The Gornergrat Cog Train takes you from the Swiss mountain village of Zermatt to the top of Gornergrat mountain, where you’ll get to see one of the most amazing views on this planet. Some of the highest peaks in the Swiss Alps and five glaciers are all packed in close together for an alpine panorama that is breathtaking.
The village of Zermatt is already at a high altitude (1,620 meters), and it sits right at the base of the Matterhorn. From the town, you can see the Matterhorn’s sharp peak not far in the distance. The Gornergrat Cog Train takes you more than a kilometer higher, up to 3,089 meters above sea level.
You can catch the Gornergrat train at Valley Station near the center of Zermatt:
The train runs every day of the year from 7:00 am to 7:24 pm, and departs the station every 24 minutes. The normal price of a round trip adult ticket is 94 Swiss Francs, but if you purchase the ticket at the station after 3:00 pm, you’ll get a big discount. We arrived at around 4:00 pm and got two adult tickets for 112 Swiss Francs. You can also buy tickets in advance from the Swiss Railways website.
Soon after departing, the train passes above Zermatt where you’ll get a great view of the town with the Matterhorn in the background.
The train passes through several tunnels and bridges on it’s way up the mountain through a larch pine forest.
As the train climbs higher, the trees give way to a grassy green landscape with even better views. In the summer, you can see herds of sheep grazing on grass and hear the bells tied around their necks. If you look back towards Zermatt you can see all the way down the Matter Valley.
The train makes several stops along the way to Gornergrat. The first stop is at Findelbach, about 5 minutes into the trip. From here, you can access a hiking trail that will take you up to Riffelalp by foot. The second stop is Riffelalp, where the Riffelalp Resort and restaurant are located. About halfway up the mountain, the train makes another stop at Riffelberg Station. You can get off at here for a great view of the Matterhorn, or visit Hotel Riffelhaus, the oldest mountain hotel in Zermatt.
The fourth and final stop before Gornergrat is Rotenboden, at 2,815 meters. When the train rounds the bend into Rotenboden station, you start to get a glimpse of the peaks and glaciers that surround Gornergrat. A ten minute walk from Rotenboden will take you to Lake Riffelsee, a popular place to take pictures with the reflection of the Matterhorn on the lake’s surface. You can also access the trail leading to the Monte Rosa hut.
35 minutes after leaving Zermatt, we arrived at Gornergrat Station. You step out of the train onto a large viewing platform that overlooks a huge valley formed by the Monte Rosa, Breithorn, and the Gorner Glacier. The view is incredible:
The peaks are so close it feels like you could touch them. The Matterhorn is further off to the west, but still easily visible. The Gorner Glacier is the large glacier that curves down the valley between Gornergrat and the Monte Rosa.
In the distance, we spotted a river flowing from one of the glaciers:
And a small turquoise colored lake created by the run off from another glacier:
From the main viewing platform outside Gornergrat station, you can walk a short distance up to a higher view point above the Gornergrat Klum Hotel.
Yes, there is a hotel up there, and it’s the highest hotel in Europe. There’s a restaurant too. I imagine it would be an amazing experience to spend the night under the stars at this altitude.
The best time to visit Gornergrat is earlier in the day. The peaks are usually covered in clouds after noon time. But no matter when you go, you’re guaranteed to see some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll find anywhere on earth.