ZERMATT SKI RESORT GUIDE

The epitome of a picture-postcard town, pretty car-free Zermatt has surely been lifted from the pages of a storybook. Looming over the town with grace and grandeur is the iconic Matterhorn, forming the beautiful backdrop of the resort. The streets are lined with wooden chalet-style buildings, while horse-drawn carriages meander through the centre.

Outside of the town, kilometre after kilometre of perfectly pisted slopes await. Undoubtedly one of the best places to ski in Europe, the ski area straddles two countries and is linked to nearby Cervinia in Italy. Encounter unforgettable mountain vistas from every angle while you explore the expansive ski area. Foodies will be in their element too, with a wonderful selection of mountain eateries to choose from – each combining world-class cuisine with breathtaking scenery.

Zermatt combines the charm of a traditional Alpine village with the atmosphere and infrastructure of a thriving town. An impressive offering of world-class hotels, designer shops and fine dining have established Zermatt as one of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe. Yet despite its luxury status, Zermatt still retains a relaxed feel, lacking the stuffy pretentiousness of other high-end ski resorts. It oozes laid-back luxury executed with class and charm.

At a glance

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How to get to Zermatt

There are several options for getting to Zermatt, with the most popular being by plane and train. Given the car-free nature of the town, options are a little more limited in terms of driving or getting a taxi.

Chez Vrony Aperol Spritz
Matterhorn View Zermatt
Matterhorn Ski

How to get around Zermatt

As a car-free ski town, the centre is easily explored on foot. Other options for getting from A to B include electric taxi, electric bus or bike hire. Some of the more luxurious hotels in Zermatt offer horse-drawn sleigh as a means of getting around – perfect for fulfilling all your fairytale fantasies. 

If your accommodation is higher up in the town then I recommend making use of the electric taxis. These cute little vehicles look like mini milk floats, zooming up and down the hilly roads so you can save your energy for skiing.

In terms of getting up the mountain, options include a cable car, funicular, or train. The famous Gornergrat mountain railway takes skiers and non-skiers alike on a scenic journey from the heart of Zermatt to 3089m high.

SHOP SKI GEAR

Skiing in Zermatt

The Zermatt ski area is called the Matterhorn Ski Paradise and it comprises 360km of runs. The expansive ski area includes nearby Cervinia in Italy – another popular ski resort in Europe. Modern, high-speed lifts ensure minimal queues, while the train from the town centre to Gornergrat offers an unforgettably scenic train journey.

The four key areas within the Matterhorn Ski Paradise are Rothorn, Gornergrat, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Schwarzsee. Intermediates will love the plethora of wide, cruisey red runs against the backdrop of the Matterhorn. With some of the highest slopes in Europe, Zermatt ski resort offers snowsure skiing throughout the season. In fact, the snow is so reliable that Zermatt is one of the few places in Europe to offer summer skiing on the glacier.

What lift pass do I need?

There are a number of different options for lift passes and tickets – to be specific, there are 23 options listed on the Matterhorn Paradise website!

For any non-skiers just looking for one-off trips up the mountain, it makes sense to buy the specific ticket you need for the place you’re heading to. For example, to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Schwarzsee, Riffelberg, Furi, and more – much like you would a standard train ticket.

For those looking to ski, you’ll need the Winter Ski Pass. This gives you access to all 360km of pistes across both the Zermatt and Cervinia ski areas. If you’d like the flexibility of choosing which days you’d like to ski, check out the Flexi Winter Ski Pass.

Beginners can benefit from the reduced price of the Beginners Ski Pass, which offers access to the Sunnegga-Blauherd beginners area. Get your lift pass from the Zermatt tourist office.

Best ski runs

Zermatt ski resort is a haven for intermediate skiers. In particular, the routes from Rothorn to Gant provide enjoyable long crusing red runs. Breitboden to Riffelalp offers gorgeous alpine stretches atop a sheer cliff for a scenic run against the backdrop of the Matterhorn.

Advanced skiers can discover the various freeride runs; for example, from Blauherd down to Findeln. Beginners are better off heading over to the Italian side of Cervinia, which is also a more family-friendly place to ski.

Off-piste & backcountry

With lots of north facing slopes, there is powder in abundance in Zermatt – even days after it has fallen. The ski area offers a compelling amount of off-piste ski opportunities. Much of it can be reached from the lifts, while the more untouched areas may require some ski touring.

As always, do your research before you head out, or hire a guide to find the best spots. Alternatively, there are 38km of ungroomed pistes for freeriders and experienced skiers.

Snow park

There are two snowparks within the ski area: one in Zermatt and one over in Cervinia. The Gravity Park in Zermatt features a Slopestyle line with three rails and three jumps, as well as a Beginner Line with 12 jumps and 12 boxes. There’s also a Rail Garden with eight rails.

Freestyle skiers and snowboarders will also love the Cervinia snowpark, which is considered to be one of the best terrain parks in Italy.

Heli-skiing

Unlike France, it is possible to go heli-skiing in both Switzerland and Italy. For those seeking the freshest powder, there is no feeling quite like heli-skiing. Be whisked up in the air, surrounded by the snow-capped mountain peaks of the Alps, then pass by the majestic Matterhorn which feels within touching distance. The best part is yet to come – glide down untouched slopes atop the freshest, fluffiest powder imaginable.

Any heli-skiing tours will be run by experienced mountain guides. They will choose the safest routes so you can enjoy this unforgettable experience with peace of mind. Air Zermatt is the go-to company for heli-skiing in Zermatt, with a choice of five peaks: Alphubeljoch (3,782m), Äschihorn (3,562m), Monte Rosa (4,200m), Testa Grigia (3,480m) and Unterrothorn (3,103m).

Beginners & ski school

Beginners are a little more limited in Zermatt ski resort, although there is a beginners area at Sunnegga-Blauherd with some gentle blue runs. Those just starting out will be better off heading over to Cervinia, which has more options for beginners.

Anyone new to skiing and snowboarding – or those looking to hone their skills – won’t be short of ski schools and instructors. Join one of the prestigious ski schools or reap the benefits of private tuition. Some great ski school options include the Alpine Ski School, European Snowsport Ski School, and Summit Ski & Snowboard School.

Other things to do in Zermatt

Zermatt is not just a ski resort. It offers plenty of things to do for non-skiers – or for those who fancy something different. In fact, it’s still worth visiting the beautiful Swiss town of Zermatt even if you don’t intend to do any skiing.

1. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

Zermatt’s Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is Europe’s highest mountain station at 3,883 metres above sea level. It features a 360 degree viewing platform that offers spectacular mountain vistas. Spot 14 glaciers and 38 peaks over 4,000 metres, including Mont Blanc in France and Gran Paradiso, Italy’s highest peak.

Another key attraction is the magical Glacier Palace, which is full of stunning ice sculptures. Once you’ve been enchanted by the Glacier Palace, stop by Europe’s highest picture house at the Cinema Lounge, located in the Breithorn Tunnel. Learn about the area with fascinating short films about different aspects of alpine life in Zermatt.

Finally, refuel with traditional Valais specialities at Restaurant Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.

The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise can be reached by a series of gondolas and cable cars: Zermatt – Furi – Trockener Steg – Summit. For an extra special experience, take the Crystal ride gondola from Trockener Steg to the summit. These gondolas are adorned with Swarovski crystals and fitted with a glass floor for uninterrupted views of the glistening glaciers below.

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Viewing Platform

2. Snowshoeing

There is no better way to experience the magic of the mountains than on a snowshoe tour. Hike along the snowy plains, soak up the silence of the mountains, and stimulate the senses as you immerse yourself in nature.

Zermatt offers a number of breathtaking snowshoeing trails:

  • No.141: Challenge Trail from Gornergrat to Rotenbodn
  • No.142: Panorama Trail from Rotenboden to Riffelberg
  • No.145: Discovery Trail from Sunnegga to Riffelalp
  • No.146: Winter Wonder Trail from Sunnegga to Riffelalp via Gant 
Snowshoeing Matterhorn

3. Matterhorn Museum

Gain some fascinating insight into the history of Zermatt and the various summit attempts of the Matterhorn at the intriguing Matterhorn Museum. Learn how the town progressed from a simple village for mountain farmers to a world-renowned luxury ski resort. Then discover the triumphs and tribulations of the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865.

Entry to the museum costs 10 CHF for adults, 8 CHF for seniors and students, and 5 CHF for children aged 10-16. Children under the age of 10 can enter for free. The Matterhorn Museum is open 15:00-18:00 every day.

4. Iglu Dorf

Situated just below Rotenboden, Iglu Dorf is an enchanting igloo village. Stop by for a mulled wine or an indulgent cheese fondue while you soak up the gorgeous views of the Matterhorn. Don’t miss the Home of Winter igloo for the dreamiest photo opportunity.

For a more immersive and once-in-a-lifetime experience, book to stay the night in one of the igloos. Step into the hot tub and gaze at the stars for the most romantic of stays. 

Iglu Dorf

5. Tobogganing

Zermatt is home to the highest toboggan run in the Alps. The Rotenboden toboggan run offers a thrilling descent against the panoramic backdrop of the Matterhorn. Suitable for all ages, including families with children, it’s an utterly joyous way to spend time in the mountains

This particular run can be accessed via the cog train at Rotenboden. Once you’ve purchased a Sledding Ticket and hired a sled, you can enjoy the toboggan run as many times as you like.

6. Paragliding

What better way to take in the spectacular mountain vistas than by flying through the air. Book with Zermatt Paragliding and choose from several different flights. Prices range from 170-380 CHF, depending on the flight chosen.

Experience the initial rush of adrenaline as you take off into the air, then sit back and relax as you enjoy breathtaking views.

Zermatt Paragliding

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Best hotels in Zermatt

Zermatt is awash with ultra luxury five-star hotels. Many Zermatt hotels are complete with sumptuous spas, breathtaking mountain vistas, and exquisitely stylish interiors. Here are some of the best hotels in Zermatt.

Omnia Hotel

THE OMNIA

An ultra luxury mountain hideaway offering a contemporary interpretation of the classic alpine lodge. Complete with a Michelin-starred restaurant, uninterrupted views of the Matterhorn, and an elegant spa.

CERVO Zermatt

CERVO MOUNTAIN RESORT

A boutique five star hotel that offers laid-back luxury, modern decor, and the ultimate comfort. The Mountain Ashram Spa is a highlight, as are the selection of world-class restaurants and authentic hospitality.

Riffelalp Hotel

RIFFELALP RESORT

Located at 2,222m high, Riffelap Resort is within touching distance of the Matterhorn. It’s also home to Europe’s highest spa and outdoor pool, as well as three exceptional restaurants. An unforgettable stay is guaranteed.

Mont Cervin

MONT CERVIN PALACE

Luxury is woven into every crevice at Mont Cervin Palace in Zermatt. A member of the “Leading Hotels of the World’, you know you’ll be looked after here. Discover stylish rooms and a prestigious spa and wellness area.

Hotel Zermatterhof

GRAND HOTEL ZERMATTERHOF

A deluxe five-star hotel in the heart of Zermatt, the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof brings charm, character and culinary excellence in abundance. Sit back and relax in the Alpine Wellness Spa after a long day on the slopes.

Hotel Alpenlodge

HOTEL ALPENLODGE

A more budget-friendly option, Hotel Alpenlodge is a small family-run hotel located outside of the town centre. It offers spacious rooms decorated in a traditional alpine style, along with genuine hospitality from the friendly team.

Best chalets in Zermatt

For larger groups, staying in an opulent chalet will be an unforgettable experience. Zermatt ski resort knows how to do luxury chalets. Whether you prefer self-catered or fully catered services, here are the best chalets in Zermatt.

Tuftra Findelbach

CHALET TUFTRA FINDELBACH

A large luxury ski chalet with eight bedrooms and a coveted skin-in location. Interiors comprise a spacious open-plan living area, high quality wellness facilities, and generous windows for enjoying beautiful views of the Matterhorn.

Christiana Penthouse

CHRISTIANA PENTHOUSE

An elegantly designed penthouse apartment in an ideal location in the centre of Zermatt. Stylish interiors meet a warm and inviting ambience, complete with luxury touches. Features a cinema room and private sauna.

Chalet Elbrus

CHALET ELBRUS

A high-end luxury chalet in the heart of Zermatt, offering gorgeous views of the Matterhorn. The interiors are sumptuous and the private spa and wellness area is a highlight. A wonderfully elegant mountain retreat.

Heinz Julen Loft

HEINZ JULEN LOFT

Manhattan loft meets alpine lodge in this unique chalet in Zermatt. Seamlessly blending glass, steel, concrete and wood, it is a truly stunning property with six metre floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s extravagant and it’s spectacular.

Chalet Denali

CHALET DENALI

An elegant mountain sanctuary with a cosy but indulgent feel. With impeccable attention to detail and unparalleled views of the Matterhorn, this is a truly special chalet. Complete with a wellness spa, cinema room and south-facing terrace.

Zermatt Lodge

THE ZERMATT LODGE

A five-star chalet apartment in Zermatt, this unique attic lodge features stylish decor, two cosy wood fires, a private sauna and an outdoor jacuzzi. With incredible Matterhorn views, it’s easy to see why this luxurious chalet is so popular.

Best restaurants in Zermatt

As you would expect from a luxury Swiss ski resort, Zermatt offers an impressive selection of restaurants both on and off the mountain. From Michelin-starred fine dining to traditional alpine eateries, here are the best restaurants in Zermatt.

Mountain restaurants

Chez Vrony

CHEZ VRONY

An award-winning mountain restaurant at 2,130 metres in Findeln, Chez Vrony offers a warm welcome and stunning views of the Matterhorn. Tuck into organic, local produce on the lively and inviting restaurant terrace.

Zum See Restaurant

RESTAURANT ZUM SEE

Michelin-recommended Restaurant Zum See is a charming eatery serving honest international cuisine. It’s an iconic restaurant that has earned its status as one of the best mountain restaurants in the world.

Findlerhof Zermatt

RESTAURANT FINDLERHOF

Another excellent mountain restaurant located in Findeln, Restaurant Findlerhof offers mouth-watering Swiss cuisine with a side of magnificent views. This is the place to enjoy a cosy and relaxed atmosphere.

Town restaurants

Schäferstube

SCHÄFERSTUBE

This is the place for indulging in raclette or cheese and meat fondue. Schäferstube is a cosy, rustic restaurant with traditional cottage charm and a rich history. It’s sure to be an unforgettable meal.

The Omnia Restaurant

OMNIA RESTAURANT

A sleek restaurant headed up by Tony Rudolph, located in the five-star hotel of the same name. Show-stopping flavours and authentic seasonal produce create dishes which are influenced by the alpine surroundings.

After Seven

AFTER SEVEN

With one Michelin star to its name, After Seven offers discerning diners a creative fine dining experience. The smart interiors were designed by Heinz Julen and the cuisine is modern and truly exceptional.

Zermatt nightlife & après

A day on the slopes would not be complete without après. From lively party spots to high-end wine bars, here are the best nightlife and après bars in Zermatt.

Hennu Stall

HENNU STALL

One of the most popular aprés ski places in Zermatt, Hennu Stall is located towards the bottom of the Furi-Zermatt slope. It’s a lively spot with a DJ and live band – perfect for a drink (or three) and a dance.

Harry’s Bar

HARRY’S SKI BAR

Another lively spot where you can drink, dance and sing the night away. Staff wear traditional costumes, the music provides sing-along pop songs, and the Steigl beer flows freely. Or there are plenty of wines and cocktails to enjoy.

Papperla Pub

PAPPERLA PUB

A buzzy Zermatt pub with a welcoming terrace and a great vibe. Whether you’re after wine or whisky, beers or cocktails, burgers or nachos, Papperla Pub will deliver. Located in the heart of Zermatt, it has become somewhat of a cult venue.

Snowboat

SNOWBOAT

So-called for its unusual boat-shaped building, Snowboat is a bar and sushi restaurant. This is the place for amazing cocktails and a buzzy atmosphere. Don’t miss out on the impeccable sushi on offer in the Yacht Club Restaurant.

Elsies Bar

ELSIE’S WINE BAR

For a more refined aprés experience, head to Elsie’s bar for champagne and oysters. Browse the list of first-class wines while you soak up the cosy atmosphere. It’s a stylish but lively aprés destination in Zermatt.

Broken Bar Disco

BROKEN BAR DISCO

For those who like to party late into the night, Broken Bar Disco is the place to be. Considered to be one of the most legendary nightclubs in the Swiss Alps with its famous wine barrel, you’re sure to be in for a fun night.

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Planning a ski trip? Have a read of these ski & snowboard travel articles to help you plan your adventure.

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