LAST UPDATED: 5/23/23 – Visitor’s Guide to Zermatt, Switzerland
If you are into outdoor adventure, then the beautiful city of Zermatt in Southern Switzerland should be near the top of your destinations list. World renowned for its skiing, mountaineering, and hiking trails, Zermatt is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground. Every year, people from around the world visit Zermatt to ski on its amazing slopes, hike on the many miles of beautiful alpine hiking trails, and to view and even climb the neighboring mountain peaks.
Home to the Breathtaking Matterhorn
Zermatt is home to the Matterhorn, which may be one of this world’s most beautiful and enchanting mountains. With its jagged peak, which is often made more alluring by cloud cover, the Matterhorn looks like it could have been conjured up on a Hollywood movie set.
It is only the 10th highest mountain in Switzerland, but it may be the most famous because of its sheer beauty. But as beautiful as the mountain is, it can also be deadly. Since 1865, roughly 500 people have died on the mountain. This is an average of roughly 3 or 4 people a year. So, if you are going to try and climb the mountain, make sure you know what you are getting into before you set off.
An All-You-Need Visitor’s Guide to Zermatt
Zermatt is a beautiful place, but planning a trip doesn’t have to be stressful. In this visitor’s guide to Zermatt, I give you all of the information that you will need to plan a successful trip. I outline how to get to Zermatt and when the best times to visit are.
I also talk about where to stay and the top things to see in do while visiting. For those who are looking for a little more adventure, I also have some great recommendations for tours and activities that will keep you busy during your visit.
At a Glance
Before you start making any travel plans, you need to be sure you meet the country’s entrance requirements. This includes all of the passport, VISA, and immunization requirements for Switzerland.
In addition, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of what languages they speak in Switzerland. This way, you can plan any translation needs you may have. Not only that, but you will need to know what currency they use in Switzerland. Knowing this, you can plan to exchange currency before your trip if necessary.
I have included some of this key information in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below for you to review as you start to make your travel plans.
|Passport requirements exist. See below for details.|
|Immunization recommendations are listed below.|
|The official languages in the Switzerland are German, French, Italian, and Romansh.|
|The official currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc.|
Passport and VISA Requirements
Before you start making any other travel plans, please make sure you review the table in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below so that you understand the immunization, passport, and VISA requirements for visiting Switzerland. A failure to understand these requirements could lead to not being allowed entry into the country when you make your visit.
|PASSPORT VALIDITY:||6-months beyond your departure from Switzerland.|
|BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:||1 Page Required.|
|TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:||Not required for stays of less than 90-days.|
|CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:||No restrictions; officers may question over 10,000 Swiss Francs (CHF).|
|CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:||No restrictions; officers may question over 10,000 Swiss Francs (CHF).|
Before you leave for your trip to Zermatt, Switzerland, you need to make sure you have all of the proper vaccinations. Not only to protect yourself but to protect others. If you have questions on what immunizations you will need and what to look out for when you go to get them, I can help. In my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below are some general guidelines I can pass on to you from experience.
Travel Vaccination Advice
- Most specialized travel clinics will not accept insurance so you will have to pay for your travel consultation and immunizations and then request reimbursement from your insurance company later.
- Some immunizations aren’t accepted by every insurance company, so check with your insurance provider before getting your immunizations.
- Check with your regular doctor first, as often they can do a travel consultation for you and write you the necessary prescriptions for your immunizations, even if they aren’t able to give them to you. This way you can ensure that at least your travel consultant will be covered by your insurance up-front.
- Check with Walgreens or other drug stores that give flu shots to see if they have any of the immunization shots that you require before going to a specialized clinic that doesn’t accept insurance to get them. Walgreens can give you many of the immunizations necessary for international travel, and they accept insurance up-front.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website can be a great resource for answering any travel immunization questions that you have.
Switzerland Vaccination Recommendations
You may be unsure of what travel vaccinations you might need. In this case, I have compiled a list below of some of what you might expect your physician to recommend.
- Hepatitis A & B (if you haven’t had them).
- Tetanus (if you aren’t current).
- Transderm SCōP Patch (for motion sickness) or at minimum Dramamine pills if you get motion sickness easily and you plan on getting out on the water or doing adventure activities.
- Flu Shot
Outside of knowing the entry and immunization requirements, there is no pre-travel task more important than packing. Don’t worry, I am here to make sure you are packed and prepared for your trip. I have included links to my packing resources in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below for you to review.
|10 Packing Tips That Every Traveler Should Follow|
|The Ultimate Travel Packing Check List|
|The Essential Carry-On Checklist|
How to Get to Zermatt, Switzerland
Located in Southern Switzerland along the border with Italy, the city of Zermatt is located in the district of Visp and is home to roughly 5,800 people. Zermatt is nestled into the heart of the Swiss Alps, which makes the city all the more alluring, but it also makes it a little more challenging to get to.
Flying into Switzerland to Visit Zermatt
If you are visiting Zermatt from outside of Switzerland, your best bet is to fly into one of Switzerland’s larger cities with international airports. The best bets would be either Bern or Zurich. From there, you can take a train all the way to Zermatt.
Zermatt is Car Free
While you can drive most of the way to Zermatt, the city itself is car-free, so you will only be able to drive so far before having to park your car and take a shuttle. I cover this in more detail in the “traveling by car” section in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below.
One of the advantages of being located in Southern Switzerland is that Zermatt is relatively close to a number of large cities in Europe. This makes it really easy and convenient to combine a stop in Zermatt with stops in other cities in Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, or Austria as well. To give you an idea of how far Zermatt is from some of the large cities in Western and Southern Europe, I have put together a transportation timetable in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below for you to review.
|City||Time by Train||Time Driving|
|Bern, Switzerland||2hr 8min||2hr 21min|
|Zürich, Switzerland||3hr 45min||3hr 26min|
|Geneva, Switzerland||3hr 39min||2hr 40min|
|Milan, Italy||3hr 28min||3hr 10min|
|Florence, Italy||5hr 51min||6hr 9min|
|Venice, Italy||6hr 31min||5hr 18min|
|Paris, France||7hr 3min||7hr 28min|
|Munich, Germany||8hr 27min||6hr 27min|
|Graz, Austria||13hr 9min||9hr 33min|
PLEASE NOTE: The times by train may vary depending on the train route you schedule.
Traveling By Train
By far, the easiest and most convenient way to travel to Zermatt is by train. Not only will this typically get you to Zermatt in roughly the same amount of time as driving would, but it also allows you to sit back and relax without having to worry about navigating the alpine roads. Not to mention, you won’t be able to take your car into Zermatt anyways, so there really isn’t a lot of benefit to driving it there.
Train Cost Table
|$||$0 – $35 USD|
|$$||$36 – $65 USD|
|$$$||$66 – $90 USD|
|$$$$||$91 – $120 USD|
PRO TIP: If you are planning on taking trains in Switzerland, the rail pass in Switzerland is one of my favorites in all of Europe. Not only will the Swiss Rail pass allow you to take any train during the duration of your pass, but it also gets you free admission onto many buses, lifts, and boats in the country as well. For more information on the Swiss Rail pass, please check out the Swiss Travel Pass website.
If you are traveling to Zermatt from Bern, the train ride is relatively short and only includes one change-over in Visp. I have included a table of some of the earlier trains from Bern to Zermatt each day in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below.
Please Note: These are not all of the trains available for this route. Check the www.trainline.eu website for additional trains.
If you are traveling to Zermatt from Zürich, the ride is a little longer than it is from Bern, but still isn’t all that bad. Pay close attention when booking as some of the trains have stops in Bern and Visp while others just stop once in Visp. I have included a table of some of the earlier trains from Zürich to Zermatt each day in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below.
|10:32am||1:51pm||Bern, Visp||3hr 19min||$$$$$|
|12:32pm||3:51pm||Bern, Visp||3hr 19min||$$$$$|
Please Note: These are not all of the trains available for this route. Check the www.trainline.eu website for additional trains.
The train ride from Geneva to Zermatt is the longest of the three, with the ride taking almost 4 hours with a stop in Visp to switch trains. On the plus side, this ride is roughly the same price as the ride from Bern, which are both cheaper than the ride from Zürich. I have included a table of some of the earlier trains from Geneva to Zermatt each day in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below.
Please Note: These are not all of the trains available for this route. Check the www.trainline.eu website for additional trains.
Traveling By Car
If you plan on driving to Zermatt, you should be aware that the town of Zermatt is car-free, so you won’t be able to drive your vehicle all of the way to Zermatt. Instead, you will need to drive to the nearby town of Täsch, park your vehicle, and then take the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB) shuttle train from Täsch to Zermatt. This is the same train you would take from Visp to Zermatt, with Täsch being the last stop before you get to Zermatt.
The Matterhorn Terminal in Täsch has 2,100 covered parking spaces and an additional 1,000 uncovered parking spaces for you to store your car while you visit Zermatt. Shuttles run roughly every 20 minutes, so the wait time for a shuttle isn’t very long. There is room on the shuttle train for baggage, and there is transportation (ATV vehicles pictured above) available at the train station in Zermatt to bring your luggage to your hotel.
If you are still interested in driving to Zermatt despite not being able to have your vehicle with you in the city, I have included some maps below on the routes you will need to take from the three largest cities in Switzerland. When looking at the travel times, please keep in mind that this does not include the time required to catch a shuttle train from Täsch to Zermatt.
Bern to Zermatt
The drive from Bern to Zermatt is roughly 131km and will take you roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes to drive. For more information, please see the map in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below.
Zürich to Zermatt
The drive from Zürich to Zermatt is roughly 249km and will take you roughly 3 hours and 30 minutes to drive. For more information, please see the map in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below.
Geneva to Zermatt
The drive from Geneva to Zermatt is roughly 231km and will take you just shy of 3 hours to drive. For more information, please see the map in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below.
Top Things to See in Zermatt, Switzerland
If you love spending time outdoors, then Zermatt has a lot of activities to keep you busy. In addition to being one of this world’s premier ski destinations, it is also a very popular hiking and climbing destination as well. I have included a summary of what the top attractions and activities to see and do in Zermatt in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below.
Trains and Lifts
The biggest draw in coming to Zermatt is to see and explore the beautiful Swiss Alps that surround the city. In order to get a better view of the mountains, you will want to take advantage of some of the trains and lifts in the city that take you up into the mountains. Below is a map that summarizes some of the more popular train and lift routes into the Swiss Alps surrounding Zermatt.
To give you a better sense of what the top attractions and activities in Zermatt are and how to access these activities, I have included a map and description of the top attractions and activities in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below.
|The Matterhorn Museum|
|The Ibex Fountain|
Arguably the biggest draw for tourists coming to Zermatt is to see the mighty Matterhorn Mountain. With its jagged, four-sided face, the Matterhorn is one of this world’s most beautiful and widely recognized mountains. At 14,692 feet (or 4,478 meters), the Matterhorn is only the 12th tallest peak in Europe, but it is just shy of 200 feet taller than Mount Whitney, which is the tallest peak in the continental United States.
The Matterhorn straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy, with popular climbing routes to the top of the mountain on both sides. Each year, roughly 3,000 people try and make the ascent to the top of the Matterhorn, but an average of 3 or 4 climbers a year don’t make it back down alive.
If you are just planning to visit to do some hiking or skiing and want to enjoy the mountain’s beauty, then I would strongly suggest you visit the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise observation center, which is accessible by cable car.
Another of the amazing viewpoints in the Swiss Alps surrounding Zermatt that is an absolute must-see for visitors is the Gornergrat observation center. Located on a rocky ridge in the Pennine Alps, south-east of Zermatt, the Gornergrat observation center overlooks the stunning Gorner Glacier.
Situated at roughly 10,134 feet (or 3,089 meters), the Gornergrat observation center is accessible year-round and includes a restaurant and Europe’s highest hotel, the 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat.
In order to access the Gornergrat observation center, you need to take the Gornergrat Bahn train, which was the world’s first fully electrified cog railway and Europe’s highest open-air railway to this day. The views from the train on the ride up are stunning and are alone worth the ride up.
One of the prime attractions at the Gornergrat observation center is the stunning Gorner Glacier. At just shy of 8 miles (or 12.4 km) long and roughly 1 mile (or 1.5 km) wide, the Gorner Glacier is absolutely amazing to see close-up. The Gorner Glacier system is the second largest glacial system in the Alps after the Aletsch Glacier system, so the size of the glacier alone is something to behold. It is definitely a must-see for those who are visiting Zermatt.
At 12,740 feet (or 3,883 meters) tall, the Klein Matterhorn is the second highest peak in the Swiss Alps immediately surrounding Zermatt. It is also the highest spot in Europe that can be reached by aerial tramway or other methods of transportation.
Marketed as the “Matterhorn Glacier Paradise”, the Klein Matterhorn and adjacent ski lifts allow skiers to access some of the best slopes in the Zermatt area. Even if you aren’t visiting to ski, the views from the Klein Matterhorn are out of this world and well worth a visit.
A great way to learn about Zermatt, the Matterhorn, and the rest of what makes Zermatt so special is to visit the Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt village. In the museum, you can learn about how people lived in Zermatt during the 19th century and even see the actual rope that snapped during the famed first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865.
Family friendly and wheelchair accessible, the Matterhorn Museum is a fun activity for everyone to enjoy. Tours are available in German, English, French, and Japanese to accommodate many of its international visitors.
In addition to all of the fun activities to do outdoors in the Zermatt area, the village of Zermatt itself is something that is worth exploring. The classic Swiss designed houses built on the hills and ridges in the Zermatt Valley are really breathtaking.
Being that Zermatt is a world-class ski, hiking, and climbing destination, the village of Zermatt has many of the amenities that you would expect in such a popular tourist spot, with the added bonus of being situated in one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. When you visit Zermatt, don’t forget to take a stroll thru the village, buy some fresh baked goods and delicious Swiss chocolate, and just enjoy this beautify city.
The biggest tourism draw for the Zermatt Valley is undoubtedly the many amazing ski slopes that the Zermatt area offers. Every year, skiing enthusiasts from around the world flock to Zermatt to hit the slopes and enjoy this skiing paradise.
- If you are interested in more information on skiing in Zermatt, I would strongly suggest that you check out the Matterhorn Paradise Ski Guide. You can find all of the information on ski passes and ski tours at this site.
- If you are a beginner that is looking for some lessons before hitting the slopes, I would suggest you check out the CheckYeti website for ski lessons for kids, teens, and adults of all ages.
- For an overview of all of the ski lifts that exist in the Zermatt area, please check out the Winter Panorama Ski Map from the Matterhorn Zermatt website.
Food and Drink
In addition to all of the great restaurants that Zermatt has, there are also a lot of really great bakeries and specialty food shops for you to explore. Without a doubt, my favorite is the Swiss Chocolate shops. The Swiss are world renown for their chocolate, and I would strongly suggest you not leave Zermatt without tasting some for yourself.
In addition to being a central place from which to explore all of Zermatt’s outdoor adventure activities, the Zermatt village is also home to a number of unique and wonderful specialty shops. In these shops, you can find a plethora of Swiss products to purchase as souvenirs.
Whether you are interested in a Swiss cuckoo clock, a Swiss army knife, a top-notch Swiss made wristwatch, a Swiss music box, your own Swiss fondue set, or one of the other beautiful gifts you can find in the shops in Zermatt, no trip to Zermatt is complete without a little shopping.
Best Time to Visit Zermatt, Switzerland
The best time to visit Zermatt really depends on what you are coming to Zermatt to do. With mountains high enough to support skiing year-round and well-maintained alpine hiking trails, there really isn’t a bad time to visit Zermatt. To give you an idea of what you can expect in Zermatt during the different times of the year, I have included some seasonal summaries and charts in my visitor’s guide to Zermatt below for you to review.
The Spring season is a great time to visit Zermatt. There is typically still a lot of snow on the ski slopes, but temperatures aren’t as cold as they are in the Winter. If you visit between April and May, the trails at the lower elevations begin to clear of snow for hiking.
The Summer months (between the beginning of July and the beginning of September) are the best months of the year for hiking and climbing in Zermatt. The warmest months of the year are July and August. While you can still find snow at the highest elevations, this is the off-season for skiing. If you visit around the end of May, you will see the wildflowers start to bloom on the hills surrounding Zermatt. This can be an incredibly beautiful time to visit if you are a photographer.
Fall might be the best time of year all-around to visit Zermatt. During the early fall months (between the end of August and early October), most of the hiking trails are still without snow, but many of the ski slopes are still open. It also has the added benefit of being less crowded than the peak summer hiking and climbing season and the peak winter ski season. Not to mention, you get to see all of the beautiful fall tree colors.
The winter months (between November and March) is the peak ski season in Zermatt. During this time all of the ski slopes have an ample amount of snow, even at lower elevations, and are open. If you are going to visit during the winter, keep in mind that hotel prices can be much higher during December, especially around Christmas. You should also keep in mind that the months of November thru January can be quite chilly, so make sure you have enough warm weather gear.
The city of Zermatt and the mountains that surround it are at a high elevation, so temperatures can be quite chilly during the winter. The months of November thru January tend to be the coldest and the months of July and August typically have the warmest temperatures.
Zermatt gets quite a bit of precipitation throughout the year, with most of it coming as rain and snow between the months of May thru November. This can be a great thing if you are coming to Zermatt to ski and are hoping for some fresh snow to ski on. However, if you are visiting during the summer months to do some hiking or climbing it may not be as exciting.
Where to Stay in Zermatt, Switzerland
Because Zermatt is such a popular skiing and climbing destination, there are quite a few nice hotels and hostels in Zermatt that have been built to accommodate the large numbers of people that flock to the city each year to enjoy the mountains.
When we visited a few years ago, we splurged and stayed at the Omnia Hotel, which is one of the nicer hotels in Zermatt. Because we visited during the fall shoulder months, it was much more affordable than it is during the peak skiing or climbing and hiking months. It really is a stunning hotel.
To give you some options to look at when you are planning your trip to Zermatt, I have included some hotels and hostels at different price points for you to review below. Please keep in mind that this list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to accommodations in Zermatt, but this list includes ones that I have either stayed at and liked or have reviewed and liked.
Where to Eat in Zermatt, Switzerland
In addition to being one of the world’s premier outdoor adventure locations, the town of Zermatt has some really wonderful restaurant options as well. If you are looking for a good seafood meal, then the Zum See restaurant is one of the only places in the interior of the Swiss Alps where you will find fresh seafood.
For those nights when you are in the mood for Italian, then the Ristorante Capri serves a fabulous Italian menu. When cravings call for some grilled meats, the Restaurant Stockhorn does an amazing job with the grill.
While all of those options are outstanding, my favorite restaurants in Zermatt are undoubtedly the Omnia Restaurant at the Omnia Hotel and the After Seven restaurant. I loved the Omnia Restaurant because they had a really great variety of great food and outstanding service.
Not to mention, the hotel is drop-dead gorgeous. However, my pick for the best restaurant in Zermatt is After Seven, which combines Michelin-starred food with a movie experience. The “Cinedinner” experience you have at After Seven is unlike anything I have seen while traveling and is a must do for all travelers to Zermatt.
|L’Atelier Grandsire||French, European, Healthy||$$-$$$|
|saycheese!||Swiss, European, Central European||$$-$$$|
|Bergrestaurant Blatten||Swiss, European, Central European||$$-$$$|
|Findlerhof||Swiss, European, Central European||$$$$|
|Potato Fine Food Restaurant||Italian, French, European||$$$$|
|Alpine Gourmet Prato Borni||Swiss, European, Contemporary||$$$$|
Recommended Tours in Zermatt
The Zermatt area offers a lot of really fun outdoor activities for outdoor enthusiasts. If you are interested in hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing, or just enjoying the amazing views of the beautiful Swiss Alps, then there are activities for you. Below are just some of the popular tour packages, admissions, and equipment rentals that you can take advantage of when you visit Zermatt.
|Likely to Sell Out|
|Ski and Snowboard Areas|
|Tours and Sightseeing|
|Air, Helicopter, and Balloon Tours|
Zermatt, Switzerland Photo Gallery
Zermatt has an abundance of beauty. It seems like no matter where you go, there is a beautiful landscape or vista for you to photograph. Below is a gallery of just some of the many amazing pictures I was able to take when I visited Zermatt.
If you would like to view some more of my top photos from this trip, as well as photos from some of my many other travel adventures, make sure you are following me on Instagram as well!
So amazingly thorough, and beautiful pictures, too. Thank you for a great post!
Thank you so much for the kind words 😀
This blog was very interesting and very detailed. If I ever venture there I am not going near that mountain 😅. http://www.kwerkegal.wordpress.com
Thank you! The Matterhorn is amazing!
Wow, what a beautiful place. I guess I will add this to the list 😁 Great article!
It is amazing! Thank you so much for reading and for the kind words 😀
Switzerland is beautiful!
One of my favorite places! 👍
Thanks for sharing .Keep it up. Private transfer Zurich to Lucerne
Thanks for sharing .Keep it up. Zurich to Zermatt transfer time