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Exploring Zermatt

Updated: Nov 15

We only had 24 hours in Zermatt so, after checking in to our hotel, we headed out to explore town. Our first order of business was finding something to eat since it was almost 3:00p and we hadn't had lunch. We left the hotel via the tunnel and found ourselves on the Vispastrasse which paralleled the Vispa River.

View of the Matterhorn from the Vispastrasse in Zermatt
View of the Matterhorn from the Vispastrasse

We headed back towards the train station and the main road through the center of town, the Bahnhofstrasse, which was bustling with people thanks to the weather. The sun was shining and there was a slight breeze which made it pleasant to be outside.

The Bahnhofstrasse was lined with shops, restaurants, and hotels and we found space on the patio at the Hotel Derby Restaurant. We started with a round of local Zermatt beer while perusing the menu. I'm not sure why I even looked at the menu as I ended up going with my usual when I'm in this part of the world, schnitzel.

We had a laid back lunch and struck up a conversation with some folks at the table next to us who were in town from Massachusetts. They were part of a large group that was touring Switzerland by rail and were on their way to Lucerne after their time in Zermatt. Mrs. ATX decided she wanted to do some shopping so she left while I paid the check and caught up with her just down the street. The Bahnhofstrasse was still filled with people and we walked the length of the street, popping in and out of various shops that caught our eye.

At the end of the Bahnhofstrasse was a square flanked by the five star Grand Hotel Zermatterhof. The Matterhorn Museum is also located on this square along with a few monuments and statues.

The one that I found the most interesting was the Bronze Alphorn which points directly at the Matterhorn and is a monument to the first seven climbers to stand atop the mountain. Seven small climbers can be seen amongst the sculpture is you look closely. The sun was setting behind the statue and I was able to have some fun with it and get some decent shots. Also near the Matterhorn Museum was the Marmot fountain which was fun.

We left the square and crossed the Vispa into a more residential part of town. Here, away from the main street, was a mixture of short term rental properties as well as homes for the locals. There was very little in the way of restaurants or shops so after walking for a bit we doubled back and headed towards the center of town.

We found a bar next to the local tennis courts and stopped for a minute to relax and enjoy a local beer. Once the sun began to set, it started to cool off so we went back up to the hotel to change and get ready for dinner.

Beer on a patio in Zermatt Switzerland
Brew with a view

We asked the front desk for a few dinner recommendations and all three places they recommended were in close proximity along the Bahnhofstrasse. We decided to walk by them before making a decision on where to eat but first, we enjoyed a cocktail on the hotel terrace.

Down the hill the streets were still fairly busy and we strolled through town, scoping out the recommended restaurants. Ultimately we decided on Restaurant Pinte, located inside the Hotel Pollux.

Pedestrians walking along the Bahnhofstrasse at Night in Zermatt Switzerland
Bahnhofstrasse at Night

The restaurant was warm and inviting and had the feel of a Swiss alpine lodge. We were shown to a booth located near the bar and perused the menu.

Restaurant Pinte seating inside the Hotel Pollux in Zermatt
Restaurant Pinte inside the Hotel Pollux

In what should come as a surprise to nobody that's been reading this trip report I, once again, had the schnitzel which was served with a substantial side salad. The meal was very filling and one of the better schnitzels I had on this trip. We returned to the hotel full and tired and were off to bed before 10:00p.

The next morning we awoke to a gorgeous, cloudless sky with unobstructed views of the Matterhorn. We packed our bags and left them with the front desk as we would be out and about during check-out time. They were happy to store our bags for us until we were ready to depart.

View of the Matterhorn from the Chalet Hotel Schönegg in Zermatt
Great view to wake up to!

After breakfast at the hotel we headed down to the Gornergrat Bahn railway station, located across the Bahnhofstrasse from the main Zermatt railway station. The station is easy to spot and is well signed. The bright orange trains running parallel to the street are also a good indication that you're in the right place.

Gornergrat Bahn train departing Zermatt Station
Gornergrat Bahn train departing Zermatt

Trains depart roughly every 20 minutes and your ticket is valid for any train during the day. The crowds were intense and, with the queue system, it took us two trains before it was our turn. Fortunately, we were one of the first people on the train and managed to grab a pair of seats by the window.

The Gornergrat Bahn connects Zermatt to the summit of the Gornergrat. It is a rack railway for the entirety of the journey and is the second highest railway in Europe. The trip started by climbing through a few of the neighborhoods on the outskirts of Zermatt, stopping in Findelbach.

After transiting a few tunnels, and climbing steeply, the train stopped in Riffelalp which provides a transfer to the Riffelalp Resort. Fun fact, Riffelalp has a tram from the station to the resort which makes this the highest point in Europe where two distinct railways meet.

Canyon near Zermatt on the Gorgergrat Bahn
Climbing up the mountain towards Riffelalp

From here, we found ourselves above the tree line with unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains. There were a few stops along the way that served recreation areas for hikers during the summer.

Finally, after a 50 minute ride, we reached the summit of the Gornergrat.

Gornergrat Bahn station at the Gornergrat Peak with the Matterhorn in the background
Gornergrat Bahn station at the Gornergrat Peak

From the station you had to climb roughly 100 feet to the top of the mountain which featured a hotel, gift shop and restaurant. The landscape was littered with rock piles left by prior visitors.

Rock stacks near the Gornergrat Peak
Walking from the train station to the Gornergrat Peak

The views from the top of the mountain were absolutely stunning and we had 360 degree views of the Matterhorn, Gorner Glacier, and the surrounding mountains.

Panoramic view from the top of the Gornergrat with Gorner Glacier and Matterhorn in the background
Panoramic view from the top of the Gornergrat

We spent about 30 minutes hiking around the area and even found some remaining snow from the previous winter, enough to have a snowball fight with Mrs. ATX at 10,000 feet in September. She won of course.

After our hike, we headed to the food court and gift shop at the summit to pick up some souvenirs for friends and family back home. We also grabbed a snack and sat outside to enjoy the view and the nice, cool weather. A bird decided it was interested in what we had to eat and joined us, terrorizing some tourists at the table next to us.

Bird at the summit of the Gornergrat
This place is for the birds

We spent about an hour at the summit before we caught the train back down to Zermatt. We sat on the opposite side of the car for the trip back which faced away from the Matterhorn but still had some nice views of the surrounding area.

Back in Zermatt, we headed to a bratwurst stand we spotted the day before along the Bahnhofstrasse for a quick lunch.

Bratwurst Stand along the Bahnhofstrasse in Zermatt
Bratwurst Stand along the Bahnhofstrasse

The bratwurst was simple and delicious and we accompanied it with another local Zermatt beer.

Bratwurst from a street vendor in Zermatt
Delicious bratwurst for lunch

Full from lunch, we headed to our hotel to grab our luggage before making our way back to the Bahnhofstrasse to catch our train to Visp and onward to Zurich.

Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn train in Zermatt
Our time in Zermatt has come to an end, next stop Zurich!


Both Mrs. ATX and I really enjoyed the time we spent in Zermatt. Though it was only 24 hours, we felt like we saw everything we needed to within the town, but you could spend days hiking and exploring the surrounding areas, which is the real attraction of this place. We would absolutely return, especially during ski season, to spend more time in this beautiful, hard to reach, place.

In This Trip Report


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