Top Activities in Zermatt: Getting the Most Out of this Mind-Blowing Alpine Region
Making other villages green with envy, Zermatt proudly waves the Swiss banner with its immaculate viewpoints and its eclectic mountain scene. Sleeping at the foot of the famous Alpine mountain range, this shining gem is at the pedestal of skiers and hikers. But while Zermatt is already the cream of the crop for all sorts of mountain activities, there’s so much in this region that can keep you coming back for more. So don’t stop at packing your ski boots just yet because below are some of the top activities in Zermatt that scream fun and excitement:
How to Get There
An international ski region, a world-renowned resort, and a dreamy travel destination are only some of the few phrases that fit Zermatt’s shoes. Located in the Valais region, this town is no stranger to seasoned travelers. Its geography opens endless possibilities even for non-hikers, so it’s no surprise why many add it to their #travelgoals.
Lying at the foot of the highest peaks in Switzerland, Zermatt is impressive on its own. To preserve the view of the Matterhorn, it wards off air pollution by prohibiting the use of combustion-engine-operated vehicles. So if you plan to drive directly to Zermatt, it’s time to prep a back-up travel plan. Inside this eco-village, you’d only see bicycles, solar-powered buses, and other types of battery-operated vehicles as a main means of transport.
To reach Zermatt, you can book a train ride from either Zurich-Kloten or Geneva-Cointrin airport. The travel time by train ranges between 3 ½ to 4 hours. If, on the other hand, you find it more convenient to travel by car, there’s a designated parking space in Täsch, which is about 5 kilometers away from the village. From there, you can book a train that takes you to the heart of Zermatt. The ticket costs around €3.68 per passenger.
Make the Most Out of Skiing in Zermatt
What to do in Zermatt? That’s a no brainer. The three-letter answer is staring right back at you. SKI. Or so the pros say. And for good reason.
As one of the top ski resorts in the world, skiing in Zermatt is almost as natural as breathing. Surrounded by the majestic Alpine landscape, the snow in the region is available all-year-round, making it a go-to travel destination for ski enthusiasts (and daredevil mountaineers). The glaciers surrounding the town prevent snow from fully evaporating during the summer season. So if you can’t wait for winter, you can still ski in Zermatt, specifically on the Breithorn plateau.
The snow in Zermatt is around 1,600 meters deep, which is the height of a train station. Along with its abundant snow are 360-kilometer pistes, a wonderland for both beginner and pro-level skiers. The pistes are distributed around Switzerland and Italy’s borders, so you can find endless ski runs on both ends.
If you’re a snowboarder or a freestyler, you can also visit the famous Snow Park in Zermatt, which gives you fantastic views of Matterhorn. Looking for extreme slopes? Word of advice: be extra cautious when skiing on the Matterhorn. The mountain is undeniably beautiful, but its tricky slopes are not for novice skiers.
Sight-See at Gornergrat
A historical railway masterpiece, the Gornergrat train takes you on a once-in-a-lifetime journey. The train departs from Zermatt’s village center to the iconic Gornergrat rocky ridge, which stands around 3,089 meters above sea level. The train ride only takes 35 to 45 minutes, and from its vantage point, you’d see an irreplaceable view of the Alpine mountains.
Once you get off the train, a 5-minute climb to Gornergrat’s observatory awaits you. Sitting on a rocky ridge, the observatory gives you panoramic views of the Alps. From this viewpoint, you can easily see the Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, the Lyskamm, the Miscahabel group, and the Zwillinge. So if taking picture-perfect mountain views is in your itinerary (which should be), booking a train ride to the Gornergrat is a must.
Aside from out-of-this-world views, you’ll also find Switzerland’s highest hotel, 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat here. If you want to make the most out of your visit to the Alps, a stop in this hotel is sure to cap off your trip. On your way back to Zermatt, you can also find restaurants and other villages famous for their scenic views. Perfect for those who’d like to take a break from skiing in Zermatt, Gornergrat never fails to meet every traveler’s expectations.
Hike Zermatt’s Pristine Lakes
The top activities in Zermatt don’t end at skiing and sight-seeing, thanks to its crystal-clear lakes. One of the most popular hikes here is the 5 Lakes Trail, which vividly reflects Matterhorn’s exceptional beauty.
The 5 Lakes Trail kicks off at Blauherd, which is reachable via an underground funicular and a lift. The entire trail is accessible and the slopes are not steep, making it appealing for both solo and group hikers.
Overall, hiking this 9-kilometer loop can take up to 4 hours, picture-taking and glacier-hunting included. The hike incline is only about 241 meters, so if you’re hiking with kids, this trail is perfect for you.
As the name suggests, the 5 Lakes Trail takes you to 5 different Swiss lakes: Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grunsee, Moosjisee, and Leisee. Equally stunning, these lakes show you Matterhorn at different angles. Once you arrive at Blauherd, you can follow signages that take you around the loop. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can also slightly get off the trail to find other viewpoints and explore glaciers.
You can also stumble upon mountain huts that serve meals and refreshments, which is a huge plus if you ask us. Just imagine sipping coffee as you enjoy magnificent mountain views and you’d get the point. Yup, take us to Zermatt, ASAP!
The trail ends at Sunnega, where you can book an underground funicular to hop back to Zermatt. Family-friendly, convenient, and breathtaking, the 5 Lakes Trail is worth a day trip if you want to see Matterhorn in a different light.
Hold Your Breath and Paraglide in Zermatt
What to do in Zermatt if you need an extra pump of adrenaline rush? One word. Paraglide. Inarguably, nothing beats a face-to-face encounter with the magical Alpine mountains–something you’d get from a complete paragliding experience.
If it’s your first time to launch from the skies, don’t worry. You can leave it all up to the professional pilots that can efficiently circle you around Matterhorn. If, by contrast, you love the extra thrill and adventure, you can book a course from local flying schools in the village. For first-time flyers, tandem flights are highly recommended. Paragliding may be overwhelming (and scary) at first glance, but once you’re up there, you’d know why it’s worth taking the jump.
Some of the famous take-off points for paragliders include the Gornergrat, Klein Matterhorn, Blauherd, Rothorn, and Riffelberg. From up there, you’d see the Alpine mountains from a completely different perspective. You can also get a bird’s eye view of small villages, along with the Gornergrat train.
As if the mountain views are not impressive enough, there’s something about paragliding that makes it one of the top activities in Zermatt. Free as an eagle that gently soars up in the sky, paragliding gives you the ultimate sense of freedom. So if you’re in the Alps and your budget (and your heart) is up for it, don’t miss out on the chance to paraglide.
Get the Most Out of this Mountain Biking Paradise
The top activities in Zermatt won’t be complete without a mountain biking experience. With 38 mountain peaks surrounding the village, there’s no need to think twice about renting a bike to explore the gorgeous Alpine meadows. Plus, biking around the village also gets you more acquainted with the town and its locals.
First time to ride a mountain bike? Go easy on yourself and bike around the foot of the mountains–something even your children can participate in! If you’re an intrepid biker, Zermatt also won’t disappoint. There are endless bike trails that allow you to explore and polish your mountain biking techniques. Plus, the village also holds its very own bike festival, TrailLove, to celebrate the sport. The festival is usually held in September, so if you live for exploring biking trails, this month is a great time to visit.
You can get the village’s mountain bike trail map at its tourist office. The map covers around 100 kilometers of sanctioned trails, but it doesn’t stop there. It also has single tracks that can keep your pedals busy for days. There are also bike tours that can give you a better idea of Zermatt’s best trails. But if you want to go solo, you can plan your trail by simply downloading the SuperTrail App.
So if you’re still wondering what to do in Zermatt when you’re done with skiing, go ride your bike and just enjoy circling around this eco-friendly village and its great mountains. With fresh air and a good workout as a combo, you won’t even want to leave this beautiful village.
Ride a Gondola
Matterhorn may be best explored by skiing in Zermatt, but it’s not the only way you can appreciate its impressive glaciers and peaks. If hiking or paragliding isn’t your cup of tea, booking a gondola is one of the best ways you can keep your feet 3,883 above the ground.
The famous gondola in the village is Europe’s highest viewing platform. It takes you to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, which gives you panoramic mountain views. The ride takes about 40 minutes, and it gets you closer to the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps. Even better, children of up to 8 years old are granted free admission, making it a budget and family-friendly activity.
Ideal for your first few days, a gondola ride is by far one of the top activities in Zermatt for every type of traveler. Whether you decide to get off and take a hike or just sit down, relax, and appreciate the stunning views, a gondola ride is sure to lift your spirits high.
Explore the Village on Foot and Get a Massage
Even without Matterhorn as its backdrop, Zermatt is not just an ordinary village. Perfectly complementing the lush Alpine mountainsides, this town is always a great place to come home to. The absence of air pollution is one thing, but its pedestrian-friendly lanes create a warm atmosphere in the entire village.
Inside the village, you’d see well-preserved chalets teeming with local restaurants, shops, and hotels. This, along with century-old stables and barns in Hinterdorf, creates a great contrast and variety in Zermatt. Something old, something green, something unique–the village has it all.
Bahnhofstrasse, which is the main street in Zermatt, is the perfect spot to dine out and people-watch. Stay there for a few minutes and you’d realize how outdoorsy travelers love Zermatt. Snowboards, mountain bikes, and hiking packs are the common denominators among the village’s mainstays, so it’s no surprise if you’d feel an energetic vibe. The locals here are quite friendly, too. So if you want to get insider tips, make sure to return their warm welcome.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to drop by the town’s shopping district. Bahnhofstrasse has 316 shops that sell a wide variety of clothing and souvenirs. If you want a good bargain, visit Lorenz Bach, where you can find amazing deals for designer items. Need some muscle therapy after a long day of sight-seeing in town? You can also find beauty spas and indoor pools in many of its hotels.
The icing on top: the chocolates in Zermatt are amazing, so don’t hesitate to buy a handful before you head home.
Enjoy the Swiss Cheese
What’s the best way to end a long day of hiking, biking, and everything outdoor-related? Grab a cheese fondue as you watch the amazing sunset views in this Alpine region.
Cheese, as you probably already know, is one of the main delicacies in Switzerland. Use it as a dip for your perfectly-cooked meat, and you surely won’t want to wrap up your trip. There’s just something about the view of the Matterhorn, the chilly weather in Zermatt, and the creamy cheese fondue that spell happiness.
What’s more, you find a great variety of local specialties in ski resorts in Zermatt and in the mountainous regions. The menu is pricier, but if dining out in the Alpine mountains is one of your bucket-list-must-dos, go ahead and make the most out of your trip. It’s not everyday that you get to eat in the Alps anyway!
What to Do in Zermatt: Main Take-Aways
Skiing in Zermatt always come first–that’s a fact. But even in the absence of snow, the village can charm you in more ways than one. The perfect Swiss get-away for adventure seekers and sight-seers, the top activities in Zermatt opens you to a world full of adventures. You can spend a month in this village, and it still won’t be enough to quench your thirst for this Alpine region. It’s quiet. It’s still. It’s energetic. It’s a paradise that gives you all the great traveling superlatives.