Zermatt – the most beautiful region in Switzerland – practical guide

I have visited Switzerland a few times, but my last summer hiking trip was the most spectacular. First of all, because I finally managed to make the famous Augstmatthorn trail – Interlaken and Augstmatthorn trail – the most awaited hike in Switzerland and practice yoga at the sunrise  – Swiss mornings, yoga among the hills and the amazing Rigi Kaltbad hotel overlooking the Alps. Secondly, I spent more time in Zermatt. This region has knocked me to my knees with its amazing places, outdoor challenges and endless landscapes. For the time being, it’s my favorite part of Switzerland. It’s a crème de la crème of Switzerland.

 The car-free city of Zermatt, located in the canton of Valais at 1600 m above the sea level, attracts everyone who loves mountains. One of the most famous and beautiful mountains in the world, the 4478 m high Matterhorn rises above central Zermatt. It is accompanied by 28 four-thousanders (including Monte Rose and Mont Blanc) that are visible from the Gornergrat mountain railway station.

 In addition, Zermatt has more than 400 kilometers of hiking trails and 245 kilometers of ski and snowboarding tracks. These are mainly located on the eastern side of the valley, which can be reached via network of mountain railways, cable cars and gondolas. On the other hand, the western part of Zermatt valley offers peace, quietness and the opportunity to see amazing fauna such as marmots, chamois and ibexes.

 Tourists come here not only to relax in luxurious five-star hotels and world-class spas, but also to try traditional cuisine. It is an ideal place to combine the outdoor activities with stunning views and a great atmosphere of relaxation.

The ski season in Zermatt runs from late November to early May, but the height of the Klein Matterhorn station (3883 m) makes year-round skiing available on many glaciers. There is a lot to do here in summer and the peak of the season is from mid-June (when the snow melts on the higher mountain trails) to early October.

Where to stay in Zermatt

In Zermatt there are more than 100 hotels, some in traditional style, others very modern. The most recommended hotels are Monte Rosa (the first hotel in Zermatt), Grand Hotel Zermatterhof and Mont Cervin Palace. They offer bars open to non-residents, where guests can experience the hospitality that characterizes the Zermatt hotel tradition.

 I personally like boutique hotels with soul, so I decided to stay in Matthiol Boutique Hotel. It is a small hotel, with the very detailed design, which consists of several wooden houses in a beautiful mountain Swiss style. Located on the outskirts of the town, which guarantees a perfect peace and tranquility, it combines tradition and modernity. From the balconies you can admire the landscape, in the bedroom there is a bathtub overlooking the mountains and in the bathrooms there is a private sauna. In short words, it’s a perfect place to relax after a long day in the mountains. The hotel’s restaurant offers modern cuisine and the food is excellent. Honestly, I would like to spend more time in this place but during my last visit the schedule was really tight. But I had some nice time for a morning coffee with a mountain view and a long bath in a bathtub, so I can’t complain.

 Zermatt is a small town and all hotels are within a walking distance. So is the cable car and the train station. Some, located on the outskirts of the town, guarantee a wonderful view. If you choose one of them, you can use small electric buses. Many hotels also offer pick-up from the station.

Zermatt is relatively expensive, but there are also several cheap hotels. If you can’t find a hotel that fits your budget, you can consider booking a hotel in Täsch or another town nearby.

How to move around in Zermatt

Zermatt can be reached by train and cars are not allowed in town. However, the city itself is quite small and it’s easy to walk. You can also take an electric taxi or a tiny bus.

Railway stations in Zermatt

There are two railway stations in Zermatt: The “normal” railway station is the place where the Glacier Express and all other trains arrive. Across the street there is a another one for Gornergrat.

Car-free traffic

Drivers can use a parking in the nearby village of Täsch. From there, frequent trains leave for Zermatt. The journey takes about 10 minutes. You can also bypass the mountain road to Täsch by parking in Visp and then take the train to Zermatt.

Public transport

Small electric buses are the only public transport in Zermatt. If you have a ticket for any cable car/mountain train, you will get a free ride to get to the station. The buses are also free for anyone who has a Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Travel Pass Flex ticket. On request, many hotels offer a free transfer to and from the train station.

Mountain transport

The trails can be covered entirely on foot or combined with cable cars, lifts or trains. Most train passes give a discount on mountain transport tickets.

Advantages and disadvantages of Zermatt

The alpine landscapes and outdoor challenges that Zermatt offers are definitely its main advantages. However, you have to be aware that Zermatt is a tourist hotspot during the season, especially during the summer and winter months. For some, it may even be too touristic. I was at the beginning of July and even though there were a lot of people on popular trails, it didn’t destroy my experience.

In terms of weather, this is a specific place. The mountains either block the clouds before they come over the area, or keep them in one place for a long time. It may rain for days or not at all for weeks. It is best to be prepared for anything. Zermatt is an ideal place for outdoor sports, but if the weather is bad, going to a different city may be time-consuming. 

In Zermatt you can enjoy winter sports all year round. In winter the whole area around the town is available for skiing, snowboarding and winter hiking. In summer the Klein Matterhorn glacier offers skiing and snowboarding.

Bad weather conditions – what then?

If the weather is bad, you can consider:

– a visit to the Matterhorn Museum

– a city trip to Brig or Sion;

– a trip to Bern or Lausanne, if you don’t mind a very long day.

What to do in Zermatt

5-lakes trail

The trail leads to Leisee, Stellisee, Grindjisee and Grünsee lakes. Each of these mountain lakes differs in shape, color, character, size and has its own vibe. The views of the mountain lakes are wonderful (three of them reflect the Matterhorn) and the trail is full of diversity.

  • Route: Sunnegga – Leisee – Stellisee – Grindjisee – Grünsee – Mountain Lodge from Seewjin
  • Duration: 2 hours 20 minutes.
  • Distance: 6.4 km

You can read more about this trail here: 5 Lakes Trail in Zermatt – the less you expect, the more you receive!


Gornergrat (3089 m) is one of those places that everyone should visit at least once in a lifetime. The mountain panorama and the wonderful view of the Matterhorn are unforgettable. With its sunny viewing platform available all year round, it is one of the best tourist destinations in Switzerland. From here you have a guaranteed panorama of the Monte Rosa Massif with the highest Swiss mountain, the view of the second largest glacier in the Alps and 29 peaks with a height of over 4000 m.

Europe’s highest railway carries passengers all year round directly from Zermatt station (1620 m) to Gornergrat peak. The journey takes 33 minutes and requires a vertical ascent at 1469 m. The line runs for 9.4 km through bridges, galleries and tunnels and larch woods along rocky ravines and mountain lakes.

At the upper station of the cable car there is also Europe’s highest located hotel (3100 m above the sea level) – Kulmhotel Gornergrat. More information and the tickets HERE.

Gorner gorge – wooden sidewalks between the cliffes 

Wooden sidewalks leading between the cliffs show the power of nature. They are located in the immediate vicinity of the Blatten bridgehead and were first opened in 1886. There are two ways to cross the gorge: the upper part of the Gornerschlucht can be crossed in 3-4 hours with a mountain guide as a breathtaking adventure, or the lower part of the gorge can be crossed without special equipment using a wooden installation. More information HERE.

Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge

The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge rises above Randa at 700 m (at its highest point above the valley reaches 850 m). It is 500 meters long, which puts it in the first place among the hanging bridges in the world. It was open for the public in August 2017. If you take the main road from Visp to Täsch and Zermatt, you will be able to see it as you pass the village of Randa. In my opinion it is one of the absolute must-see attractions in the area. The experiences and views are breathtaking – literally!

  • Route: Randa – wooden cross – hanging bridge – Randa
  • Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes.
  • Distance: 7.6 km

You will read more about this unique place Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge – the longest suspension bridge in Europe – just don’t look down!

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

The Klein Matterhorn, which means “Little Matterhorn”, is a 3883 m high ridge between the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa massif. It’s often called ‘Matterhorn Glacier Paradise’.

The most frequently recorded view on all brochures and postcards is the view of the mountain from the northeast. If you want to see it with your own eyes, you better go to the Gornergrat or Sunnegga viewpoint. From Klein Matterhorn you will see the peak from the southeast, which gives a completely different perspective. Nevertheless, a visit to this unusual place is obligatory! The cable car ride itself is an attraction.

Read more about this amazing ice paradise here: Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (Klein Matterhorn) w Szwajcarii – przytłaczająca potęga natury i widok na 14 lodowców

The Breithorn summit

If you want a real outdoor adventure, go hike to the top of Breithorn. It is considered to be one of the easiest four-thousander hikes in the region. To do this, you need to be in excellent shape and have prior mountain hiking experience.

The adventure begins and ends in the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and lasts about 3 hours. The route is 5.4 km long and is 374 m high.

Zermatt Walking: Höhbalmenstafel and Trift

A hike to Höhbalmenstafel (2665 m), which offers a wonderful view of the Trift Gorge, Matterhorn and Monte Rosa, is one of the most important tourist attractions of Zermatt.

The route takes about 5-6 hours and includes 1000 m of altitude. For those who want something more challenging, it is worthwhile to go to Wisshorn (2911 m, 1300 m of altitude, time: 7 hours), Platthorn (3343 m, 1700 m of altitude, time: 8-10 hours) or Mettelhorn (3403 m, 1800 m of altitude, time: 9-11 hours).


From the railway station in Zermatt, head towards the church at the top of the city’s main street, and then turn right. Go upstairs and get out of town. You will quickly find signposts in the direction of Trift (2337 m), a two-hour walk from the city center, which involves a 700-metre entrance. The route is tiring, but the views of the Trift Gorge are fabulous; halfway through the beautiful village of Edelweiss.

In Trift you can take a break. Then head left to Höhbalmenstafel. After about an hour from Trift, the Matterhorn becomes visible.

There are three roads down: a steep road (straight to Zermatt, time: less than 2 hours); an upward road (time: about 2 hours 30 minutes); and a long road (which leads further up the valley and next to an interesting hydroelectric installation, time: about 4 hours).

Alternative routes from Trift

There are three routes from Trift. Each of them starts with an hour’s entry in a northeastern direction. At about 2750 m you reach a marked fork. On Wisshorn, considered to be one of the best view points of Zermatt, you have to turn right and keep continue for 40-50 minutes until you reach the top.

In the case of Platthorn and Mettelhorn, continue for another 2 hours until you reach the characteristic ridge. From here the Platthorn summit is only 20 minutes away. In case of the Mettelhorn the steep zigzagging path takes a short stretch of glacier.

When to go? The best time for this hike is from the end of May to September. Those who have no experience should not walk on glaciers. An advice: take crampons and check the weather conditions on the glacier before you decide to climb.

Zermatt village

In the old village, next to the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, some 30 historic buildings present traditional style architecture. Barns and grain warehouses up to 500 years old are part of history and show how Zermatt farmers once lived. If you are interested in the life of local people in the old days visit Zermatlantis and the Matterhorn Museum.

The Bahnhofstrasse is the main street of Zermatt, with lots of bars, restaurants, boutiques, souvenir shops, bakeries and chocolate shops. From the stairs of the St. Mauritius Church or from the Kirchbrücke Bridge there is a beautiful view of the south-western part of the Matterhorn rising majestically into the sky.

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Welcome on my blog about traveling, active lifestyle and chasing all the crazy dreams. I have been on 6 continents and in more than 100 countries so far, but I still have so much to explore :)

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Author picture

Welcome on my blog about traveling, active lifestyle and chasing all the crazy dreams. I have been on 6 continents and in more than 100 countries so far, but I still have so much to explore :)

< read more >