Zermatt, located in southern Switzerland, is a resort town famous for skiing, hiking, climbing and of course, the Matterhorn. While it is fun to experience the bustling flag-lined streets, traditional restaurants, and boutique shops, the real reason we went to Zermatt was to hike.
When you google the best hike in Zermatt, there are several options available. The 5 Lakes Trail, Gorner Glacier, Hörnlihutte, Schwarzsee, and the list goes on and on. While we didn’t have a ton of time in this beautiful area, we wanted to make the most of it.
Unfortunately, we began to feel overwhelmed with options, the price of gondola tickets, and the crowds.
Sound familiar? Excellent! That means you are in the right place.
We spent countless weeks researching and planning out the perfect route through Switzerland. What no one tells you about this picturesque country before you visit, however, is that there are literally trails EVERYWHERE!
Trails that are not online, trails that connect random viewpoints, and trails that will take you basically anywhere you need to go. So we started wondering, could we combine the best parts of two monumental hikes to make the most of our time and money in Zermatt?
There was no information about it online, but we decided to give it a shot. The outcome?
OUR FAVOURITE HIKE IN SWITZERLAND!
This route literally has it all. Reduced gondola fares. Sunrise reflections of the Matterhorn. A mind-blowing glacier. The perfect combination of hiking and trains. A backcountry hut with unbelievable Matterhorn views. A free, mouth-watering 4-course dinner. And, if you’re lucky, the chance to see the famous Zermatt blacknose sheep.
In this blog post, I am going to walk you through everything you need to know about this beautiful hike in Zermatt that combines Fluhalp Hut, The 5 Lakes Trail, and Gornergrat Ridge for views of the Gorner Glacier.
In total, this itinerary includes:
- 1.5 days
- 16.8 kilometres of hiking
- 603 meters of elevation gain
- CHF 99 per person in gondola/train tickets
*There are options for more hiking and fewer gondolas or less hiking and more gondolas throughout this route. I will share each in detail as we go!*
DAY 1: Zermatt to Fluhalp Hut
Blauherd Station to the fluhalp Hut: 2.3 KM & 100M elevation gain
After very little research we realized that the 5- Lakes Trail is the most popular hike in Zermatt. After a little more research, though, we discovered that the first lake, Stellisee, was the most picturesque and the most worth our time. With Matterhorn views and the opportunity for a killer reflection on a calm day, we knew we needed to visit.
Most people hike to this lake as part of the 5 lakes trail and arrive via the gondola sometime in the morning or early afternoon. During that time, the trail can get crowded and the reflection of the Matterhorn is hardly ever still. Because of that, we decided to approach things a little differently.
The result, you ask? Buckle up, my friend!
Our experience here stands out as one of the most exceptional hikes we have done not only in Switzerland but anywhere in the world.
If that sounds like something you’re interested in, here’s what to do:
From Zermatt, we took a funicular to Sunnegga and immediately hopped on a gondola to Blauherd. You can buy both of these tickets together at the station in Zermatt. The total for this one-way journey was CHF 33 per person (CHF = Swiss Francs, similar in conversion to the Euro) and it saved us approximately 8 kilometres of hiking and 1,000 meters of elevation gain.
From there, we followed signs for the 5-Seen-Wanderung trail to Stellisee Lake. This area is gorgeous at any time of day, boasting incredible Matterhorn views and meadows filled with wildflowers. We arrived around 4:30 PM and found a quiet area to sit and enjoy the landscape.
Next, we continued to the Fluhalp Hut, which is only 800 meters from Stellisee Lake. The total distance from the Blauherd Station to this alpine hut is 2.3 kilometres with 100 meters of elevation gain. Easy peasy thanks to that gondola ride!
NOTE: If you would like to avoid the gondola, you can hike from Zermatt to the Fluhalp Hut. This trail will be approximately 10.3 kilometres with 1100 meters of elevation gain.
We had booked a 1-night stay at the Fluhalp Hut the day before our visit. The total for a private room with Matterhorn views—yes… MATTERHORN VIEWS!—for two people was CHF 225 (2022). The hut is rustic but cozy and very well-equipped. Each stay includes a delectable 3-4 course dinner and a buffet breakfast.
DAY 2: Stellisee Lake for Sunrise
round trip to the lake: 1.6 KM & 78 M elevation gain
In the morning, we woke up at 6 AM and hiked the short distance down to Stellisee Lake. This is where the real magic happened. We sat on the shoreline and watched the sun illuminate the Matterhorn. The sky was perfectly clear and the reflection was dead still.
Does it get any better than this?!
If you’re looking for photos like this, it is important to try to do this on a clear morning. With that being said, we had clouds blowing in and out after sunrise. They moved quickly and actually made for some really cool shots! So, if all you can swing is a cloudy day, I would probably still attempt it.
After revelling in the out-of-this-world sunrise views, we stuck around for another hour taking photos and soaking in the magic. To be honest, we had a tough time leaving such a beautiful place! We constantly had to remind ourselves that there was another epic adventure in store for us that day.
DAY 2: Fluhalp Hut to Gorner Glacier
Fluhalp Hut to Riffelberg Train Station: 7.4km & 325 m elevation
Eventually, we walked back to the Fluhalp Hut and ate breakfast. Reluctantly, we said goodbye to our Matterhorn view oasis and hit the trail. This was the “uncharted section” of our hike, so we routed ourselves to the Riffleberg Train Station and followed maps.me to be sure.
To our delight, this stretch of the journey was loaded with killer views and well-maintained trails. There was even a long stretch where we hiked on a wide gravel road.
It was along this section that we encountered the famous blacknose sheep. They didn’t bat an eye at us, so we sat and watched them graze with the Matterhorn in the background.
It was an incredible, quintessential experience to have in Zermatt!
In total, the trail from the Fluhalp Hut to Riffelberg Train Station was 7.4 kilometres with 325 meters of elevation gain. From there, we hopped on the Gornergrat Bahn and quickly climbed the rest of the way to the astonishing Gornergrat Ridge.
The Gorner Glacier is one of the most famous and picturesque glaciers in the entire country. Accessible from Zermatt, it is over 12 kilometres long and between 1-1.5 kilometres wide. The entire area is full of marvellous mountain views and stunning ice formations.
It is possible to take the Gornergrat Bahn all the way from Zermatt to the glacier. This was one of the most expensive trains we saw in all of Switzerland, with a round-trip price of CHF 110 per person (2022).
There are 5 train stations between Zermatt and Gornergrat. The price decreases at each one as you get closer to the top. The path runs beside or close to the train tracks most of the way, meeting up with it at each station. Located only 2 stops away from Gornergrat, the train from Riffelberg to the top was only CHF 28 per person (one way).
If you’re up for it, you can skip the train and hike all the way to the glacier. This option would add 3.4 kilometres and 564 m of elevation to your hike in Zermatt.
NOTE: It is not any cheaper to buy a round-trip fare here, so we decided to purchase one-way tickets for more flexibility. This varies for different gondolas and hikes in Switzerland.
DAY 2: Gorner Glacier to Zermatt
Gornergrat to Riffelberg Station: 5.5 km & 100 m elevation
Once arriving at Gornergrat, we were immediately overwhelmed by the crowds. This is the blessing and the curse of gondolas in Switzerland… accessibility. We hiked along the ridge for some peace and quiet where we sat and took in the monumental slab of ice sitting before us.
From there, it would be possible to take the train back down to Zermatt for CHF 55 per person. We decided to follow a different trail, on a whim, that lead us down beside the glacier. If you have any hike left in you at this point, I would highly recommend doing the same. The crowds dispersed, it was mostly downhill, and the scenery was insanely impressive.
Our plan was to hike down until we got tired, and then hop back on the train. Theoretically, you could hike all the way to Zermatt. If you chose to do that, though, you would be subjecting yourself to an extra 10 kilometres and over 1,500 meters of elevation loss. My knees are screaming just thinking about it.
From the top of the Gornergrat Station, along the glacier, and back to the Riffelberg Train Station, we hiked 5.5 kilometres with 100 meters of elevation gain. This gave us a ton of time to admire the glacier and surrounding landscape.
The price from the Riffelberg Station back to Zermatt was CHF 38, making our total Gornergrat experience CHF 66 per person instead of CHF 110. Plus, we got to ditch the crowds and see more of the stunning alpine region. Win/win!