Zermatt keeps its finest view until the very last moment. Visitors arriving on the train from Visp only get a glimpse of the iconic Matterhorn after the last turn on the mountain railway as it reaches the village. Renowned as a centre for skiing, mountaineering and hiking there are lots of activities with magnificent views. As the village of Zermatt marks the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn here are a few things to do in this beautiful area.
The trails around Zermatt are fabulous and you’ll find a variety of walks for most abilities of walker. To get up close to the Matterhorn take the paths to Schwartzee where trails lead onwards to the famous Hornli Hut. There are beautiful strolls around Riffelalp too and through aromatic pine forests. In spring walkers will find alpine flowers carpeting the meadows. Pack a picnic and enjoy those magnificent views from a choice of hundreds of walks in the Zermatt area.
Take a Classic Cog Railway
Swiss engineering has ensured that there’s a way to get to many of the mountain viewpoints in Switzerland. One of the most spectacular is the Gornergrat Railway in Zermatt. The train snakes its way up a steep mountainside past waterfalls and breath-taking views of the Matterhorn to the Gornergrat Station. From here there are fabulous views of the Monte Rosa and Breithorn Glaciers, and the scenery is amongst the finest in Europe.
Visit the Sheep
Zermatt and the Valais region are renowned for their delightful mountain sheep. The Valais Black Nosed Sheep are very distinctive and really cute. You’ll see them out in the alpine pastures and there are guided hikes to a local farm where visitors can learn about the animals. If you are out hiking do keep an eye out for marmots, ibex and eagles which are all frequently seen in this area.
Ski All Year Round
In winter Zermatt is buzzing with miles of ski trails to suit all levels. You’ll find challenging descents and gentle trails through forests. There are cross country skiing runs too and some skating. In summer the glaciers are the places to head to for snow in the sun. The Klein Matterhorn is one of the best places to go year round with some panoramic views across the Alps.
In Zermatt you’ll find it hard to walk past the chocolate shops without wandering inside for a small taste. There are exquisite pralines, slabs of nutty chocolate, and beautifully arranged boxes of treats. Look closer in the cake shops and you can even buy a chocolate Matterhorn. For the chocoholic a chocolate massage is the way to chill out after a day of hiking.
People come to Zermatt to see its famous mountains and quite rightly so. However there is a lot more to view. Just off the main street are rows of wooden chalets, some really old that are beautiful to see. The Matterhorn Museum is another interesting attraction and tells the story of the first ascent. In 1865 Edward Whymper and his climbing party were the first to climb the Matterhorn. Tragically on the descent the rope broke killing four of the group. It led to Queen Victoria suggesting a ban on climbing. Exhibits include the ill-fated rope and equipment from that first ascent. The museum also has displays about the traditional lifestyle of Zermatt. In the churchyard nearby are the graves of some of the climbers who died in 1865 including the guide Michel Croz.
Zermatt has something for everyone from magnificent views to chic shopping, beautiful walks and fine restaurants. This is an amazing place to spend a few days enjoying that alpine air.