The Gornergrat Bahn, also known as the Gornergrat Railway, is a historic mountain railway located in Zermatt, Switzerland.
Its rich history dates back to the late 19th century, making it one of the oldest cog railway systems in Switzerland and taking the Gornergrat train ride up to the Gornergrat summit station at 3,089 meters (10,135 ft) above sea level is a bit of a must when visiting Zermatt.
The journey on the Gornergrat railway is an adventure in itself. But then again, so is stopping at all the stations along the way!
What makes it so great and what are the details? That is what we are here to find out.
Join me as I run through everything you need to know about riding the Gornergrat cog railway from times and tickets to the history, each stop, things to do, and lots more.
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|Address||Bahnhofpl. 1, 3920 Zermatt, Switzerland|
|Ticket Prices||Adult: CHF 126 return Pensioner: CHF 126 return Student: CHF 126 return Children (6-16): CHF 63 return|
|Discounts||Swiss Travel Pass: 50% off Half Fare Card: 50% off Generalabonnement Travel Card: 50% off|
|Timetable||Runs 365 days – timetable changes with the seasons |
Spring & Autumn – Every hr to 30 mins First departure from Zermatt – 0700 Last departure from Zermatt – 1740First departure from Gornergrat – 0742Last departure from Gornergrat – 1837
Summer – Every hr to 30 mins First departure from Zermatt – 0700 Last departure from Zermatt – 2150 (to Riffelalp)First departure from Gornergrat – 0742Last departure from Gornergrat – 2007Last departure from Riffelalp – 2258
The Winter Timetable is not yet available, check here for updates
|Parking||Zermatt is a car-free town so no parking is available|
History of the Gornergrat Bahn
The Gornergrat Bahn (the station) and the Gornergrat Railway (the actual train) were built in the late 1800s. Construction began in 1896 and the Gornergrat railway was then opened to the public on the 20th of August 1898.
It was built as a fully electrified cog railway and is to this date the second-highest railway in Europe after the Jungfrau. It is also the highest open-air railway and open-air cog railway in Europe, as it reaches an altitude of 3,089 m (10,135 ft) above sea level at the top station.
To begin with, the Gornergrat cogwheel train only operated in the summer. However, in 1929 year-round operation was extended to the lower section of the line and all the way to the summit in 1941.
What makes it special is that it is one of four railway lines in the world using three-phase electric power. This means it requires two overhead conductors, with the track forming the third.
Over the years, the Gornergrat Railway has become one of the world’s most popular scenic train rides and it is no surprise with the stunning mountain panoramas and the glorious view of the Matterhorn that you get to see while riding it.
Route of the Gornergrat Bahn
When riding the Gornergrat Bahn, here is what to expect. The total line is 9.3 miles (15 kilometers) and it takes you on a scenic safari through the Alps.
It starts at the main train station at Zermatt at an altitude of 1,620 meters (5,315ft) and goes all the way to the summit of Gornergrat at an altitude of 3,089 meters (10,135 feet).
Along the route, the Gornergrat train climbs 1,469 meters (4,820 feet) in just over 30 minutes while making several stops along the way.
You can hop on and off at each stop so you can explore the beautiful surroundings at each of the stations. Here is what to expect at each stop.
Initial Station: Zermatt
The journey begins at Zermatt Station. If you are riding the railway, chances are you will either be staying in the lovely alpine village that is Zermatt or visiting it on a day trip.
Zermatt is a busy car-free mountain town world-famous for its skiing and its lovely atmosphere. There are a lot of great things to do in Zermatt and between the great restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels it pretty much guarantees an amazing experience.
First Station: Findelbach
After departing from Zermatt, the train makes its first stop at Findelbach reaching an altitude of 1,770 m (5,810 ft).
At Findelbach you will see stunning views of the Matterhorn and the surrounding Alps. This is also a great place to get off as there are lots of hiking trails, some of which lead to beautiful Mosjesee Lake.
Second Station: Riffelalp
Continuing the ascent, the Gornergrat Bahn then goes to its second station called Riffelalp Station at an altitude of 7,290 feet (2,222 meters).
This stop is full of beautiful alpine meadows and, again, awesome views of the surrounding peaks. You will also find some lovely hiking trails here as well as old churches, mountain huts, and hotels to stay in, plus some great restaurants to have lunch or a drink in.
Third Station: Riffelberg
As the train climbs higher, it reaches Riffelberg at 8,432 feet (2,570 meters) above sea level. This is a great station to get off at if you enjoy hikes and it is starting point for some of the top hiking trails in the area.
Fourth Station: Rotenboden
The next stop along the route is Rotenboden train station and at this higher altitude, you get some of the best views of glaciers, including the Gorner Glacier.
You can also access some excellent high-altitude hiking trails such as the hike to Riffelsee Lake where you can see the Matterhorn reflected in its waters on calm days.
Fifth Station: Gornergrat
The final station of the Gornergrat Bahn is the Gornergrat summit itself and it is the best stop without question.
You will see breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, including the iconic Matterhorn as soon as you get off the train and there is lots to do at the summit too.
Activities & Experiences at the Gornergrat Summit
The Gornergrat Summit is a special place to spend some time, so be sure to leave enough time to explore it thoroughly. Here is what to expect.
At an elevation of 10,135 feet (3,089 meters) above sea level you will get to see unparalleled 360-degree panoramic views of the Swiss Alps.
On a clear day, you can see 29 mountain peaks, including the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa Massif, and the Dufourspitze (4634 m), the highest peak in Switzerland. If that wasn’t good enough, you will also get to see lots of glaciers including the Gorner Glacier.
The Gornergrat area is excellent for hiking. There are lots of different hiking trails to match all fitness levels from short walks to serious hikes
The hike to Riffelsee is one to miss. You will hike down towards Rotenboden via the stunning and famous Lake Riffelsee with views of the Matterhorn along the way.
The Circular Glacier walk is a great one for families as it is only a 20-minute hike and it brings you closer to the Gorner Glacier for a better view.
Gorner Glacier Paradise
A visit to the Gornergrat Glacier Paradise is also a lovely thing to do at the summit. At this exhibition, you will learn all about glaciers, glacial formations, and a lot about the direct effects of climate change on the area.
The Gornergrat Summit is home to an observatory that you simply have to see for yourself. It is not every day that you will be next to an observatory at such high altitudes and with quite clear skies. You will be able to see the stars and space like you never have before.
The summit is also home to a few restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy some Swiss culinary delights while looking over some of the best views a restaurant could have on this planet.
From traditional alpine dishes to international cuisine, there will be something to suit you on the menu – be sure to book a table on the terrace in advance so you do not miss out on the views.
Tips for Riding the Gornergrat Bahn
Timings and Reservations
The last thing you want is to waste any time so be sure to check the schedules in advance and plan enough time to make the most of the train fare and the stunning area.
Reservations are not usually necessary but they can be handy during peak seasons to ensure you have a seat. It is also wise to book a reservation at the restaurants at Gornergrat also.
The weather at higher altitudes can change very quickly and it is much colder than it will be in Zermatt. Dress in layers, wear appropriate footwear, and pack a waterproof/windproof jacket.
It would be a shame to be on one of the most scenic train rides in the world and forget your camera. There are pictures worth taking at every turn.
Exploring the Stations
Take the time to explore each station along the way up or back down – whether it is just a short walk or a longer hike, each stop is unique in its own way.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get to the Gornergrat Bahn Station in Zermatt?
You can walk to the Gornergrat Bahn Station from pretty much anywhere in Zermatt or you can ask your hotel to book you a taxi It is a short walk from most hotels and is well signposted.
Am I allowed to disembark and reboard during my Gornergrat journey?
Yes, you are allowed to disembark and reboard at any of the stations along your Gornergrat journey using the same ticket for the day.
Is it possible to make seat reservations for the Gornergrat train journey?
Yes, it is possible to make seat reservations for the Gornergrat train journey. This is usually not needed but is recommended during peak tourist seasons, especially if you prefer a specific seat.
Is the Gornergrat Bahn worth it?
Yes, the Gornergrat Bahn is certainly worth it. It is not often you get to ride a train to pretty much as high as a train can go in Europe. Plus, between the views, the scenery, the hikes, and everything else on offer, it will be a train ride of a lifetime.