Your Complete Guide To The Matterhorn In Switzerland

The Matterhorn in Switzerland is one of the country’s most iconic landmarks. 
This impressive alpine mountain has been dazzling visitors for many years. With its magnificent hiking trails, cable car routes, skiing opportunities, and more, there’s a lot for any visitor to do when experiencing the Matterhorn. 
At Skyhook, we offer a 4-day Matterhorn Highlights trek - an amazing way to experience this mountain.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about Matterhorn Switzerland, to help you plan your trip.

What is the Matterhorn in Switzerland?

The Matterhorn is a famous mountain located in the Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy. It is one of the most iconic and recognisable peaks in the world, known for its distinctive pyramidal shape with four sharp ridges and its challenging climbing routes.
The Matterhorn is situated near the Swiss town of Zermatt and the Italian town of Breuil-Cervinia. The altitude of Matterhorn Switzerland is 4,478 meters (14,692 feet) above sea level, making it one of the highest summits in the Alps. The mountain is a popular destination for mountaineers and tourists, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding region.
One of the most notable features of the Matterhorn is its association with the history of alpinism. It was one of the last great Alpine peaks to be climbed in the 19th century, and the first successful ascent in 1865 marked a significant milestone in the history of mountaineering. 
However, the Matterhorn is also infamous for its treacherous conditions, and many climbers have lost their lives attempting to conquer it.
Today, the Matterhorn remains a symbol of Switzerland and a popular attraction for those seeking both adventure and the natural beauty of the Swiss Alps.
view of matterhorn switzerland
View of Matterhorn, Switzerland.

Where is the Matterhorn Switzerland?

So, what part of Switzerland is the Matterhorn located?
The Matterhorn is located on the border between Switzerland and Italy in the Pennine Alps. Its Swiss side is near the town of Zermatt, which is in the Swiss canton of Valais. The mountain's Italian side is near the town of Breuil-Cervinia, which is in the Aosta Valley region of Italy. 
The iconic Matterhorn straddles the boundary between these two countries, making it a prominent landmark in the Alps and a popular destination for climbers and tourists.

Where Should You Stay to See the Matterhorn, Switzerland?

The best town or base to see the Matterhorn in Switzerland is Zermatt. If you’re wondering where to stay in Switzerland for hiking, this is one of the best towns.
Zermatt is a picturesque Swiss town located at the base of the Matterhorn Mountain and is the most popular and convenient starting point for visitors who want to experience the beauty of the Matterhorn up close. 
The town offers a wide range of accommodations, restaurants, and outdoor activities, and it's well-connected by train, making it an ideal hub for exploring the surrounding area and enjoying the stunning views of the Matterhorn. 
From Zermatt, you can take cable cars and cogwheel trains to various vantage points, including the Gornergrat and the Klein Matterhorn, to get spectacular views of the mountain and the surrounding Alps.
hiking trails around matterhorn
Hiking trails around Matterhorn.

How to Visit Matterhorn Switzerland: Different Ways to Experience the Mountain

Visiting the Matterhorn in Switzerland is a dream come true for many travellers, and there are several different ways to experience this iconic mountain. 

Hiking and Trekking

The best way to experience the Matterhorn mountain in Switzerland has got to be by hiking. In fact, when it comes to hiking in Switzerland, Matterhorn is always at the op of most hikers’ lists.
Here aretwo of the most popular options (we’ll explore more routes later on):
  • Five Lakes Walk: This popular trail takes you to five crystal-clear mountain lakes with reflections of the Matterhorn. It's a relatively easy hike and offers incredible photo opportunities.

  • Hörnli Hut Hike: For a closer view of the mountain, consider a more challenging trek to the Hörnli Hut, the base camp for Matterhorn climbers. You'll get a unique perspective of the mountain and the climbers' route.

If you're wondering about what to wear when hiking in Switzerland, we recommend comfortable hiking boots to start with.
Don't forget to also bring plenty of water, and check the weather conditions before embarking on your hike (the best time to hike in Switzerland is typically summer). If you're not an experienced hiker, consider hiring a local guide for safety and to enhance your experience.
matterhorn hiking trails
Matterhorn and the surrounding area offer amazing hiking trails.

Cable Cars and Funiculars

If you want to experience the Matterhorn up close, but don't have the energy or time to hike, then taking a cable car is another great option. Here are two options: 
  • Gornergrat Railway: Take a cogwheel train to the Gornergrat, one of the best viewpoints in the region. You'll be treated to a panoramic view of the Matterhorn and surrounding peaks.

  • Klein Matterhorn Cable Car: This cable car ride takes you to the highest cable car station in Europe. From here, you can see the Matterhorn up close, and there's a viewing platform to enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

Buy your tickets in advance, especially during the high tourist season. Dress warmly, as it can be chilly at high altitudes.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Switzerland is famous for its snow sports, and there’s [plenty of this to be enjoyed on the Matterhorn. 
The Zermatt Ski Area is the most popular spot, In the winter, Zermatt offers an extensive ski area with slopes for all levels. It's an incredible experience to ski or snowboard with the Matterhorn as your backdrop.
Check snow conditions and consider hiring a ski instructor if you're a beginner. Safety is crucial, so be sure to follow the rules and guidelines of the ski resort.
snow sports in switzerland
Switzerland’s winter is a paradise for snow sports.

Climbing

For the more adventurous, the Matterhorn offers some amazing climbing routes.
Climbing the Matterhorn is a challenging and potentially dangerous endeavour. If you're an experienced mountaineer, consider hiring a certified mountain guide to lead your expedition.
Proper training, equipment, and acclimatization are essential. Be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. Your safety should always be the top priority.
What's Your Adventure Travel Personality?
What's Your Adventure Travel Personality?

Are you part Eager Otter, part Bucket List Bee, and part Lone Wolf? Discover your travel nature and motivators (+ get trip ideas tailored to your unique calling) 🤩

Museum and Cultural Experiences

There’s more to the Matterhorn than stunning nature. 
Delve into the history and culture of Zermatt and the Matterhorn at the Matterhorn Museum. It's an informative and educational stop during your visit.
Try Swiss dishes at the town's restaurants, and don't forget to sample Swiss chocolate and cheese.

Helicopter Tours

Feeling extravagant? Book a helicopter tour for a bird's-eye view of the Matterhorn and the stunning Alps. It's a fantastic way to capture incredible photos.
Consider booking your helicopter tour in advance, and bring a camera with a good zoom lens to capture the details of the mountain.

Paragliding

Paragliding is an exhilarating way to see the Matterhorn from the sky. Local operators offer tandem flights for a safe and thrilling experience.
Dress warmly, and be prepared for some adrenaline as you soar above the breathtaking landscape. Ensure the operator is certified and follows safety guidelines.
matterhorn paragliders
Paragliders with Matterhorn in the background.

Hiking to Matterhorn Peak Switzerland

Hiking to the actual summit of the Matterhorn in Switzerland is an exceptionally challenging and dangerous endeavour, typically reserved for experienced mountaineers. 
The Matterhorn is a technically demanding peak with steep rock faces and unpredictable weather conditions. The most common route to the summit of the Matterhorn is the Hörnli Route, which starts from the Hörnli Hut. 
Here are the key details of hiking the Matterhorn in Switzerland:
  • Experience and Preparation: Climbers attempting the Matterhorn should be experienced in alpine climbing, and rock climbing, and be in excellent physical condition. This is not a route for beginners.

  • Acclimatization: Spend several days in Zermatt or the surrounding area to acclimatize to the high altitude.

  • Guide: It's highly recommended to hire a certified mountain guide who is familiar with the route and can help ensure your safety.

  • Equipment: Proper gear is crucial. This includes ropes, harnesses, helmets, climbing shoes, crampons, ice axes, and clothing suitable for extreme alpine conditions.

  • Weather: Check the weather forecast rigorously. Sudden weather changes are common, and a clear window is necessary for a safe summit attempt.

  • Permit: Check if any permits or reservations are required, especially for the Hörnli Hut.

  • Route Description: The Hörnli Route involves technical rock climbing, steep ice and snow slopes, and a notorious section known as the Hörnli Ridge. The climb is long and demanding, and you'll start in the early hours of the morning to reach the summit and return to the hut before the weather deteriorates.

  • Safety: Safety should always be the top priority. Be prepared to turn back if conditions deteriorate or if you or your guide feel that it's not safe to continue.

  • Fitness and Stamina: The climb is physically demanding, and climbers need to have excellent stamina and endurance.

  • Rescue Plan: Have a clear rescue plan in case of emergencies. The area is challenging to access for rescue teams.

It's essential to understand that climbing the Matterhorn is not a recreational hike, and it's associated with significant risks. Many experienced climbers have lost their lives on this mountain. 
If you're not an experienced alpinist, it's highly recommended to enjoy the Matterhorn from the various vantage points in the area or consider alternative, less challenging hikes and activities to appreciate its beauty. 
For those who do have the skills and experience, summiting the Matterhorn can be a thrilling accomplishment, but it requires careful planning and respect for the mountain's difficulty.
View of Matterhorn peak
View of Matterhorn peak.

Hiking Trails Around Matterhorn Switzerland

While hiking to the summit of the Matterhorn itself is a challenging and technical endeavour, there are numerous hiking trails around the Matterhorn in the Zermatt region that provide stunning views and opportunities to experience the surrounding natural beauty. 
Interested in trekking Switzerland’s Alps without having to summit Matterhorn? Here are some popular hiking trails in the area.

Five Lakes Walk

This scenic trail takes you past five mountain lakes with crystal-clear waters, offering fantastic reflections of the Matterhorn.
It's a relatively easy and family-friendly hike, starting from the Blauherd cable car station and ending at Sunnegga.

Hörnli Hut Hike

This is the approach hike to the Hörnli Hut, which serves as the base camp for climbers attempting to summit the Matterhorn.
The trail offers a close view of the Matterhorn and is moderately challenging.

Gornergrat Panorama Trail

The Gornergrat is a popular viewpoint, and there's a hiking trail that offers breathtaking panoramas of the Matterhorn, as well as numerous other peaks.
The trail starts from the Gornergrat Railway station and is suitable for hikers of various skill levels.
cows on matterhorn trail
Expect to see plenty of cows on the nearby hiking trails.

Schwarzsee to Hörnli Hut

This trail takes you from Schwarzsee (the start of the Matterhorn's Hörnli Route) to the Hörnli Hut, where you can observe the climbers' preparation.
It provides an opportunity to get up close to the mountain without the technical difficulties of climbing it.

Trift

This path starts at the Trift Bridge and follows the river to a tranquil spot offering great views of the Matterhorn.
It's a moderate hike and is less crowded than some of the more popular trails.

The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge

While not a traditional hiking trail, this suspension bridge is the longest in the world and connects Grächen and Zermatt.
You can incorporate it into a longer hike, enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
famous matterhorn suspension bridge
The famous suspension bridge.

Europaweg Trail

This long-distance hiking trail connects Zermatt and Grächen and provides spectacular vistas of the Matterhorn, Weisshorn, and other peaks.
The full trail is quite long and challenging, but you can do shorter sections for a day hike.

Sunnegga to Findeln

This beautiful trail takes you from Sunnegga to the traditional Swiss mountain village of Findeln. Enjoy charming chalets, restaurants, and scenic views along the way.

Flower Trail

This trail is perfect for nature enthusiasts and offers an opportunity to see a variety of alpine flowers.
It starts at Sunnegga and winds through colourful meadows.

Leisee Loop

Ideal for families, this easy loop around Leisee Lake is suitable for strollers and offers fantastic Matterhorn reflections in the water.
Remember to check the difficulty level of the trail, and choose one that matches your fitness and hiking experience. Always check the local weather conditions, have proper hiking gear, and respect the natural environment while hiking around the Matterhorn in Switzerland. 
trekking around matterhorn
Trekking around Matterhorn.

Conclusion

Before you embark on any activity around Matterhorn Switzerland, it's crucial to check the local weather forecast and consider the season and your physical condition. If you're not an experienced mountaineer or skier, consider seeking guidance from local experts to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to the Matterhorn. 
The Matterhorn truly is a magnificent and iconic sight to behold in Switzerland. Whichever way you choose to experience it, enjoy your unforgettable journey to this Swiss alpine wonder!

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