I spent two days in Zermatt, a beautiful unique car-free village tucked away in the Swiss alps near the famous Matterhorn, and loved every minute of it. Zermatt is like the present you didn’t know you wanted until you got there and fell in love. It is such a cute village, especially in early September with bright flower pots all over the houses and restaurants making it all look so dreamy.
A car is not required and is a hindrance here anyway. Catching the train to Zermatt was easy and scenic. Getting around town is done on foot or by horse and carriage, gondolas or electric cars – all lots of fun. Most accommodation places will pick you up in their electric cars or horse and carriages from the train station (at no extra charge). This is perfectly common and normal in this village.
I was surprised that many people outside of Europe have never heard of Zermatt, but everyone has heard of the Matterhorn mountain. Shaped like a pyramid and dominating the skyline, the Matterhorn is what Zermatt is most famous for. Even Disneyland created a ride called the Matterhorn inspired by the mountain of the same name. It is a spectacular sight, and I had the pleasure of staying in a wonderful room at the Hotel Rex with a fabulous view of this mountain. The mountain has such a commanding presence you cannot help but gaze at it in awe.
For those who want to get even closer to the Matterhorn, there are a few options from Zermatt including:
- The Gornergrat Bahn (Cog railway to the Matterhorn) – you can use the viewing platform, eat, shop or check in at The Kulmhotel and engage in stargazing
- Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (cable car to a panoramic platform and ice palace
- Sunnegga funicular to a viewing platform
Yes I know, it’s a tough decision, but if you can’t choose, then you can do both the Gornergrat and Glacier Paradise with a Peak2Peak ticket which is half price with a Swiss Travel Pass.
But theres a few things I loved about Zermatt in summer that were totally free. They included walking the village streets which are absolutely charming and laden with flowers everywhere is a ‘must-do’. The swiss cheese shops were irresistible and I will confess to buying a few hunks of cheese and consuming it back in my room on the balcony while gazing at the Matterhorn.
Besides doing all the wonderful hikes, another free activity which I highly recommend, was walking around the Old Village (Hinterdorfstrasse) which is strewn with farm buildings a few hundred years old made of larchwood. Many of these two-story wooden shelters housed people, animals and their feed. They are intriguing and show what Zermatt used to be like once upon a time.
Personally, I was a little in love with Zermatt on Day 1, by Day 2 I was smitten, that means completely in love, and didn’t want to leave. It was completely different to anywhere else I went in Switzerland from how it looks, to the vibe and feel of the place. The town is absolutely adorable and all the cute little places for drinks and dinner make it so hard to choose. There were lots of adventurers and hikers in the main street, but the town was fairly quiet at night, probably because it was a Sunday and Monday night. There was no problem finding good restaurants to eat at though.
As I write this I am planning my return trip. Two days was enough to make me realise I want more.
What to do in Zermatt in Summer
Whoever told you there wasn’t much to do or see in Zermatt is dreaming. I could have easily spent a week here, particularly since I love a scenic walk or two:
- Hike all over the place – mountain walks, forest walks, lake walks
- Stroll the pretty streets of Zermatt and visit quaint restaurants and bars
- Explore Hinterdorfstrasse, the Old Village, which dates back to the 16th century
- Admire the Matterhorn
- Take the cog railway to the Matterhorn (Gornergrat Bahn)
- Take the cable car to a viewing platform for the Matterhorn and visit the ice palace
- Take the funicular from Zermatt to Sunnegga for great views, swimming in the lake, hiking, picnicking
- Matterhorn Museum
- Mountaineers Cemetery
- Visit Findeln for lunch (lots of great restaurants)
- Visit St Mauritius Church (built over a hundred years ago)
- Take a horse and carriage tour around the village backstreets
- Luxuriate and relax in one of the many hotels designed for this purpose (they are a feature in Zermatt) – take time out
- Take a day trip on the Glacier Express
Short walks in Zermatt
There are many walks in Zermatt, long, short, medium. Those who want longer challenging scenic hikes will find plenty. But for those who just like a nice stroll, there are still plenty for you to enjoy. Here are just a few of the short ones for those who just want to take it relatively easy:
- Sunnegga to Tufteren: 1 hr walking return (from a lovely forest to a mountain village with a restaurant and great outlook). Begin at Sunnegga Lift Station/Railway (4 mins getting the underground express). Get the lift up, walk below restaurant sun terrace to the village of Tuftern (1/2 hr). Return the same way.
- Zermatt to Zum See and Blatten (1 hr walking)
- Easy Forest Walk (1 hour total), begins and ends at Papperla Pub.
- Zermatt to Findeln. (2.5hrs return including 1.5 hrs up and 1 down) – great variety of views and good restaurants at Findeln
For more information on a wide range of trails available (long and short), the Zermatt Matterhorn website can help.
Accommodation in Zermatt
Zermatt has many fabulous places to stay, you will be spoilt for choice. If you stay well outside of ski season, I found prices often dropped by at least half, if not more. Just make sure you are a comfortable walking distance to town. I stayed at the Hotel Rex in September and found it very impressive, luxurious, relaxing and wonderful value for money. I couldn’t believe how reasonably priced it was for what we got. It is just a short walk from the main street (about 9 minutes) and a good breakfast was included, along with a matterhorn view from the room and beautiful wellness area. I felt like I was staying in a place that was worth 3 times what I paid.
If you are looking for just one place on your Europe itinerary to drop anchor and spend some time out in affordable luxury relaxing, then Zermatt should be it. The village has so many wonderful hotels that will meet the brief for gorgeous wellness facilities. And you can arrive or leave on the Glacier Express train. Yes, I’m a little in love with Zermatt and its accommodation options. Can’t wait to return to this quaint village!
Do you want to go to Zermatt or have you been?