Have you ever wondered which of all the world’s mountains is the most recognizable? A large majority of people think Switzerland’s rugged Matterhorn takes this particular prize. Its jagged, uniquely shaped peak makes it recognizable after a just quick glimpse. Most people can name the Matterhorn almost instantly, even if they’ve never been there to see it in person. That’s something even Mount Everest or Japan’s beautiful Mount Fuji isn’t able to claim.
The village of Zermatt nestles snugly into the base of this most iconic of all mountains. As if the majestic Matterhorn weren’t enough, the area surrounding Zermatt is also known for its beautiful Alpine glaciers and some of the best skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and high-altitude hiking on the planet. It’s a world-class ski resort, but the historic, car-free village of Zermatt would be worthy of a visit even if everything else wasn’t there.
Besides its charming streets lined with shops, Zermatt hotels with fabulous views, and lively pubs, clubs, cafés and restaurants, Zermatt is the home of two points of interest to history buffs and mountaineering enthusiasts: the Matterhorn Museum and the poignant Mountaineers’ Cemetery (Bergsteigerfriedhof). These two Zermatt attractions shouldn’t come as a surprise – over the centuries the Matterhorn has claimed the lives of hundreds of mountaineers who have tried to climb to its rocky summit.
The Matterhorn makes its presence known throughout the village. It can be seen from multiple spots on the ground (including several Zermatt hotels), but Air Zermatt offers exhilarating helicopter flights that circle the mountain and provide up close views. Adventurous souls can also go paragliding over the village.
But Zermatt, Switzerland offers even more to vacation and holiday travelers. For many people, one of the big highlights of their trip to Zermatt is a ride on the scenic Gornergrat cog railway. Here’s some information about this unique experience:
Although 63 mountain railways serve the area surrounding Zermatt, by far the most famous is the Gornergrat cog railway. The Gornergrat itself (the Gorner Ridge in English) is a rocky Alpine ridge that sits about 3 km (not quite 2 miles) east of Zermatt, between the Gornergletscher and the Findelgletscher. Both these features are glaciers, but the Gornergletscher is the second-largest in all the Alps.
From the Gornergrat’s summit, you’ll see stunning panoramas that include Alpine glaciers, the beautiful Monte Rosa Massif, and more than 20 Swiss and Italian peaks that soar 4,000 meters (approx. 13,100 feet) or higher, including the Matterhorn, Dufourspitze (the highest Swiss mountain), Dom, Breithorn, Lyskamm and Weisshorn. How can you get to this magnificent place? Well, the Gornergrat cog railway wends its way up the Gornergrat until reaching a point just a few meters below the actual summit.
No railway or cableway in Europe climbs higher or offers more spectacular views than the scenic Gornergrat cog railway. Sitting between the railway terminus and the actual peak of the ridge is the famous Gornergrat Kulm Hotel, the highest hotel in the Swiss Alps. Some people might think this hotel is a tourist destination in and of itself, what with its on-premises observatory and shopping mall. The hotel’s restaurant offers traditional Swiss cuisine, an assortment of other culinary delights, and liquid refreshments to suit anyone’s fancy. Imagine staying the night at this unique hotel. You’d be able to watch the sun rise over the mountains the next morning while sipping a cup of steaming hot coffee on the sun terrace. It’s a remarkable experience that’ can’t be matched anywhere else on the planet.
The best, easiest and most enjoyable way to reach the summit of the Gornergrat and the viewing platform at the Kulm Hotel is via the open-air Gornergrat cog railway. The panoramic vistas from the top of the Gornergrat are universally regarded as some of the most incredible views in the country. That’s saying something, because Switzerland is renowned for its natural beauty.
The views along the way are equally amazing. As the train climbs the ridge, you’ll pass through tunnels and ride over high-altitude mountain bridges. You’ll see beautiful Alpine meadows, forests, mountain lakes and gorges. It’s Switzerland the way it’s meant to be.
The Gornergrat has long been Switzerland’s top tourist destination, surpassing the Matterhorn, Geneva, Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, Lausanne, Montreux, St. Moritz, Bern, Lake Maggiore and every other location in the country. Trains run every day of the year, leaving from the railway station in Zermatt every 24 minutes. Staying at one of the many nearby village hotels would be convenient if a train ride to the top of the Gornergrat has a spot on your travel itinerary.
Of course, before you can board the Gornergrat cog railway, you’ll need to get to Zermatt and reserve a room at one of the Zermatt hotels. Airlines Northwest can help you set up hotel arrangements you’ll need for your trip to Zermatt – or almost anywhere else for that matter. We’re here to help with your travel planning 24/7, 365 days a year. With all it has to offer, you won’t soon forget your trip to incredible Zermatt, Switzerland.Google+