Riffelsee Matterhorn (Photo: Zermatt Tourism)

The 3 best ways to visit the Riffel Lake

6 Highlights at Lake Riffel

  • Lake Riffel is one of the best places in the Zermatt region to admire the world famous Matterhorn. The mountain lake is located at 2770 m above sea level and has no outflow
  • The scenery with reflection of the Matterhorn in the water makes every photographer's heart beat faster. At sunrise and sunset the top of the mountain turns bright red.
  • In the region of the Riffelsee there are hiking routes for every level of difficulty. The trails lead you through the fascinating mountain landscape of Zermatt and offer you many unique views of the surrounding panorama.
  • A visit to the Riffelsee is also perfect for families. With the Gornergratbahn and a short walk, the lake is very easy to reach.
  • The lake is close to the access to the climbing routes on the Riffelhorn. These routes are often used as a preparation tour for the ascent of the Matterhorn.
  • Around the lake you can find many rare alpine flowers, which set altitude records here with their alpine location.

What awaits you at Riffelsee

The mountain landscape of Zermatt including Riffelsee is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. Step into a unique panorama and let yourself be enchanted by the great nature. At Riffelsee enjoy the refreshing alpine air while admiring the world famous view of the Matterhorn. When there is no wind, the mountain is reflected in the clear Riffelsee. At sunrise and sunset, the top of the mountain often turns bright red, creating a unique natural spectacle.

Lake Riffel offers something special for every visitor. While photographers will enjoy the unique photo opportunities, plant enthusiasts will find rare alpine flowers here. There are many hiking routes in the region, which lead visitors through the great mountain scenery. The lake is also close to the access to the climbing routes on the Riffelhorn, which are often used as a preparation tour for the ascent of the Matterhorn.

Riffelsee morning atmosphere (Photo: Zermatt GGB)Riffelsee morning atmosphere (Photo: Zermatt GGB)
Climbing on the Riffelhorn (Photo: Zermatt Alpincenter)Climbing on the Riffelhorn (Photo: Zermatt Alpincenter)

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With the Gornergratbahn to Lake Riffel

The easiest way to reach the lake is with the Gornergratbahn. The rack railroad goes from Zermatt (1608 m above sea level) via Riffelalp, Riffelberg and Rotenboden (2815 m above sea level) to Gornergrat. You drive in 28 min from Zermatt to the station Rotenboden. From Rotenboden it is only a 10 min walk to the lake. So the lake is easily accessible even for inexperienced runners and families.

Swiss Activities offer:

With the ticket you can get off at Rotenboden and visit the Riffelsee. Afterwards you get back on the next train and go up to Gornergrat. The ticket is valid for the whole day

More information about Gornergrat and Zermatt:

When is the Gornergratbahn open?

The Gornergratbahn is open daily all year round. Its timetable varies depending on the season. The trains run approximately between sunrise and sunset.

With a reservation you can also take a mountain bike on the track at certain times until mid-October.

What are the prices of the Gornergratbahn to Rotenboden?

Over the individual months the prices of the Gornergratbahn change

Hikes to the Riffelsee

The region around Zermatt is a paradise for hikers. Lake Riffel is a bit off the beaten track. But there are still great trails that lead to the lake.

Rotenboden Riffelsee Trail:

Gornergrat - Rotenboden - Riffelsee - Riffelberg

This medium trail leads you from Gornergrat via Rotenboden to Riffelsee. A fantastic panorama with the 4000m peaks of the Valais and the Matterhorn awaits you.

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Distance: 4.6 km
  • Duration: 1:15 h
  • Ascent / descent: 67 (↑ hm) / 574 (↓ hm)
  • Season: June - October

Glacier view hike

Gornergrat - Riffelsee

If you want to get to know the glacier world of Zermatt better, this hike is perfect for you. Hike from Gornergrat along the glaciated mountain world on a narrow, rarely used path to Riffelsee.

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Distance: 6.3 km
  • Duration: 2:30 h
  • Ascent / descent: 155 (↑ hm) / 663 (↓ hm)
  • Season: June - October

With the mountain bike to the Riffel Lake

Gornergrat Classic (No. 1): Gornergrat - Riffelberg - Riffelbord - Riffelalp - Chämihittaweg - Furi - Zermatt

This well-known mountain bike route leads you from Gornergrat down to Zermatt. On the way you will pass the Riffelsee. This route is very varied and sometimes quite demanding. If you are not very experienced, it is recommended to push the bike in exposed places. Use this descent to experience the sunset in the mountain landscape.

  • Condition: Medium
  • Technique: Hard
  • Distance: 11.7 km
  • Duration: 0:40 h
  • Ascent / Descent: 6 (↑ hm) / 1491 (↓ hm)
Hiking at the Riffelberg (Photo: Zermatt Pascal Gertschen)Hiking at the Riffelberg (Photo: Zermatt Pascal Gertschen)
Mountain biking at the Riffelberg (Photo: Zermatt Pascal GertschenMountain biking at the Riffelberg (Photo: Zermatt Pascal Gertschen

For whom is the Riffelsee suitable?

The Riffelsee offers something for every visitor. If you take the Gornergratbahn, you can easily reach the lake. This is true for inexperienced hikers as well as for children. Thus, the visit is a perfect family experience.

However, the path is not wheelchair accessible. The lake is also difficult to reach with strollers. Since the walk takes only 10 min, small children can be carried well to the lake if necessary.