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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 03 November, 2022

A blend of the rustic and the chic, watched over by the mighty Matterhorn, Zermatt is a formidable combination of all that could be desired in a ski resort.

Its extensive, varied and lofty slopes provide wonderful skiing for intermediate and advanced skiers, and boarders. The altitude, and glacial area, gives good snow cover over a long season with a sophisticated lift system that is constantly upgraded. The slopes boast the world’s best mountain restaurants. The spa scene gets more impressive each season, and the range of activities, from ice skating to cinema, is among the Alps’ widest.

Cosmopolitan, traffic-free Zermatt is as busy in summer as winter. It has matchless charm and an extensive choice of après-ski bars, high-end restaurants and designer shops.

Orientation

Switzerland’s southernmost resort, Zermatt lies at 1,618m in the Mattertal, in the canton of Valais, surrounded by some of the country’s highest peaks. It links with slopes in the Italian resort of Cervinia.

Everyone arrives by the rack railway – cars are banned (there are electric taxis instead). A mix of ancient farms, grand hotels and modern steel and glass buildings, the village straggles along the river, with ski lifts at either end of town.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Glacier Express

Zermatt, Valais, Switzerland

Europe’s most popular tourist train passes through an astonishing variety of landscapes: snow-covered peaks, desolate moors, limestone cliffs of the Rhine gorge, spiral tunnels and horseshoe curves.

Best for ages: 6+ | £140 | 7.5 hours

The Matterhorn

Zermatt, Valais, Switzerland

One of Europe’s highest, most recognisable and  most beautiful mountains with an iconic jagged-tooth form, soaring to 4,478m.

Best for ages: 6+ | Free | 1 night

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Iglu-Dorf Zermatt

Zermatt, Valais, Switzerland

An igloo hotel located at 2,700m, offering incredible views and a real sense of adventure.

Official star rating:

Backstage Hotel Vernissage

Zermatt, Valais, Switzerland

A cosy 19-room bolthole in the centre of Zermatt. Each unique room is a modern art gallery, with luxury to match.

Official star rating:

The Omnia

Zermatt, Valais, Switzerland

A remarkable hotel in an extraordinary location, renowned for its stunning architecture, gorgeous indoor-outdoor pool and flawless service.

Official star rating:

Riffelalp Resort

Zermatt, Valais, Switzerland

A superb 5 star, ski in ski out resort hotel, set in a hamlet on the mountain above Zermatt, with jaw-dropping views of the magnificent Matterhorn. Ski luxury at its best.

Official star rating:

When to go

Zermatt is high and the Theodul Glacier guarantees snow, usually with skiing available throughout the year. However, the terrain is rocky, which means substantial snowfall is needed to make the non-glacial slopes skiable and the area is quite dry.

But the altitude, with three of the four sectors having a top station above 3,000m, still guarantees a long season, from the end of November until the end of April. Extensive snowmaking, down to village level, and lots of north-facing slopes, helps matters. December and April are quiet months and with good snow can be great times to visit.

Getting there and away

Geneva or Zurich are the closest main airports, with some charters using Sion. The best transfer option is the train. Zurich is slightly closer than Geneva (journey time of just over 3 hours with one change).

Zermatt is car-free and cars must be parked at Täsch, one train stop away. From the airports, take the mainline to Visp and change for the fabulously scenic rack railway to Zermatt.

Getting around

Car-free Zermatt is compact enough to get about on foot. With ski boots and skis, however, most people use the electric taxis or the ski-bus to reach the lifts – Sunnega underground funicular and the Gornergrat Railway at the north end, the Matterhorn Express gondola at the south. An impressive system of fast chairs, gondolas and rack railway links the ski sectors, with only occasional queues.