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Bernina Express / Matterhorn - summer hotel plan

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Ben S
Ben S
1 post
new member
May 15, 2022 - 5:30 PM


This is my first post. I beg your pardon if I don't know any better.

I found planning a trip to ride Bernina Express or to see Matterhorn rather difficult, from family hotel booking perspective, especially in the Summer.

Zermatt hotels are expensive and most have unforgiving cancellation policy (require 5 days to a month advance cancellation). Seeing Matterhorn (let alone riding Gornergrat) is at the whim of the weather on the day of travel. While most people seem to trivialize this uncertainy by mentioning a Swiss train pass and checking the webcam in the morning, how do you even plan where to stay ahead of time? We ain't all backpackers. I am not interested to see the in-town cemetary during a vacation when it rains neither when paying $$$$$ when staying overnight.

It seems to me the most valued way to visit Zermatt and see Matterhorn is if you are a skier, and travel during ski season. Then seeing Matterhorn is just icing on the top.


Bernina Express, even worst, if you are not going one-way. This may appeal to some, but I am definitely not interested in an 8+ hours roundtrip on a single day. That means booking a hotel somewhere, like St Moritz, which is expensive and have similar unforgiving advance cancellation policy like at Zermatt. I cannot possibly check every webcams on the route in the morning, to see if the ride would not be impacted by cloud cover. The advanced seat booking does not help in any way neither. I also read people getting baked inside the inadequate air-conditioned first class.

Like Zermatt, I feel Bernina Express is less risky to book during snow season. No worry about bare landscape (dang Global Warning!!!) and no concern about inadequate/broken A/C, while one could experience outdoor hotub at certain hotels.


So, any suggestion on the proper way to book hotels in the summer, without spending hundreds of dollars visiting a local coffee shop or a small scale musuem or keep reading on a book for days due to bad weather?

Thank you.

P.S. I apologize if this site is supposed to promote travel to Swiss Alps instead of posting less-than-positive views

15108 posts
expert &
May 15, 2022 - 6:10 PM

Hi Ben_S, welcome to MySwissAlps and thanks for posting your concerns. Of course those are welcome too!

How many days do you have available for the Zermatt area? The more, the better your chances are of getting into the mountains in clear weather. Alternatively, consider a more central location such as Brig. It has an appealing town center and some nice more affordable hotels. You can easily reach Zermatt, but also many other destinations, so you'll be less weather-dependent and more flexible. Please see www.myswissalps.com/brig for hotel and activity suggestions.

There are also cheaper hotels in other towns in the Matter valley, such as Täsch, Randa and St. Niklaus. Please see www.myswissalps.com/zermatt/hotels.

Apart from Gornergrat, there are more nice viewing points for the Matterhorn: www.myswissalps.com/zermatt/activities. Reservation isn't required for any of these rides.

If you don't feel like doing the Bernina Express, then of course you can choose from lots of other activities and train rides. I think it's still a stunning ride, in summer too: www.myswissalps.com/berninaexpress. I never experienced had any airco problems myself, but know that you can travel the same route in normal trains without prior seat reservations. Differences between the train types are described at the page I linked to.

The Upper Engadine is one of the best regions in (hot) summers in my view, due to its height: www.myswissalps.com/upperengadine. You don't have to stay in St. Moritz. Consider one of the less expensive nearby towns such as Celerina, Bever, La Punt or Zuoz. We mention such alternatives at www.myswissalps.com/stmoritz/hotels.

A rail pass saves money in nearly all cases. The Swiss Travel Pass is the easiest one, and a perfect fit it you want to be flexible and adjust your plans to weather conditions or other circumstances: www.myswissalps.com/swisstravelpass. Just hop and off as you like, without the need to pre-purchase tickets. Of course there are more passes, and this guide can help you choose: www.myswissalps.com/train/ticketspasses/practical/chooserailpass.

I hope this addresses your concerns somewhat. Let us know if you have more questions!

Last modified on May 15, 2022 - 8:04 PM by Arno


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