The Matterhorn and Switzerland go hand in hand. This pyramid-shaped peak, which is very hard to climb, is one of the most photographed mountains in the world. Nearby is the cable car to the more accessible Klein Matterhorn, the starting point for some great hikes. Day tourists and active travelers can be found year round in the village of Zermatt at the base of the Matterhorn not only to see majestic views of Switzerland’s icon, but to feel the presence of the mountain throughout the village.
The Matterhorn is a pyramid-shaped mountain located at the end of the Mattertal, close to the mountaineering village Zermatt. The mountain itself is located in the region Wallis (Switzerland) as well as in Valle d’Aosta (Italy), hence the Italian name Cervino as it is often referred to. With an altitude of 4478 meter, it’s not the highest mountain in the area (this honor is reserved for the Monte Rosa massif), but its shape makes it one of the most remarkable and attractive peaks for hikers as well as climbers.
First climbed in 1865 by Edward Whyper, the mountain has called to several lives before and ever since. However, hiking can offer a similar breathtaking experience. With so many trails leading to and around this massive peak, a hiking holiday never is too far off.
Accommodation near the Matterhorn
Zermatt is the base for those who wish to catch a glimpse of the majestic Matterhorn. Zermatt is to Switzerland what Chamonix is to France. This mountaineering village breaths history, as you will see traces of the past, not in the least the Zermatt cemetery where several mountaineers lie buried.
Hotels/ Campsites in Zermatt
Zermatt is flocked with day tourists taking the Glacier Express train to the village, since no cars are allowed in the center. Most of them spend the night in one of the many hotels in the village. However, for those on a budget, or spending a night in Zermatt before commencing their hike, there is a campsite available–the closest being camping Matterhorn at the entry of the village, about two minutes from the train station. It is only for tents as there is no way to reach the campsite by car. Cost is 15 CHF/ day. If you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:
Hotel Bristol is very centrally located and has free WIFI, spa, half-board restaurant and a cozy lobby with log fire. They are only a short distance from the cable cars.
Hotel Pollux is located in the heart of Zermatt – 200 meters from the train station. All valley stations of the mountain railways are within walking distance. The hotel has two restaurants. The Pinte is a typically wooden Valais restaurant in which they serve among other things cheese fondue specialities and raclette. The Arvenstube is an elegant restaurant with alpine chic in which they serve international and mediterranean delicacies.
Matterhorn Hostel provides the perfect accommodation in winter and summer for low budget travelers. They are well located in Zermatt which is not only a picturesque village but also one of the top-ranked ski resorts in Europe. The great location gives our guests great access to the mountains. The ski slopes, hiking and biking trails are only a hundred meters away
Mountain huts in the area
Spending a night in a mountain hut in the area around Zermatt offers splendid views ofsome amazing 4,000 meter peaks. Not only can you get views of the Matterhorn, but the Monte Rosa massif and Weisshorn are close as well.
The hut at Schwarzsee probably offers the most photographic views of the Matterhorn with the small lake in the foreground. The hut has a fine restaurant offering Italian dishes, raclette and Swiss specialties.
Another mountain hut well worth the hike (or the cable car) is Gandegg hut. It is situated between the Monte Rosa massif and the Matterhorn, close to the Klein Matterhorn and the Teodulglacier. A short hike from this cabin leads to Teodulpass, which is not only one of the highest mountain passes in the Alps, but also the border of the Aosta Valley.
Further down the valley, you will find the Dom hutte, reconstructed in 2012. It is located at an altitude of 2,940 meter and is the base for climbs up the surrounding 4,000-meter mountains such as Dom, Täschhorn, Lenzspitze, Durrenhorn, Hohberghorn, Nadelhorn and Stecknadelhorn. Even if you have no plans to climb the peaks, the views are well worth the visit.
Wit a patio offering splendid views, Täshhutte is a great day trip from Zermatt. Once at the cabin, you can enjoy Swiss specialities as well as Valais specialities. The same could be said for the Rothornhutte.
Another 4,000 meter peak in the Mattertal is the Weisshorn. While its name is not as reputable as the Matterhorn or the Monte Rosa, it is one of the most dominant peaks in the area. The Weisshorn cabin is the starting point for ascents to this recognizable peak. It offers panoramic views over 19 mountains reaching higher than 4,000 meter in the Valais Alps.
Hiking with views of the Matterhorn
While visiting the Mattertal in the Valais region, hiking is one of the top activities to do here. With several 4,000-meter peaks, the views are just awesome. Still, the Matterhorn is one mountain that will always stand out, so we really recommend doing one of these hikes to get some of the best views of this iconic peak.
Tour the Matterhorn
The Tour de Matterhorn probably is the best known multi-day hike in the region. It is the ultimate hike around the world’s most beautiful mountain. In 8 days, this route circumnavigates the Matterhorn along some great cable-secured passages, boulder fields and even glaciers. Along the way, you can spend the night in mountain cabins such as Rifugio del Teodulo, Rifugia Prarayer and Europaweghütte. Suffering from vertigo is no option as there are a lot of altitude meters to be conquered. One of the hardest sections is a 2,100-meter descent, so stamina is required.
The hike from Zermatt to Hornli Hut is a classic in the Swiss Alps. Hornli Hut is basecamp for mountaineersattempting to climb the Matterhorn via the normal route. The cabin located at the base of the pyramid peak is where quite some mountaineering history has taken place. The hike takes about two hours to complete one way. For those who want to feel the excitement of a Matterhorn climb, we recommend spending a night. The total cost is CHF 150 (dinner and breakfast included) for a shared room. Even though the cabin accommodates about 130 people, it is highly recommended to book in advance. From the hut’s terrace, you can see the main part of the route to the summit. One of the best experiences (except of climbing it) is to get up early in the morning and see mountaineers ascend the Hornli ridge, equipped with head torches. It’s fascinating to watch the queue of small lights up on the mountain as they get closer to the summit.
Best time: August / September
Tour de Monte Rosa
While this multi day hike circumnavigates the Monte Rosa massif, it still offers some great views of the Matterhorn worth mentioning. It crosses the Theodulpass, the second highest mountain pass in the Alps and explores the Valais region as well as Valle D’Aoste. Along the way, spending your nights in cabins such as Europahutte and Gandegghutte makes the experience of hiking in the Alps even better.
If you enjoy walking through alpine meadows, then this short day hike is for you. The walk is about a 3-hour round trip from Blauherd to Tuftern back to Sunnega. Along the way, you will see some rare alpine flora including edelweiss.
Best season: June to September
The alps are home to ibex, chamois and … marmots. The 3-hour walk from Blauherd to Sunnegga takes you past several information boards and observation points giving you glimpses of the area where the marmot lives. They are often seen in this region. Can you spot one?
Best season: June to September
Matterhorn Glacier trail
Ever hiked alongside a glacier? Why not do so with the Matterhorn as a backdrop? The trail between Trockener Steg and Schwarzsee leads you along 23 sites of interest that explain the history of the Furgg glacier. The length of the hike is about 6.5 km and takes 4 hours round trip.
Best season: June to September
Five Lakes Walk
Few sights are better than the reflection of the Matterhorn in a mountain lake. In between Blauherd and Sunnega, there are five mountain lakes that will captivate your attention. Not only are they great places for taking photos of the Matterhorn, but Leisee and Grunsee provide options for a refreshing swim as well. The distance of the trail is about 9.3 kilometers and will take around 5 hours. Be sure to bring a picnic or have a nice lunch at the Sunegga restaurant.
Best season: June to September
Hiking with kids
Spending your holiday with children in Switzerland is a vacation to remember. However, depending on the age of your offspring, some hiking trails may be a bit too hard for them. When staying in Zermatt with children, the Marmot trail is a recommended hike to do with your children. There is little elevation difference – about 100 m ascent and 400 descending – making it ideal for families to enjoy some of the beauty here. There are plenty of refreshment stops along the way and offcourse the faunistic highlights of seeing marmots makes it all worth while!
Things to do in the Matterhorn region
The Alps offer some of the best hiking locations and the area around the Matterhorn is no exception. Views of the majestic peak during one of your hikes surpasses those you get from the village of Zermatt as the angle is much better higher up the valley flanks. The cable car leading to Schwarzsee, Trockener Steg and Klein Matterhorn makes the ascent easier for those who want to shorten their hike. Also, with over 100 kilometer of biking trails reaching 1,400 to 3,100 meters of altitude, the region around Zermat offers a unique mountainbiking experience suitable for all levels.
Afterwards, be sure to enjoy a delicious cheese fondue or raclette in one of the fine restaurants in the center of Zermatt. Those who wish to learn more about the Matterhorn can visit the Matterhorn museum on their rest day.