Matterhorn Glacier Paradise – also known as Klein Matterhorn – is considered a must-see when visiting Zermatt in Switzerland. But what to expect, what is there to see and do at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, and is it worth the price?
In this article, you can find an overview of things to do at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, practical info and tips for your visit to Klein Matterhorn, as well as our recommendations on how to make the most of your expensive day ticket. Find out!
Note about the names: Klein Matterhorn is a mountain peak near Zermatt, Switzerland. With an altitude of 3,883 m (12,739 ft), it is the highest place in Europe that can be reached by cable car/ aerial gondola. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the name of the mountain destination located at Klein Matterhorn and is a collective name of all the amazing activities you can do there.
So when we talk about Matterhorn Glacier Paradise or Klein Matterhorn, we mean the same place.
Good to know: Klein Matterhorn is a year-round mountain destination that you can visit in any season. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is open 365 days a year. Keep in mind that there is always snow here – in summer or in winter. The scenery will be somewhat different of course, but the activities at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise are pretty much the same no matter when you visit.
What’s different is the things that you can do along the gondola route on your way to Klein Matterhorn. In summer, there are some really nice hikes in this area, and in winter – it’s a paradise for skiers. So in addition to listing the best things to do at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise itself, in this guide we also include recommendations for other nice things you can do in the area using your day ticket.
You can find more practical information on getting there and useful tips for visiting Klein Matterhorn at the bottom of this article. We also include information for families visiting Klein Matterhorn with kids.
But first – what is there to see and do at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. Take a look!
Things to do at Klein Matterhorn – Matterhorn Glacier Paradise:
1. Highest Viewing Platform in the Alps
One of the main reasons to visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the unparalleled 360° view from the highest viewing platform in the Alps! The views from here stretch over three countries: Switzerland, France, and Italy.
On a clear day, you can see 14 glaciers and 38 mountain peaks of over 4,000 meters (13,123 ft) above sea level. You can’t even start to count all the lower mountain peaks around… And there’s no need to either – simply enjoy the amazing views!
And yes, you can see the famous Matterhorn mountain just nearby – albeit from another perspective than in most pictures. Further in the distance, you can easily distinguish the snow-capped peak of the iconic Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. And on the Swiss side, you can also see the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks – the most famous mountains of the Jungfrau region in central Switzerland.
Interesting to know: For the romantics who want to pledge eternal love that will prevail through any storm, you can hang a love lock at the Matterhorn viewing platform. If you put the key to the letterbox at the entrance of the elevator, it will then be set in the eternal ice at the Glacier Palace (see below), as a symbol of your everlasting love. You can bring your own love lock or you can simply buy one at the souvenir store on the mountain.
2. Glacier Palace
Matterhorn Glacier Palace is the most special place to visit at Klein Matterhorn. They claim that it is the highest Glacier Palace in the world. It’s definitely one of the more spectacular man-made ice grottoes that we have seen in Switzerland or in Austria (and we’ve visited lots of them over the years).
Located 15 meters (49 ft) deep under the glacier, a visit to the Glacier Palace takes you to a beautiful world of eternal ice. And no worries about getting there – you simply take an elevator.
Matterhorn Glacier Palace is a series of man-made ice tunnels and hallways, all decorated with stunning ice sculptures. Light effects add color and make it all look and feel even more magical. You can also walk through a glacier crevasse and see some impressive naturally-formed ice creations as well.
When we visited, there was also a small ice tunnel that you could slide through using one of the ‘slides’ provided. It’s just a few meters, but quite fun to do, not just for the kids.
TIP: Dress warm, wear sensible walking shoes, and be sure to have your camera ready because you’ll want to take pictures everywhere! Also, keep in mind that batteries drain fast in the cold, so you may want to pack a power bank for your phone, or some extra batteries for your camera.
3. Crystal Ride
Crystal Ride is one of the best attractions of Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. It actually starts before you get there, and not many people seem to know about it and therefore miss it.
Matterhorn Glacier Ride – the cableway that takes you from Trockener Steg to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise – has a few luxury gondolas called Crystal Ride.
At first glance, these cable cars look like the others. But when you look closer, you notice that they are decorated with Swarovski crystals and have super comfy leather seats. But the main feature of the Crystal Ride is the transparent glass floor that gives you a unique view over Theodul Glacier – literally – right under your feet.
Good to know: Crystal Ride is only available in the summer season (in the winter, you have to request it in advance, and only for groups of 10 people or more). You’ll need to upgrade your ticket and pay a small extra fee if you want to take one of these glass-bottomed cable cars. Otherwise, you just take the regular gondola. They run on the same line but have a separate entrance – so you also skip the line with the upgrade. But you’ll have to wait for the next available luxury gondola (there are just a few of those).
You can book an upgrade online, but it’s easier to just do it at the ticket desk on the spot. You don’t need any special arrangements and you can just decide it on the day itself, based on the weather. Of course, it wouldn’t make much sense to pay extra for this if the visibility is low. But on a nice sunny day, it’s definitely worth it.
You can get a one-way ticket upgrade, or do it both ways – when you go up to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and/or when you return.
We did the Crystal Ride both ways and would absolutely do it again. It’s such a unique experience! To us, this was one of the very best things we did in Zermatt, and a must when visiting Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. The kids kept on talking about it for a long time too – it’s really something you won’t quickly forget and no pictures do it justice!
4. Skiing at Zermatt Snow Park
At such a high altitude and guaranteed snow the whole year round, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is known as one of the best places for skiing in Zermatt. The small ski area on Plateau Rosa at Klein Matterhorn is the only place in Zermatt where you can ski in the summer.
In winter, you can enjoy more than 360 km of ski runs in the area (and ski to Italy on the other side of the mountain, too). In summer, there’s just one rather small ski area at the very top of Klein Matterhorn. But hey, you can ski in summer!
Many professional athletes come to practice here during the summer months, but also regular folks can go skiing at Klein Matterhorn. For that, you’ll need appropriate clothing, ski gear, of course, and a ski pass (which is not included in the regular sightseeing ticket). For more info, please see the official website.
In addition, snow tubing is usually also available at Klein Matterhorn in summer.
5. Hiking at Klein Matterhorn: Breithorn Ascent
If you are looking for a more unique experience in Zermatt, you can also go hiking in the snow at Klein Matterhorn. We saw quite some people doing this. Most people just walk a bit on the snow right next to the cable car station and the viewing platform, but the more adventurous also embark on a hike to the nearby Breithorn peak (4,164 m – 13,661 ft).
If you want to climb a four-thousander the (relatively) easy way, this is your chance. And it can be done the whole year round!
The hike from Matterhorn Glacier Paradise to Breithorn is a 5.4 km (3.35 mi) round trip hike, with an ascent/descent of about 415 meters (1,361 ft). It takes at least 3.5 – 4 hours. The Breithorn climb is considered an easy/medium-difficulty hike, and they say it could be done from the age of about 12 years.
If you are interested in climbing Breithorn, you can find more practical information about this hike in our Zermatt hiking guide. Since you are hiking on a glacier, you do need proper equipment (crampons, ski poles, ropes, etc.). You should also be careful of glacier crevasses, etc.
If you decide to tackle the Breithorn peak, be sure to start as early in the morning as possible. Ideally, you do this hike on a beautiful sunny day and with a local guide. We saw quite some people hiking on the snow without proper equipment, and while it can be possible, is it really worth that kind of a risk?! As a minimum, be sure that you have the right clothing and footwear and carry a hiking pole.
We visited Matterhorn Glacier Paradise with kids so we didn’t even consider this hike. Instead, we opted for a more accessible option – Matterhorn Glacier Trail – starting at Trockener Steg, one gondola stop lower (so no hiking on the snow).
6. Cinema Lounge
If you are looking for more nice things to do at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, be sure to check out the Cinema Lounge. Located inside the Breithorn Tunnel, it’s a bit hidden out of sight but is easy to find if you know it’s there.
Here, you’ll find several colorful comfortable seats and a big cinema screen where you can watch various short films featuring amazing footage of the alpine world around Zermatt.
While nice to see, this is not an absolute must. So if you are short on time, feel free to skip it. On the other hand, this experience is free of charge. So you can just check it out for a few minutes and decide for yourself.
It’s also something nice to do if the weather isn’t great and you can’t enjoy the scenery around you to the fullest.
7. Shopping and Dining
If you are feeling hungry, you’ll be glad to know that there’s also a restaurant at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. It’s called ‘En Güete’ and is Europe’s highest mountain restaurant.
In addition to local cuisine, it also offers nice panoramic views.
The restaurant is open the whole day. Just as the adjoining Peak Shop, where you can stock up on some Swiss souvenirs and local delicacies.
Practical Info & Tips for Visiting Klein Matterhorn
Below, you can find some info and useful tips for planning your visit to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
Getting to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise can be reached by a series of cable cars from Zermatt. First, you take a small gondola called Matterhorn Express from Zermatt to Trockener Steg. From there, you change to a bigger cable car, Matterhorn Glacier Ride to Klein Matterhorn.
The entire journey from Zermatt to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise takes at least 45 minutes. Matterhorn Express gondola from Zermatt to Trockener Steg (via Furi and Schwarzsee) takes 30 minutes, and the Matterhorn Glacier Ride from Trockener Steg to Klein Matterhorn takes 15 minutes. This is purely traveling time, not counting the potential wait for the gondolas or the time to take pictures, etc.
Even if it’s not busy, it will likely take you almost an hour to reach Matterhorn Glacier Paradise from Zermatt.
Good to know: Your ticket is valid for a day, and you can disembark at any of the intermediate cable car stations (Furi, Schwarzsee, Trockener Steg) and explore more of each area. I recommend doing this after you visit the top, not on your way there.
Tickets & cost
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise can only be reached by cable car, so you’ll need a ticket to get here. Just as everything in Switzerland, it’s not cheap. At the moment of the last update, a regular day ticket to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise costs just over 95 CHF (+-94 EUR or 100 USD). There are various discounts, also for kids – more info further below.
Good to know: Except for the viewing platform, hiking, and skiing/ snow tubing, all the other experiences are indoors. So even if the weather isn’t great, you’ll find plenty to do at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. Furthermore, all these activities are included in your ticket. As already mentioned, for skiing, you’ll need a separate ski pass.
Please note that the cable car ticket is only valid for this line – between Zermatt and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. So if you also want to visit Gornergrat, you’ll need a separate ticket for that area or a Peak Pass that covers all the lifts in Zermatt.
Peak Pass is really expensive, especially if you are only visiting Zermatt for a day. Ideally, you explore one area per day (so Gornergrat on one day and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise on the other) as that will allow you to make the most of your day ticket for that specific area – see our suggestions below. If you stay in Zermatt for more than 2 days, then a Peak Pass offers good value, better than day tickets.
Good to know: Swiss Travel Pass gives you a discount on all the tickets in Zermatt.
What to wear
Be sure to dress warm and wear sensible shoes for visiting Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. In summer, you’ll definitely need a sweater here, and a light rain jacket is good to have too. In winter, dress really warm and wear good winter boots!
We visited Klein Matterhorn on a sunny warm summer day and we wore shorts, t-shirts, and fleece sweaters. Since we also did the Matterhorn Glacier Trail hike, we also wore hiking boots. But we didn’t hike to Breithorn. For that, you’d definitely need warmer clothing.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise with kids
If you are wondering if you can visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise with kids, then my answer is yes, absolutely! However, there’s something you should know if planning a visit with a baby or a toddler – see below.
Important to know! Due to a risk of altitude sickness, children under 3 years old are not allowed on the gondolas higher than Trockener Steg. So you cannot visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise with children younger than 3 years.
But apart from that, children of any age will absolutely love a visit to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise! From the scenic gondola ride from Zermatt, the impressive views from the glass-bottomed Crystal Ride and the viewing platform at Klein Matterhorn, to the fascinating ice world inside the Glacier Palace, etc. There’s enough to keep the kids interested and entertained.
We visited Matterhorn Glacier Paradise with our three kids and they all enjoyed it. Their favorite experience was the Crystal Ride and the Glacier Palace.
The visit to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is not physically challenging at all. Unless you embark on any longer hikes, there is hardly any walking involved at all. The gondolas, the restaurant at Klein Matterhorn, and some activities at the top are also accessible with prams, pushchairs, or wheelchairs.
Good to know: Kids under 9 travel free, and children under 16 get a 50% discount for the gondolas to Klein Matterhorn.
TIP: If you have a Junior Travelcard and children are accompanied by a paying adult, kids under 16 can travel free of charge (you’ll still need to get the free scannable tickets for them for visiting Klein Matterhorn). And yes, foreigners and tourists can get this card for their kids as well. Just one thing to note – you’ll have to purchase it at one of the bigger train stations in Switzerland, before you arrive in Zermatt. But it’s well worth a detour – it can save you a fortune, even if you are only in Switzerland for a few days!
Is Matterhorn Glacier Paradise worth it?
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is a very unique place that gives you easy access to some of the most incredible views in the Alps. Not only can you see fantastic mountain panoramas, but you also get a bird’s eye view over the impressive Theodul Glacier right under your feet. In addition, the Glacier Palace is really special and well worth seeing, just like the Crystal Ride with jaw-dropping views of the glacier.
So yes, it’s well worth visiting Matterhorn Glacier Paradise when you are in Zermatt!
On the other hand, the ticket is quite expensive, and if you visit Klein Matterhorn on a cloudy day when the views are obstructed, you might be somewhat disappointed. So a lot depends on when you go, how the weather is, and how much time you have. However, if you also take the time to explore the area deeper or do some hiking, you’ll find that it’s well worth it to visit the Klein Matterhorn area, not just for the peak itself.
Below, you can find our recommendations on how to make the most of your visit to Klein Matterhorn, the Glacier Paradise, and the beautiful area around it. Take a look!
What else to see & do when visiting Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
As already mentioned, the Klein Matterhorn ticket allows you to hop on and off at any of the intermediate gondola stations. So if you have an entire day for this area, be sure to make good use of your day ticket!
Here are some suggestions for things to do when visiting Matterhorn Glacier Paradise:
- At Trockener Steg cable car station:
- Walk to a glacial lake and enjoy stunning views of the Matterhorn and the surroundings.
- Hike the Matterhorn Glacier Trail from Trockener Steg to Schwarzsee. It’s quite a long hike, so if you do this, be sure to start your day early. More info here: Hiking Matterhorn Glacier Trail.
- At Schwarzsee, walk to the lake and take some pictures with the ZERMATT sign. In summer, it’s also possible to go swimming in this glacial lake.
- At Furi cable car station:
- Hike to Furi Suspension Bridge. This circular hike is easy and takes just 1 hour.
- Hike to Zmutt, and from there down to Zermatt. This is an easy-medium hike that will likely take about 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on which route you choose.
How to plan your time
If you have an entire day for the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and the surrounding area, we recommend making the most of your ticket. In winter, you could go skiing here – it’s such a beautiful area and the ski runs are amazing!
And if you’re visiting in summer, we recommend the following itinerary for the Klein Matterhorn area:
- Early morning (8-9 AM): Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. The gondolas from Zermatt usually start running from 8-8.30 AM depending on the season. If you want to avoid the crowds, go early!
- Around 11 AM: Take a cable car to Trockenersteg and do the Matterhorn Glacier Trail. Count 2-2.5 hours for this hike. Pack a picnic or plan to eat at one of the restaurants at the beginning or at the end of this hike. There are no facilities in between.
- After the hike, take some time to relax at Schwarzsee and then take a gondola to Furi.
- Afternoon: In Furi, you have several easy hiking options. One is to walk to Furi Suspension Bridge, and from there to Gorner Gorge, and on to Zermatt. Alternatively, hike from Furi to Zmutt, and from there down to Zermatt. These are mostly downhill hikes and not too long either – a nice way to see more of the beautiful surroundings of the Zermatt area.
Important! Keep an eye on the gondola schedule if you are planning to take it all the way to Zermatt (instead of hiking down from Furi)! Gondolas usually run until 4-5 PM, depending on which station you take it from.
Good to know: You can adjust this itinerary and climb to Breithorn peak instead of hiking the Matterhorn Glacier Trail, or you can skip the longer hikes altogether. Even if you don’t hike, it’s still worth leaving the gondola at each of the stations and exploring the surroundings.
There are also cafes/ mountain huts everywhere, so plenty of places for lunch, some cake in the afternoon, or simply a drink with amazing views around you.
TIP: If you only have a day in Zermatt and want to see all the best places in the shortest possible time, take a look at our recommended 1-day Zermatt itinerary.
So, this is our guide to visiting Matterhorn Glacier Paradise – Klein Matterhorn in Zermatt.
I hope that it gives you a better idea of what to expect and helps you make the most of your trip.
Be sure to check out our other guides to the Zermatt area:
- What to see: Best Things to Do in Zermatt
- Must-do: Gornergrat (all seasons) & Riffelsee Lake (summer)
- Best hikes:
- Best Hikes in Zermatt
- Matterhorn Glacier Trail – the best LONGER hike in Zermatt.
- Gornergrat Scenic Trail – the best SHORT hike in Zermatt.
- Riffelsee Lake Trail – the best EASY & SHORT hike in Zermatt.
- 5 Lakes Walk Zermatt – the best alpine scenery.
- Charles Kuonen Bridge Hike – visit the longest suspension bridge in the Alps.
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