A Guide to Winter Magic in Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt is one of the most magical places on earth. If you've seen "The Grinch", it's Whoville but in real life. Nestled in a beautiful valley in the Swiss Alps at the base of the famed and mighty Matterhorn, Zermatt is a charming town with a lot of soul. Zermatt is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise: world class skiing, hiking, alpine tobogganing and 8000m views await. Come back from your day of activity and treat your tired bones in the sauna at your ski lodge or enjoy a well-deserved beer at the local watering hole with likeminded skiers from around the world. Zermatt is a dream destination that keeps me coming back every December as part of my personal Christmastime pilgrimage to Europe, and it will keep you coming back too.
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Where to stay in Zermatt, Switzerland
Design-focused B&B in the Matterhorn region of Switzerland with cozy rooms offering mountain views.
A charming, centrally-located stay with friendly staff, cozy rooms as well as Finnish and infrared saunas.
Hyper-individualized service, superb cuisine and impeccable design abound at this well-appointed, supremely tasteful mountain lodge.
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Things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland
Skiing: This is a no-brainer if you're up for a cold but thrilling adventure. (Pro tip: nearly all slopes accessible from Zermatt blues and beyond, so if you're not a skilled skier an instructor is essential.)
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise: Ride to the highest cable car station in Europe to the top of Klein Matterhorn. Panoramic views of 38,4000m peaks between Italy and Switzerland and 14 glaciers await.
Ski-in happy hour: Pop your skis off and stay a while at Alder-Hitta or Hennu Stall. A refreshing après-ski (or two) awaits.
Alpine Tobogganing: Find the Alps' highest toboggan run between Roteboden and Riffelberg on the Gornergrat.
Hiking: Hike year round in Zermatt. The Europa Trail between Grächen and Zermatt is considered by many to be the most beautiful hike in the Alps.
Matterhorn Museum - Learn about the tragic and triumphant history of alpinism in Zermatt and the development of the city at The Matterhorn Museum, located near the center of town. Be careful - during off-peak travel times, the Museum is often only open a few days per week and on very limited afternoon manhours.
Paragliding: This is not for the faint of heart! Meet the Alps up close and personal. And yes, you can paraglide in the dead of winter!
Matterhorn sightseeing: Arguably one of the best views of The Matterhorn comes from the sunny deck at Sunnegga. About $25 USD gets you a round trip ticket on the funicular to Sunnegga, where you can purchase food and a spritz from the cafeteria and soak in the sun and blow-your-mind Matterhorn views while watch as thousands of skiers show off their skills on the blue slopes below.
A note from Ashtin
Although it can be enjoyed year round, Zermatt is at its best during the winter. Zermatt is car-free and only accessible by train from Täsch station, about a 12 minute ride away.
Zermatt is relatively small and very walkable, however there are plenty of small taxis that can transport you to your hotel, to the ski lifts, or wherever else you may want to go. The closest airports are Zurich and Geneva, but I highly recommend flying into Geneva and spending a day or two on Lake Geneva in Montreux or Vevey.
Places to eat & drink in Zermatt, Switzerland
Brown Cow: A rustic tavern with burgers, hot dogs, soups and even Ben + Jerry's ice cream, situated in the Hotel Post.
Buffet Bar Sunnegga: Meet up with your group after a morning of skiing at Sunnegga for a well-deserved hot lunch and a cold beer. Don't let the cafeteria-style service fool you - the röstis are as good as anywhere else.
Whymper-Stube: A traditional cheese fondue experience is an absolute must for anyone traveling to Switzerland, but Whymper-Stube stands out for its old school, traditionalist approach to fondue. Reservations can be made by email and are a must.
Manud: Japanese Izakaya in Switzerland?! Yep, and it's fantastic.
Snacks + Treats
Stefanie's Creperie: A literal hole in the wall, but in a good way! Get the Nutella crepe. Trust me. Vegan options available.
Laderach Chocolatiers: Right across the street from the train station. Suisse chocolate at its finest. Pick anything. It's all good.
Harry's Bar: The quintessential après-ski spot in Zermatt! Snow bunnies and night owls alike love Harry's.
Snowboat Bar & Yacht Club: Take a left hand turn out of the Sunnegga funicular station after a long day of skiing and step right in to Snowboat. In the late afternoon, it's standing room only.
Need to Know
For inspiration on skiing in Switzerland, check out this guide by Fora Advisor Arielle Wat: Alpine Adventure into Switzerland's Winter Wonderland.
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