The ski resort Zermatt is a true fairytale in the Swiss Alps. The village is nestled at the foot of the mighty Toblerone mountain, the Matterhorn. It's a town just waiting to enchant you with its breathtaking views, fun adventures, chocolate-colored buildings, world-class mountain cuisine, and glittering glacier palace.
Discover some of the best things to do in Zermatt in this travel guide.
Zermatt is love at first sight. It is one of the most enchanting places I've ever visited. It's especially renowned for being a ski paradise, but there's so much more to this place.
This is a village where the only traffic noise you'll hear comes from horse-drawn carriages, cable cars, electric taxis, and a mountain train.
It's a place where you can hike above the clouds, soak away your troubles in a hot tub with a majestic view, step right into the highest glacier palace in the world, enjoy rustic food or Michelin-starred dining at a cozy mountain restaurant.
I can, at once, tell you that two days is way too little to explore this wonderful village. I would recommend at least a week for an adventurous holiday. Even though, I still think Helena and I managed to see and do quite a lot of things.
14 THINGS TO DO IN ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND
1. Enjoy a magical train ride to Zermatt
It's not often the journey to the destination itself is a highlight worth mentioning, but in this case, it surely is. The train ride to Zermatt is like a scenic adventure where you pass one stunning view after another. To the left and right you can admire the highest mountains in Switzerland, glittering lakes and beautiful valleys.
Also, as Zermatt is a car-free village, it makes the most sense to travel there by train. You just need to grab a seat by the window, make sure you have your camera handy and enjoy the views.
Tips! Traveling around in Switzerland is very easy, thanks to the Swiss Travel Pass. If you want to visit more places you can purchase a pass for unlimited use for 3, 4, 8 or 15 days and be able to travel by rail, road, and waterway throughout the whole of Switzerland. It also includes many bonus benefits (such as a discount off mountain transportation in Zermatt, free admissions to museums, discounts on mountain excursions and more).
2. Admire the Matterhorn (the Toblerone mountain)
One of the best reasons to visit Zermatt is to see the Matterhorn with your own eyes. This breathtakingly beautiful mountain is often called the Jewel of Swiss Alpes and is the 10th highest mountain in the country, known for its beautiful ski pistes and hiking trails.
The Matterhorn is also famous for being the Toblerone mountain. It has decorated the Swiss chocolate bar since the 1960s and is the unofficial symbol of Switzerland.
With all this in mind, one of the best things you can do in Zermatt is admiring this ultimate Swiss icon (and taking lots of photos of it). Up close and far away. You need to see it from many different perspectives.
Seeing enough of the Matterhorn? It's not possible!
3. Get adventurous
One of the best things to do in Zermatt is getting adventurous. This town is packed with outdoor activities all year round.
Zermatt is especially famous for its skiing, snowboarding and hiking possibilities. There are miles of pistes and fantastic slopes. Even during the summer, you can sweep down the slopes in Europe's highest summer ski area.
You can also paraglide over the mountains and explore the area by a helicopter ride or mountain bike tour. You can go mountain climbing, go hiking on glaciers, try the activities at Forest Fun Park and hike the famous 5-Seenweb (Five Lakes Walk).
The options are many!
4. Take in the views from the top of Gornergrat
Another must when you visit Zermatt is heading to the top of the Gornergrat. The Gornergrat is a rocky ridge of the Pennine Alps and offers overwhelming panorama views of Gorner Glacier, Matterhorn, Klein Matterhorn, Monte Rosa massif and many other famous four thousand-meter (13 000 feet) peaks surrounding Zermatt.
Get some epic shots from the viewing platform and warm up with a coffee or lunch at the mountain restaurant.
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From Gornergrat you also have the best views of the Matterhorn.
To get to Gornergrat, you can take the Cog railway to the summit. The train departs directly from Zermatt station and takes about 30 minutes.
There are many other stops on the way, and if you have the time, it's worth checking out these too.
Tips! Don't forget to use sunscreen regularly. In the midst of snow-capped mountain peaks, the sun is particularly strong.
5. Dine at a mountain restaurant
There are over 100 restaurants in Zermatt and 50 up in the mountains, offering incredible views and gourmet mountain cuisine. You can get everything from traditional fondue and raclette to sushi.
On the slopes, you can find Chez Vrony, which is regarded as one of the best mountain restaurants in the world. Other well-known and loved restaurants are Findlerhof, The Omnia Restaurant, and Cervo Puro.
We ate lunch at the cozy restaurant Les Marmottes, which I can recommend to everyone. Here you can enjoy grandma's alpmacaroni with apple puree, carrot-ginger soup, traditional cheese fondue and local delicacies from the family farm. The restaurant is located near Klein Matterhorn's Furi Station and offers dreamy views that are a feast for your eyes.
Don't let the picture above fool you! The restaurant was crammed with people inside. No one was sitting outside though as it was a bit too chilly, so I just took the opportunity to take some photos.
As a general rule, it's always a good idea to book restaurants in advance in Zermatt, especially during high season.
6. Take the cable-way to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (Klein Matterhorn)
Another viewing platform you must visit in Zermatt is Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. It is situated at the top of the Klein Matterhorn mountain and offers incredible views of the highest mountains in Switzerland, Italy, and France.
On a clear day that is. Helena and I could not see anything but white. A wall of fog covered the incredible mountain paradise views from our eyes. Very disappointing indeed.
BUT, as Glacier Palace also is located up here, it's a place you need to visit no matter what. Just the 45-minute scenic gondola ride to the top is worth your time.
Up here are also ski slopes, a cinema lounge, hiking, and biking trails, as well as En Güete, which is the world's highest mountain restaurant.
Tips when visiting Matterhorn Glacier Paradise & Gornergrat
- Check the local weather and try to plan in those viewpoints when the weather is best
- Dress warmly. Even in the summer, it can be winter on top. My best tip is dressing in layers.
- The air up here is thin, so don't rush exploring as you might have a hard time breathing.
7. Take a walk in a Glacier Palace
When you get to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, you can take a lift 15 meter (49 feet) below the surface to discover a Glacier Palace. This place inside the glacier is so mesmerizing! The glacier cave is filled with glittering ice sculptures and sparkling ice crystals that will surprise and stun you. Just look at all the details. It's so impressive.
Glacier Palace is, simply put, a fairy tale world created in ice. And a must-see in Zermatt.
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