercise a number of times and we started feeling okay. I guess being with several groups of old tourists in their 50's and 60's looking so upbeat and happy was also a huge motivating factor for us to keep going.

But I am no health expert and every experience is different. You know your body best. So don’t push it if you’re physically unfit or if you feel like the symptoms don’t get relieved. It’s always best to consult your physician first to be on the safe side.


Our Zermatt itinerary was relatively simple and fuss-free. After our brief excursion up the mountains to see the Matterhorn up close, we went back down to explore the town of Zermatt a little bit, bought a couple of souvenirs, and had a traditional Swiss dinner in Monte Rosa Restaurant. The cheese fondue tasted bitter for my liking, but with the freezing cold outside, it was definitely the warm treat that we needed.
Zermatt is filled to the brim with tourists (mostly day-trippers), since we noticed the crowds started to dissipate as the day progressed. But would I recommend a longer stay in Zermatt? Definitely! Specially if you plan to do other activities such as hiking, para-gliding, and skiing. Would I come back to Zermatt in the future? In a heart beat!

They say that nights are particularly serene in Zermatt, so the idea of soaking up in a hot tub situated outside your hotel room, while marvelling at the view of the snow-dusted peak of the Matterhorn, sounds like the sweetest perfect escape.

2 comments

  1. Great post and tips! May I know which part or exact dates in June did you visit Zermatt?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! We went there first week of June :)

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