The highest ski resort in Switzerland and one of the world's most famous winter sports centers and a picturesque base for hikers, cyclists, and climbers during the summer, Zermatt is a city for all seasons.
The magnificent Matterhorn background and the chocolate box chalets and houses all add to its appeal. Plus, the town is car-free so it's the ideal choice for a back-to-nature vacation.
Visitors come from all over the world to enjoy Zermatt's chic chalets and hotels, its fine restaurants, famous bars, and designer boutiques. Whether you're planning a summer or winter trip, there are a lot of good reasons to take a closer look at Zermatt.
The Matterhorn is one of the world's most recognizable peaks and its best face is reserved for Zermatt. For impressive views take the train to Europe's second highest observatory at the top of the Gornergrat, or try the Matterhorn Glacier Trail at its base if you want to get closer.
Zermatt is often voted top ski and snowboard resort in the Alps by visitors, and you're guaranteed snow all year at the largest summer ski area in Europe, the Plateau Rosa. Gornergrat, the Rothorn, and the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise offer a range of pistes for all levels. Your Zermatt lift pass (CHF430 for 7 days or CHF494 if you add Cervinia) gives you access to 220 miles of pistes on both the Swiss and Italian sides of the mountains.
The region's peaks attract climbers of every level. Beginners can try the Breithorn (13,661 ft), although we recommend that you use a local guide and take a rope. More experienced mountaineers can try their luck on the Matterhorn (14,691 ft) via the Schwarzsee cable car and Hörnli Hut - CHF1200 with a local guide.
Under 10s ski for free in Zermatt, and there are plenty of other activities available. Older kids will love the 700 ft zip wire in the forest park by the Furi gondola, while tots are sure to enjoy the playground near the skating and curling rink. Many hotels have swimming pools and most are open to the public.
Zermatt's nightlife and entertainment scene is a highlight of both winter and summer stays. Try the friendly Papperla Pub on Steinmattstrasse near the Vispa River for live music, DJs, and a laid-back crowd. Elegant piano bars are a sophisticated alternative, and some of the best are at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof and the Mont Cervin Palace. Later in the evening, head for the Broken Bar Disco or the Loft Lounge Club, both in Unique Hotel Post.
Towering over this quintessentially Swiss city is the iconic Matterhorn Mountain. Its craggy triangular peak is the first spot to catch the sun each morning, and the complex features of its face become further illuminated with every hour of the day. Experienced hikers can attempt the challenging ascent, but most visitors to Zermatt will be content with panoramic views from the hiking trails and alpine huts surrounding the stoic giant. You may even catch sight of climbers clambering to the top!
For the most awe-inspiring views of the famous Matterhorn, hop aboard Zermatt's Gornergrat train. This cog railway snakes its way up the steep mountainside through long tunnels, over bridges and across ravines with beautiful views of the landscape all around. Appreciate the majesty of the mountain range, and let its grandeur overwhelm you from the top. The panoramic views in every direction are the number one reason to make this trip, one you will not soon forget.
Little sister to the Matterhorn but still towering regally over the valley below, this epic peak is accessible to tourists of all skill levels. Soar through the mist and clouds in an aerial tramway before the world opens up at the very top - the highest point in Europe reached by cable car. The views are so extensive and unforgettable that you'll never want to leave. Arrange a guided trek up the Breithorn Glacier for a challenge, or ski and snowboard your way back down in the colder months.
Zermatt's development as a city and tourism center has always been based on the call of the treacherous yet enticing Matterhorn. Adventurers have never been able to resist the challenge of conquering this impossible giant, so tales both tragic and heroic surround this little mountain town. These are chronicled in gripping detail at the Matterhorn Museum, the best place to understand how daredevils have made it to the top against all the odds, one foot after another.
Just a fifteen minute walk from the heart of Zermatt, the Gorner Gorge is a dramatic and uniquely thrilling sight for locals and tourists alike. Green walls formed over 220 million years ago drop into the cool, glowing water that shimmers and babbles below. Descend into the caves and stroll above the turquoise pools using the winding wooden staircases built into the rock. Appreciate the way the sunlight sparkles off every natural element, and let the serenity wash over you.
Zermatt is expensive over the Christmas and New Year period. For the best ski conditions visit from February onwards. Although pass and accommodation rates are higher, the Stockhorn slopes are open and the pistes are at their best. For a more affordable getaway try the period just before Christmas. Prices are lower but the horse-drawn sleighs are already out, and shops are preparing for the festive season. If you're planning a summer vacation, the best time is from June to August.
Geneva Airport (GVA) is 143 miles from Zermatt. It's the closest international airport and it's also on the Swiss rail network. The station is under the arrivals terminal and trains depart every half hour. A return costs CHF206.
Zermatt is car-free but visitors can reach the resort by train via one of the most beautiful routes in the Alps. The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn service from Geneva has one change en route at Lausanne-Visp, and a second-class return costs CHF196. Trains arrive at Bahnhofplatz Zermatt and from there you can take a horse-drawn sleigh or electric buggy to your hotel.
Drivers using the Swiss motorway system require a Swiss motorway pass, which costs CHF40. However, as Zermatt is car-free, you'll have to park your car in Täsch. Täsch is just four miles from Zermatt, and there is an electric shuttle bus every 20 minutes; tickets cost CHF8. Electric taxis are also available and the fare is CHF30 during the day and CHF40 at night. Be aware - if you do drive into Zermatt, you will be fined CHF350 on the spot.
There are no direct bus services to Zermatt since the resort is car-free. However, many private operators offer shuttle bus services from Geneva to nearby Täsch, and you'll typically pay CHF95 for the one-way trip.
Zermatt is known for its chic chalets and luxurious hotels. For a truly special vacation try the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, the Omnia, Mont Cervin Palace, or Riffelalp Resort. More affordable options include Matterhorn Lodge Hotel and Apartments, Hotel Hemizeus, and Hotel Plateau Rosa or choose a hotel where you can ski right in or out like Hotel Silvana.
Zermatt - the town itself covers an area half a mile across that extends for two miles up the valley. Most of the main hotels, shops, and restaurants are near the Bahnhofstrasse and the River Vispa.
Täsch - this is the next village down the valley and just four miles from the center of town. Parking is available in Täsch and there is a shuttle service to Zermatt.
Ski Resort - the interconnected ski areas of Gornergrat, Rothorn, Schwarzsee, and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise attract skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. The area is also connected to the Valle d'Aosta and the Breuil-Cervinia Valtournenche ski area in Italy by lift.
Zermatt is a small town that is easily covered on foot. A small fleet of solar-powered buses ferries visitors to lifts and to various locations in the resort. The service is included in all ski passes. There is a cable car system to the top of Klein Matterhorn (CHF86 for the round trip), while the Gornergrat Railway to the peak of Mount Gornergrat costs CHF42.
Many of Zermatt's luxury hotels offer guests an electric buggy pickup service from the station while some of the best still provide horse-drawn carriages.
The entire town is car-free but if you'd like to drive from the airport to Täsch, you can rent a car for CHF83 per day from leading operators like Hertz and Sixt.
Shop for sportswear or designer clothing and accessories on Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt's elegant main shopping street. Try the Wega bookshop opposite the Post Office or the Zap bookstore in Hofmattstrasse for books on mountaineering, the Alps and Zermatt, or for cards and stationery. There are also dozens of gift shops all over town for those who want Swiss souvenirs, chocolate, and cowbells.
The upmarket delicatessens and pharmacies are expensive. Shop at the Coop by the station or in Migros supermarkets for affordable food and basics. Müller pharmacies are good for toiletries and baby care. Expect to pay CHF8 for a dozen eggs and CHF1.66 for a quart of milk.
Zermatt has over 50 restaurants including several with Michelin stars like the Omnia, Ristorante Capri, and After Seven. Try local dishes like cheese fondue, potato rosti, and raclette at Cafe du Pont or enjoy dinner in an authentic setting at Chez Heini. For mountain dining, try Chez Vrony or the adjacent Findlerhof. Dinner for two in an elegant restaurant costs from CHF115, while lunch in a mountain lodge is CHF65.