Day 4: Nachster Halt – Zermatt and Rothorn
Long travel day. Since we ascended Pilatus using the train, we decided to descend by completing the typical Pilatus loop via scenic cable car ride to Kreins.
From Kreins, you have to walk 10 minutes to the Luzern bus.
From Lucerne to Zermatt, you have to take 3 trains for about an hour each. Transferring trains is no joke in Switzerland. Occasionally, the schedule is such that you have about 5 minutes to navigate through a new station, identify your next train, and transport yourself and your luggage on it. The trains run on schedule and if you miss your train, it can cost you a 30-60 minute wait for the next one. Luckily, we always made it to the next train with a minute to spare at least. So from Lucerne, the trains to get you to Zermatt are the following:
– Geneve-Aeroport bound train to Bern (~1 hr)
– Brig bound train to Visp (~1 hr)
– Zermatt bound train to Zermatt (~1 hr); scenic train ride
Zermatt finally. It may not seem like it, but you’ll be 5,276 feet / 1,608 meters above sea level. I confirmed it when I tried to jog a mile and had to stop to take a breather. Although Zermatt is a no-car village, you’ll still see vehicles around but they are mostly taxis or some truck transporting something, so be mindful of your surroundings when walking on the main road.
We checked into the Parkhotel Beau Site hotel. Pricey but the pool and 2 hot tubs were worth it after walking/hiking around all day under the sun. Speaking of which, Zermatt can get hot in the summer, like 80s Fahrenheit. Since Zermatt is a winter ski village, there are no air conditions in most (or perhaps all) hotels.
So here we are in Zermatt. What’s in Zermatt. Just look up and you’ll see it. The most popular mountain in Switzerland and perhaps Europe… the Matterhorn.
The mountain of the Toblerone chocolate. No matter where you go in Zermatt, the Matterhorn is there looking down at you (unless of course you climbed to the top of it). So let’s go to the clouds and get a better view shall we.
From the edge of town, you can take a funicular to Sunnegga, then the gondola to Blauherd, and then a cable car to the Rothorn (10,184 feet / 3,104 meters above sea level). There are plenty of trails to nearby peaks with great views everywhere. On a clear day, you have the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains all around you, and the glaciers too.
There are some popular hikes to take such as the Peak Collection trail around the Rothorn, the hike to OberRothorn, and the 5 Seenweg (Lake) trail but we did not have time since the travel took up our whole morning. But I heard that these hikes are awesome and give great views for epic photos. You can look up Google Images of the OberRothorn, lake Stellisee and lake Mosjesee hikes. If it’s hot enough outside, you can even go for a swim in these lakes.
Once back at Zermatt village, on the main avenue, we stumbled across the goat parade which I found out happens multiple times per day.
And as always there are restaurants, gift shops, and chocolate shops to try. There is also a small mountaineer cemetery in Zermatt. So many Matterhorn climbers who died climbing.
I came across a tombstone with an ice axe. What? A climber from NYC, died on the Breithorn (stay tuned for the Day 6 post of my Breithorn climb). Strangely, I thought to myself that it’s the coolest tombstone I’ve ever seen.
Well it was time to eat and get some rest. Tomorrow we would get up close with the mother mountain; the Matterhorn.