The rack-railroad climbs the east side of Nikolai valley, crosses the Findelnbach on a high bridge and then runs through the curving Unteralp tunnel. 4km/ 2mi: Riffelalp (2,213 m/7,261ft), with a superb view of the Gabelhorn group. The line continues up the slopes of the Riffelberg in a wide curve, with ever more impressive views of the Matterhorn. (6km/4mi: Riffelberg (2,582 m/8,472ft) with the hotel of the same name. 7.5km/5mi from Zermatt lies Rotenboden station (2,819 m/9,249ft). A few minutes' walk below the station is the Riffelsee, with the pyramidal peak of the Matterhorn mirrored in its water (particularly fine in the morning). The line then runs high above the Gorner glacier to the summit station (9km/6mi, 3,089 m/10,135ft), from which it is only a five- minute climb to the famous Gornergrat (3,130 m/10,270ft: observatory), a rocky ridge rearing above the Gorner glacier. From here there is one of the most magnificent panoramas in the whole of the Alps: in the middle the Matterhorn, with the Breithorn, the Zwillinge ("Twins" - Castor and Pollux), the Lyskamm and Monte Rosa to the left; to the north the peaks of the Mischabel group, including the Dom (4,545 m/14,912ft), the highest purely Swiss mountain; and to the west the mountains between the Zermatt and Zinal valleys.
Address: Nordstrasse 20, CH-3900 Brig, Switzerland
Findeln Glacier (walk)
The return walk from the Gornergrat to Zermatt is highly recommended; the path at first drops steeply (90minutes) to the Findel Glacier Restaurant. From here, a detour can be made uphill in 45minutes to the steeply inclined Findeln Glacier (2,298 m/7,542ft). From the restaurant the walk continues via the summer village resort of Findeln (2,164 m/7,102ft) where cereals are grown (in winter a chairlift goes down to the Sunnegga cabin) and, in another hour, Zermatt is reached.
About 30-45minutes south of Zermatt lie the Gorner Gorges through which thunders the Matter Vispa, the outflow of the Gorner Glacier.
Walking tour to Schwarzsee
This tour on foot, an alternative to the cableway trip, lasts about three hours. The route follows the left bank of the Vispa and then the Zmuttbach, in 15 minutes it crosses the stream (magnificent view of the Matterhorn), and continues by way of the Sum See (1,763 m/5,784ft) and Hermettji huts to the Schwarzsee hotel (2,583 m/8,475ft) from which there are superb panoramic views. A few minutes' walk below the hotel is the little Schwarzsee (2,552 m/8,373ft), with the guides' chapel of Maria zum See (18th C.). 2.5 hours higher up are the Belvédère mountain inn (3,263 m/10,706ft) and the Hörnli hut (3,260 m/10,696ft: 50 sleeping places), starting-point for the ascent of the Matterhorn. An hour's walk to the northwest is the Staffelalp.
Driving tour to Staffelalp
20 minutes above the Zum See huts on the road to the Schwarzsee take a road on the right which ascends through beautiful mountain forests, high up on the right bank of the Zmuttbach, to the Staffelalp (2,206 m/7,238ft: restaurant), with a magnificent view of the Matterhorn and the Zmutt glacier, littered with rock debris. The Smuttbach has been dammed and harnessed to produce electric power.
Theodul Pass (Glacier Tour)
This tour lasts 5-5.5 hours with a guide, but you can also use the cableway. First, in 1.25 hours to Hermettji then, in a further 2.25 hours at the moraine of the Upper Theodul glacier (Oberer Theodulgletscher, 2,713 m/8,901ft), either with a rope directly across the much-crevassed glacier to the pass (two hours) or via the Gandegg hut (3,029 m/9,938ft: one hour) and over the glacier to the pass. The Theodul pass (Matterjoch, 3,317 m/10,883ft), which was already in use before the fourth century AD lies on the frontier with Italy (magnificent views). From nearby Testa Grigia, a cableway runs down to Breuil (Italians' Cervina).
Guides: Guided tour available as optional extra.
Breithorn (Dufourspitze, Monte Rosa)
Popular tours from the Theodul pass include the ascent of the Breithorn (4,165 m/13,665ft; magnificent views) with a guide; to the Kleines Matterhorn (3,884 m/12,743ft; cableway); from Rotenboden station on the Gornergrat railroad in two hours to the Monte Rosa hut (2,795 m/9,170ft) and from there in 6-6.5 hours with a guide to the Dufourspitze (4,634 m/15,204ft), the highest peak in the Monte Rosa massif and in Switzerland, with one of the most breathtaking panoramas in the Alps.
Glacier Express (rail service)
Route: Zermatt-Brig-Andermatt-Chur-Davos/St Moritz or in reverse direction.Length: 290km/180mi; duration 7.75 hours to St Moritz.Highlights: A trip on the Glacier Express - the "slowest express in the world" - is a memorable experience for every railroad enthusiast. Using meter-gauge stretches of the Rhätische Bahn (RhB), the Furka- Oberalp Bahn (FO) and the Brig-Visp-Zermatt Bahn (BVZ), the express provides an east-west connection in the High Alps for tourists, and not only passes through magnificent mountain scenery but also makes use of real masterpieces of railroad engineering. The train crosses 291 bridges and viaducts, goes through 91 tunnels including the longest meter-gauge tunnel in the world at the Oberalp pass (2,033 m/6,672ft).Features: The Glacier Express carries first and second class coaches. Tickets for sections of the route only can also be obtained. Early reservation in all cases is necessary. In connection with the centenary of the Rhätische Bahn a "Glacier Pullman Express" and a "Glacier Gourmet Express" were brought into service in 1989.Information can be obtained from any railroad station in Switzerland and from Swiss Tourist Offices where a leaflet on the "Glacier Express" is also available. Most railroad stations and travel agents in Switzerland and abroad can offer interesting package holidays which include travel on the "Glacier Express".
Map of Zermatt Attractions