Skiing & Hiking

There are a number of ski-lift passes sold in various combinations, but there isn't much savings regardless of the plan you select. A 2-day pass covering all the lifts in the Zermatt area costs 155F, while day passes cost 80F. The one break that ski-pass holders get is free rides on the ski bus linking all ski areas. To purchase tickets, visit the tourist office.

Gornergrat -- Gornergrat is perched at a lofty altitude of 3,099m (10,165 ft.). To get here, take a cogwheel train, the highest open-air railway in Europe, to its terminus. En route, you'll stop at Riffelberg, which offers a panoramic view of both the Matterhorn and Mount Rosa. The complete ride from Zermatt to Gornergrat is 76F round-trip in summer, 80F round-trip in winter. At Gornergrat, an observatory looks out on the bleak expanses of the Gorner glacier and over the heights of the Dom, which, at nearly 4,572m (14,996 ft.), is the highest mountain entirely within Switzerland.

At Gornergrat, you can take a cable car to other elevations. A two-stage cable car reaches a point near the top of the Stockhorn, at 3,407m (11,175 ft.); the cost is an additional 30F round-trip from Gornergrat.

Blauherd-Unter Rothhorn -- To get to Blauherd-Unter Rothorn, take a cog railway through a tunnel from Zermatt to the alpine meadows of Sunegga, and then transfer to a cable car. After changing cable cars at Blauherd (which offers many hiking and skiing options of its own), you'll continue by cable car to the flat, rocky summit of the Unter Rothorn, where possibilities for alpine rambles or ski descents abound.

Schwarzsee-Theodul -- To reach Zermatt's third major ski area, take a cable car from Zermatt to Furi-Schweigmatten (usually abbreviated to Furi). Here you'll find a variety of cross-country skiing and hiking trails, and downhill skiing even in midsummer across the Théodul Pass and the border into Italy. In the winter, you can continue downhill on skis to the Italian ski resort of Breuil-Cervinia for lunch, on the opposite side of the Matterhorn from Zermatt. At Furi, a cable car carries you downhill to the calm waters of Schwarzsee (Black Lake) at 2,584m (8,476 ft.). Here the Schwarzseehotel (tel. 027/967-22-63) offers vistas plus a terrace for lunch or a drink. Some skiers depart from Schwarzsee for another series of lonely but spectacular downhill runs. The round-trip excursion from Zermatt via Furi to Schwarzsee costs 48F.

Klein Matterhorn -- To reach the "Little Matterhorn" from Furi, you must take two additional cable cars (the first of which will transfer at an alpine junction named Trockenersteg) before reaching an elevator that will carry you up to one of the highest mountain terraces in the world (3,760m/12,333 ft.). If the sky is clear, you'll be able to see both the French and the Italian Alps and breathe a rarefied air usually reserved for the hardiest of alpine climbers. The excursion to Klein Matterhorn from Zermatt costs 100F round-trip.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.