The Gornergrat Railway in Zermatt is one of the highlights of any visit to this wonderful Swiss resort.
Any visitor to Zermatt has a few ‘must-dos’ while in resort, one of which is to try out one of the most famous cog railways in the world.
The Gornergrat Railway in Zermatt will appeal to anyone with a love of the mountains or who is passionate about transportation, especially those who know the difference between a Leitner and a Doppelmayr or a funicular and a cog railway.
From 658m to 3089m by train
In Zermatt, we have some of the finest ski resort transport infrastructure in the world. Starting at the bottom of the valley in Visp at 658m, you can start on the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn and work your way to 3089m above sea level, all by train.
The Gornergrat Railway in Zermatt is the most impressive and historic way you can travel up any mountain. Now 120 years old the Gornergrat Railway operates from just opposite the main Zermatt railway station all the way to the peak it shares its name with. At the top you can enjoy incredible views of the Matterhorn and the Gorner Glacier.
This is a 360 view outside the station in Zermatt. Swipe or drag your mouse around to see the Gornergrat station just opposite:
History of the Gornergrat Railway
The Gornergrat Railway in Zermatt is an electric cog railway which opened in 1898. It now operates 365 days of the year, although it didn’t go into winter operation until 30 years after it first went into service.
Fast Facts about the Gornergrat Railway
Those of you who are transportation experts (or possibly train spotters?), then absorb these technical details:
Track Gauge – Meter
Length – 9.339 km
Number of Bridges – 2
Number of Tunnels – 5
Longest Tunnel – 179m
Rolling Stock – 12 twin railcars, 4 single railcars, 2 rotary snow ploughs, 4 freight wagons
Number of skiers per hour – 1200
Speed – 30km
One way ticket – CHF29.39 (but included in your lift pass)
Number of Stops – 5
Check out the Gornergrat rotary snow plough in action:
Route and stops of the Gornergrat Railway
The route starts from immediately opposite the Zermatt bahnhof and travels through four stations on its journey to the top of Gornergrat.
Station 1: Findelbach (1770m)
The first stop is Findelbach, located at the south end of the town in the forest and not far from the Matterhorn Chalets Binna, Banja and Ulysse. From here you can access gentle walks in both summer and winter.
In winter, it’s rarely the first stop for skiers, but it is often used as an access point for mountaineers looking for ice climbing routes.
Station 2: Riffelalp (2211m)
Riffelalp is a wonderful place to stop and relax. Skiers can access other areas of the mountain by heading down to the Furl lift.
It is also the meeting point with another part of Zermatt’s history in the form of the Riffelalp tram line (opened 1898) where guests can make their way to the historic Hotel Riffelalp, dating back to 1884.
Station 3: Riffelberg (2582m)
Riffelberg station is home to the Riffelhaus house hotel and the Riffelberg restaurant. This spot really does offer some of the best views of the Matterhorn in resort. From this vantage point, it almost feels like you can touch the mountain.
For skiers, it’s a great point to access the pistes and the bottom of the Girthittli chair, which is the perfect spot for gentle skiing with a great selection of blue runs. It is also home to one of the most spectacular beginner slope locations in the world.
Station 4: Rotenboden (2815m)
Rotenberg is the penultimate stop, and allows access to one of the most famous viewpoints in Zermatt. Located a 10-minute walk from the station, it is famous for the chance to snap a photo of a perfect Matterhorn reflection.
Also located nearby is the Zermatt Igloo village. This attraction opened in 2017 and is comprised of snow igloos that house restaurant, bar and ice sculptures. You can even spend a night there.
Station 5: Gornergrat (3089m)
This is the end of the line, where remaining skiers and foot passengers alight to take in the view or check into the iconic Kulm Hotel with its instantly recognisable domes that house two observatories.
There’s a superb view of the Gorner Glacier – the second largest in the Alps. It once flanked much of the railway, but since the opening of the line, the glacier has retreated. Visitors can also see get views of many mountains that break 4000m including the magnificent Monte Rosa.
Take a look at the view from the top in this 360 degree video:
Accommodation in Zermatt
If you are planning on sampling Zermatt’s incredible slopes, majestic scenery and fascinating transport you should plan on staying in some equally spectacular accommodation.