Positioned in the German-speaking canton of Valais in Switzerland, Zermatt is without a question one of the most famous mountain villages and one of the most photographed spots in the world. It belongs to the district of Visp and it is surrounded by impressive landscapes at the foot of the well-known Matterhorn peak.
It is a car-free resort that attracts both skiers and non-skiers from all over the world. This international resort encompasses everything Switzerland is famous for – high altitude, endless beauty, and uniqueness.
The impressiveness of Zermatt reflects in the fact that it is surrounded by 4 000 meter high mountains and glaciers. It has been visited greatly since 1865. This is when the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn was completed.
In this article, you will find a useful guide for this incredible place with an abundance of info that will enrich your visit there in all seasons.
You’ll read about:
- What is Zermatt known for?
- Is Zermatt worth visiting?
- What is the closest airport to Zermatt?
- Zermatt things to do in winter
- Zermatt things to do in summer
- Zermatt weather
- Is Zermatt, Switzerland expensive?
- Where to stay in Zermatt?
- Places near Matterhorn worth exploring
Are you ready to explore this beautiful Swiss treasure? If yes, scroll down and read everything we prepared for you!
1. What is Zermatt known for?
Zermatt is a part of one of the largest skiing areas in the world known as the “Matterhorn Ski Paradise”. Apart from being adored by skiers, the village is also known for picturesque scenery, old architecture preserved in churches, light winter hiking trails, gourmet restaurants, live music festivals, and so much more.
It offers a wide range of activities and mesmerizing beauty that any other resort cannot compete with. Everyone should visit this place and explore its ceaseless charms through personal experience.
Among all these charms, one stands out the most – Zermatt altitude offers 365 days of skiing – its highest top is at 3,800 meters above sea level, providing the biggest vertical drop of 2,359 meters in the world.
2. Is Zermatt worth visiting?
Zermatt is the highest ski resort in Europe with remarkable landscapes that offer 365 days of skiing.
There are plenty of awesome things that you can do in this beautiful town that will prove that your choice to visit Zermatt was the best decision you have ever made!
Here are some out of many reasons why visiting Zermatt is pure bliss:
- It is easily reached
- It is car-free
- It offers family-owned hotels
- It is a perfect spot for great adventures
- It is the best skiing area in Europe
- It offers so many versatile non-skiers activities
- It is a heaven for gourmets and wine lovers
- It is a beautiful natural background
- It has the most dramatic peak – Matterhorn
- There you can see Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
- It offers a ride on a cog railway to the Gornergrat
- The most beautiful train routes lead to Zermatt
- You have the possibility to ski to Italy just to have lunch
- The beauty of the nearby lake Seenweg will mesmerize you
Is this enough for you? Don’t think twice, everyone will find something inspiring and interesting to do while there. Pack your bags and have a blast!
3. What is the closest airport to Zermatt?
The closest airport to Zermatt is in Bern – 127 kilometers away.
Airport Geneva is 244 kilometers far the town. As Geneva is a gateway for most skiers who travel to Switzerland, it can be very crowded and expensive during the season. So if all flights are busy, Zurich airport can be an alternative since it is 248 kilometers away.
Whatever airport you choose, you can count on an excellent connection with the Swiss rail network. From the airport, a train ride to Zermatt takes not more than 3 hours.
From Italy, the closest airport to Zermatt is Milan Malpensa (MXP). From there you can take a train to Zermatt by Gallarate and Visp, and arrive after 4 hours of the ride.
COVID-19 update: even though Milan Malpensa and Linate airports are operating at the moment, maybe it is not advisable to travel from Italy to get to Zermatt at these unstable times. Geneva and Zurich airports are also in progress, just like the whole traffic network within Switzerland.
The closest local airport to Zermatt is in Interlaken – only 74 kilometers away, while Sion Airport is 80 kilometers far from the town.
You can always choose a limousine service in Switzerland and have a reliable and comfortable trip.
4. Zermatt things to do in winter
Zermatt is a 100% family destination that promises a lot of fun and interesting activities to everyone – 3-103!
Switzerland is beautiful during the winter, but Zermatt under the snow is a blessing for the eyes! Even if you are not a sports person, you’ll be entertained by plenty of other things.
Here are the things that will make your winter in Zermatt memorable:
Zermatt is without a doubt one of the most popular ski resorts in Europe. It offers 200 kilometers of pistes with one incredible bonus – the tourists have the option to ski from Italy to Switzerland since the border is right there!
There are runs for each level but they are mostly red – for intermediate skiers. Ski pistes are also wide and very long.
With more than 360 kilometers of blue, black, red, and yellow runs you will enjoy in each turn you take, followed by beautiful scenery.
If you are on a family vacation, everyone gets so excited when someone suggests sledging!
It never fails to unite the whole family, make everyone happy, and call out your inner child.
The sledge run is 1.5 kilometers long – not much, but it looks directly at the stunning Matterhorn. The run ends at Riffelberg station at 2,582 meters.
2. Gornergrat train ride
A breathtaking scenic ride with the Gornergrat Train to Rotenboden will leave you speechless. Don’t go without a camera because some of the most beautiful sights you have ever witnessed are waiting to be captured!
If you are riding during the season, the train will probably be full of skiers. But when you are returning to Zermatt slightly tired and satisfied after sledging, the carriage will probably be empty. This is the moment when you can move from one side to another and click away, plus feast your eyes on the scenery.
You can climb up the Gornergrat railway with your train tickets as many times as you want and make a lovely afternoon. The train runs almost every ten minutes.
You can rent toboggans at Rotenboden station that lies at 2,815 meters. The renting price is CHF 10 per day.
One toboggan can be shared with one adult and one small child, in any other circumstances, the additional toboggan is needed.
Keep in mind that your toboggan ticket does not cover a climb up to the Gornergrat – you will have to get another Gornergrat Ticket.
4. Wolli’s Treasure Hunt in Zermatt
If you want to become acquainted with the Zermatt ski resort a little bit better, Wolli’s treasure hunt is probably the best option.
Find the tourism office and ask for the treasure hunt map. In case your children already have the Wolli Card, the hunt will be free, or you will pay CHF 5.
The idea is to find 11 posts within the town and note how many symbols there are. The final one is the key that opens the treasure chest and stamps your card. Take the card back to the tourism office and choose your gift!
Through the game, you will discover amazing corners of the town that otherwise you probably wouldn’t have the chance to. The circuit is 3 km long and you will probably need 1.5 hours to make all the stops. You can count on staying a bit longer since there is also a playground on the way.
In the middle of the village, you can find the ice rink where you can make pirouettes with your family during the winter season.
The rink provides a great backdrop for your skating photos. It is opened from 10 am to 7 pm, and it is free to use. In case you don’t have your own skates, you will have to rent a pair from the local shop.
On the ice rink, you can also play hockey and have a go at curling. There you’ll see many hockey teams practicing at different times during the week, or you can call the Zermatt Curling Club and give it a shot.
7. Winter hiking or snowshoeing
The vast beauty of Swiss mountains cannot be captured only while sliding or on skis. A perfect way to meet the mountains is to get out, take a walk, and enjoy everything at a slow pace.
Zermatt brags a wide range of hiking trails and snowshoeing. Most start from the town while others continue up in the mountain. The majority of them are surrounded by sensational views covered with snow. There are also great restaurants where you can take a bite and warm up.
For climbing up the mountain, you can buy tickets for various stages of your adventure and they are not much compared to the beauty you will meet.
5. Zermatt things to do in summer
Zermatt under the sun and meadow flowers is another dimension of beauty. Just a glance of this stunning sight will make your summer special. Moreover, various activities will keep you entertained, satisfied, and happy.
Here are some of the things that will make your summer in Zermatt an utter success.
1. Five Lake Hike
One of the most popular hikes of Zermatt is the Five Lake Hike. It includes the following lakes: Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grunsee, Mosjessee, and Leisee.
It is easy to reach all five lakes from the Blauherd Station. But if you are not planning to visit them all, we recommend that at least you go down to Stellisee.
Just like with all the other trails in Switzerland – each is marked precisely. But as there are many route variants, it is best to prepare yours in advance and to decide which lakes you want to visit and from what direction.
Most people choose to visit only Stellisee then return to Blauherd. The route is mostly flat and there you can spend your time in leisure and take a light stroll.
Stellisee is the most popular and the biggest one of all the lakes. There is a restaurant behind it where tourists like to take a rest and have lunch.
At the very end of the lake is the best view since only there the lake faces the Matterhorn. Don’t forget to bring your camera and capture these mesmerizing landscapes. If your tempo is a bit faster, you’ll need about 30 minutes to get from Blauherd to Stellisee.
Zermatt’s luxurious accommodation usually comes with large pools. For example, Chalet Banja gives you access to their 10-meter pool where you can take a dip and relax.
Numerous hotels around the resort come with a pool, all you have to do is choose the one according to your taste and bring a bathing suit.
The one that comes at a low price and it is family inviting is located in the Hotel National. The price is 10 CHF for an adult and it is half-priced for children.
On the other hand, if you want something more extravagant, you’ll find an outstanding pool in the Hotel Mont Cervin Palace which we will mention later.
3. Spa relaxation
In addition to pools, most accommodation in Zermatt comes with access to the spa. You can even arrange on-site body treatments to release the stress and relieve the tension you don’t need on your vacation.
An evening at the spa after all day of skiing is like a godsend. A hot spa or sauna will unwind you and afterward, you’ll sleep like a baby.
4. Matterhorn Museum
The Matterhorn is a big sensation to everyone, and within the Zermatt’s museum, you will find all the answers relating to this incredible summit.
The museum looks like a traditional Alpine village, consisting of 14 unique buildings that were ruined and repaired within this underground space.
Each building has a different perception of the nature and historical background of this bad-reputed summit.
For example, a special devotion to the ascent by Edward Whymper and his crew in 1865 is given in the “Mountain Guide’s House”. Here is exposed the “broken rope” that was embroidered with bad luck and send 4 climbers of their crew to death.
5. Matterhorn glacier paradise
Matterhorn glacier paradise is the highest cable car station in Europe – at 3,883 meters and with its modern restaurant it brings the world of innovations to another level.
Can you imagine facing the views of the highest mountains in Italy, France, and Switzerland all at once? Your mind will be blown away by their beauty! On the clear weather, the views from the observation platform are so transparent that it looks like they are stretching as far as the Mediterranean.
If you are an adventure seeker – this is the place for you! The ski area on the Theodul Glacier is open all year round.
Most climbers and hikers follow the mountain guides to set off to scale the Breithorn (4,164 meters) which is a 2.5 hours climb up the everlasting snow.
The summit is the gateway to Europe’s largest summer ski area, and as the summit of the international ski area, it is opened all year round.
If you crave the autograph of an international ski star, head to this place. During the summer, almost every world’s national ski team train for the speed disciplines is up on the glacier. To access the summer pistes, all the athletes have to pass through the summit station.
6. Forest Fun Park
If you want some excitement and fun, down the valley that leads from the village you’ll find an amazing adventure park, in perfectly safe surroundings.
Children will be extremely amused while overcoming all the obstacles that rise high from the ground. They will be ultra-safe, wearing all necessary equipment that will protect them – helmet, harness, etc. during their adventure on the longest course for children in Switzerland.
Adults can have fun, too – they can test their balance and strength on five routes where they can climb nets, suspend by ropes, zoom down zip-lines, and cross all the bridges.
7. Take a walk down Zermatt’s old town
For the perfect end of the day, it is always refreshing to take a walk down the beautiful old town of Zermatt. You’ll be fascinated by traditional Valaisanne houses called Mazots that will take you on an ancient journey. Some of them are even turned into stunning holiday accommodation that combines traditional and modern styles.
Since the resort draws in a lot of rich tourists, there you’ll find a lot of jewelry shops bragging the pieces of the most expensive watches in the world.
Many coffee shops, wine bars, and fancy restaurants will give you a warm welcome. If you love traditional food, don’t miss trying a tomato fondue and traditional cheese in the “Fondue Stube”.
8. Play golf
The Golf Club Matterhorn is positioned between Täsch and Randa, in the upper Matter valley. The course is surrounded by the highest mountains and it has 18 holes.
The big alpine course invites both locals and tourists to play golf in a majestic setting. Along the course, you’ll find a clubhouse and a restaurant that overlook fascinating views of the Breithorn (4,164 m) and the Klein Matterhorn (3,883 m) above Zermatt.
6. Zermatt weather
When in Zermatt, you can expect a cold mountain climate characterized by cold winters with the temperature below freezing, and with a chill to mild summers.
In winter, it can be sunny, but don’t let the sun fool you, the temperature exceeds freezing during the day. When bad weather strikes, the temperature stays below freezing even during the sunlight.
The temperature can go pretty low, but not lower than the temperature in the main Swiss cities. For instance, in February 1991 the temperature dropped to -19.5 °C (-3 °F), and in February 2012 to -22 °C (-7.5 °F).
In summer, the weather gets very chilly at night while during the day the temperature is mild but it never exceeds higher values. In general, it increases to 26/27 °C (79/81 °F) on the warmest days of the year.
But, as a result of global warming, hot days are increasing in their number. For instance, in June 2019 the temperature reached 30 °C (86 °F), and in July 2020 it reached 29 °C (84 °F).
The average temperature of the coldest month (January) is about -4.1 °C (25 °F), while the average temperature of the warmest month (July) is about 12.9 °C (55 °F).
Does it rain in Zermatt?
The precipitation in Zermatt is less than in other parts of Switzerland.
Throughout the year, the amount of precipitation is 610 millimeters (24 inches), which is quite small if we take into consideration that Zermatt is in the mountains.
It varies from 40 millimeters (1.6 inches) during the driest months (April, September) and to 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) during the wettest months (May, August).
To sum up, there are 146.2 rainfall days in Zermatt throughout the year and 991mm (39.02″) precipitation in total.
If you are not a big fan of the rain, avoid visiting Zermatt in August.
Does it always snow in Zermatt?
On average, 325 cm (10.5 feet) of snow falls from November to April, but don’t be surprised if it snows in May and October.
From January to December is the period with frequent snow.
November is the month with the most snowfall in Zermatt. It is snowing for 15 days and aggregates 867mm (34.13″) of snow.
Zermatt annual snowfall: Throughout the whole year, it is snowing for 113.3 days and accumulates up to 3425mm (134.84″) of snow.
What is the best time to visit Zermatt?
Summer is probably the best time of the year for visiting this amazing resort. In July and August you can expect mild temperatures, but sometimes with afternoon thunderstorms. For chilly nights, don’t forget to pack a jacket or a sweater to warm you up.
If you want a ski holiday, the best time is either late winter or early spring (February – March) as the days are longer than in December and January.
What is the ski season in Zermatt?
Not only Zermatt is the highest resort in Europe, but it is also the number one resort with available days of skiing – 365 per year.
The Matterhorn ski paradise was declared as the best ski resort twice: in 2014 and 2016, while it won second place in 2018. Good things should never be changed – in 2020 the resort again won the crown.
The latest COVID-19 updates: Zermatt is open for skiing at the moment, as it has been since summer 2020.
Opening date for the winter season 2021: Even though skiing on the 21 kilometers of pistes on the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise will carry on throughout summer 2021, the rest of the resort is expected to open entirely on the 4th of December.
Safety measures: It is not obligatory to wear masks while skiing, but they are still required in cable cars, gondolas, and public transportation around the resort.
Summer 2020 has shown that visitors respected fully all official restrictions, and they will surely continue with the same spirit.
Zermatt provides COVID tests if you share some of the symptoms, or if you must have a negative test to travel to another place. Tests can be found in all medical centers within the resort.
If you look for ultra-mega adventure, check the highest ski area in the Alps: The Zermatt-Matterhorn (CH) and Breuil-Cervinia (IT). This area possesses 54 lifts and 148 slopes available for you!
Around 360 km of pistes are divided into 227 kilometers of red runs, 74 kilometers of blues runs, 20 kilometers of black runs, and 36 kilometers of yellow freeride trails.
7. Is Zermatt, Switzerland expensive?
If we compare Zermatt with the USA on a global level, the average price will be higher in the resort. If you go shopping in Zermatt, you would pay 1.84 times more than you would in the USA.
The cheapest accommodation in a hostel would be around 27 CHF, while in a 3-star hotel it would be around 188 CHF. A night in a luxury hotel would cost you around 666 CHF.
Public transportation in the resort for a one-way ticket is around 2.60 CHF. If you prefer something fancier – renting a decent car is around 26,000 CHF.
When renting a taxi, keep in mind that the price will depend on several factors. The starting price is around 9.90 CHF, which means that for a one-kilometer ride you will have to pay an additional 4.00 CHF.
Remember Zermatt is a car-free zone and the transportation in the resort is done by electric cars or buses.
The average price for a seven-day holiday in Zermatt is around $2,267 (€1,920) for a solo traveler, $4,072 (€3,449) for a couple, and $7,633 (€6,466) for a family of 4.
Most accommodation rentals are around $220 (€186) to $1000 per night (€847) for the whole family, while hotels range from $103 (€87) to $557 (€471) per night with an average of $229 (€193).
The average flight price to Malpensa Airport from the USA (MXP) ranges from $590 (€499) and $953 (€807) per person for economy flights and $1,851 (€1,567) to $2,991 (€2,553) for first class.
8. Where to stay in Zermatt?
Depending on your budget, we highly recommend the following places for utter luxury, comfort, and great time:
- Luxurious accommodation
- Mid-range price accommodation
- On a budget accommodation
Hotel Mont Cervin Palace unites traditional constructions and latest styles manifested in welcoming balconies that capture mesmerizing views of the Matterhorn, the museum, and the church.
Extravagant suites are spreading over 4 buildings in a royal background. The artwork, layout, and services cannot be compared with anything else – everything here is just perfect.
Hotel Firefly is a luxury suite hotel for families with exquisite details: personal kitchen facilities, palatial square footage, in-house lap pool, wellness center, and hip décor that gives to the hotel the jazziest look in the resort.
Mid-range price accommodation
Hotel Alpenhof is located at the brim of the Matter Vispa River, close to cable car Sunnegga and the Gornergrat train station. Recently renovated, it boasts 62 units embellished with wooden structures and beautiful balconies. The main attractions are their five-course menus, a cigar lounge with a big fireplace and a beautiful piano, an indoor pool, and private Jacuzzi tubs en-suite.
Bella Vista Hotel is minutes away from downtown and it is owned by two sisters. Decorated in a brown wooden structure according to contemporary architecture, it welcomes guests from all over the world in 21 authentic rooms. The price includes a pickup from the train station, breakfast, and access to spa facilities.
On a budget accommodation
Hotel Carina boasts a perfect location: it is only 5 minutes away from the Sunnegga funicular train, ski slopes, and the Gornergrat train. Balconies have amazing views, and each room comes with en-suite bathrooms. There is also a spa with a sauna, hammam, and shower room.
Hotel Artemis Garni is known as a base camp for skiers, snowboarders, and mountaineers. It is owned by three sisters who perfectly maintain their 24 rooms that are spacious, comfortable, clean, and quiet. You can count on a shuttle from a train station, or you can take a 10-minute walk.
9. Places near Matterhorn you should explore
The Matterhorn is a big pyramidal summit raising to magnificent 4,478 meters above sea level. It stretches to both Switzerland and Italy and it is one of the highest summits in the Alps and Europe.
To the north-east part, the mountain overlooks the Swiss town of Zermatt, and to the south, it overlooks the Italian town of Breuil-Cervinia. On the east side of the mountain lies Theodul Pass, the main pathway between the two valleys, and the ancient trade route that dates back to the Roman era.
In the late 18th century, the mountain was studied by Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, and in the following century by John Ruskin. This summit stayed unconquered, unlike many other Alpine summits. The most beautiful things cannot be reached but they can be admired greatly.
The best easily reached viewpoints for the Matterhorn:
Kirchplatz in the village: Stunning Swiss chalets in front of the pyramid-shaped summit add special charms to the whole landscape.
Kirchbrücke in the village: There is probably no better way to marvel at Matterhorn than to gaze at it from the bridge over the river Mattervispa.
Riffelsee: This beautiful lake is a perfect base for a gigantic alpine peak. You’ll be blown away by the beauty in front of you.
The Gornergrat is an impressive summit at 3,089 meters of altitude that overlooks on Matterhorn. Panorama and scenery from this point are magical and should be experienced at least once in a lifetime.
Being that high, Gornergrat offers a sunny observation platform all year round, and that makes it one of the most favorable destinations in Switzerland since 1898.
This place is special because it had the first completely electrified cog railway in the whole world – The Gornergrat Bahn. Nowadays it is a brand new and eco-friendly railway that operates on a regenerative braking system. The system produces the power on the descent and that way saves the energy.
Cog railway takes passengers straight from Zermatt station (1,620 meters) and it operates all year round. The ride goes in a vertical climb of 1,469 meters and lasts about 33 minutes. You’ll pass outstanding 9.4 kilometers above large bridges, through tunnels and galleries, above wildly green forests, and crystal clear alpine lakes. The scenery will blow your mind away! Prepare your camera and enjoy the fresh and crisp air.
Täsch is a little more than 5 kilometers away from Zermatt and it has around 1,200 inhabitants. It lies at an altitude of 1,449 meters.
This place presents the transfer point for travelers to Zermatt – visitors park their cars in the garages and then head to car-free Zermatt by shuttle train.
Täsch offers an outstanding golf course and hiking trails. In the winter months, it is the center of cross-country skiing in the area. The skiers circle around the 15-kilometer long trail.
In the summer months, alpinists eagerly take high-alpine tours into the Mischabel group.
Täsch is a perfect escape from crowds and vibrant cities. There you’ll find peace and enjoy the intact nature. On the other hand, as a suburb of Zermatt, it is the starting point of the greatest adventures you will ever experience.
Visp, the canton of Valais, Switzerland
Positioned in the beautiful and sunny canton of Valais, Visp boasts about 300 days full of sunshine. A town is a perfect place for the holiday since it is located at the base of Europe’s highest vineyard in the valleys of Upper Valais, giving amazing natural and historical background.
Shopping lovers will find amusement among versatile shops and sunny terraces. Visp offers the farmers’ market (Pürumärt) and flea markets that are held weekly. Within indoor ice rinks, spring exhibitions are held, and in the “La Poste” (a conference center), you can see various cultural events and performances throughout the year. Architecture lovers will enjoy while observing some out on many historic buildings in the beautiful old town of Visp.
Sion, the canton of Valais, Switzerland
Sion is the capital of the canton of Valais decorated with the high towers of Castle Tourbillon and the Castle of Valeria. It is inhabited by 30,000 people who proudly guard the town.
Rich history, economic center, and a significant traffic junction with international airport make Sion a special place.
The Old Town has numerous historical monuments along with modern facilities and a shopping area. Within the town, you can feel the vibes from the south, and a visit to one of many museums will reveal the varied history of this place.
Sion is nestled in the center of one of the most important wine-growing regions in the whole country. Fendant has the perfect ground for growing grapes for white wine. To grow the vineyards by supplying enough water, it was necessary to lay out irrigation channels from both sides of the mountains. Their name is “Bisses” and they probably are the highlight of the canton of Valais.
Zermatt in one year – conclusion:
A visit to Switzerland can hardly be considered complete without feasting your eyes on the Matterhorn in Zermatt.
Toblerone-shaped Mountain makes Zermatt a postcard-Swiss village that offers the latest Swiss engineering and endless beauty.
After reading this blog, we are sure that you are ready to explore it and enjoy it to the fullest. To keep everything perfect, hire the best ride – call our limo service and arrive there like a movie star.