Here are the Top 10 Reasons To Visit Zermatt. Zermatt is the highest ski resort in Europe, and also a picturesque chocolate-box village located in the stunning country of Switzerland. Offering 365 days of skiing, and a chic attitude Zermatt attracts visitors from around the world.
1. The Matterhorn
Climb it, look at it, but you cannot ignore the fact that the Matterhorn dominates the landscape of Zermatt. No matter where you are in Zermatt, the mighty, and mysterious Matterhorn stands guard over 3 countries. The Matterhorn has been of great interest to people not only for its sheer physical presence and beauty but also for its unforgiving nature to those who attempt to conquer it. It has been shrouded in controversy since the very first ascent in 1865. The Matterhorn is claimed by 3 countries. The French call it Mont Cervin, while the Italians call it Monte Cervino, yet in reality the world knows it as the Matterhorn and the Swiss claim it as their own. It has become an icon of the Swiss Alps and is one of the most photographed mountains in the world.
2. The Skiing
Zermatt is one of the premier destinations for skiers, snowboarders and walkers. With 365 days of snow, due to its high altitude. Leaving the village of Zermatt, you can take the underground funicular train to Sunnegga, which is 2288 meters above sea level. You can then go onto the Blauherd that sits at 2571 meters. From there you can take the big gondola to Rothorn, which sits at 3103 meters up in the Swiss Alps. You then return to the village of Zermatt and take the electric bus around to yet another gondola to go up to Riffleberg for a late lunch and a good rest on the sun decks of the mountains. From there you can ski to Gornergrat, at an altitude of 3,089 m above sea level, and to the 2nd highest observatory in Europe. From here you can see the highest mountains in Switzerland, the Monte Rosa at 4,634 meters. The Gornergrat has been a top tourist destination in Switzerland for the last 111 years.
One of the best thing about skiing at Zermatt is that you can ski into Cervinia, Italy for lunch and return to Switzerland for dinner.
The people who ski at Zermatt do not take the skiing as seriously as they do in Australia. Sitting at cafes and enjoying life is more important than how many runs you clock up.
3. The Stunning Train Journey to Zermatt
The train ride to get to Zermatt is one of the most beautiful routes in the world. The train meanders through the Alps, ascending all of the time past and Heidi –like farms. After changing at Visp, the train winds its way through the valleys as you try to see the Matterhorn first.
4. The village of Zermatt is Car-Free
We step off the train and are immediately on the Bahnhofstrasse in Zermatt, the main street. What greets us are church bells ringing to herald that it is 1 pm. The next thing we hear are other bells, and these are those of the horse-drawn carriages that line the little square. Horse drawn carriages were the primary form of transport just 40 years ago. Beside these carriages we see the electric cars of which Zermatt is renowned as it is a car free zone in respect of the stunning environment and Zermatt’s attempts to preserve its natural splendour. Read more about it here.
The cogwheel train takes you from Zermatt to the Gornergrat is something that cannot be missed. The ride takes about half an hour. It starts at an altitude of 1605 m and ends at 3090 m on the Gornergrat ridge. There are numerous signs and warning about altitude sickness, so it pays to heed these warnings. Usually, it helps to take things slow and sit down for a while. The train goes through forests and an Alpine landscape where you look for the local black-nosed sheep that Zermatt is known for. It stops at four different stations along the way. Each of these stations is an excellent starting point for hiking, which is very popular in Switzerland. When you reach Gornergrat, you have an incredible view of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa. You can also see Dufourspitze which is the highest peak in Switzerland, sitting at 4634 m). There is a hotel, a restaurant, and plenty of space to walk around and enjoy the scenery as well as a St Bernard, who you pay to be photographed with.
6. Ski To Italy for Lunch
As mentioned before you can ski to Italy for lunch. One thing you need to remember, however, is that you need your passport. To get up, you either take the Klein Matterhorn cable car, then walk through a tunnel, and ski to Testa Grigia, which is where the cable cars come up from Cervinia. Alternatively, you can ride two two long t-bars from Trockener Steg to Testa Grigia. It takes between 20 minutes or 45 minutes depending on your skiing ability. Cervinia is known for its sunny intermediate slopes, and Italian food and hospitality. It is also considerably cheaper than Zermatt – relatively speaking as it is a ski resort.
7. The Food
Zermatt is a foodie mecca. Remember, The Matterhorn is the face of Toblerone.You will find many restaurants with GaultMillau points and/or Michelin status. The people who visit Zermatt take their food very seriously. You cannot go to Zermatt without eating chocolate, having a cheese fondue. Sipping a glass of wine on the sunny terrace is de riguer. Two restaurants on the slopes that we recommend are Chez Vrony and Findlerhof. In town, we enjoyed the cheese fondue at Restaurant Whymper-Stube, which is where the first person who claimed the successful ascent of the Matterhorn left from. Make sure you book at least 3 days in advance.
8. So Many Non-Ski Activities
As mentioned previously, the people who come to Zermatt know how to enjoy life. There are innumerable bars, cafes and coffee shops both on and off piste. Sit back, enjoy the view of the Matterhorn and the international clientele who descend on this very chic ski resort. Read more about how to enjoy non-ski activities here. What is seriously fascinating it the story of the first successful ascent of Matterhorn by Edward Whymper in 1865 at the Matterhorn Museum, and also how Zermatt went from a simple little farming village to an international resort in a very short time. Zermatt’s rise to a mega ski resort commenced when the alpinists conquered the Matterhorn. It is worth visiting the mountaineer’s cemetery to realize how far people have gone to conquer this mountain. You can read more about it here. You can also try clay pigeon shooting at the world’s highest clay pigeon shoot at 1867m.
9. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Not for the faint hearted, you reach an altitude of 3883 m with the cable car; then you are at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. The highest cable car station in Europe (3,883 m), with its new restaurant, has views of the highest mountains in Italy, France and Switzerland. The ski area on the Theodul Glacier is open 365 days a year.This is Europe’s highest 360-degree viewing platform and the highest glacier palace in Europe. You can explore the crevasses, ice sculptures and slide in ice tunnels. Check the weather carefully before going because it is often fogged in.
Best done in the summer months, the 5-Seenweg or Five Lakes Walk is one of the most popular hikes in the Zermatt mountains. The path leads past the lakes of the Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee and Leisee. Each of the lakes offers reflected views of the Matterhorn.
These are the Top 10 Reasons To Visit Zermatt, Switzerland.