Beaches may be our favorite style of destination travel, but mountains certainly have their way of calling out to us. We actually spent the majority of our intro to travel photography on hikes, day after day, through the majority of southern Europe. The dramatic backdrops helped to mask the obvious awkwardness we had in front of the camera and also gave us, by default, a beautiful image to look at. Unfortunately in the beginning of this form of travel we weren’t really able to travel to Switzerland due to the price tag involved in hitting all the sites that we wanted to see. It is no secret that it is an expensive country so we just decided to opt out at the time. After a year went by and we had established ourselves as photographers we decided it was time to return with our professional equipment. The country’s tourism price tag hadn’t dropped at all but it was definitely worth every dollar we spent.
If you are looking at taking a trip to Switzerland there is definitely a budget option if you are down for living van life for a little while. This is actually what we did and it saved us a ton of money. The ability to sleep, shower, eat and cook in our vehicle was a game changer for our budget. We wrote a full blog about this aspect of the trip a little while back and you can find it HERE if you want to read a bit more about it. This article however is meant to focus on one specific aspect of the trip… our visit to Zermatt to see Matterhorn.
Talk about places that surpass the expectation! Matterhorn was absolutely stunning to see in real life and we cannot recommend a visit enough. Every time we look back on this trip we can’t help but smile. The entire experience was just so perfect and the entire area around Zermatt and Matterhorn is gorgeous. There are glaciers all around, mountain lakes scattered all over with the best reflective surfaces and the air is so clean and crisp.
The first step in visiting Matterhorn is to get to Zermatt, which is simple enough. This is where the iconic view of the mountain is from. When you think of Zermatt, recalling the memory of images that you have seen in the past, this is where the photos were most likely taken from. While the view seems best from Switzerland, Matterhorn is actually located in northern Italy - something we didn’t know until we arrived and picked up our passes. Zermatt is a quaint little town, not really offering too much to do but certainly capable of handling tourism. There are restaurants scattered around, a train station, a cable car station, hotels, and even a helicopter tour center. We tried to get one of the helicopter tours but unfortunately we were too last minute and it just wasn’t an option. This would be so awesome and would certainly be something that would bring us back one day.
The way most people view Matterhorn is by taking the cable car up into the mountains and getting off at one of the higher stops along the way. You can see the peak from the town but if you go up into the mountains you will get a much more stunning and clear view of the mountain itself. It is actually the highest cable car in Europe at an astounding 3,882 meters (12,739 feet) and subsequently has some pretty epic views. There are a lot of stops along the way and you are free to hop on and off, provided you maintain the ticket you purchased upon your arrival in Zermatt. We exited at the Rottenboden-Riffelberg stop because we knew there was a small mountain lake near this point and we wanted to catch the mountain peak in the reflection. The cable car does continue to go up but we actually stayed here so long that we had to take the cable car down by the time we were done playing around with angles by the lakeside. It really does make for some stunning images it you get there before the initial wave of tourists.
We were actually there with another photography couple and we spent hours taking different shots from different angles, buzzing the drones around and overall just enjoying the scenery. Just opposite from Matterhorn, a short little hike away, is another stunning view point where you can see more snowcapped mountains and a glacier running through them. The day we had here was so perfect - not too cold and the sky was a bright blue. The photo we have here on this article is just one of many that we snapped here but if you want to see a really cool drone fly by, just head over to our Instagram and look in our Reels.
In closing… even though this will be an expensive trip you should definitely do it at some point in your life. The small stuff just really adds up in Switzerland so you have to be wary of that. A small soda can easily cost you 6 USD and the cable car tickets were about 100 USD per person when we were there. Maybe this isn’t a lot of money to you but for some people the excursions here can really break the bank. Get groceries rather than going out to eat and rent a van if you really want to keep it as cheap as possible.