1 April, 2021 | Reccy Guide
Glitzy, charming, and strikingly beautiful, the Alpine town of Zermatt serves as the perfect backdrop for Switzerland’s most iconic peak: the Matterhorn. Nestled between soaring snow capped peaks, on the southern tip of the Matter Valley, this picturesque town embodies Swiss ski culture, and is famous for being one of the highest ski resorts in the world.
Zermatt is the starting point for a multitude of hikes, walks, and climbs, including the Haute Route, which leads all the way to Chamonix, in France. Many of these routes offer spectacular views of the surrounding Pennine Alps, in particular the Matterhorn, with its distinctive shark tooth peak.
View of Zermatt
This enviable proximity to the famous peak has been attracting visitors to the town since the mid-nineteenth-century, when a party of British mountaineers first scaled the Matterhorn. Tragically, only three of the original seven climbers survived the journey, after a rope snapped during the descent. Tales of this deadly adventure stirred controversy across Europe, and inspired droves of intrepid explorers to visit Zermatt to have a go at scaling the mighty peak.
The town’s popularity shows little sign of dwindling, and today Zermatt has a reputation as one of the most exciting and glamorous resorts in the Swiss Alps.
The Matter Vispa river meanders peacefully through the town centre, and streets lined with quintessential Swiss chalets and geranium studded balconies criss cross jauntily. A host of cafes, eateries, pretty shops and parks make for idyllic holiday pottering, and even those with little interest in adventure activities or skiing will enjoy the pace of life and gorgeous surroundings. Zermatt has been a car free zone since the 1970s, making it a wonderful place to explore by foot. Everything is within a 30 minutes walk of each other, and many visitors remark on how fresh the air is here!
Mountain View around Zermatt
Beyond the town center, visitors will find a huge variety of adventure activities to whet their appetites. One of the most popular is the Gornergrat, a rocky ridge which overlooks the stunning Gorner Glacier. This panoramic view point can be reached in just 30 minutes from Zermatt via the Gornergrat Bahn – the world’s first fully electrified cog railway. The journey winds through dramatic vistas, past crystalline lakes, between pine forests and across bridges so high they appear to rise from nowhere.
Another spectacular panorama can be found from the Rothorn, reachable by cable car from Zermatt. This 3,103 m peak overlooks some of the highest mountains in the Alps, and is the starting point for several advanced hikes. In the winter it also offers direct access to many ski pistes.
Also accessible via cable car is the Klein Matterhorn, a 3,883 m ridge nestled between the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa massif. Tourists often refer to this spot as the Matterhorn glacier paradise, due to the fantastic views on offer here. The area offers an outdoor viewing platform which overlooks 14 of the highest mountains in the Alps, a real life glacial palace, a restaurant and a cinema experience. There are also opportunities to ski here year round.
Architecture around the city
If you’re looking to really get the blood pumping then consider hiking the summit of the Breithorn. This 4,164 meter peak is generally considered one of the best climbs for beginners, and makes a great warm up adventure for those looking to scale the mighty Matterhorn. Although not technically difficult, the hike to the top provides an excellent physical challenge, with a few areas of cornices. As you might expect from this Alpine favorite, the views are spectacular throughout the journey.
How to reach ?
The closest airports to Zermatt are Sion, Geneva, Zurich and Milan. From here, take the train to Tasch ( via Brig or Visp) and change to the cog railway.
For a private transfer check out GVA Transfers or Ski-Lifts airport transfers. This is a more expensive option, but convenient if you have a lot of luggage.
Scenic views around Zermatt
Where to stay?
Zermatt is famous for its world-class accommodation. Ranging from boutique hotels, to airy chalets, to budget friendly youth hostels, there is something for every type of traveler.
Expect to pay between $46 per night for a dorm room, to $800 per night for a five star hotel room for two.
Zermatt has some of the best dining of any ski resort in the world. With two Michelin star restaurants, and 17 restaurants that have been awarded Gault Millau points, there is no shortage of quality eating out.
If you’re looking for something a little more budget friendly then you are sure to find it in one of the more than 100 restaurants in the town, ranging from traditional Swiss, to Thai, to American diner.
Everything from ski gear, to watches, to chocolate, to perfume is available in Zermatt. Prices tend to be on the steep end, but if you’re looking for designer products then you will find no shortage here.
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