The Perfect 2 Day Itinerary for Your First Visit
This post is all about how to spend 2 perfect days in Zermatt, Switzerland: the most amazing things to do in Zermatt, the best hikes with awesome views of the Matterhorn, where to stay, eat, and more!
I could have easily titled this post “How to spend 2 days at the most beautiful mountain in the world!”
There is nothing quite like the Matterhorn anywhere else on earth, so visiting Zermatt and hiking around this gorgeous mountain should definitely be on anyone’s bucket list. It sure was on mine, and this summer, I can finally say I MADE IT HAPPEN!!
But you see, I can’t completely cross it off my bucket list just yet. As it turns out, whether in Zermatt is quite unpredictable so you can never be sure that you are actually going to * SEE * the famous “Toblerone mountain”. Why?
Weather in Zermatt changes a lot
During our 2,5 days visit to Zermatt this summer (end of July), it rained almost the entire time. Does this mean it wasn’t worth it? ABSOLUTELY NOT!! The views are breathtaking EVEN when cloudy so definitely don’t get discouraged by bad weather.
Plus, in Zermatt, as everywhere high up in the mountains, the weather changes pretty quickly so the sun might come up eventually, and the sky will clear just a bit for you to spot that majestic peak of the Matterhorn!
PRO TIP: Download the Matterhorn-App for the latest and most accurate weather forecast for Zermatt
As for us, having seen most of the base of the mountain on day 1, and only the peak on day 3, we have decided to come back in winter! This time we booked a 4 nights stay, to REALLY make sure we enjoy the village and the views the most! (out of 4 days, at least on one of them it should be a clear sky, right?! :D)
So, assuming, you’re just like me, planning your trip to the Matterhorn for the first time, let’s have a look at everything you need to know and what are the most amazing things to do in Zermatt.
(Most of them work for both summer and winter, but since we visited in July, these will mostly cover summer activities)
10 Amazing Things To Do In Zermatt For First Time Visitors
1. Take a Ride in the Gornergrat Train
This is by far THE BEST thing you can do in Zermatt! The Gornergrat Bahn – the Matterhorn railway- offers spectacular views of the mountains and the Zermatt village during its 35-minute ride to the top.
It reaches Gornergrat – the highest train station in the world, 3089m – and stops 3 times along the way at Riffelalp, Riffelberg, and Rotenboden. You can hop on and off and every stop, but my advice is to first go all the way to the top and then hike down to Riffelberg. Or just take the train back.
The advantage of taking this train is that it’s also perfect if you don’t feel like hiking (or are not able to) but still want to take advantage of the great scenery all around.
TICKET PRICE: 63CHF one-way, 126CHF return (from Zermatt)
You can get a 50% discount with a Half-Fare Ticket, General Season Ticket, Swiss Travel Pass. Kids also get discounts. Have a look HERE for the latest price info.
TIMETABLE: the first train is at 7.00 and it generally runs every 24 minutes. To get the best weather and avoid crowds I’d generally recommend taking an early one. We took a 9.00 train and we could see that by noon, it was getting more crowded. You can find the latest timetable HERE.
2. Enjoy the 360 Views at Gornergrat & Gorner Glacier (3.100m)
Take in the 360 panoramic views and breath in the fresh air at 3.100m! The Gorner Glacier is the 3rd longest glacier in the Alps and it is bordered by several 4.000m summits, which makes for an impressive sight.
This is the end stop of the Gornergrat Bahn and, as you step out, you are immediately blown away by the spectacular views all around.
You might also get blown away by the wind, so make sure you are properly clothed for such hights! 😀 Even in summer, temperatures here get pretty low so wearing lots of layers is important. I was wearing a top, fleece jacket, and a warm, windproof jacket on top and was comfortable.
3. Hike Down From Gornergrat to Riffelberg
This is my ULTIMATE TIP and one of the best things to do in Zermatt if you are up for a HIKE!
There are many beautiful hikes to do all around the Matterhorn and Zermatt. Yet, if you only have 2 days in this area, definitely pick THIS ONE! Here’s why:
- it offers the best views of the Matterhorn because you hike towards it the entire time
- it’s a moderate level hike, nothing too difficult, but there are portions with rocks, so wear proper hiking boots
- it takes approximately 2h30min to reach Riffelberg, so it’s not a very long hike
- it’s downhill! 😀 (aren’t these the best hikes?!)
(Check out these best 6 summer activities and travel tips for Zermatt.)
4. Step Out at 4000m On The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
This is such an incredible adventure! Experience the amazing 360 panoramic views at the highest viewing platform in the Alps (3.883m)!
From this point, you would be able to see 38 four thousand meter high peaks as well as 14 glaciers. That is if the weather permits. If it’s cloudy (as in our case), don’t worry, the ride there is STILL absolutely amazing! Definitely one of the most spectacular gondola rides I’ve ever taken!
It was also the fanciest gondola I’ve ever been into, with heated seats!! 😀 5 minutes into the ride, you get why – it gets cold up there!
As you’ll be at a PRETTY HIGH altitude, be prepared:
- apply sunscreen (SPF50) on your face! Yes, even if it’s cloudy
- take WARM clothes! and I do mean warm, it was -2C in July and the wind was freezing
- remember to bring sunglasses! there is a lot of snow so you’d want to protect your eye from the reflection
- take it easy in case you experience shortness of breath and make sure your health permits to go to such heights
TICKET PRICE: 114,5 CHF return, book HERE
PRO TIP: buy a 2 days card. It costs 230 CHF and everything is included! this is the BEST option to see all 3 main attractions in Zermatt: Gornergrat, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Rothron
DURATION: 40 min (from Zermatt, including changes)
5. Go Up To Sunnegga and Rothorn (3.103m)
See the Matterhorn from all angles! Take the gondola up to Rothorn, but make sure to stop at Sunnegga. This is a great lunch break with one of the most amazing views of the famous mountain. If you’re looking for the Toblerone view, this is the one! 😉
The ride is also pretty spectacular as you’ll go through a mountain tunnel. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been amazed at the technology in the Swiss mountains and the heights we are able to get thanks to it.
If by now you are concerned about time and how long seeing all this will take, don’t be! We did the Gornergrat train ride, the hike down to Riffelberg and Rothorn all in 1 day.
6. Hike the 5 Lakes Trail
With 400km of hiking trails in Zermatt, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore. This hike comes up in every Zermatt Google search, tourist recommendation, and travel blog though. So if you have the time for another one, then definitely add this to the list.
The 5 Lakes Trail offers great views and reflections of the Matterhorn in the Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee, and Leisee lakes.
It’s a moderate level hike and should take you about 2 and a half hours.
Due to our limited time in Zermatt, we decided to leave this one for another time, but if you’re interested, you can find more information HERE.
7. Walk on the Suspension Bridge
This is a fun adventure but not recommended if you are afraid of heights.
The longest suspension bridge in the Alps (almost 500m) is just a few minutes away from Zermatt and can be reached by gondola to Furi and a short 15-20 min hike.
Crossing it is free and offers thrilling sensations (as you can see right through it) and great views of the mountains and valley.
PRO TIP: best to get there in the morning, to avoid having crowds. Not only for nice pictures but because the bridge balances quite a bit so the (scarry) sensations will be bigger with more people on it.
8. Get Up Close to The Matterhorn at Schwarzsee
Want to get REALLY close to the Matterhorn? So close you feel you can almost touch the peak?
Then head to Schwarzsee. This is the perfect spot to admire this beautiful mountain in all its glory.
After seeing mainly its base for most of our trip, I cannot even describe to you the feeling when you’re sitting on the gondola and all of a sudden the peak shows up through the clouds. Majestic!
(You might also enjoy: Why You Need To Add Schilthorn to Your Bucket List)