Zermatt, CH

Zermatt had everything we hoped to see and experience on trip to Switzerland – wooden chalets, rocky mountains, sprawling glaciers, sparkling lakes, alpine hikes, and so much more.

Wander Through the Village

The village of Zermatt was a lovely place to return to after spending the day in nature. Its pedestrian friendly streets are lined with Swiss chalets filled with shops, restaurants, and hotels.

Bahnhofstrass is Zermatt’s main street and it’s a great place grab a bite to eat, admire the architecture, and people watch. I could tell Zermatt was a place for adventure seekers when I saw people walking by with mountain bikes, rock climbing gear, hiking packs, skis, and snowboards.

My favorite place to wander was the old part of Zermatt known as the Hinterdorf (rear village). Here narrow alleys are framed by barns, storehouses, and stables built between the 16th and 18th centuries. So cute!

Watch the Sunrise on the Matterhorn

The Matterhorn photographed at sunrise from the village of Zermatt

There are a lot of places to photograph the Matterhorn but here are a few. The first two are your best option without spending the night on a mountain.

  • From your hotel: I was able to take some decent photos from the lanai of our hotel room.

  • Gemeinde Zermatt: The photo at right was taken from the lanai of Zermatt City Hall at 05:45 – gotta get up early.

  • Kirchbrücke bridge: The Kirchbrücke bridge offers the perfect location for photographing the Matterhorn at any time of day or night.

  • Gornergrat: A multi-stop train that goes from Zermatt all the way up to the top of the Gornergrat.

  • Riffelhorn: The Riffelhorn is a stop on the Gornergrat. From the train stop you can walk around 10 minutes down to a lake that offers some great views of the Matterhorn.

  • Stellisee Lake: Accessible via the Sunnegga chair lift east of town.

  • Glacier Paradise: A quick gondola ride but takes you as high as you can go by cable car in the local area and it’s actually the highest cable car in Europe.

  • Use a drone: The DJI Mavic 2 Pro which is a great travel drone and takes fairly decent quality photos. Be sure to call Air Zermatt who operates in the area and give them a “heads up”.

Enjoy the Cuisine

Visitors to Zermatt can experience culinary excellence in one of the many Gault Millau or Michelin gourmet restaurants, treat themselves in traditional mountain restaurants and enjoy the latest culinary creations. From every angle, Zermatt offers breathtaking views; what could be better than relaxing on a sunny terrace and enjoying the view of the most distinctive mountain in the world?

Do a Mountain Excursion to Gornergrat

The cogwheel train ride takes about half an hour and is part of the fun. It starts at an altitude of 1605 m and ends at 3090 m on the Gornergrat ridge. The train crosses forests and a high-alpine landscape later on, and stops in four different stations along the way. Each of these stations is a great starting point for hiking and picture taking.

Once you reach the Gornergrat, you will have an amazing view of the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa massif. This includes the Dufourspitze (4634 m), which is the highest peak in Switzerland.

Hike the 5 Lakes Trail

The Five Lakes Walk is an easy 6.8 mile loop trail, with a few moderately difficult sections, that passes by five mountain lakes – Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee, and Leisee. Three of the lakes have reflections of the Matterhorn and the majority of the trail offers unobstructed views of Switzerland’s most recognizable peak.

The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until November.

Go Paragliding

Paragliding in Zermatt is one of the more adventurous ways to experience the scenery of the Swiss Alps. You and your pilot will launch from above the tree line at either Blauherd or Riffelberg, the “Scenic” flights are a great introduction to the beautiful Zermatt valley. More often than not, they are able to soar the warm grassy slopes or impressive cliff faces to give longer flights.

Scenic flights start in summer, once enough of the winter snow at Riffelberg has melted and finish in autumn, when there is too much snow to takeoff.

Tips for Visiting Zermatt

Location: Zermatt is located in southern Switzerland in the Valais Canton.

Getting There: Zermatt can be reached by train, including on the scenic Glacier Express.

  • Combustion engine cars are not allowed in Zermatt and the road from Täsch to Zermatt is closed to public traffic. If you are traveling by car, you will have to park in Täsch, which is 5 km from Zermatt, and take the train or taxi from there. The Matterhorn Terminal in Täsch has 2,100 covered parking spaces.

Getting Around: Zermatt is compact and easily walkable, but there are still small electric buses for public transportation. Many hotels also have vehicles and offer free transfers to/from the train station.

Mountain Transport: The mountains in Zermatt are accessible by either cable car, funicular, or train. Stations where you can catch a lift are Sunnegga-Rothorn, Gornergrat, and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.

  • You can buy individual tickets or a combination pass. Combination options are the Peak2Peak ticket (includes Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Gornergrat on a single excursion), and the Peak Pass (offers unlimited travel on the following lifts/trains: Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Rothorn, Schwarzsee, and Gornergrat, plus the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn between Randa, Täsch, and Zermatt).
  • You can download a timetable of the lifts and cable care in Zermatt.

Swiss Travel Pass Benefits in Zermatt: If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you get free rides on the local electric buses, plus a 50% discount off mountain lift tickets. The lift tickets are quite expensive so a Swiss Travel Pass will help stretch your budget further.

Final Thoughts

Zermatt is such a gorgeous location but we found the local vibe a little stand offish but we were not about to let that ruin our visit. A little perseverance was required and we finally had some fun interactions.

Even though our trip to Zermatt was filled with fun activities, there’s still much more we wanted to see and do. If we had a few more days in Zermatt, we would have gone mountain biking, done some of the easier hikes, and visited another mountain viewpoint, like the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.

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