Nestled high in the Swiss Alps, Zermatt really is a fabulous holiday destination with no end of exciting things to do and places to visit, no matter what your age, or what time of year you are visiting.
For a start Zermatt is one of the original ski resorts, with an extensive range of pistes, and an enviably long ski season, it is right ‘up there’ with the top resorts in Europe. It also has the Matterhorn! Believed to be the inspiration for the triangular shape of the Swiss Chocolate bar Toblerone, the Matterhorn can be seen from any part of the village giving it a real fairy tale feeling. Cars have been banned from the village, so the only modes of transport are electric taxis or fur lined, horse drawn sleighs, the ultimate in style and fun!
Straddled across the international border between Switzerland and Italy, the Matterhorn’s distinctive triangular shape has become a symbol of Switzerland and is a much loved mountain of the locals. In fact the mountain is so important to the Swiss and to Zermatt it even has its own museum! Of course one of the fun things to do in Zermatt is to get that all important photo of the Matterhorn and a packet of Toblerone perfectly lined up!
Located just off the Bahnhofstrasse in central Zermatt, the Matterhorn Museum is a must for all visitors and takes you underground to a series of original houses and media experiences. As you walk through the re-constructed village you learn all about the history of the area as well as the notoriously dangerous first attempts to scale the famous Zermatt Matterhorn!
The Matterhorn Railway – Gornergrat Bahn
The Gornergrat Bahn is a mountain railway running between Zermatt and the Swiss mountain peak Gornergrat. It is considered the official Matterhorn railway and travellers can enjoy fantastic views of the Zermatt Matterhorn and its surrounding mountains as they ascend or descend the peak! As you arrive at the Gornergrat summit, you come across a panoramic viewing area giving you incredible 360 degree views of the Swiss Alps!
The railway runs all year around but has different summer and winter timetables. There are also hotels with bars and restaurants en route which are fun to visit.
The Glacier Express is fondly known as the slowest express train in the world; in that rather than being and ‘express train’ it takes you on an almost direct route from Zermatt to St Moritz. It takes a full seven and a half hours through the most stunning scenery. During that time you cross 291 bridges including the Landwasser Viaduct and pass through 91 tunnels!
If you are planning on taking the Glacier Express then check out the Glacier Express website for up to date prices and make sure you reserve your ticket in advance.
Sunnegga via the Funicular Railway
A good fun outing if you are short of time and looking for things to do in Zermatt, is to take the funicular railway up to Sunnegga which translates as ‘Sunny corner’. It takes less than ten minutes and runs through a tunnel in the rocks so don’t expect great views! Once you arrive however you will be greeted with a scenic terrace, wonderful views of the Matterhorn, a café and more gondolas which will take you on to other locations. In winter you can enjoy the Wolli’s ski park or if you want to explore further afield, Sunnegga is the gateway to the whole Rothorn ski area. In summer it is also perfect location for exploring and hiking. If you are with little ones, be sure to visit the Marmot’s playground, just a short stroll away. If you are feeling more energetic it is the usually considered the start of the Five Lakes hike, and many other great walks.
Five Lakes hike or the 5 Seenweg
One of the ‘must do’ hikes in the area is the Five Lakes hike, also known as the 5 Seenweg. This popular trail is around 9.5km and takes around two and a half hours to complete. Along the way you are treated to wonderful views of the Matterhorn, and of course the five different lakes all with their own characteristics. Be sure to check out the Matterhorn reflection in three of the lakes.
- Stellisee – just 20 minutes from the Blauherd lift station, this lake is very picturesque and great for capturing a reflection of the Matterhorn
- Grindjisee – famous for its alpine flowers and rare plants, this small lake is popular with botanists and also affords a reflection of the Matterhorn
- Grünsee – translated as ‘Green Lake’ the waters of Grünsee are indeed green and it is the perfect spot for swimming and picnicking, but we warned the waters are fed by mountain springs, so are very cold even in the summer
- Moosjisee – an artificial reservoir fed by glacial waters, this lake is a characteristic ‘milky’ colour and swimming is not allowed for safety reasons
- Leisee – the closes lake to Sunnegga this lake is perfect for relaxing and swimming. It also provides an opportunity for a Zermatt Matterhorn reflection
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge
Opened in July 2017 the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge is currently the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world. To access the bridge you need to take a two, to two and a half hour hike from the little village of Randa which is just 4km north of Zermatt.
The bridge is 500m in length and just 65cm wide and is free to cross, but you will need a head for heights as the floor of the bridge is a metal grating which you can see through. It really is one of the more exhilarating things to do in Zermatt!
A great little trip from Zermatt is the walk to Gorner Gorge. It takes around 30 minutes each way so allow an hour and a half for a round trip as you will want to stop and take in the views. The walk will cost 5CHFs per person (they don’t take cards) and involves some walk ways and a number of steps, but it really is worth it. On the way you will see steep gorges with waterfalls and beautiful pools of water which become brilliant turquoise when the light reflects through.
Of course many people come to Zermatt to ski but there are also plenty of other sports you can enjoy all year around!
Skiing and winter sports
Zermatt is the highest ski resort in Europe and you can ski in both Switzerland and over the border into Italy. The highest lift is the Klein Matterhorn which reaches 3,883m and takes you to the 21km of the Theodul glacier where you can ski all year around! You are also guaranteed the best views of the Zermatt Matterhorn whilst you ski!
There are of course plenty of other winter sports and activities you can do in Zermatt including;
- Sledding on the Rotenboden , the Täsch and the Randa toboggan runs
- Winter hiking and snowshoeing
- Ice skating and ice hockey
- Ice climbing and mountaineering and rock climbing
One of the great things to do in Zermatt during the summer months is cycling. Whether you are an experienced biker, or just want to gently explore the area, Zermatt has something for everyone, including younger rides! Their network of trails is enormous and extends from 1,400m to 3,100m where you get the most incredible views. You can also purchase a range of Zermatt Bergbahnen bike passes so you can use the ski lifts to explore the higher areas, without a challenging ascent right at the start!
Things to do in Zermatt with little ones!
Forest Fun Park
Located at the southern end of the village, Zermatt’s Forest Fun Park is an adrenaline filled network of zip lines, tree-walks, fun obstacles and kids trails (aged 4 to 7) which are popular with adults and children alike. The park is open over the summer season and children need to be accompanied by an adult.
Wolli’s Adventure Park
This fun filled adventure playground can be found at Sunnegga on the shores of Lake Leisee. It is a great place for families to visit in the summer. You can picnic or barbecue by the lake whilst the children play on the adventure playground. In winter Wolli’s Adventure Park becomes the perfect place for children to learn to ski as it is easy to get to, has three ‘magic carpets’ and is in a lovely sunny location!
Julen Sheep Barn
Located on the edge of the village of Zermatt, the Julen Sheep Barn is one of the really lovely things to do in Zermatt which the little ones! Still run by the Julen family, the farm is home to 300 Black Nose Sheep, the largest breeding group in the world. You can visit them in their barn every Wednesday at various times of the year depending on the farm’s activities so do check their website for latest visiting dates. If you are visiting between mid-June and mid-July you can even help with the hay harvest!
Finally no one can visit Zermatt without planning some down time and a bit of relaxation.
There are plenty of wellness centres, many of which are in hotels but open to non-residents, where you can enjoy a range of treatments. Indoor and outdoor pools, spas and Jacuzzis are all very popular, along with massages for those aching limbs from all the activities on offer!
If you are planning a trip to Zermatt we have a range of chalets and holiday apartments throughout the Zermatt area. Although we are not originally from Zermatt we have been here so long we almost consider ourselves ‘locals’. We offer a very personal service and we work with great local companies to get you all the best deals, so you really can make savings when you book your Zermatt holiday with us.