Photo: Pascal Gertschen

The Ultimate Guide to Zermatt

Discover all you need to know about Switzerland's scenic resort

About Zermatt

A hub of alpinism since Edward Whymper reached the summit of the Matterhorn in 1865, Zermatt continues to attract visitors from all over the world. There are many reasons why Zermatt has become so popular, not least because it is undeniably one of the prettiest spots in the Alps. Car-free and retaining much of its original character, Zermatt has managed to transform itself into a holiday hub without compromising its authenticity. The village pulses with life, with shops, cafes and bars sitting alongside churches and houses dating back more than 500 years, whilst the ski area is one of the world’s biggest and snow-sure.

There are several ways to reach Zermatt. The nearest airports to Zermatt are Sion, Geneva, Zurich and Milan. Due to the car-free nature of the resort, the easiest way to get there is by train. All of the main airports have good rail connections via Brig or Visp. If you are travelling by car you will need to park it at Täsch before joining the mountain cog railway train for the 12-minute journey into Zermatt village.

Photo: Pascal Gertschen
Photo: Pascal Gertschen
Photo: MG Bahn

At an altitude of around 3,883 metres, Zermatt is home to the highest ski area in Switzerland, with 360 km of pistes across three varies ski areas: the Sunnegga-Rothorn, Gornergrat-Stockhorn, Schwarzee & Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. It is also possible to cross over the Italian border into the Breuil-Cervinia ski area. The easiest pistes are located on Gornergrat which is reached by an efficient cog railway from the centre of the village or the Riffelberg Express gondola from Furi.

Whilst there are some beginner areas, Zermatt is best suited to intermediates and expert skiers who can make the most of the long scenic runs and off-piste opportunities. For more information take a look at our in-depth guide to skiing in Zermatt.

However, it is not just keen skiers and snowboarders who frequent Zermatt with their presence. There are plenty of activities to occupy the non-skier too, from winter hiking and snowshoeing to ice skating and paragliding. Many of the mountain restaurants are accessible on foot so you can meet up with your group for a long lunch after working up an appetite.

Zermatt hosts several events throughout the winter season, the most prominent being Zermatt Unplugged, an acoustic music festival in April which is attracting bigger names every year. 2019 saw the likes of Boy George & Culture Club, Tom Odell, James Bay and Passenger entertain the crowds and there is plenty of live music to enjoy for free around the resort and on the mountain.

Photo: Pascal Gertschen
Photo: Marc Weiler
Photo: Leander Wenger

Where to Stay in Zermatt

Luxury Ski Chalets in Zermatt
Photo: Chalet Zermatt Peak

For a great location, fantastic service and incredible facilities to boot then the 7 Heavens is the place to be. Located just a stone’s throw from the Sunnegga funicular which whisks you up the mountain, the development is comprised of seven magnificent chalets set over three to four floors with panoramic views and spa facilities. Take your pick from Chalet Elbrus, Aconcagua, Mckinley or Denali.

The best views, however, are from a series of chalets in the Petit Village - Chalet Grace, Les Anges. For families Chalet Ulysse is ideal but for the heights of luxury, there is nowhere more impressive than Chalet Zermatt Peak. For slightly lower key accommodation any of the apartments in the Nevada residence will fit the bill - these include Mount Whitney, Mount Rose and Mount Callaghan.

Where to Eat & Drink in Zermatt

Restaurant Guide to Zermatt

Zermatt is one of the best mountain destinations in the world for gourmet cuisine. It currently has five Michelin-stars - no mean feat given its size. The two most recent restaurants to receive stars are the Alpine Gourmet Prato Borni and The Omnia with critics heaping praise on both restaurants. The After Seven restaurant, Ristorante Capri and Hotel Mont Cervin Palace are also much lauded.

On the mountain, you are spoilt for choice. One of our favourites has to be Findlerhof, a charming restaurant exuding rustic charm with superb food, courteous service and a stunning view of the Matterhorn. On a sunny day, Fluhalp is the best place to be and for live music, Alphitta often has bands playing on the terrace. For Swiss classics cooked to perfection, we recommend Paradies, Zum See and Blatten.

Photo: Pascal Gertschen

Zermatt is glorious in summer - whether you enjoy hiking, mountain biking or even summer skiing, there is something for everyone. There are a total of 400 km of marked hiking trail to explore and several themed trails too. Keen cyclists can enjoy 170 km of tours to suit all levels and skiers have up to 21 km of perfectly prepared pistes on the glaciers at their disposal.

Children will love the Wolli Adventure Park at Sunnegga with its adventure playground and barbecue areas. While the kids are burning off their energy in the playground, the adults can relax with a marvellous view of the Matterhorn on the idyllic Lake Leisee or take a refreshing swim. Other activities include the Forest Fun Park, fly fishing, climbing and golf. One of the highlights of the summer calendar is the Folklore Festival, a parade of Swiss folklore groups displaying their traditional dress, music and dance through the streets of Zermatt - a spectacle not to be missed.

Frequently asked questions

Where is Zermatt?

Lying at the foot of the majestic Matterhorn, Zermatt is located in the Swiss canton of Valais within reach of no fewer than five international airports.

Where to stay in Zermatt?

Luxury chalets with a view of the Matterhorn are popular places to stay in Zermatt, including the luxury chalet Zermatt Peak.

Is Zermatt good for beginners?

Whilst Zermatt is not renowned as a resort for beginners, it is worth remembering that with the Wolli Card, children up to age nine travel free on all mountain lifts.

How do you get to Zermatt?

The most convenient airports to fly to are Zurich and Geneva. Both of these airports have twice hourly train connections to Zermatt from stations within the airport.

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