Switzerland in the winter is a skiers paradise. A Zermatt winter escape needs to be on your winter travel bucket list. Whether you have 1 day in Zermatt or one week there are so many things to do in Zermatt. If you are a skiers or non-skiers this Zermatt winter travel guide will help you create an epic itinerary.
Imagine a hallmark movie set in the Swiss alps, with ski chalets dotting the mountainside surrounding a river running through the center of town, and horse drawn carriages picking people up to bring them to their hotels.
That is Zermatt.
If you are looking for adventures from paragliding and skiing, to exploring the culinary scene of Zermatt this winter travel guide is for you!
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What is there to do in Zermatt village in winter?
Zermatt is a must in the winter and the village is magical. From cute coffee shops, to decadent restaurants, and world class spas there is something for everyone (even non-skiers in the winter).
Here are just a few things to do in the winter in Zermatt Village:
Matterhorn Museum is great especially if there is inclement weather. It tells the history of the Zermatt Village, and shares about the exploration and extreme sports traditions surrounding the Matterhorn. This museum can be seen in about 1.5 hours and is located by the old church.
The Parish Church of St Mauritius is definitely a beautiful historic Swiss church. The parish dates back to 1285, but the current church was built in 1587. The church is listed in the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of Regional Significance.
Hinterdorf is the historic center of Zermatt and is interesting to walk through the 16th-18h century houses, stores, and barns. It is located on Hinterdorfstrasse, close to the old church in Zermatt and is a picturesque cobblestone street. I particularly enjoyed taking photos on this street at the end of the street down the hill is Harry’s Ski Bar Zermatt, a perfect place to apres ski or just enjoy the vibes of apres ski if you don’t ski.
Enjoy Views and Take A Photo At Kirchbrücke Bridge. This is an iconic photo you will see across instagram. It is a bridge that crosses the Matter Vispa. I found it particularly beautiful at sunset. This will offer the best views of the Matterhorn in the morning to avoid weather that may run in later in the day.
Pay Your Respects At The Mountaineers Cemetery- Many people have lost their lives climbing the Matterhorn. It was one of the last peaks to be submitted in the alps. The grave of two of the first climbers of the Matterhorn are here. They died on the first ascent of the Matterhorn. The ascent occurred on July 14, 1865 and was a success however on the way down four had died.
Spa Afternoon at Capricorn Spa to relax and enjoy the beautiful views of Matterhorn. They offer a day spa visiting pass. The Capricorn hotel allows day guests for CHF 25, which includes a finnish sauna, outdoor whirlpool, steambath, lounge access, and sauna.
Zermatt Winter Activities for Adventurous Travelers
Paragliding in Zermatt with Matterhorn Paragliding!
Paragliding in Zermatt is a must for adventure travelers or those looking for a once in a lifetime perspective of the Matterhorn. Plus you can do it year round with the folks at Matterhorn Paragliding! I was so lucky to have a VIP experience with Matterhorn Paragliding. They make everyone feel like a VIP here since the pilots meet you individually at the bottom of the Sunnegga Rothorn lift, and not only just jump off a mountain with you, but share valuable information about the 29 mountains surrounding Zermatt all above 4000 meters.
Allen was my pilot and owner of Matterhorn Paragliding. He and his wife run the business creating once in a lifetime experiences for tourists from around the world. The winter Zermatt flying above skiers, wild life, and the beautiful Swiss town of Zermatt.
Also, one of the best things is they provide a fly suit as well so you can have an added layer for warmth as it can get pretty chilly. My top tip for those looking to go with Matterhorn Paragliding in Zermatt can sometimes be tricky because of the conditions, so the trick is to book your trip early on during your stay in Zermatt. This is because while they fully reimburse you if weather or something doesn’t cooperate they can possibly reschedule you at another point in your trip. Check out the different flights and prices at Matterhorn Paragliding!
Experience Paragliding In Zermatt with Matterhorn Paragliding
I met Allen at the bottom of Sunnegga Funicular where you can either use your ski lift ticket or just purchase a one way to the top of Rothorn where you take off from.
Then you head up in the funicular, and take another lift all the way to the top at 3100 meters. When I saw how far I was going up I knew this was one of the highest take offs in Paragliding, but the pilots all are a team and really know what they are doing with Allen himself has been doing tandem flights since 2011!
Tandem paragliding is a highlight and bucket list Zermatt winter activity. This may be one of the most unique adventure travel experiences I have had to date. Since it truly felt VIP as we were the only ones in the air at the time with a perfect view of the Matterhorn.
Check out the flights here, be prepared that you need to pay for your own lift ticket as that is not included in the price. However, you will find that the Matterhorn Paragliding team will assuage your fears, keep you safe, and deliver an entertaining experience!
Eat your way through Zermatt
There are so many amazing places to eat in Zermatt. If you are looking to explore Zermatt village it is definitely worth exploring the various restaurants, cafes, and bars especially for apres ski.
While dining in Zermatt is not cheap, there are amazing restaurants for all budgets. If you want to splurge head to the Omnia restaurant, but if you want a more laid back experience with Swiss traditional food at Stadel.
Another place I enjoyed was the Unique Hotel, which had a lot of culinary choices from the Brown Cow Pub, Bao Bar, Vivanda, and Postli Stubli. So many choices I know.
Other restaurants in Zermatt I recommend:
Dupont for Swiss traditional affordable fare
Madre Nostre by CERVO for Italian food with amazing views of the Matterhorn. Also, they have a very cool apres ski vibe at the CERVO hotel.
Say Cheese! offers the best raclette and cheese fondue. It is located at the historic and luxurious Grand Hotel Zermatterhof. They also have another beautiful restaurant Lusi Brasserie and during the day they have the perfect place to enjoy views while sipping a drink with a blanket on your lap.
Fuchs Bakery there are a few coffee shops and bakeries by this Swiss brand where you can pick up sandwiches, pastries, coffee, and a light lunch or breakfast.
Le Petit Royal was recommended to me and it did not disappoint. It is a cute and quaint cafe. They have amazing coffee, and also great breakfast options.
Take it Doner if you are looking for something cheap and fast then head to Take it doner for some take away.
Best Apres Ski In Zermatt
After a day on the slopes, many skiers and snowboarders head to the village to enjoy the après-ski scene. Here are some of the best après-ski options in Zermatt:
Hennu Stall: Hennu Stall is a popular après-ski bar located in the village of Zermatt. This rustic bar is the perfect place to enjoy a cold beer or a hot mulled wine after a long day on the slopes. Hennu Stall is known for its lively atmosphere and live music, which often includes traditional Swiss folk music.
Papperla Pub: Papperla Pub is another popular après-ski spot in Zermatt. This lively bar is known for its extensive selection of beers, cocktails, and schnapps, as well as its delicious pub food. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, with live music and DJs spinning tunes well into the night.
Cervo Bar & Lounge: The Cervo Bar & Lounge is located in the Cervo Mountain Boutique Resort, one of Zermatt’s most luxurious hotels. This stylish bar offers stunning views of the Matterhorn and a menu of creative cocktails and small plates. The atmosphere is sophisticated and elegant, with a roaring fireplace and comfortable seating.
Mamacita is a great bar and Mexican restaurant it offers a unique twist to apres-ski. The colorful restaurant is known for its’ cocktails and live music. Also, they have a DJ that gets the crowd dancing as the night goes on.
Is Zermatt worth visiting if you don’t ski?
I would say it is 100 percent worth it if you don’t ski to visit Zermatt in the winter. Zermatt winter activities include paragliding, hiking, enjoying the food and sights of Zermatt, as well as going to the different viewpoints of the Zermatt Matterhorn Resort.
There are also many other activities for you to do from taking the lifts to the Matterhorn Glacier Express, the funicular to Sunnega Rothorn, or taking the Gornergrat Railway.
While I went skiing you could as easily have a beautiful day taking the Gornergrat Railway up and down the mountain. At the top is the 3100 Kulmhotel where you can stay or dine with the best view of the Swiss Alps. The observation area at the top offers views of 29 mountains all over 4000 meters high! Also, you can see Monte Rosa, the highest mountain in Switzerland.
The Gornergrat Bahn is the highest outdoor cog railway and it is electric! It runs 365 days a year and the journey takes around 30 minutes.
Try A Helicopter Scenic Tour
If you still want another taste of adventure take a scenic helicopter tour to get a different perspective of the Matterhorn as you soar above the surrounding mountains and village.
Another option is to rent some snowshoes or a toboggan and enjoy the winter landscape. There are several trails and toboggan runs in the Zermatt area. Gornergrat actually has Switzerland’s highest toboggan run.
Zermatt Matterhorn Ski Resort
One of the things on my bucket list was to ski in the Swiss Alps. I always had dreamed about it and not only was I doing it in the highest ski resort in Switzerland. Also, the Matterhorn is an iconic mountain that is worth skiing around once in your life if skiing is your passion.
What makes Zermatt Ski Matterhorn Ski Resort special is it has the 2nd longest run in the world that passes through Italy as well as Switzerland!
Also, the vibes on the mountain are on another level with some of the best apres-ski in the world. After a day on the slopes hit up Cervo for some live music, or hang on the mountain for some lunch at Chez Vrony or snacks at the Igloo Dorf.
Skiing in Zermatt
Zermatt is a world-renowned ski destination, with 360 kilometers of ski runs, 54 ski lifts, and an elevation of up to 3,883 meters. The ski season in Zermatt typically runs from November to April, although the exact dates can vary depending on the weather conditions. Some of the most popular ski runs in Zermatt include:
- Matterhorn Glacier Paradise: This is the highest ski area in Zermatt, with an elevation of 3,883 meters. It’s accessible via cable car from the village, and offers stunning views of the Matterhorn.
- Gornergrat: This is the second-highest ski area in Zermatt, with an elevation of 3,089 meters. It’s accessible via train from the village, and offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
- Schwarzsee: This ski area is located at an elevation of 2,583 meters, and is popular with intermediate skiers. It’s accessible via cable car from the village.
In addition to skiing, Zermatt also offers a range of other winter activities, including ice-skating, snowshoeing, and tobogganing.
How big is Zermatt Matterhorn Ski Resort?
Zermatt Matterhorn Ski Resort is huge and while much of the terrain is made for intermediate to expert skiers there are plenty of blues. The 360 km of pistes can be divided into 74 KM of blue trails, 227 km of red runs, and 20 km of black runs.
The part of the resort I enjoyed most was the Gornergrat area with plenty of blue runs and some reds. However if you are a beginner Sunnegga is the best area to begin your ski holiday.
Zermatt ski conditions
If you are used to skiing in the Northeast USA like me, icy conditions are the norm, but not in Zermatt where you can expect powder, and bluebird days. I especially loved how the lifts, town, and everything were well connected. Check out the Zermatt Snow Report & Snow Forecast before you trip though because weather can be finicky.
Zermatt Ski Pass Prices
There are a few options depending on what you want to accomplish skiing in Zermatt. Zermatt Ski Pass prices reflect this. If you want to just ski on the Swiss side of the Matterhorn the price is cheaper. But if you are a beginner and just want to ski in the Sunnegga- Blauherd an area specifically for beginners and pay as little as CHF 66 for one day.
I also met many Americans that were traveling the area because of their Ikon pass which covers nearby Chamonix as well as Zermatt.
When I visited Zermatt I was worried that the ski rentals would cost a lot. I booked online with Intersportrent.ch and received my helmet, ski boots, skis, and poles for under 60 Swiss francs.
Zermatt Ski Map
How many days in Zermatt?
I would recommend visiting Zermatt for 3 days as there are so many activities and things to do in Zermatt winter or summer. 3 days in Zermatt is great if you want to have one day of skiing and one day trying another epic adventure. It also gives you some time to relax to enjoy a spa, the Zermatt village, apres-ski, and enjoy the mountain vibes of this Swiss chalet town.
How to Get To Zermatt
Zermatt is located in the Swiss Alps and is not accessible by car. Here are the most common ways to get to Zermatt:
- By train: The easiest and most scenic way to get to Zermatt is by train. Zermatt has its own train station, which is connected to the Swiss rail network via the town of Visp. Trains run regularly from major Swiss cities like Geneva, Zurich, and Bern, and the journey takes about 3-4 hours. From Visp, you can take a scenic narrow-gauge train that winds through the mountains and takes you directly to Zermatt. In my opinion this is the best way to get to Zermatt.
- By car: While you cannot drive directly to Zermatt, you can drive to the nearby town of Täsch and park your car there. From Täsch, you can take a shuttle train or an electric taxi to Zermatt, as cars are not allowed in the village. If you are renting a car, be sure to check with your rental company about parking options in Täsch.
- By plane: Zermatt is not served by an airport, but the closest international airports are Geneva, Zurich, and Milan. From these airports, you can take a train or rent a car to reach Zermatt. The journey from Geneva or Zurich airports takes about 3-4 hours by train. The closest airport to Zermatt for me was Geneva, but I also took the train with a connection in Visp directly to Zurich Airport when I left.
- By helicopter: If you prefer a more scenic and luxurious way to arrive in Zermatt, you can take a helicopter from the nearby airports or cities. Several helicopter companies offer transfers to Zermatt, with flight times ranging from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the departure point.
Check out SBB for more about train schedules and buying tickets.
How to get from Geneva to Zermatt?
Here is a detailed guide on how to get from Geneva to Switzerland by train:
My first tip is to download the SBB train app to purchase train tickets. It is up to date with train schedules and can help plan your journey. Also if you know you will be coming back to where you are buying a ticket from it is cheaper to buy a round trip ticket.
It is easy to grab a train from Geneva Airport to get to the central train station, Gare Cornavin. The journey takes around 6 minutes and trains run every few minutes throughout the day.
From Geneva main train station, take a direct train to Visp, which is the closest train station to Zermatt. The journey takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes and trains run every hour. You can check the timetable and purchase tickets in advance on the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) website or at the train station.
Once you arrive in Visp, transfer to the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway (MGB) which connects Visp to Zermatt. The train journey takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes and is a scenic ride through the Swiss Alps. The train runs every hour. You can check the timetable and purchase tickets in advance on the MGB website or at the train station.
On arrival you may notice no cars! That is because Zermatt is vehicle free! From the train station, you can easily walk to your accommodation or take an electric taxi to get around the village.
In total, the journey from Geneva to Zermatt by train takes around 3 hours and 30 minutes. However, the stunning Alpine scenery along the way makes the journey an experience in itself.
Zurich to Zermatt is similar accept you just have to connect in Visp to get to Zermatt.
Know Before You Go To Zermatt
How much is it to dine out?
Zermatt restaurants range but many are high-end restaurants and luxury dining experiences, which can be quite expensive. On average, a meal for one person at a mid-range restaurant in Zermatt can cost between 30 and 50 Swiss Francs (CHF). While a meal at a high-end restaurant can cost upwards of 100 CHF or more per person.
However, it’s also worth noting that there are more affordable options available in Zermatt, such as casual cafes and local eateries. These can be a great way to sample local cuisine and save money on dining expenses. Additionally, many hotels in Zermatt offer half-board or full-board meal packages, which can be a good value if you plan on eating most of your meals at your hotel.
Overall, the cost of dining in Zermatt can be high. There are options available to suit different budgets and preferences. If you don’t want to get sticker shock, do some research on restaurants and read reviews before you go.
Where did I stay?
Hotel Bahnhof is a hostel/hotel budget accommodation located extremely close to the Zermatt train station. There are dorms, private rooms, and private rooms ensuite. There is a kitchen where you can cook, a coffee machine that as surprisingly good for only a 2 CHF coffee. They also offer a ski locker so you can put your things there after you check out safely while you ski for the day.
Hotel Phoenix also offered a great view of the Matterhorn. I had my own outdoor area with a seat and table perfect for coffee with a view. My room was clean, and gave a modern cabin feel. They have a gym, sauna, and amazing breakfast in the morning. It is located a bit of a trek from the train station, so I recommend taking an electric taxi. That cost me about 12 CHF Swiss francs.
Zermatt Winter Travel Guide Wrap Up
Decide to come to experience Zermatt winter! Whether you are a non-skier or avid adventure traveler there is something for everyone in this fairytale Swiss village in the alps.
Want to explore other parts of the Valais canton of Switzerland or looking to ski on a budget check out my article on my experience Coliving in Liddes.