The pyramid shaped mountain of Matterhorn rising over the village of Zermatt at 4478 m has fascinated hikers, skiers, and tourists for more than hundred years. The popular ski resort of Zermatt cradled in the valley of the magnificent Swiss Alps is skiers paradise. The first ascent of the Matterhorn unconquered for a long time ended up taking lives of four out of the seven who ascended the mountain. Matterhorn has ever since beckoned several mountain lovers and dauntless hikers. Matterhorn is also believed to have inspired the shape of Toblerone chocolate and its logo.
Geneva to Zermatt was a 3.5 hours journey with a train change at Visp. The train route to Zermatt has wonderful views of the snow-dusted conifers dotting the snow-clad slopes of rocky mountains and the emerald rivers skirting the Foothill. The stellar vistas all along the journey left us enraptured.
The sporadic wooden chalets covered in snow made for a postcard-perfect picture of the otherwise perpetual unicolor snowscape.
We were exhilarated for it was literally our first time in the snow with our 7-month old after enjoying the incredible snow vistas from the comfort of the cozy golden pass train. At Zermatt station, we hopped onto one of those compact electric taxis that would whisk us to the base of the cable car station. If you plan to drive to Zermatt then the last point would be Tasch from where you would need to take a shuttle train to the car-free village of Zermatt.
The village atmosphere of Zermatt far away from the hustle bustle, traffic, honking offers an entrancing welcome aura. The chocolate colored chalets and the shops lining the route were snowed down and everything looked pretty much a fairytale town. The small town of Zermatt being a car-free zone helps preserve the old rustic charm with the only vehicles allowed being the electric operated ones.
We crossed a bridge over the gently rushing river Vispa carrying along chunks of melted snow. The vista of myriad shades of chalets and boutiques lining the river with a backdrop of colossal mountains made for an absolute stunner. The fresh air and chilly weather had made Chhavi soon doze off into her dad’s cozy arms.
Traveling with a baby comes with its own constraints, our excitement was soon shelved when we learned that we weren’t allowed on a ride to Glacier Paradise for our kiddo was less than a year old. Half-hearted we bought tickets to Trockener Steg, the highest point they could allow us with our kiddo.
Switzerland has that charm in it that won’t keep you disappointed for long. The cable car ride was as exciting as any other Swiss rides ascending sweeping the snowed chalets of the town below and the only vista as far as our eyes could see were the majestic Alps.
Zermatt the popular ski resort is frequented by the mountaineers and skiers from all over the world. We could spot tiny skiers and snowboarders leaving their trails on the fresh pristine snow.
The First Moment of Awe!
The Matterhorn Express gondola ascended up to Furi where we changed to another gondola that led us up to Schwarzsee and then Trockener Steg. We made our way to a sun terrace of the restaurant which offered an unobstructed awe-inspiring view of the iconic Matterhorn. Though we visited in winter we were lucky enough for the sky was bright and clear for our absolute moment of awe in Swiss Alps.
We picked up some snacks from the restaurant and spent time marveling at the enigmatic landscape of undulating snow covered hills which exuded a magical charm. One can spend hours gawking at the sheer grandeur of the Alps. There is also a Swiss souvenir shop in the restaurant where you can pick some Swiss memorabilia.
Schwarzsee the stop before Trockener Steg is also a popular starting point for Matterhorn ascent. Schwarzsee is also frequented by tourists looking to visit the chapel and a beautiful lake situated at few minutes walk from the station.
Matterhorn glacier paradise or Klein Matterhorn at 3883 m has a glacier palace which houses interesting ice sculptures. A 360º viewing platform offers an exceptional panoramic view of the surrounding alpines. Unfortunately, we missed all this fun.
Zermatt in Summer
The beauty and charm of Zermatt beckoned us to visit again with our year old kiddo and our in-laws who visited us in summer. The train station exit greeted us with completely different vistas this time. The electric taxis were replaced by the horse-drawn carriages. The rustic old chalets and shops wore a colorful charm with every balcony and window covered with spring blossoms. We walked all the way from station taking in the invigorating aura. The river Vispa too flowed with much energy and gush.
Having tried the gondola ride last time we decided to ride the funicular this time. A funicular station some 5 minutes walk from the train station takes passengers to the Sunnegga Paradise at a height of 2,288 m. We bought tickets and boarded the funicular which runs through a tunnel in the mountain. A gondola from Sunnegga paradise continues onto Blauherd and then to Rothorn at 3,103 m. Sunnegga Paradise also has a sun terrace with restaurant similar to Trockener Steg and offers exceptional views of Matterhorn. Unfortunately, the tip of Matterhorn was covered in clouds all the time. We had some light lunch and proceeded to explore the valley below. After some 10 minutes walk down the path winding through the alpine flora we found a beautiful crystal-clear Leisee lake. Hikers and trekkers proceed further from here to explore four more lakes on the famous 5-Seenweg (Five Lakes Walk). The lakes are said to offer a beautiful reflection of the Matterhorn. Sunnegga paradise and Blauherd are also starting points for several wonderful trekking trails.
One can also visit the Gornergrat summit with an exceptional half an hour ride on the Gornergrat rack railway which is Europe’s highest open-air railway. The ascent starts near the main railway station of Zermatt and runs up to the summit of the Gornergrat at 3,089 m. The summit has several shops and restaurants with a viewing platform offering views of the surrounding Alps.
Have you visited Zermatt? What has been your favorite and memorable experience? Do share with us in comments.
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