Zermatt is one of the most popular regions in Switzerland thanks to the almighty Matterhorn peak, which is one of the most dangerous climbs in the world. It’s quite a beautiful quintessential Swiss town, which has tried to keep its traditional character by remaining a carless town and keeping the charm of the old chalets and cobblestone roads. I visited this region for 8 days and had an awesome experience and was very lucky with the weather in the summer month of September. Throughout my time hiking in Zermatt, I experienced some beautiful trails and I’ve put together this Zermatt Hiking Guide so that you can choose a hike or two (or six) for your visit to Zermatt. I’m sure you will find a great adventure on this list of my six favorite hikes in Zermatt.
In this blog post, you will find a description of each of the hikes in Zermatt and some photos I took as well as a link to the individual blog post I wrote about all of the hikes near Zermatt. You can click on that link for a more detailed review of the hike including maps, starting points, how to get there, photos, directions, difficulty, and a short story about my experience on that Zermatt hike.
6 AWESOME HIKES IN ENGELBERG, SWITZERLAND
HORNLIHUTTE HIKE ‘MATTERHORN BASE CAMP’ IN ZERMATT
The Hornlihutte (Hornli Hut) is the most common base camp for the Matterhorn climb. However, hiking to Hornlihutte is a great hike in its own right as I found out. I took the cable car to Schwarzsee and hiked up to Hornlihutte for sunset and then hiked all the way back down to Zermatt town in the dusk and then the dark for a total journey of 16 kilometers. At an altitude of 3,260 meters, the hut is a base camp for some and a summit for others.
Hike Distance: Schwarzsee to Hornlihutte is 4km with 715 meters of incline. Obviously you have to come back down to Schwarzsee so that is a minimum of 8km. However, if you go for sunset or miss the last 4:30 pm cable car, you will need to walk all the way back to Zermatt. My total hike distance with the walk back to Zermatt main street was 16.68km.
Hike Duration: Schwarzsee to Honlihutte should take about 1.5 hours maximum. My entire journey came out to 4 hours with the walk back to Zermatt main street.
Hike Difficulty: The hike difficulty for Hornlihutte was medium. From Schwarzsee to the start of the ridge you are on a red and white marked trail that is quite simple, although even on that trail there are rocky sections and a few drop-offs although nothing dramatic. Once upon the ridge it is a blue and white alpine trail. This means stop walking if you aren’t up for a bit of a challenge. There was nothing extreme on the trail but you can expect drop-offs, a few ladders, and a little bit of clambering up rocks. Any time the rocks were hard to climb, there were metal pegs, ropes, or chains to guide you. I didn’t find any moments on this trail to be very dangerous if you are calm with heights and use the helping chains and ropes provided. I hope that helps you decide if this hike is for you. Refer to my photos below for examples of the drop-offs and ladders.
Hike Incline: 967m total climb with over 1500m of decline (if you go back down to Zermatt main street)
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HORNLIHUTTE HIKE ‘MATTERHORN BASE CAMP’ IN ZERMATT
THE 5 LAKES HIKE IN ZERMATT (MATTERHORN VIEWS)
The 5 Lakes hike is one of the most popular walking trails in Zermatt because it is accessible to everyone and has minimal steep climbing. Along the route are five stunning lakes where you can create reflections of the Matterhorn at the right angle. It’s a great day out and relatively easy for the whole family.
From Zermatt town, you catch a train up the plateau (you do most of the incline in the train) and then complete the loop walk checking out each of the lakes on the trail. On a clear day, the Matterhorn reflects in several of the lakes, which is always a great crowd-pleaser. This is a much less intense hike than many due to the lower incline although there are still a few hills to contend with so don’t expect a complete walk in the park. It’s the perfect summer hike in Zermatt.
Hike Distance: The entire loop is 6km
Hike Duration: The hike should take about 3-hours if you stop at each lake and wander around a bit. Total walking time should be no more than 2 hours.
Hike Difficulty: Very low difficulty. Suitable for families.
Hike Incline: 241 meters
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE 5 LAKES HIKE IN ZERMATT (MATTERHORN VIEWS)
THE GORNERGRAT HIKE FROM RIFFELALP IN ZERMATT
The hike from Riffelalp to Gornergrat takes you along one of the most scenic routes in Zermatt. The Matterhorn is in your sights for most of the journey as you pass by several lakes with perfect reflections of the mighty Matterhorn. There are two highlights of this hike in Zermatt. The first is the reflections of the Matterhorn in the Riffelsee (lake). Many come all the way to Zermatt and spend big bucks on the train up here to see this very reflection. You can hike your way up if you prefer the challenge and it’s one of the best day-hikes in Zermatt. The second highlight is looking out over the incredible Gornergrat Glacier, which is mindblowing in size and you really get an idea of the evolution of the glacier over time.
When you reach the Gornergrat Hotel you can relax, enjoy lunch and take in the views of the epic Gorner Glacier (Gornergletscher), which is located directly below the hotel.
Hike Distance: The total distance from the Riffelalp train station to Gornergrat Hotel via Riffelsee is 6 kilometers. You can then catch the Gornergratbahn back down to Zermatt. My total loop was 20km from Riffelalp to Riffelsee to Gornergrat to Hohtalli to Zermatt.
Hike Duration: From Riffelalp to Gornergrat you are expecting it to take about 2 to 2.5 hours.
Hike Difficulty: The hike difficulty for Riffelsee from Riffelalp was very low. There was some incline but the path was always very clear and quite flat. Suitable for children. From Riffelsee to Gornergrat the trail is quite steep but there are no sections with any real danger. From Gornergrat to Hohtalli (I’ll explain later in the blog), there was some exposure and rock scrambling.
Hike Incline: From Riffelalp to Hotel Gornergrat Kulm the incline is 900m. The altitude at Hotel Gornergrat Kulm is 3,100 meters.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE GORNERGRAT HIKE FROM RIFFELALP IN ZERMATT
THE MATTERHORN GLACIER TRAIL HIKE IN ZERMATT
The Matterhorn Glacier Trail hike in Zermatt is a great walking trail that winds underneath the Matterhorn. It is one of the best day-hikes in Zermatt and definitely one of the top places to see the Matterhorn from a very close distance without having to do any crazy incline or hiking. For an epic view of the Matterhorn with lots of lake reflection shots, this is my top recommendation for a hiking trail in Zermatt.
This hiking trail is one of the top picks for families and tourists who would like to experience the Matterhorn but aren’t looking for a huge adventure. With just 150m of the total incline, it’s one of the best easy hikes in Zermatt. By taking the cable car all the way up to the top, you actually do a point-to-point route instead of a loop so a lot of the trail is downhill and you finish at a different cable car station to get back to Zermatt town. It’s 500m downhill and 150m of uphill work so you can see it is less challenging the many other hikes in Zermatt.
Hike Distance: 6.4km from Trockener Steg to Schwarzsee
Hike Duration: 2-3 hours
Hike Difficulty: Very low. The total incline is 150m and decline 500m Sometimes rocky trail but never any danger or exposed trail.
Hike Incline: 150m total climb with 500m of decline.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE MATTERHORN GLACIER TRAIL HIKE IN ZERMATT
HOHBALMEN SUNRISE HIKE IN ZERMATT – MATTERHORN VIEWPOINT
The Hohbalmen sunrise hike in Zermatt is an aggressive way to start your day with a 1,100m climb to a beautiful viewpoint with clear views of Matterhorn. It isn’t the most popular hike in Zermatt, which is because it is a very aggressive hike and you can get similar views with much less effort on other trails. However, this is a beautiful viewpoint for sunrise and you won’t share this trail with many others. I really loved the early wake-up and the adventure up to this viewpoint and it was one hell of a workout.
Hike Distance: The hike from Zermatt to Hohbalmen viewpoint and to return is 10km. However, there are lots of routes that continue from Hohbalmen that can make it a 20km loop. I just went up to the viewpoint and down and it was 10km.
Hike Duration: The hike took me 2 hours and 50 minutes although it would be more likely to take 3-5 hours round-trip for an average pace of hiking.
Hike Difficulty: The hike is not exposed and there are no dangers. The incline to the viewpoint is very aggressive with 1000m of incline within the first 4km, which is a lot to handle for many people…, especially before a coffee!
Hike Incline: Starting point at Zermatt Town: 1608m – Hohbalmen Viewpoint: 2,673m
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HOHBALMEN SUNRISE HIKE IN ZERMATT – MATTERHORN VIEWPOINT
RIFFELSEE LAKE HIKE IN ZERMATT WITH MATTERHORN REFLECTION
The Riffelsee (Riffel Lake) Hike may just be the best spot in Zermatt to find the perfect reflection photo of the mighty Matterhorn. A train takes you to Riffelalp before you hike around the mountain with constant views of the Matterhorn until you end up at Riffelsee and witness the amazing reflection.
The Riffelsee is amazing at sunset or sunrise but quite difficult to get to at those hours as the train is usually finished. Therefore it is quite a mission to hike in the dark before sunrise or after sunset. Adventurers love this challenge to see the alpenglow on the Matterhorn reflecting in the lake. There are usually some diehard photographers at the lake who have made the effort. Once you are up there at the lake it is one of the nicest walks in Zermatt in my opinion.
Hike Distance: The total distance from Riffelalp train station to Riffelsee via the Riffelseeweg is just 4.1km. You can then catch the Gornergratbahn back down to Zermatt. However, I suggest you continue hiking up to Gornergrat and keep exploring. My total loop was 20km from Riffelalp to Riffelsee to Gornergrat to Hohtalli to Zermatt.
Hike Duration: From Riffelalp to Riffelsee you are expecting it to take about 1.5 hours.
Hike Difficulty: The hike difficulty for Riffelsee from Riffelalp was very low. There was some incline but the path was always very clear and quite flat. Suitable for children.
Hike Incline: From Riffelalp to Riffelsee the incline is just under 600m of climbing. Riffelsee is at 2,762 meters above sea level.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: RIFFELSEE LAKE HIKE IN ZERMATT WITH MATTERHORN REFLECTION
I hope you enjoyed that list of epic hikes in Zermatt in my Zermatt Hiking Guide. If there are any hikes in Zermatt you think I need to check out on my next visit, please comment them below!
MY SWITZERLAND HIKING GUIDES
I spent 100 days hiking in Switzerland and created a guide for different regions around the country. You can click on one of my Switzerland hiking guides below to help you plan your trip.
THE SWITZERLAND HIKING GUIDE: 50 AWESOME HIKES IN IN SWITZERLAND: I spent 100 days in Switzerland making this huge guide with all of the hikes I personally explored.
4 AWESOME VIA FERRATA COURSES IN SWITZERLAND: Via Ferrata is a cliff-side climbing route where you are harnessed in. You have to try it at least once!
10 AWESOME HIKES NEAR LAUTERBRUNNEN: Lauterbrunnen is the most picturesque valley in Switzerland and is situated perfectly amidst many famous hiking routes.
INTERLAKEN HIKING GUIDE: 15 AWESOME HIKES IN INTERLAKEN: Interlaken is my favorite town in Switzerland and is the number one hiking base.
12 AWESOME HIKES NEAR GRINDELWALD: A great location to base if you are a keen hiker with lots of hut-to-hut hikes and epic peaks.
7 AWESOME HIKES IN MURREN: Murren is one of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland and is surrounded by great hiking routes.
9 AWESOME HIKES NEAR APPENZELL: My favorite hikes around the Alpstein Region and other peaks near Appenzell.
7 AWESOME HIKES NEAR CHUR: Several beautiful lakes, and incredible gorge hike, and an epic Via Ferrata course.
MY PERSONALIZED SWITZERLAND TRAVEL TIPS
SWITZERLAND BUDGET BACKPACKING GUIDE: In this blog, I talk about the cost of travel and how to travel around Switzerland on the cheap with some tips and hacks from my experience.
20 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: MY SWITZERLAND TRAVEL TIPS: You probably didn’t even think of half of these. I didn’t either and figured many of these tips out the hard way.
MOST IMPORTANT TRANSPORT TIP: SWISS HALF CARD
OPTION 1: Switzerland trains, buses, and cable cars are EXPENSIVE! I found the best way to get around cheaply was to buy the Swiss Half-Fare Card before I arrived. It gives you 50% off every regular train, bus, and even many cable cars. It only costs $150 USD but pays itself off in just a few days with many train tickets in Switzerland costing close to $100 alone. OPTION 2: The second option is to get the Swiss Travel Pass, which gives you unlimited train, bus, and (many) cable car rides but it’s pretty expensive at around $100 USD per day so if you don’t travel each day it isn’t worth it. OPTION 3: The final option is to get the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass, which allows you to buy 8 days’ worth of transit but you can choose the night before if you want to activate the next day. That way you don’t need to travel every day to get your money’s worth, you can just activate the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass on the days where you are doing sizeable transits. My advice is to book the Swiss Half-Fare Card or the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass in advance before your trip so it’s ready to go when you arrive.