To ever see Matterhorn with my own eyes seemed quite unreal. But, to be fair, living in the Swiss Alps – even more so. That would have been something unthinkable years ago. But hey, I’m here now. Therefore, living less than a 3-hour drive away from Zermatt was a reason good enough to finally go visit Zermatt and see the beast that Matterhorn is. And so we did!
The picturesque village of Zermatt (1,620 m above sea level) is a well-known mountain resort located in the southern canton of Valais. Its biggest appeal is the world-famous Matterhorn which attracts skiers, snowboarders, hikers, mountain-bikers and climbers alike. Not only is its summit 4,478 metres high (making it one of the highest summits in Europe), but it also has quite a unique pyramidal shape with its four faces facing the four compass points.
Zermatt is a small town with a population of barely 6,000, however, the endless flocks of tourists multiply the number by several times. To minimise the air pollution that could obstruct the views of Matterhorn, the entire town has been car-free for nearly six decades (since 1961). On top of that, it’s won awards as the most self-sustaining mountain resorts in Switzerland. Quite impressive, right?
Getting To Zermatt
First, we needed to decide what our plan is. Due to my boyfriend’s work schedule and our will to keep the costs to a minimum, it had to be a day trip. There’s plenty of activities to do around Zermatt, and after a bit of research, we decided on an easy hike for the first trip. Let’s leave mountain-biking, via ferratas and conquering nearby peaks for some other time.
Whichever location you are travelling from, before getting to the destination, you will end up at Täsch – the last town in Matter valley before Zermatt where cars are allowed. If you’ve arrived by car, here you can park it at the train station (or any other of the parking lots which there are plenty of) to continue the journey via train that runs every 20 minutes. Only a shy 15 minutes later you will have reached Zermatt.
Five Lakes Walk
There’s plenty of hiking trails in Zermatt and as anywhere in Switzerland you’ll find one to your liking. We are photography geeks and are always on the lookout for scenic and iconic views, and that made our choice very easy – it had to be the five lakes walk or 5-Seenweg as it’s called locally.
It’s a 9.3 km long route with medium difficulty and will take you about 2.5 hours walking time. I would suggest planning for longer if you want to have a picnic, wander off the trail or, like us, use to spend a lot of time snapping the perfect shots. The scenery is breathtaking and it’s very easy to get carried away!
It’s not hard to follow the path as there are signs on all the main intersections, plus maps showing your location and where you should head next. The walk will take you to past five lakes – Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee and Leisee – which each will offer different views and surroundings. You can see the Matterhorn reflecting in three of the lakes, which allows you to recreate some of the most iconic Swiss mountain photos.
The biggest highlight of the hike for me was, of course, the amazing views of Matterhorn, but not only that. The relatively high altitude (up to 2578 m above sea level) makes the scenery unlike what I’m used to where we live, especially being above the tree line. It looks rough, bare and sometimes as a huge barren quarry.
Animal lovers (yup, that’s me!) will enjoy spotting marmots and squirrels running for cover and black-faced sheep casually waddling around. Zermatt being a tourist-busy area, the local sheep are accustomed to human company and will let you stroke them.
We spotted a lot of bikers and bike trails, and we are very keen to return to Zermatt with our bikes and ride some of those trails. It’s an amazing place to do it! Especially, if you have weak knees when it comes to downhill hiking… All in all, it was a great day out and left us with a good taste of what Zermatt has to offer. We’ll be coming back for more!
Just because there are several options to get to Täsch/Zermatt, I will only outline the costs that we paid locally:
- Parking in Täsch train station – CHF 13.50 (up to 8 hours of parking; full day would be CHF 15.50)
- Return train ticket Täsch – Zermatt – Täsch – CHF 16.40
- Funicular and gondola Zermatt – Sunnegga – Blauherd station where the hike starts – CHF 30
We hiked back down to Zermatt, which is not a part of the trail but will save you some money. Alternatively, you can take the funicular down from Sunnegga (where the trail ends) station (CHF 16) or hire kick bikes (CHF 18) which could be a great fun to enjoy the downhill to Zermatt.