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!
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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.
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.
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.
Riffelsee: The mountain reflected in the lake makes for a stunning view. See below for details on how to visit this beautiful lake.
Stellisee: Another lake with a magnificent reflection of the Matterhorn. Continue reading for more details.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Located in the centre of the village at Kirchplatz, a short walk from the train station, the Museum is a must-visit in Zermatt.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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!
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)
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
Here’s a suggested itinerary if you have only 2 days in Zermatt,
Morning – Visit Gornergrat and hike down to Riffelberg
Afternoon – Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Evening – Stroll through Zermatt village
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.
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.
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.
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!
More information for your trip to Switzerland:
BUCKET LIST DESTINATIONS: 25 best places to visit in Switzerland
HIDDEN GEMS: 10 hidden gems in Switzerland
TRAIN RIDES: The Golden Pass train line
CITIES/ VILLAGES: Zürich
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