We were going to Switzerland for the first time and I wanted our trip to be exceptional. Especially because, it was our first family vacation for 2017 and also August was a special month, being my husband’s birthday. So, I wanted to make it unique and happening.
I went through several itineraries and blogs on the internet and finally decided to spend the maximum time of our week-long trip to Switzerland in Zermatt. Home to the legendary Toblerone mountain, the Matterhorn. And it turned out to be the best decision I ever made!
1. Book a Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn for Zermatt from Visp
So, on a Friday afternoon, our family traveled from Zurich to Zermatt, changing trains at Visp. The entire journey was around 3.5 hours and unarguably, the most scenic train journeys for us in Europe so far.
We experienced some of the most spectacular sceneries in the Swiss Alps, while our train slowly cut through the mountains via numerous tunnels. One can’t resist pointing the camera at those vivid images of mountains and meadows intertwined with metallic railway bridges, all visible through the tall panoramic windows.
TIP: The route of the Glacier Express and the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn from Visp is the same, so instead of shelling out more money on the former, you can board the regional train, which has the same kind of windows, views, route, and bar when compared the Glacier Express (which I personally feel is a tourist trap).
2. Stay with style: Matterhorn view is quintessential!
We reached Zermatt in the evening and checked-in to our cozy suites with a huge bathroom, along with a huge Jacuzzi. Still can’t get over the huge balcony we got, with the famous Matterhorn view.
As a matter of fact, the Alpine resort town has the most expensive hotels and ski resorts in the world. But what’s the point of staying in Zermatt, if you don’t wake up to a Matterhorn view?
Hence, we splurged on a room with the Matterhorn view instead of the Glacier Express.
3. Local lamb for dinner: Cozy restaurants of Zermatt
What really amazed me was the incredible nightlife of this remote town. Zermatt has countless nightclubs, more than 100 restaurants and some 60 bars for the tourists.
The local bars are super friendly and we went to Restaurant Schaferstube for our dinner.
A quaint dining place, with a rustic ambiance, an extensive list of wines and its specialty – fresh locally sourced lamb. It is an experience feasting on the best lamb ever, with a side of anecdotes of Matterhorn conquests and amazing local tips from the staff.
4. Morning walk: Can’t miss Hinterdorf, Zermatt
Locals say, one is not always lucky to get a Matterhorn view on their first visit and we could feel it happening to us. Our first morning in Zermatt was very cloudy and our Matterhorn view turned out to be a disappointment.
But we shrugged it off after breakfast and went out for a morning stroll around the old town of Zermatt, which is known as Hinterdorf. What’s special about Hinterdorf? Well, this is a rare part of Zermatt, which the locals are very proud of! The black color timber houses, stables, and barns are restored and have been built around 16th and 18th centuries, where some are like 500 years old.
Wandering around this area will take you back in time to how Zermatt used to be. The wood used in these houses are said to be of the best quality and pest-free. Hinterdorf surely offers you some great pictures and perspectives.
5. A must visit: Mountaineers’ cemetery near St.Mauritius Church
On our way back to the hotel, the Mountaineers’ Cemetery caught our attention. Situated in central Zermatt just between the western bank of the river Vispa and the St.Mauritius Church, it is quite daunting and inspiring at the same time. A memorial to all those who dared to conquer the Matterhorn but lost their lives.
FACT: Around 15 climbers a year – over 500 in total – set out but do not return alive, mostly through falls on the descent. Some 10% of them tumble to their deaths on the glacier below the Matterhorn and their bodies are never recovered.
6. Discover the true essence: Central market of Zermatt
The car-free Zermatt has a beautiful central market which is brimming with some of the most popular branded shops, eateries and not to forget, – the famous Swiss watch collections.
From our hotel, we could just walk to the market, all decked up in pretty flowers. One can also make use of the eco-friendly transport in Zermatt – e-taxi, horse-drawn carriage or rental bikes.
7. Take a funicular to Sunnegga: All the lovely photo spots are here!
We never experienced a funicular station before, so we decided to explore Sunnegga-Rothorn Valley station.
It is at a mere 10 min walking distance from the central market of Zermatt. It’s basically an inclined station, where the train will take you up the mountain through a tunnel (inclined again), for an amazing view from the top.
The Sunnegga Express costs around CHF 34 both ways. The ride was less than 5 mins.
It’s a lovely spot with great hiking opportunities and you can also take the 5-lake hike, perfect for photography and nature lovers. One can also enjoy some fun water activities in lake Leisee, which also has a kid’s playground nearby. There’s a cute self-service cafe up there, which closes at 5 pm.
Further, you can take a gondola to Rothorn for an amazing view of the snow-capped Swiss Alps.
The gorgeous backdrop commanded something special and I obliged by braving the chill to change into a traditional Indian ‘Saree’, a la typical Bollywood movies from the YRF era! All worth it.
8. The Matterhorn Express: Cable Car to Klein Matterhorn
To experience the vast panoramic view of the Swiss Alps one needs to get to the top of the Klein Matterhorn (literally: small Matterhorn).
The Matterhorn Express cable car takes you there, or you can also hike to the peak. Next day turned out to be clear and sunny, perfect for an ascent towards Matterhorn.
We took the cable car route both ways (which was around CHF 100 in total per adult) for our Matterhorn and glacier experience.
The ride, filled with breathtaking views, lasts about an hour. The Klein Matterhorn is the highest cable car station in Europe (3883 m) and is the highest view point in Europe.
9. Play in the snow at Glacier Paradise
When you reach Klein Matterhorn, take the elevator to Glacier Paradise, to witness the magnificent views of the highest mountain ranges in Italy, France and Switzerland (and the Theodul Glacier) all in one spot.
Interestingly, when you get at the top of the lift, you are technically in Italy.
Also, there’s a Glacier Palace and fun activities including snow tubing, which is covered in your Matterhorn express ticket.
The most exciting part is skiing (the main reason why everyone visits Zermatt) as it’s a slice of paradise for all the skiing enthusiast in the world.
10. Paragliding: The coolest views of Zermatt and Matterhorn
For around CHF 170, one can experience paragliding in Zermatt for 20 minutes and I think it’s completely worth it and not scary at all. If you’re in Zermatt, you should definitely try paragliding! You would get the coolest views of Matterhorn from up above
Hope you liked my blog on Zermatt and I really hope it would help you to plan your trip better. Share your stories with me, why do you want to visit Zermatt? what was your experience? I would be happy to read your experiences and adventures.
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