Europe's highest open-air cog railway is the Gornergrat railway, opened in 1898. It is a marvellous example of swiss engineering skill.
As the train hauls itself up the toothed rack rail to 3,089 meters, the scenery grows ever more awesome — dramatic gorges and deep-green pine forests pass by the window. All the way up, the Matterhorn can be seen from its most beautiful side.
You can get off at any of the five mountain stations and get back on again later, or lace up your hiking boots and walk part of the way.
Zermatt — mountain romanticism and hospitality
The village nestling at the foot of the Matterhorn attracts mountain-lovers from all over the world. It has around 5,400 permanent residents — and almost 14,000 beds! Each year, almost two million overnight guests come to Zermatt, the gateway to the Matterhorn.
Findelbach — insider tip for photos
The Findelbach bridge, built in 1897, spans the Findelbach stream at a height of fifty metres. After the spectacular crossing, it is worth getting off at Findelbach and walking a short way to photograph one of the most striking scenes to be found on the Gornergrat in summer: the Findelbach viaduct with the Matterhorn in the background.
Riffelalp — get off and start hiking
Located at the tree line, Riffelalp station is the ideal starting point for easy hikes in summer or winter. Alternatively in summer, you can take a seat on the Riffelalp tram, the highest tram line in Europe. It takes you to Riffelalp itself, which is a natural upland meadow with a sensational view of the Matterhorn.
Riffelberg — Alpine panorama in Valais
Mark Twain was among the early visitors impressed by the panoramic view of the Monte Rosa massif, the Dent Blanche and the Matterhorn. In those days, it took four to five hours to get up to the vantage point. Nowadays, you can reach the Riffelberg in comfort on the Gornergrat Railway. Just get out and enjoy the view.
Rotenboden — an excursion to Riffelsee
Riffelsee lies at the heart of a nature reserve and is only a ten-minute walk from Rotenboden station. The lake — world famous for its idyllic reflection of the Matterhorn in the summertime — lies at 2,770 metres above sea level. Thanks to its secluded location, it is also home to several rare species of plant. In the wintertime, Rotenboden is the starting point for the highest sledge run in the Alps.
Gornergrat — the high point
The journey ends with surely the most breath-taking panorama of summits in the Alps: the Matterhorn, the Breithorn, the Liskamm and the Dufourspitze of the Monte Rosa massif — to name but a few of the 29 four-thousand-metre peaks that surround us up here.