It’s no secret that Zermatt is one of the best destinations in Switzerland for outdoor activities. But there is one hidden gem in this city that is often overlooked by visitors – the Gorner Gorge (Gornerschlucht).
We saw the Gorner Gorge advertised on a pamphlet at our hotel, and it immediately caught our attention. This unique natural attraction consists of a towering glacier-carved canyon, waterfalls, and a blue river that flows at the center of it.
Joel and I set aside a morning to go see the Gorner Gorge during our 3-day visit to Zermatt. This thrilling adventure requires very little effort and is one of the cheapest activities that you can do on a Switzerland trip.
In this post, we cover all you need to know about visiting the Gorner Gorge including opening hours, pricing, and how to best experience the wooden pathways that travel through it.
TIP: Before traveling to Switzerland we highly recommend getting the Swiss Travel Pass that offers unlimited travel on train, bus & boat in more than 41 cities along with 50% discount at many mountain destinations. This pass will save you a lot of money in the long run. Get the pass here!
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Gorner Gorge Ticket Price & Opening Hours
The tickets to visit Gorner Gorge cost only 5 Swiss Franc (CHF). This is very cheap compared to some of the other activities that we did in Zermatt (like the Gornergrat Bahn Cogwheel Train which costs nearly 120 USD per person).
For kids, it costs 2.50 CHF to visit the Gorner Gorge. Groups larger than 10 can get discounted ticket prices of 4.50 CHF per person. You will need to bring cash for the entrance tickets as they do not accept credit card payments at the gate.
The Gorner Gorge is privately owned and it’s located on the outskirts of Zermatt village which is why it’s so much cheaper than other activities in this region.
Gorner Gorge is open and accessible in the summer and early fall. The opening hours are:
- May 26 – September 30 from 9:15 am – 5:45 pm
- October 1 – middle of October from 10:15 am – 5:00 pm
I recommend setting aside about 30 minutes to walk the entire gorge (plus time to get there from downtown Zermatt and back).
After visiting Gorner Gorge, we recommend checking out the Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht) in Meiringen, which is a much longer and more impressive version of it!
Gorner Gorge Location
Gorner Gorge is located 2 km (1.25 miles) southwest of Zermatt, on the outskirts of the city. This natural attraction is about a 30-minute walk from the center of Zermatt where most of the hotels are located.
While most attractions in Zermatt require a train, gondola, or a funnicular to reach them, you can easily walk to Gorner Gorge on foot. The Gorner Gorge is a true hidden gem and not that many visitors venture out here to experience it.
Map of the walking route from Zermatt:
The pathway to Gorner Gorge follows next to the river which you can cross on a bridge. During your walk, you’ll also get to enjoy beautiful views of Matterhorn mountain – a nice bonus!
After the river crossing, the path will turn away from the river and start climbing up a hill. Once you pass the Forest Fun Park, keep an eye out for a left turn into a small side trail.
Continue the hike on a narrow trail in a forest next to a cliff. We came here in mid-September and some of the trees already started changing colors for fall.
You will see a tall building called ‘Gornergorge Apartments’, but keep going. The entrance of the gorge will be soon after where you can pay for the tickets.
Google Maps Location: Gorner Gorge, Aroleit 27, 3920 Zermatt, Switzerland.
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About Gorner Gorge
The Gorner Gorge was built in 1886-1887 by two German families so tourists could access this glacier-carved canyon. Originally a French man wanted to build the gorge and donate it to the community but his request was denied and granted to the Germans.
This attraction was built using natural methods and local materials. Explosives and tunnel carving were avoided to preserve the natural state of the canyon.
The wooden pathways that are built along the impressive rock formations are over 120 years old but are constantly repaired and updated for the safety of visitors. Now the wooden walkways are managed by a small, private company.
The Gornercanyon has been in the making for over 10,000 years. These towering cliffs were formed by glacier water flowing down from the mountains at incredibly high speeds. The force of the thunderous water, sand, and gravel created the riverbed, waterfalls, and glacier potholes that you can observe at the gorge.
This just shows the sheer power of nature and what it can do over time! The Gorner Gorge is a place of exceptional natural beauty and a must-see for those visiting Zermatt.
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Our Experience Visiting Gorner Gorge
We had a few hours to spare on our last morning in Zermatt so we decided to venture out and explore the Gorner Gorge before leaving town.
This is one of the least visited attractions in Zermatt so it was nice to get away from the crowds and enjoy a peaceful walk to ourselves. During our visit, we only saw a handful of people at the gorge which was so nice after battling crowds at Gornergrat and 5 Lakes Trail.
If you’re visiting Zermatt in the summer months, Gornerschlucht is a great place to cool down and escape the heat as the temperatures within the canyon are much cooler due to the towering cliff walls that surround it.
The Gorner Gorge is much different from other attractions in Zermatt. There is no train or a gondola to take you there, and no restaurants to grab drinks after. It is rustic compared to other activities in the region but that also makes it special (and cheaper to visit).
After paying the entrance fee, we walked down rocky steps and were greeted with breathtaking views of the chasm and the glacier river below. This river earns its milky blue color from the glacier sediments that flow down from the mountains.
The wooden boardwalk that leads through the gorge is fairly easy to do, but there are steep drop-offs below. This may be a bit challenging for those who have a fear of heights. There are wooden rails added along the pathway for visitor safety.
This entire outdoor experience felt very serene and peaceful since we were the only people within the gorge at times. Here you can enjoy a pleasant walk in nature that feels so magical and surreal!
After walking on the right side of the canyon, you will need to cross to the left side along a bridge and climb up steep stairs. Along the stairs, you can stop at different viewing platforms that overlook waterfalls, glacier-polished rocks, and the water flowing down the river.
Once you reach the end of the wooden walkway, you can turn around and head back the same way, or continue on to other destinations such as:
- Zermatt via Winkelmatten
We were leaving Zermatt that morning so we turned around and exited the same way that we came in. All in all, give yourself about 2 hours to get to the Gorner Gorge and experience it at a leisurely pace.
The pathway itself is shorter than we expected, but it’s worth a visit if you have a few hours to spare. It was such an interesting attraction and much different than the other alpine activities that we did in Zermatt.
TIP: During your time in Zermatt, I highly recommend taking the cog railway to Gornergrat or hiking the 5 Lakes Trail. Each of these is a full-day activity so plan accordingly!
Looking for more fun things to do in Zermatt? Check out this paragliding tour where you’ll get to fly over Zermatt and enjoy the stunning mountain views from a bird’s point of view - an unforgettable experience of a lifetime! Book the Zermatt paragliding tour here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions about visiting Gorner Gorge in Zermatt:
Is Gorner Gorge Free?
The Gorner Gorge is not free. It costs 5 CHF for adults for admission, and 2.50 CHF for kids. The entrance payments are only accepted in cash so be sure to stop by an ATM and get cash before heading out to this attraction.
Is Gorner Gorge Doable For Kids?
Gorner Gorge does allow kids, and they even offer reduced admission rates for the little ones. The Gorner Gorge is a great place to visit for the whole family!
While the gorge is doable for kids, be sure to keep a close eye on them during the walk as there are steep drop-offs all around.
Is Gorner Gorge Open In The Winter?
Unfortunately, the Gorner Gorge is only open in the summer months from late May to middle of October. The gorge closes in winter due to safety reasons and harsh weather conditions.
What To Bring
The Gornerschlucht is an easy trail, so you can do this hike without needing any special outdoor gear.
Keep in mind that the weather within the chasm is much cooler due to the tall cliff walls that block the sunlight. Be sure to bring a jacket to stay warm, especially during spring or fall.
We visited Zermatt in September and the weather was a hit or miss. The weather in Switzerland can change drastically without much notice, especially in the shoulder season.
Here are a few things that we recommend bringing for outdoor adventures in Switzerland:
- Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket. I always bring an insulated puff jacket in my backpack in case it starts raining or the temperatures start dropping. With a windproof and moisture-repelling shell, the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket will keep you warm by trapping your body heat and blocking the cold.
- Danner Trail 2650 Hiking Shoes. A good pair of hiking shoes can make all the difference in outdoor adventures! I recommend getting a pair that are tough and have lots of traction so you don’t slip and fall. The Danner 2650 shoes are lightweight, durable, and made with Vibram 460 outsoles for traction on wet surfaces.
- Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles. If you plan to do any hiking in Zermatt, trekking poles can come in handy to battle steep, uphill trails. The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles are light, easy to use, and are made with an ergonomic design that offers stability and comfort on longer day hikes.
- REI Co-op Nalgene Water Bottle. Bring plenty of water as there are no amenities, water, or food at the gorge. I love my reusable REI Co-op Nalgene bottle which is leakproof and so easy to clean.
- Anker Portable phone charger. I always bring a battery pack when going on international trips. A portable phone charger can come in handy in case your phone runs out of battery and you need to use it to look up directions, pull up the AllTrails hiking app, or Google Translate.
- Gregory NanoDay Pack. I have a small lightweight day pack that fits all my essentials, water, and camera gear. The Gregory Nano pack comes with a padded mesh back, several adjustable straps, and plenty of pockets where you can put small things like hand sanitizer, sunscreen, a headlamp, and a small medical kit.
Where To Stay In Zermatt
Zermatt is a car-free city meaning visitors are not allowed to drive their cars into Zermatt. We had to park our rental car in Täsch and take a 15-minute train from Täsch to Zermatt. It takes a bit of time and effort to reach Zermatt so most people end up spending a night or two within the city to make it worth it.
Zermatt is a small town, but it has a lot of great hotels to choose from for various budgets, group sizes, and needs.
Here are a few of the best hotels in Zermatt:
This boutique hotel offers visitors a luxurious place to stay at the heart of Zermatt not far from Gornergrat and Sunnega railway stations. The Backstage Boutique SPA Hotel has a four-star rating along with a Michelin-star-rated restaurant that is open during the winter months.
The rooms at Backstage Boutique Spa Hotel come furnished with elegant and unique pieces. Guest rooms also feature fireplaces and private balconies, and some accommodations come with a bathtub overlooking the Swiss Alps. Other amenities include a hot tub, sauna, steam bath, and massage room.
In the mornings, guests can enjoy Continental and buffet breakfast options before heading out to explore the town. The hotel also has a restaurant on the premises with a 4-course dinner menu.
After a full day of activities guests can relax and rejuvenate at the wellness area that features a Finnish sauna, an infrared cabin, and a steam bath.
During our time in Zermatt, we stayed at Residence Patricia that’s part of the Alpen Resort Hotel. This hotel offers studio and apartment-style accommodations that come with a kitchenette for convenience. We were able to buy groceries in town and make our own meals to save money and time.
The rooms at Residence Patricia come with balconies and direct views of Matterhorn Mountain. If you’re seeking a budget-friendly place, it doesn’t get better than this!
We hope this post has helped you prepare for a wonderful visit to Gorner Gorge in Zermatt! Here are a few other popular travel posts that you may enjoy:
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- How To Visit The Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht) In Meiringen
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