Vacation in Zermatt
Zermatt not only boasts
some of the best skiing in Switzerland, it also has some of
the most spectacularly beautiful scenery.
This view shows the
Matterhorn from Zermatt.
There's something for everyone
Excellent skiing in the winter,
wonderful outdoor walks in the summer, plus great dining,
wonderful places to stay at, and stunning views high up in the
alps - truly something for everyone.
Although notable as a high end
(ie expensive) destination, if you visit outside of the peak
season, and choose your accommodation carefully, it can be
affordable for most people while still being a very special
An Introduction to Zermatt
Zermatt is a small-town of about
6000 inhabitants (and sometimes twice as many tourists) in the
South of Switzerland, and surrounded by high mountains,
including ' the most photographed mountain in the world' - the
Matterhorn. It is probably its proximity to the Matterhorn
which has led to its prominence as a ski and spa center.
Prior to the first successful climb of the Matterhorn in 1865,
it was little more than a farming community, but since that
time, it has increasingly focused on tourism.
In 1947, the town decided to ban
all internal combustion engined vehicles, ostensibly to keep the
air clear and to allow the best possible viewing of the
Matterhorn accordingly. Accordingly, only electric powered
vehicles can be found in the town itself, and all visitors must
leave their cars at the nearby town of Täsch, 3 miles away, and
take either a train or taxi the rest of the way to Zermatt.
Horse drawn carriages can also be seen in the town.
Fortunately, the town is very
small, and easy to walk around.
Getting to Zermatt
lies in the south of Switzerland, and very close to the Italian
border, in the Canton of Valais.
Although it is very close to
Italy, the predominant language in the town is German, but of
course most people will understand English too.
Zermatt is car-free. Private
traffic is only permitted up to Täsch (5 km before Zermatt), and
the road between Täsch and Zermatt is also closed to public
The shuttle trains of the
Matterhorn Gotthard Railway run between Täsch and Zermatt every
20 minutes. The journey takes 12 minutes. Trains
operate in both directions from 6am until 10pm, and then less
frequently from 10pm until 6am. A return journey costs
Alternatively, you can take a
taxi from the Parking areas in Täsch; the benefit of this is
that you don't need to somehow get from the train station in
Zermatt to your ultimate accommodation address, but instead will
be driven correctly there. Expect to pay about €20 or so
for a taxi ride.
Zermatt is about 4 hours away
from Geneva and 3 1/2 hours from Zürich by train. There
are trains to and from these major cities every hour or so.
Where to Stay
Zermatt's official tourism site
(see below) lists 146 different accommodation choices in the
Zermatt area. These choices range from excellent five star
resorts (Riffelalp Resort 2222m, Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Mont
Cervin Palace) through regular hotels and to charming bed and
breakfast places, and from the most modern structures to
charming old houses and historic hotel buildings.
Not listed on that website, but
also worthy of note, is
and The Alpine Residence in the
In total, there are over 13,000
beds for visitors in the town - often the tourists outnumber the
locals by more than two to one.
When to Visit and When to Ski
It is possible to consider three
different seasons, not in terms of weather, in terms of tourism
popularity for Zermatt.
The peak season would be
during the Christmas new year holiday period, running from about
mid December through about mid January, and again from about
late February through to the end of the Easter period. At
these times, everything is busy and crowded, and it is essential
to book accommodation well in advance of travel. On the
other hand, once you get there, you can be assured of the best
possible snow conditions.
Shoulder season would be
over the summer (mid-June to mid-September), and later in the
winter from the end of peak season in mid-January through to
mid-late February. In the winter, skiing is still good,
but not so crowded. During the summer months, many people
visit so as to enjoy the outdoors. Note that although this
is summer, temperatures seldom exceed 70° F (20° C).
The low season
(mid-September to mid-December, after Easter to mid June) is not
nearly as crowded, and values may be much better. Also the
areas are generally open from late November until the start of
May, so depending on when you might be considering to travel,
skiing may be a possibility in low season.
Where to Ski
are four main skiing areas around the Zermatt area. These
are Sunnegga, Gornergrat, Klein Matterhorn and Schwarzsee.
This article suggests the five best ski runs in the area.
There are ski runs to cater for
all levels of skier, from beginner to advanced. And if
you're looking for a ski school,
well regarded and offers lessons in English.
The Klein Matterhorn is the
highest peak, with cable cars and chairlifts taking you up to
In addition to chairlifts and
cable cars, a popular way of getting to the best ski areas is by
A one day ski pass will cost
about $70, and renting boots and skis for a day will cost about
The website of the official
Board has a lot of helpful information.
newsletter and website is an invaluable resource for all
people visiting Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
Our thanks to
JustLuxe.com for the inspiration and background resource for
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16 May 2010, last update
28 May 2011
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