Shoes for hike down from Gornergrat?

Hi, fellow travelers! We're booked on the Sep. 1, 2021 version of Switzerland: Europe's Crown Jewel and are getting pretty excited!

However, we just got our Itinerary from Tauck, and I notice that "Hiking boots with ankle support" are suggested for the hike down from the Gornergrat/Matterhorn viewpoint on Day 3. Can any experienced travelers tell me whether the boots are actually needed? I was planning to take a pair of substantial shoes with thick rubber soles, and I was really hoping to not need to take something like boots. Any advice on footwear?

Also, on this hike, are there multiple places you can pick up the train if you need to, or is it all or nothing?


  • We did a section of the hike down (they drop you with a guide a small distance below the summit and then you walk down to another station to board a later train). Walking shoes, not boots for us. The path was not challenging. It was dry when we did this, so all bets are off if its been raining. But, you can make the decision at the time taking the weather into consideration.

    There were no issues associated with taking a later train at the end of the hike since the station is only a short distance (6 blocks-ish) from the hotel.

  • Good walking shoes are sufficient. The difficulty of the walk is exaggerated. I encourage doing the optional local tour of Zermatt and the visit to the museum. Enjoy the trip, almost everything was great. The only thing we did not like is getting up early to leave Interlaken to have lunch in Bern. That town was nothing special. I think they wanted us to see the bears eating - dumb. The Interlaken hotel facilities were wonderful but there was almost no time to enjoy them. I would have loved an early morning swim in the pool and to do the hand gliding right outside!

  • Bucketlist, not sure if we'll have the option for the museum in Zermatt. It was on the itinerary but once they sent the digital green book version it's no longer mentioned. Was looking forward to it. They may just be cautious on what to list in case it isn't available. Tauck always under promises in the itinerary so we'll hope for more.

    We're you offered the option to move the Day 2 hotel dinner to Day 3? I've heard others were and i'd prefer it that way.

  • Claudia Sails - If you are talking about Interlaken, I am relying on memory but we did not have the option to move the hotel dinner in Interlaken. We had a ride up the funicular to the marvelous view of the 2 lakes and dinner at Harder Kulm. You will be regaled with traditional song and music by musicians in lederhosen and dirndls. In Zermatt that was likely an option as it was not a formal group dinner, but individual dining. We were on the last tour of the year, things were slow and places were closed but that was fine with us! A wonderful tour!

  • I meant Zermatt. Day 2 has 3 meals and Day 3 just breakfast. Would rather have the hotel dinner on Day 3.

  • In case anyone is interested, I found this interesting piece on the hike down from Gornergrat. Some nice maps, pictures and description of the options.

  • Thanks for sharing that link, Claudia, it looks like a great piece.

  • Just an update from the original poster: sturdy shoes were sufficient for the Gornergrat/Matterhorn day hike. For us, the weather was pretty much perfect for this hike, and it was definitely a highlight of the whole tour for me. You hike from Rotenboden Station down to Riffelberg Station with a guide. There's a restaurant at Riffelberg where a few of us had a very nice outdoor lunch after the hike, but that’s totally up to you.

  • If you don't want to hike down to Riffelberg, you can take the train to a station a bit farther down the mountain and then walk in to a restaurant, It's not too far and a pretty easy walk. If the weather is nice, eating outside in an alpine restaurant is a beautiful way to spend a few hours. Afterwards, you can take the train back into town. The train schedule will list the stations and let you know where the stops are and what you can see/do at each of them. You are able to get on and off at your leisure.

  • We were on a late September 2019 tour and the restaurant was closed. It appears in Switzerland early fall is when many businesses take a break before the ski season. A benefit was no crowds on the tour, especially in Zermatt.

  • I'm back on US soil and finally allowed to log in and post. I took lightweight hiking boots and regretted it. The hike isn't that hard - all down hill - but rocky and my boots tended to dig in at the ankles. Good sneakers with traction would be fine.

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