Written by caromeow on 22 Mar, 2005
Okay, here we could have been more prepared. Make sure you check out timetables and price listings for the cable cars so you don't end up getting to the top and then scrambling to take the last cable car back down (of course, if you…Read More
Okay, here we could have been more prepared. Make sure you check out timetables and price listings for the cable cars so you don't end up getting to the top and then scrambling to take the last cable car back down (of course, if you ski or snowboard down, this is not a problem for you). Timetable: http://bergbahnen.zermatt.ch/e/fahrplan/winter/kleinmatterhorn.htmlRates: http://bergbahnen.zermatt.ch/e/preise/kleinmatterhorn.html We made it up to Kleine Matterhorn, but you have to take an elevator up to Glacier Paradise to get the great view and walk inside the glacier, but we just missed the last trip up. Apparently it's only open until 3:45pm (we should have looked at these details beforehand at http://bergbahnen.zermatt.ch/e/peaks/kleinmatterhorn.html). It was sad. Lesson learned? Don't spend so much time in the grocery store, eating, using the toilets, or taking pictures UNTIL you've at least gotten to where you're going. Also, I think this is where spending the night in Zermatt or at least in a town a bit closer (we came from Bern, and that takes 4 hours) comes in handy so that you can get up in the cable cars in the morning and have more time to wander around, take pictures, and not miss the last cable cars. Weather: I have heard that the weather changes rapidly in the mountains, and often people get to Zermatt and can't even SEE the Matterhorn (this is actually how it was most of the time I was there over Christmas), but we were lucky. On the Zermatt website (www.zermatt.ch), you can check out the view through the webcam, but of course, if you have to make plans and book hotels, you will just have to wing it. We were fortunate enough to have AMAZING weather. Close
Written by lyss710 on 14 Jul, 2001
As I mentioned in the overview, the train that runs into Zermatt is a private train and is therefore not covered on your Eurail or Europass. Needless to say when you switch trains in Brig from a public train to the private one, there…Read More
As I mentioned in the overview, the train that runs into Zermatt is a private train and is therefore not covered on your Eurail or Europass. Needless to say when you switch trains in Brig from a public train to the private one, there are no signs saying "THIS IS A PRIVATE TRAIN" before you board. I boarded the train with my Europass in hand, prepared for a smooth ride to Zermatt full of wonderful scenery. What I ended up with was a nerve-wracking experience where I thought I might never see my credit card again.
I realized there was a problem when the conductor came through and someone with a Eurail pass was handing the conductor money for another ticket. I checked my wallet and found a total of 12SF (about $8). Not good. When the conductor came to me, I sheepishly handed him my Europass and he says "private train. need ticket." I explained to him in English (I know essentially NO German) that I didn't know, and only had 12SF in cash. He repeats "need ticket" and disappears into the next car.
By this time, I have visions of being charged with a huge fine that I can't afford and being stuck in a Swiss jail for weeks. Soon, the conductor returns and says "credit card". I think - oh great, problem solved, they have a machine on the train and will just charge my credit card. The guy takes my credit card and disappears again. And doesn't come back. 20 minutes later I have still not seen him and am getting nervous because I only brought one credit card and one ATM/checkcard. In another 20 minutes, the train pulls into the Zermatt station, and I still don't have my credit card. Finally, the conductor comes through and says again "Need ticket. Office". I try to ask him about my credit card, but he just walks out of the train and heads toward the offices. I follow him, still trying to talk to him, hoping that maybe someone in the office will speak better English and explain what is going on and how I can get my credit card.
When we reach the ticket office, he goes inside says something to the ticket man in German, and hands the ticket guy my credit card. By now, I am planning in my head how to make it through the next week before I go home on just my checkcard, and how I am going to bail myself out of Swiss jail in time to make it to Rome for my return flight home. Well, the train conductor leaves the booth, and the ticket guy looks at me and in terrific English says. "That was a private train. You need to buy ticket for it. I put the ticket on your Visa, okay?"
It turns out that the conductor just took my credit card to make sure I bought a ticket once the train arrived in Zermatt. Once my heartbeat slowed down and I realized what was going on, it made perfect sense. However I suggest you save yourself the trouble and either buy a ticket at the station where you change trains or have enough cash on you to buy a ticket on the train. (Though if you read this article, you won't be as stressed by your missing credit card as I was.)
Written by jemery on 10 Sep, 2003
One of my favorite railroad books concerns a stressed-out reporter whose doctor ordered him to Zermatt because "there were no stories there." Implying, when that was written in 1974, that it was a quaint little place.
It’s true that Zermatt still refuses to allow internal-combustion vehicles…Read More
One of my favorite railroad books concerns a stressed-out reporter whose doctor ordered him to Zermatt because "there were no stories there." Implying, when that was written in 1974, that it was a quaint little place.
It’s true that Zermatt still refuses to allow internal-combustion vehicles on its streets, and that rustic chalet-like hotels still send horse-drawn carriages to fetch their guests from the railroad depot. Now, though, four- and five-star hotels lurk behind these rustic facades. Inviting, and busy, stores carry luxurious woolen goods, exquisite figurines, and hand-crafted music boxes costing thousands of dollars. You’re just as likely to be whisked to your hotel in a van-sized electric limo as in a horse-drawn conveyance.
The Zermatt area, it’s claimed, has 38 mountain peaks exceeding 4,000 meters in height. It’s Europe’s largest summer-skiing area, and its lower slopes attract thousands of avid hikers. With the sunlit Matterhorn (4,478 meters, 14,690 feet) looming in the background like a giant dragon’s tooth, Zermatt’s main street is well occupied this late July afternoon.
Zermatt is also the western terminal of the Glacier Express and home to the GornergratBahn, one of Switzerland’s most popular mountain cog railways. Train buffs who come from all over the world to ride the Glacier Express usually include a pilgrimage to Gornergrat at the beginning or end of their trip. When time constraints kept me from doing that in 1998, I HAD to come back.
The climb up the steep and narrow gorge from the Rhone Valley at Visp to the village of St. Niklaus was as I’d remembered it from the earlier trip: spectacular. Past there, the canyon becomes a valley, wider and less steep. Here, the hiking trails are relatively gentle and we see many people enjoying them. We pass many riverside campsites.
The station at Tasch is the end of the line for all but the most essential motor vehicles; everyone else must continue to Zermatt by rail. Shuttle trains run every 20 minutes or so.
Trains deposit their passengers onto a wide plaza leading to, appropriately, BahnhofStrasse. The main business district, 4-5 blocks long, extends along this "Railroad Station Street." This is German-speaking country, and you’ll likely hear a lively waltz or polka coming from one of the many BierStubes along the way. (One, in the little shopping mall adjoining the Hotel Schweizerhof, served ungarnished but perfectly cooked venison steak for what, for Switzerland, was a surprisingly reasonable price.)
The station for the Gornergrat train is just up the street from the main rail station, and there’s a tourist-information center there as well. Two Swiss francs will buy you an aerial map of the region, with general hiking and other sightseeing suggestions. For 26 francs, you can obtain a detailed 1:25,000-scale trail map. You can, and should, pick up a brochure showing the many available tour options and the various reduced-rate passes that are available.
A week-long "Peak Pass," good for unlimited rides on the entire mountain transport system, listed for SWF 238 (US $176). A round-trip ticket for Gornergrat alone was SWF 64.
Though friends had told me that Zermatt would be "very expensive," I was booked in the Schwartzerhof, a four-star hotel barely a block from the rail station, for about US $120/night. That’s VERY reasonable for Switzerland. Staying in St. Moritz, at the end of my previous Glacier Express trip, had cost me considerably more.
Because of its convenient connection to Italy, over the spectacular Bernina Pass, St. Moritz is a must destination on a Glacier Express tour, expensive or not. But do add Zermatt to your itinerary.
Some Internet sites to check...
For general information: www.zermatt.ch
For the Gornergrat Train: www.ggb.ch
The train site includes a link to the master timetables for the entire Swiss Rail network.
Written by RuMeR on 26 Oct, 2005
Friday evening we were surfing through all the places we could go within Switzerland and came across Zermatt! We had never been there and simply decided driving the next day to experience the lovely place. We booked a four-star hotel, and unluckily, they didn't get our…Read More
Friday evening we were surfing through all the places we could go within Switzerland and came across Zermatt! We had never been there and simply decided driving the next day to experience the lovely place.
We booked a four-star hotel, and unluckily, they didn't get our booking, since we only booked the night before. The hotel was fully booked since it's famous for foreigners! Anyways, to cut the story short, they offered us a place to stay, which was totally awesome, because it was a five-star holiday house (owned by her daughter)! We were struck by their flexibility by offering us that place for 2 nights.
Saturday at noon we went around the little town and did some window shopping. I love the idea of the place being car-free, but watch out for the electric cars and horse-drawn sleighs and carriages. Waking up and seeing the lovely view of Matterhorn was the best thing!
Seven aupairs set off one almost-spring day from Bern to Zermatt in hopes of viewing the beautiful, famous, wondrous mountain that is the Matterhorn. We arrived at the station in Bern to meet and take the 7:39 train, getting us to Zermatt at 10:24. One…Read More
Seven aupairs set off one almost-spring day from Bern to Zermatt in hopes of viewing the beautiful, famous, wondrous mountain that is the Matterhorn. We arrived at the station in Bern to meet and take the 7:39 train, getting us to Zermatt at 10:24. One by one, we arrived, bought our day passes (56Fr. a pop), and stood huddled around, waiting in sleepy excitement. As the last of us went to buy her day pass, I remembered that I had not asked for a Fahrplan (to show us train changes and tracks), so I asked her to get one. Glitch one in our adventure: the 7:39 train to Brig (which goes on to Milan) is booked! We'll have to take the 8:09, getting us to Zermatt at 11:24. Oh well, just gotta wait a little longer. Not a huge deal.The view on the way was beautiful. The mountains and lakes of Thun and Spiez, the clear blue sky... it was the PERFECT day to see the Matterhorn! All was hunky-dory.When we arrived in Zermatt, we first went to Coop to buy some victuals for a picnic lunch on the mountain. We certainly took our time. It was about 1:30pm by the time we were aboard the first cable car. It was a quarter past two by the time we dug into our lunchtime feast outside the restaurant on Trockener Steg. Okay, at 3pm, we were taking our last photos at Trockener Steg and FINALLY heading up to the Kleine Matterhorn. We waited in line for what seemed like ages to get into a cable car that feels a bit more like a sardine can than anything else. What fun. When we arrived, we had to walk through this long tunnel, and along the way there's a fork in the tunnel. Another lift? A sign tells us it will close at 4pm. It's almost 4pm now. Why did we not take the lift? Keine Ahnung (who knows). Okay, we finally emerge from the tunnel. Hey, where's the Matterhorn? You can't even see it from out here. Still, the mountains are beautiful, and we take a few more pictures. It's 4pm now, and we say our goodbyes to Emilia, who will ski down, and Vera, who will snowboard down. Sarah says, "Okay, should we plan to meet at, say, 5:30 or..." I say, "No, I don't want to be commited to a time (we have no idea how long it will take them to get to the bottom of the ski run). Let's just SMS when we're done." I could kick myself in the face for that. This is a key moment in the Aupair Misadventure...So, at 4:05pm, we came to that other tunnel to find we could now no longer go up. Damn it! Oh well. We take the lift back down to Trockener Steg, and this is GREAT because we (five of us now) are the only people in the car! The conductor opens a window for us so we can take good pictures on the ride down. It was fantastic. Everyone's happy.Back at Trockener Steg, and Sheena wants to take more pictures of the Matterhorn up close. But wait, isn't the last cable car at 4:30? I ask. Yeah, but I didn't come all this way not to get a great photo of the Matterhorn. So, we walk swiftly up to the top of the restaurant and take our pictures at 4:21pm. We make the cable car. No worries. That was a close one, but all is well now. Back in Zermatt, we do bit of shopping, and when the shops close at six, we go for a drink in a hotel bar. Someone gets a message from Vera saying she has lost Emilia. Hm. Sheena phones Emilia. Where are you? Are you okay? Emilia: It's really hard. Sheena: Do you know where you are? Emilia: I'm by a farm. Phone cuts off.At about 6:30pm, Vera comes to meet us at the bar. She tells us that Emilia was going much slower than she was. At one point, she waited for twenty minutes, but Emilia still didn't come. At this, we estimate Emilia won't be down until perhaps 8pm! And it's starting to get dark outside. What to do? Note: last train that will get us to Bern leaves at 7:30. We decide to split up. Sarah and Vera go to the Bahnhof to wait for Emilia, in case she goes there. The rest of us go to the cable car station in case she comes down in a car. This is also near the end of the ski trails. The station is closed. We wait a while, hoping to see her, but she doesn't come and her phone is still not working. It's 7:15 now, and Sarah is going to call the police. We all meet at the church in town. By then, Sarah had phoned the police, who told her "Your friend is probably in a bar somewhere. Call back at 10 or 11 if you don't find her." Sarah and Sheena and Vera decide now to go to the police station in person. It's closed. We all head back to the Bahnhof, where there is a button you can press to talk to the police. It is just after 7:30 when we get there. I guess we’re staying in Zermatt tonight. We all agree we're not going to leave without Emilia, and we can't make it to Bern anymore anyway.Sarah tells the police we're missing someone, who may be lost in the ski trails. This starts a good two hours of the police phoning Sarah's cell, then Sarah phoning them from the phone booth to give them more information. The slopes and roads are being searched. We're a bit worried. It's dark now, and our friend is not a very experienced skier. Finally, four of us head off in search of lodging. This won't be easy. We start with the first hotel we come to, right across from the station. Do you have a room? Only one double. Could we all stay in it? I'm afraid that's not possible. We exlain our situation, and Sheena bursts into tears. The woman looks sympathetic, but there's simply nothing she can do. Could you suggest a place we might find lodging? She pulls out a map and points us to Hotel Bahnhof, which has larger rooms, and the Jugendherberge (youth hostel). Thanks a lot.Hotel Bahnhof is right by the staion, of course, so we head there. We're not sure if we should ask for a room first or explain our situation. None of us had come prepared for spending the night. We did't have so much extra money, and we didn't think we'd be sleeping much anyway. The woman at Hotel Bahnhof was EXTREMELY kind to us. The hotel was booked, and she said she had had calls from the youth hostels seeing if she had rooms, so they must be booked as well. She even had two young men paying to stay downstairs in the lounge. She would let us stay there. We wouldn't have to pay. Sarah stays at the Bahnhof, waiting for the police to call again. The rest of us collapse onto chairs in the lounge. We keep looking over the map of ski trails, trying to figure out what might have happened. Perhaps she ended up in Italy and her phone doesn't work there? At some point between 9 and 10pm, Sarah finally hears from the police again. All of the slopes and roads have been searched, and Emilia was not found. Sarah and Sheena have to go to the station and make a statement. Some time around 10:30, Tahnee's cell phone beeps. She had programmed it to tell her when Emilia's phone received her SMS. Right away, Vera phones Emilia. "Where ARE you?" "I'm at home in Bern. Where are you guys?" "We're in Zermatt." "What are you doing still there??" Oh, my.
It turned out that, while skiing, Emilia had gotten onto the Black trail, the most difficult one. Once you are on it, there's no way to get off. It was mostly ice, and she was having a tough time with it. When she spoke to Sheena on the phone, she said "I am fine. I'll be down in 15 minutes," but of course, Sheena hadn't heard that because the phone had died. So when Emilia got to the station, exhausted and frustrated and totally worn out, and no one else was there, she assumed we had already gone back to Bern, so she took the 6:30 train home. Meanwhile, we were in the bar organizing a search for her.Moral of the story? ALWAYS have a meeting place or back-up plan. Cell phones should not be relied upon, but seen as emergency methods of communication only. Close
I don't know that the phone cards still look the same, but my favorite souvenier from the entire time I spent in Switzerland was the phone card I bought so I could call ahead and reserve a room for Venice (my next stop). I…Read More
I don't know that the phone cards still look the same, but my favorite souvenier from the entire time I spent in Switzerland was the phone card I bought so I could call ahead and reserve a room for Venice (my next stop). I bought the phone card at the little store next to the train station and when I looked at the card, it had a very close-up picture of a cow licking it's nose. I have it in my scrapbook, and it still makes me laugh every time I look at it! Close
Written by John Cairns on 26 Jan, 2006
We enjoyed hiking through the Alpine forest around Zermatt. The trails are well marked and not as challenging as one may think. Along the way there are small restaurants, or in warm weather, it might be nice to bring your own picnic lunch. …Read More
We enjoyed hiking through the Alpine forest around Zermatt. The trails are well marked and not as challenging as one may think. Along the way there are small restaurants, or in warm weather, it might be nice to bring your own picnic lunch. Close
Written by GoSwiss! on 07 Jul, 2005
The best spring skiing, and summer skiing for that matter, you'll find at Kleines Matterhorn Glacier. Usually after 1pm, the snow gets too slushy because of the sun and warmth, so everybody tends to meet up for après skiing (European ski-bum language for getting drunk…Read More
The best spring skiing, and summer skiing for that matter, you'll find at Kleines Matterhorn Glacier. Usually after 1pm, the snow gets too slushy because of the sun and warmth, so everybody tends to meet up for après skiing (European ski-bum language for getting drunk on specialty coffees or cocktails after skiing) in one of the excellent little gem of restaurants and terraces and take in some sun. Close
Written by firstname.lastname@example.org on 16 Feb, 2006
No cars in the village, relaxing, sunny, a tremendous experience for a family. The services and people are wonderful... that old thing about the Swiss being 'cold' or unfriendly is rubbish.The cost of a ski vacation is comparable to that of the same in the…Read More
No cars in the village, relaxing, sunny, a tremendous experience for a family. The services and people are wonderful... that old thing about the Swiss being 'cold' or unfriendly is rubbish.The cost of a ski vacation is comparable to that of the same in the USA... I compared two weeks in Zermatt to two weeks at a comparable hotel in Sun Valley or Aspen... no difference at all. The skiing is less expensive in Zermatt as well.Can you ski to Italy from Vail? Nope. Apres—ski in the USA is the same as apres—work... a bottle of Bud and the Jets game. If that is fine with you, stay home!The snow is by far better in the USA... no questions. However if a ski-vacation is ONLY about how many runs you do in a day, you've missed the plot.Go to Zermatt, or Sass Fee, or Wengen, or Gstaad... or likely anywhere in Switzerland and you are likely to find a great vacation at reasonable prices (even the two star hotels are 'Swiss clean' !!)... research carefully (www.zermatt.ch for example) and you will be pleased. Close
Written by LetsGoThere on 30 Mar, 2005
The skiing here is great, but the selection of terrain is a bit overwhelming. I skied all over the place, and still feel like I only saw a third of what was available. The runs are long and vary from easy to psycho.…Read More
The skiing here is great, but the selection of terrain is a bit overwhelming. I skied all over the place, and still feel like I only saw a third of what was available. The runs are long and vary from easy to psycho. There wasn’t much new snow for the time I was there, so the runs were getting a bit icy by the time I left. My biggest regret was that I had to leave without skiing into Italy (I just wanted to say I skied from Switzerland to Italy).
There are an abundance of novice skiers, so be careful on the easier runs. There are a lot of languages spoken on this mountain. Apparently phrases like "watch where the - you’re going moron!" don’t translate well to most skiers there.