Things to do in Zermatt – Switzerland’s famous village!

Must-see locations, Switzerland27 comments

Zermatt is a postcard-perfect Swiss village complete with charming wooden chalets with flowers adorning the windows, snowy mountains dominating the landscape and stellar Swiss engineering enabling you to visit those mountains with ease! Read on for some of the best things to do in Zermatt and useful information on planning your trip.

I have visited Zermatt both during the summer and the winter, on day trips and on stay overs, during good weather and bad – and I’ve still not had enough of the place! I can’t wait to go back for more, if only it were closer to Zurich!

Have limited time in Switzerland? Here’s a 5-day Switzerland itinerary to take in the best of the country!

Zermatt is a fantastic place to visit when in Switzerland, even for non-skiers! There are so many activities and sightseeing opportunities that even in winter it has plenty to offer to non-skiers.

One of the most iconic landmarks of the villageand one of its biggest attractions is the mighty Matterhorn. This unique pyramid-shaped mountain dominates the landscape and is an absolute must-see in Zermatt.

Fun fact: The mountain featured on the packaging of Toblerone and which inspired the shape of the chocolate is the Matterhorn!

Matterhorn Toblerone
Did you know, the mountain pictured on a Toblerone pack is the Matterhorn?

Planning a trip to Switzerland? Click here for a detailed travel guide to Switzerland – including the best time to visit, itinerary options (for 3, 5, 7 or 10 days), visa, transportation in Switzerland (including Swiss Pass), and more!

Here are more ideas for your trip to Switzerland: 25 best places to visit in Switzerland!

Note: This post contains some affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through these, I may earn a small commission, at absolutely no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Where is Zermatt

Zermatt is located at an elevation of 1600 m in the Swiss Alps, below the iconic Matterhorn in the south-west of Switzerland in the canton of Valais. 

It is a car-free village and it’s small enough to walk nearly everywhere or take an e-taxi.

Zermatt Switzerland map
Zermatt Switzerland map (Map data © 2020)

Things to do in Zermatt – All year round

The majestic Matterhorn

The Matterhorn is one of the most iconic symbols not just for the vilage but also for Switzerland. The mountain is an absolute must-see in Zermatt! 

So, here are some of the best ways to see the Matterhorn in Zermatt,

Watch the sunrise & sunset over the Matterhorn

While the Matterhorn looks amazing any time of the day, it takes on a magical quality during sunrise. This was one sunrise I did not mind waking up for!

The Matterhorn starts to glow from its tip down as the sun rises over it. The colours of the mountain changing over the course of a few minutes make for a spectacular experience.

Sunrise over the Matterhorn
Sunrise over the Matterhorn
Sunrise over the Matterhorn
Sunrise over the Matterhorn

We captured some pictures of the sunrise over the Matterhorn from our balcony (really the only place I could realistically catch a sunrise from, haha!). You can get great views from several places in the village (the cheap option), or if you are staying at any of the mountain resorts (the expensive option!).

Sunset over the Matterhorn also makes for a beautiful sight, and one that you do not have to wake up early for! The mountain glows in soft purple and pink colours as the sun sets over it.

The best viewpoints for the Matterhorn (that are easy to reach!)

Kirchplatz in the village: Beautiful Swiss chalets in the foreground at this square add to the charm of the view.

Kirchbrücke in the village: The bridge over the river Mattervispa is a beautiful spot to see the Matterhorn.

Kirchbrücke in the Zermatt village
Kirchbrücke in the Zermatt village

Riffelsee: The mountain reflected in the lake makes for a stunning view. See below for details on how to visit this beautiful lake.

Matterhorn Riffelsee, Zermatt

Stellisee: Another lake with a magnificent reflection of the Matterhorn. Continue reading for more details.

Matterhorn reflected in the water at Stellisee

Gornergrat Bahn: The train ride from Zermatt to Gornergrat is beautiful and you can see the Matterhorn from different vantage points.

Gornergrat trail: The hiking trail from Gornergrat down to Riffelberg prominently positions the Matterhorn right in front of you the entire hike. More details on this hike below.

Matterhorn along the Gornergrat Riffelsee hike
Matterhorn along the Gornergrat Riffelsee hike


Located at 3000 m+, the Gornergrat is a ridge overlooking the Gorner Glacier. Some of the best views of the Matterhorn can be enjoyed from here.

At Gornergrat, there is a hotel, a restaurant and a cafe. There is also a lookout point, a short climb up which offers 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.

Winter at Gornergrat
Winter at Gornergrat

Once you alight from the train, walk up towards the building and take a right where there is an elevator to take you up to the building if you’d rather not take the longer walking route up.

From the summit, you can see the second-largest glacier in the Alps (Gorner Glacier) and Switzerland’s highest mountain peak (Dufourspitze). The views are absolutely epic!

Views from Gornergrat during the Summer
Views from Gornergrat during the Summer

If you have time for only one mountain excursion in Zermatt, make it this one!

HOW TO GET TO GORNERGRAT FROM ZERMATT: The Gornergrat Bahn, a cogwheel railway, runs between Zermatt and Gornergrat and is operational all year round. This train was the first, fully electric cog railway in Switzerland, set up in the 19th century and is the highest open-air railway in Europe!

The Gornergrat train station in Zermatt is located right opposite the main train station, totally unmissable. Trains run throughout the year, normally every 30-40 minutes. Check the latest timetables before you visit.

TICKETS FOR GORNERGRAT: Tickets costs 98 CHF for a round trip, depending on the month of visit.  You can buy tickets for the Gornergrat Bahn at the ticket window or at one of the several kiosks or online.

Try and seat yourself on the right side in the direction of travel for some great views of the Matterhorn. But don’t fret if you don’t find a spot since the views from the other side are lovely too.

We have been on this train both during the summer and the winter and the experience has always been fantastic. While summer holds the charm of hiking, winter has some of the most incredible views with walls of ice around the train!

Gornergrat train during the winter
Gornergrat train during the winter

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (Klein Matterhorn)

Europe’s highest cable car station, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise offers panoramic views of the tallest mountains in Switzerland, France and Italy, and an all-year-round ski area! There’s also an ice cave and unique views of the Matterhorn to enjoy here.

Higher than the famous Jungfraujoch, at ~3880 m Matterhorn Glacier Paradise makes for a great half-day trip from Zermatt. If you are planning to ski, budget more time of course. This is the place to summer ski!

Another attraction at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the Glacier Palace – an ice cave filled with ice sculptures

HOW TO GET TO MATTERHORN GLACIER PARADISE FROM ZERMATT: Walk the 20 minutes from Zermatt train station to the Matterhorn Glacial Paradise gondola station. Ride the gondola up to Furi and change there to a cable car to Trockener Steg. Alight at  Trockener Steg and take the cable car to Klein Matterhorn. The total ride from Zermatt to the summit takes ~45 minutes.

Check the latest timetables before you visit.

TICKETS FOR MATTERHORN GLACIER PARADISE: This is one of the pricier excursions and a round trip ticket costs CHF 110+ depending on the month of visit. Buy your tickets at the gondola station or online.

Rothorn (and Sunnegga)

A high Alpine view of the Matterhorn and the surrounding mountains await you at an altitude of ~3100 m at Rothorn (or Unterrothorn) and the intermediate stops of Sunnegga and Blauherd.

Beautiful views at Blauherd
Beautiful views at Blauherd

If you are visiting in the summer you can see the snowy mountains descending into forested slopes and grassy meadows.

You can stop by at Sunnegga and enjoy the lake Leisee (5 minutes away) and at Blauherd to enjoy the lake Stellisee (about 20-30 min walk away).


HOW TO GET TO ROTHORN FROM ZERMATT: An underground funicular from Zermatt brings you to Sunnegga. From Sunnegga a cable car takes you to Blauherd. Another cable car takes you from Blauherd to Rothorn.  The total ride from Zermatt to the summit takes ~30 minutes.

Check the latest timetables before you visit.

TICKETS FOR ROTHORN: A round trip ticket costs ~CHF 70 depending on the month of visit. Buy your tickets at the gondola station or online.

Matterhorn Museum – Zermatlantis

Take in the history of the Matterhorn and consequently that of Zermatt at the Matterhorn Museum.

Showcased here are the victories and losses from the first attempt to scale the Matterhorn in 1865 when 4 out of 7 climbers lost their lives. You can also learn about the development of Zermatt over the years into a world-class ski resort.

The Matterhorn Museum, Zermatt Switzerland
The Matterhorn Museum

Located in the centre of the village at Kirchplatz, a short walk from the train station, the Museum is a must-visit in Zermatt.

Zermatt Village

In the Zermatt village, start your stroll along the Bahnhofplatz next to the train station where you’ll find horse-drawn carriages and electric vehicles waiting to pick up guests. It is lovely to hear the clip-clop of carriages going down the road. 


Walk past the storefronts, taking in the beautiful buildings and chalets. Everywhere you see there will be wooden chalets with flowers adorning the windows.

Zermatt village, Switzerland
Zermatt village

Down the street, you’ll find Zermatt’s pretty church and the Matterhorn Museum.

Take a few minutes to pay your respects to the climbers who died in the mountains surrounding Zermatt, many of whom are buried in a small graveyard between the church and the river. 

Cross the Kirchbrücke and walked alongside the river Mattervispa for a bit – it is a beautiful river, bluish-grey in colour, rapidly flowing over its rocky bed. You can also see the Matterhorn from here. No matter how many times you’ve already seen it, it always feels awe-inspiring to see the Matterhorn!

More things to do in Zermatt – In Summer

Visit Riffelsee

Riffelsee is a picture-perfect lake – especially if it’s not too windy! The reflection of Matterhorn in the lake comes out so beautifully that it’s hard to believe it’s not an actual mirror there.

Matterhorn reflected in Riffelsee on the Gornergrat hike
Matterhorn reflected in Riffelsee

You will be able to recognise many of the classic pictures of the Matterhorn as being shot here.

HOW TO GET TO RIFFELSEE: Riffelsee is located a very short walk away from the Rotenboden train station (one of the stops on the Gornergrat Bahn). 

You can visit Riffelsee on your train ride down from Gornergrat or you can hike down to Riffelsee from Gornergrat. See the Gornergrat Trail below for more details.

Visit Stellisee

Stellisee is another beautiful Swiss mountain lake. The best views of the Matterhorn and its reflections in the water can be seen from the far side of the lake. If it’s not windy, you can capture beautiful pictures of the Matterhorn reflected in the water. 

The Materhorn reflected in Stellisee - Zermatt 5 lakes hike
The Materhorn reflected in Stellisee

There are lots of rocks on this side of the lake which you can relax on and enjoy the views.

HOW TO GET TO STELLISEE: Stellisee is located an easy 20-minute walk from the Blauherd cable car station. You can reach Blauherd by taking a funicular from Zermatt to Sunnegga and a gondola from Sunnegga.

You can also visit Stellisee as part of the 5 lakes hike. Read below for more details.

Hike the Gornergrat trail

Trail: Gornergrat – Rotenboden – Riffelberg

Direction: One way

Distance: ~3.5 km

Elevation change: ~500 m descent

Time required: ~1 hr 15 min (budget more time since it’s very difficult to stop taking pictures!)

Gornergrat Hike
The Sun Trail: Gornergrat – Riffelberg Hike

If you were to do just 1 hike in the Zermatt region, make it this Gornergrat hike!

The Sun Trail from Gornergrat to Riffelberg descends along the Gornergrat Bahn, the world-famous railway line and takes you along cascading glaciers, stunningly beautiful lakes and lush meadows sprinkled with wildflowers!

Gornergrat hike in Zermatt Switzerland

The Gornergrat hike is the best to enjoy fantastic views of the mighty Matterhorn and its reflections in the beautiful lake, Riffelsee. It is one of the best hikes in Switzerland and my favourite!

Read here for my complete guide on hiking the Gornergrat Trail.

Hike the 5 lakes trail

Trail: Blauherd –  Stellisee – Grindjisee – Grünsee – Moosjisee – Leisee – Sunnegga

Distance: ~9 km

Ascent: 165 m 

Descent: 454 m

Time required: ~3 hours (budget more time if you plan to swim in the lakes)

You can also see the fourth lake Moosjisee far below

5 beautiful lakes, the mighty Matterhorn, snowy mountains and impressive glaciers – all await you on this lovely hike in Zermatt, also known as 5-Seenweg. One of the most famous trails in the Zermatt region, the 5 lakes hike is one of the best things to do if you are visiting Zermatt. 

The 5 lakes trail is up there with the Gornergrat hike in how spectacular it is though I still prefer and recommend the Gornergrat hike if you had to choose. The 5 lakes hike is slightly less exciting.

Views of Moosjisee as we head away from it

Yet, the 5 lakes hike is unique in how long, yet how easy it is, suitable for even novices to hiking. Despite the ease, it’s very beautiful. The panoramic landscape views, the variety of the trail, the reflections of the Matterhorn in 3 of the lakes, the opportunity to swim in 2 of them, all make for a wonderful day out in the mountains.

Read here for my complete guide on hiking the Zermatt 5 lakes trail.

Walk the Gorner gorge

Melting ice and snow over the centuries from the Gorner Glacier into the Gornervispa river carved dramatic chasms in the rocks leading to the formation of the Gorner Gorge.

Wooden walkways curve around the rocks and lead you through small streams, waterfalls and fascinating rock formations.

HOW TO GET TO THE GORNER GORGE: A short 15 minutes’ walk from the village brings you to the Gorner Gorge.

More things to do in Zermatt – In Winter

Ski & Snowboard

Zermatt is a world-class ski resort and has an abundance of ski slopes during the winter suitable for all levels of skill. Pick the lower slopes if you are a beginner.

Activities in Zermatt for non-skiers

Fret not my fellow non-skiers, Zermatt is a beautiful palace to visit during the winter

Head up to Gornergrat and while your ski pals ski down the slopes from there, you should walk up to the viewing platform and soak in the views. Grab a hot chocolate at the restaurant and marvel at the beauty of the Matterhorn and the surrounding glaciers. Buy a Toblerone and try to perfect your shot with the Matterhorn!

Toblerone Matterhorn Zermatt

The ride down from Gornergrat to Zermatt will be even more fun since you’ll have the train nearly to yourself – the skiers are after all taking the other route down! The white vistas on both sides of the train are breathtaking. I remember shuttling between the seats the whole ride down!

Stunning views from the train
Stunning views from the Gornergrat train

The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is another fantastic place for non-skiers to visit for panoramic views over snow peaks and glaciers. 

The village of Zermatt takes on a magical quality during winter, especially around Christmas and you will not tire of roaming the charming streets.

Useful information for your trip to Zermatt

How to get to Zermatt

By train: You will first travel to Visp on nearly any train connection towards Zermatt. From Visp, a cogwheel train, the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn takes you up to Zermatt. Sit on the left side of the train for some amazing views of snow-capped mountains and deep valleys!

Cogwheel train up to Zermatt from Visp
Cogwheel train up to Zermatt from Visp

From Zurich it takes about 3.5 hours to reach Zermatt, changing trains at Visp. You can also head there from Lucerne (3.15 hours changing trains at Bern & Visp) or Interlaken (2 – 2.5 hours changing trains at Spiez & Visp).

By car: Since Zermatt is a car-free village, you can drive up to Täsch – that’s the last town up to which you can take your car. From Täsch board the shuttle train service to take you up to Zermatt.

How many days do you need in Zermatt

Spend at least 2 days to visit some of the mountains and have time for a couple of hikes. A few more days will give you a more leisurely experience, and will also be a buffer against bad weather. Clouds/ Rains can play spoilsport if you plan to visit the mountains.

A clear cloudless day is perfect to enjoy the views on this hike
A clear cloudless day is perfect to enjoy the mountains around Zermatt

Here’s a suggested itinerary if you have only 2 days in Zermatt,

Day 1: 

Morning – Visit Gornergrat and hike down to Riffelberg

Afternoon – Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

Evening –  Stroll through Zermatt village

Day 2:

Morning & Afternoon – Visit Rothorn and hike the 5 lakes trail

Evening – Visit Gorner Gorge

How to save money while visiting Zermatt

Money-saving passes to buy

PEAK PASS – This gives you unlimited access to the 3 main mountain regions: Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Rothorn and Gornergrat.

You can choose from passes covering 1 day to a month. You can also buy flexible passes covering 3 out of 5 days or 4 out of 6 days.

See the prices here.

Gornergrat Bahn
Gornergrat Bahn – Gornergrat is a must visit attraction in Zermatt

PEAK2PEAK PASS – This pass is meant for visiting the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Gornergrat together in 1 day.

Visit the Matterhorn glacier paradise, then take the cable car to Riffelberg and board the Gornergrat Bahn to Gornergrat, or do the trip in reverse.

See details on this pass here.

Choose grocery stores & bakeries over restaurants

Maybe work in a splurge meal of some fondue, but to stick to a budget, head to grocery stores or bakeries for some great sandwiches, salads, and other baked goods. 

What is the weather like in Zermatt

Winter (December through February) in Zermatt is cold with the temperature in low single degree C and often dipping below freezing. The mountains would, of course, be much colder & windier. Really bundle up if you visit the mountains around the village during the winter.

Spring (March through May) continues to be cold with temperatures inching up to double degree C. There will still be snow and ice on the trails in the mountains though there would not be snow in Zermatt at this.

Sweeping views from Gornergrat
Snowy views from Gornergrat during spring

Summer (June through August) brings comfortable cool temperatures touching the early 20 degrees C. This is the busiest season so everything (hotels, train/ cable car tickets etc.) will cost more. 

It could still get very cold up in the mountains so if you are hiking it’s good to carry a jacket along.

Fall (September through November) brings back the chilly temperatures and rain.

Check the weather forecasts here.

Where to stay in Zermatt

We have often visited Zermatt on day trips, though with a 3.5 hour travel time each way from Zurich or Lucerne it can get really tiring.

The times we decided to say over, we chose the Overlook Lodge by CERVO, a cozy apartment with fantastic views. We have enjoyed the place so much we almost never want to leave it! The views of the Matterhorn from the balcony are stunning and we have been able to capture the sun rising over the mountain – a beautifully magical experience.

Overlook Lodge by CERVO
Overlook Lodge by CERVO

Here are some more options to consider for staying in Zermatt: Click here to find more places to stay in Zermatt

Have you been to Zermatt? What was your favourite activity?

Planning a trip? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

If you found this useful, please share and spread the love!

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Planning a trip? Here are some of my go-to travel resources to make it more efficient for you, while staying within budget! is my favourite platform for hotel or apartment bookings. I love their map interface (I prefer to stay within walking distance of major attractions!) and they have an excellent customer service

FLIGHTS – I prefer to use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights. I often use their monthly view of prices to decide my travel dates!

TOURS & ACTIVITIESGet Your Guide is my go-to choice for fun tours and activities. They have a wide range of options and a great interface.

TRAVEL INSURANCE – Travel insurance is absolutely essential for all your international travels. I’ve been saved by it a few times when I fell sick while travelling and I swear by it since then! World Nomads is an excellent choice for travel insurance.


  1. I’ve been wanting to visit Zermatt and see the Matterhorn for as long as I can remember. I am now biting the bullet and booking it for June. Your itinerary is spot on for the 4 days I’m aiming to stay. Thank you for posting all this amazing information.

  2. I heard about the Toblerone mountain being one from Switzerland, but didn’t know it was the Matterhorn! I love that all the viewpoints are easy to reach and Riffelsee is just stunning. The hikes sound amazing too and I’d for sure attempt the 5 Lakes Trail. Seems like I need to plan a trip over soon!

  3. Picture postcard is right! I would love to spend time there, just as you’ve done. The amount of day trips and excursions you were able to take all see must-see places. I especially would like to see the gorge as I know they are disappearing quickly. Great money saving tips, as I know Switzerland in general is an expensive country to visit.

  4. Zermatt is one of my absolute favorite places in Switzerland and in the world. I’m jealous you’ve spent so much time there. I’ve only been in summer but I want to go in winter. I love your reflection photos! It’s a gorgeous site. My favorite thing I did was paragliding with the Matterhorn. But the sunset/rise on the Matterhorn is also really cool. Your photos are beautiful!

  5. Can you go into the ice cave? If so can you do it in the summer as well? Exploring one is high on my bucket list.

  6. I would live to do this (minus the fall!). Matterhorn is so picturesque and you got such wonderful.shots! The Glaciers so Express sounds like a good excursion, too!

    • Thanks Carol! Matterhorn is really one of the most photogenic mountains I’ve ever seen!

  7. I really want to visit Switzerland and see the beautiful mountains. I love that you can take the train up and get a view of the Matterhorn. Glad you didn’t hurt yourself when you fell, that would have put a damper on your trip for sure.

    • Thanks Ann – yeah, I don’t get along well with ice! ?

  8. I’ve been wanting to see the mountains in Switzerland and your photos are very inspiring! The view of Matterhorn from the train is incredible. I would definitely want to sit on the right side and get the same shot. As an avid skier and snowboarder this looks like paradise. I understand your fear, but I encourage you to try winter sports! If you do try it, make sure to take a lesson!! You can also get padded/impact leggings to cushion you for any falls. However, it’s great to know about other things to do in Zermatt besides skiing.

    • Thanks! Good idea about the impact leggings – I’ll definitely need them if I give it a go!

  9. Switzerland is my bucket list destination but the cost always stops me from making the plan. Views from Matterhorn is incredible.

    • Yes, it is insanely expensive. Even after living here I’m not able to get used to the high costs! 😛

  10. Switzerland is definitely on my bucket list! I can’t wait to visit some day! Thanks for the awesome information

    • It is definitely the place bucket lists are made for! 🙂

  11. We absolutely loved Zermatt when we visited it over the summer and I’d love to head back there in the winter season and probably ride the Glacier Express from St Moritz to Zermatt during that visit. Your post brought back some lovely memories – walking along the river and taking in the views from Kirchbrücke and also from Gornergrat was such a delight. Lovely post.

    • Thanks, Aditi! We did the glacier express too but not the expensive one which you have to book in advance. We just mapped out the route and took the normal trains – just as stunning an experience and at a fraction of the cost!

  12. We’ve heard a lot about Zermatt but have never been to, mainly because we’re not into winter sports. It looks beautiful though, and reminds us a lot of Chamonix located just on the other side of the Alps in France. Have you been?

    • Zermatt has a lot more to offer – give it a chance 🙂 Chamonix has been on my travel list for a while now – maybe this winter!

  13. These views are breathtaking! I really want to visit Switzerland, it has been on my bucket list for a while, but for some reason I never got around to visit there.
    I am not a huge fan of cold weather, even though I love snow, but when I’ll visit Zurich, I will definitely not miss visiting Zermatt !

    • Try Zermatt in the summer – it’s just as stunning and there are a ton of hikes with beautiful views.

  14. Squeee Zermatt is just sooo beautiful! You were so lucky to have such gorgeous blue skies while you were up in the alpine!

    p.s. While you live in Switzerland, if you want to give skiing a chance, you should totally go for it! I started learning 2 years ago when we moved to Canada. I have terrible balance and coordination, but if you have lessons I promise it can be sooo fun! Starting as an adult, was less scary than I expected.

    In the end, I was really surprised that I started to love it, especially because it allows you to see amazing mountain views.

    • This gives me a lot of hope! Maybe I should give skiing a chance!

  15. I’ve always wanted to visit Zermatt. It’s an absolutely gorgeous village and your pictures are so beautiful. Europe has so many picturesque destinations and I cannot wait to explore them all!

    • It really is a stunning village, even without the staggering Matterhorn!

  16. What a great day trip. I love that it’s car-free too. And great pictures!

    • Thanks! I love the car-free characteristic of this village too!


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About me

Gruezi, Hi! My name is Smita, a part-time traveller and a travel writer. So far I’ve been what you might call a serendipitous traveller! I got a chance to visit several amazing places more by chance than by design. I would love to put all my extensive travel planning to good use by sharing it with you and hope that these inspire you to visit all those famous, and not-so-famous locations! Read More

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