Due to travelling around Europe in the summer of 2013, we attempted to travel through Switzerland on a "budget". With this in mind we stayed at the village of Tasch, the last stop accessible by car. Parking is available at the train station 24/7 which is also the place where you will access Zermat, a car-free zone, via the local train line. The train line runs every 20mins and is very easy to understand.
I am not a serious hiker or mountain climber but i do enjoy a decent challenge. I woke early and caught a 7am train to Zermatt and began my climb. You can pick up walking maps from many of the villages and tourism shops free of charge. It took me 3 hours to ascend, although it is sign-posted as 5 hours and i'd recommend around 4 hours to comfortably enjoy the walk. The walking paths, to my advantage, are very quiet even in the summer and was a great way to connect with the nature and enjoy the tranquillity. My partner took the train to the top 2 hours after me and we simultaneously made it to the top of Gornergrat where there are 2 shops and a hotel. It is well worth making the extra 80m ascent to the 360 degree views above the train station.
The train ticket cost around £35 each way and is a great reason to walk down. This also took 3 hours, the same as my solo ascent. Remember to take plenty of water as this is costly but there are 4 places (stations and restaurants) on the route which you can enjoy a beer (£5.50) with great views of the Matterhorn. Other train tickets allow you to take the train to all the other stations, giving great flexibility on the amount of walking you would like to do.
Zermat is an expensive town flourishing with rich European and Asian tourists. There is a supermarket near the train station at the back of a small shopping complex. This is the only one in Zermat and the best place to stock up on snacks, ice creams and drinks.
Our journey was a very short one due to the cost of being in this area, however, we will return as this is one of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen and certainly the most incredible mountain I am yet to see.
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