The Simplon pass road is open all year (unless there are extreme weather conditions, maybe). Simplon is one of the easiest alpine pass roads to drive. The road is a wide two-lane highway with hardly any tricky curves. If you do not want to drive, the alternative is loading the car on a train in Brig respective Iselle on the Italian side and using the Simplon tunnel. And there is public transport: a post bus line runs along the pass road.
The passage over Simplon pass was established in the 17th century by Kaspar Stockalper. In those times goods and people were transported with mules. Napoleon had the pass road widened and improved for military purposes in 1801 – 1805. Since then the pass road was suitable for post carriages and became one of the most important travel routes through the Alps. The Hospiz, a guest house formerly (still?) run by Augustine monks, also dates from the times of Napoleon.
The top of the pass reaches an altitude of 2005 m above sea level. Few trees grow at this altitude, the landscape is high alpine with wide meadows and rocks and the mountain peaks rather close. At the top of the pass there are vast parking lots and a restaurant and road station (which looks like a marzipan UFO to me). There are all options from a quick photo stop to extended hiking tours.
The eagle monument, 9 metres high, was designed by the sculptor Erwin Friedrich Baumann. It dates from the times of World War II (inaugurated in 1944) and commemorates the soldiers of the mountain brigade. The eagle is keeping watch towards the South, towards Italy.
Brig is a major train hub on national and international railways. Long-distance trains connect to Italy via Simplon tunnel, North via Lötschberg base tunnel to Bern, Basel and from there to Germany and France, West to Lausanne and Geneva, East it’s the famous Glacier Express route via Andermatt and Furka to Chur and St. Moritz.
A smaller train stop for the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn is located in the square in front of the station building. This train company operates local trains to Zermatt via Visp, to Disentis via Furka pass and to Göschenen via Andermatt - and the Glacier Express. Post buses to many rural destinations depart from the train station square, including a direct line to Saas Fee, and also local buses.
Matterhorn - Gotthardbahn is a seperate train-system leaving from Brig, in front of the main trainstation. this train uses cogwheels in order to climb up the steep rails to Zermatt.
Zermatt is a carfree-area and it really makes sense to leave the car in Brig than to park it in the village of Taesch, that is the closest village to Zermatt, where you can still go by your private car. Inside the train you will find small tables at the windows, where you will find a good map of the area around Zermatt and Brig.
The tickets from Zermatt to Gornergrad have to be bought in Zermatt !
The train Brig - Zermatt :
a returnticket is 68 sfr ( 43 euro)
from Zermatt to Gornergrad
With the best view of Matterhorn :
76 sfr return / 38 sfr for a single ride
The SBB-trainstation in Brig is quite large, as Brig is an important transportation-hub between Switzerland and Italy and also to Zermatt. You will find luggage-lockers there, some kiosks, a touristinfo-counter and a counter, where to buy train-tickets to Zermatt, although the trains for Zermatt are leaving not inside the station, but in front of it.
In case that you are changing trains in Brig and you have some time between the trains, you can easily walk to see Stockalperpalast : Just take the main exit of the station at the side, where the rails of the trains to Zermatt are, cross the street and walk straight on, towards the building shown in my 2nd pic. From there it is about 10 min. to Sebastiansplatz and Sebastiankirche and another 5 min to Stockalperplatz.
This private railway company runs the Glacier Express from St. Moritz via Disentis, Andermatt to Brig and on to Zermatt. There are also local trains to Visp and Zermatt on one side and through the Furka tunnel to Andermatt and further on.
Brig is well connected by train to the French part of Switzerland (eg Geneva) as well as the German speaking part (eg Bern) and to Italy (via Simplon to Domodossola, Stresa etc) by national train services (SBB).
In Brig station you find the tourist office, kiosks and a convenience store. There are luggage lockers too.