As a non-skier, I’m not as familiar with the small towns and villages along the Swiss Alps. But the moment I saw a photo of the picturesque destination of Zermatt with the iconic Matterhorn peak in the background, I knew I would love to visit it. Zermatt is in the Visp district and Valais Canton, not far from the northern Italian border, making it a great place to visit as part of a larger Italy/Switzerland trip.
We loved our short visit to Zermatt and enjoyed the various Zermatt Switzerland attractions. While we visited in the summer, we’ve included some things to do in Zermatt in the winter.
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We visited Zermatt as part of our Adventures by Disney Italy/Switzerland trip. After looking at the photos online, we were so excited to visit. It’s such a quaint, charming town.
Our trip started in Stresa after we flew into the Milan airport. After four nights in Stresa, we made the journey into Zermatt.
13 Amazing Zermatt Switzerland Attractions and Things To Do
Of course, if you are planning to visit the village of Zermatt, you’ll definitely want to see the Matterhorn. Depending on the weather/cloud cover, you can see the Zermatt Matterhorn peak from most areas of the town. There are some additional ways to get a little closer and to get some fantastic views of the Matterhorn. But it was also just great to see it as we did other things in town, like shop and sit on our hotel room balcony.
The Gornergrat Bahn Railway offers a great way to get some fantastic views of both the Matterhorn and the other mountain peaks. The train takes you from the village in Zermatt up to the Gornergrat Station, about 10,000 feet above sea level. There are amazing views the whole way up (and down!).
The Gornergrat Railway is something you can completely take at your own pace. Just grab a schedule at the village station, or check online. The ticket allows you to get off and get back on (each station only once). Or, you can just choose to go to the top, admire the view, and then go back down for a round trip.
Popular activities throughout the journey include hiking and mountain biking. In the summer, you may also want to find the popular Wallis blacknose sheep. They roam from late June to early September and are wearing GPS-enabled collars. You can find them by using the information on the official website.
We opted to go all the way to the top to the viewing platform to take photos. Then, my family also chose to hike down to the next station, while I took the train all the way down. We didn’t have too much free time, and I wanted to do some shopping.
If you’d like to do an official hike, there are maps of hiking trails online. We saw people with all different ability levels, from casual hikers to some with hiking poles and other equipment.
See the Goats
While we didn’t see the sheep in Zermatt, we did see the goats. We had heard all about these famous goats, who walk through the center of town each day, twice a day. The approximately 50 goats are led through town in a parade at about 9 am and 5 pm.
On one of our vacation days, we heard their bells around 5 pm and ran out just in time to see their march. It’s really fun to watch them. You can see more information here.
Spas and Hotels
As you walk through the town of Zermatt, you’ll see beautiful, quaint hotels and inns. Many of these Zermatt luxury hotels offer spas, pools, and more activities. Even if you aren’t a guest of one of these hotels, you should be able to book a spa treatment if you’d like to enjoy some pampering on your vacation.
You can see some of the top spas in Zermatt here.
Horse and Carriage Rides
Adding to the quaintness of the town of Zermatt is the fact that standard motor vehicles are not permitted. Without cars in town, it is much more walkable.
Guests coming in from the train station can be greeted by a mini electric car. Horse and carriage rides are also available to some guests, depending on the hotel.
You can find more information on horse and carriage rides in Zermatt here.
Forest Fun Park
One of the best things on our vacation agenda was the Forest Fun Park in Zermatt. My family loves ziplining and ropes courses, so we were excited to experience this in such a picturesque environment.
If you are planning to do the Forest Fun Park during your trip, you’ll want to make sure you pack the appropriate attire – pants or longer shorts, and close-toed shoes. There are two different options – the kids’ trail and the big trail.
After getting outfitted with our safety equipment (harness, helmet, and gloves), we watched a safety briefing. Then, we each went through two small ziplines first, before being cleared for the larger courses.
There are a total of five different trails in this big trail area. They are named for colors and vary based on the intensity level and the composition of the ziplines/ropes course obstacles. Some have more ropes course obstacles, while others have more zips. Guests can do any combination of these courses, within three hours.
I struggled a bit with the course (my petite size didn’t help!). My kids, however, absolutely loved this course. They went through the lines multiple times.
While the thrills were exciting, the views were absolutely fantastic. If you visit, be sure to stop and look around because it’s really stunning. On our visit, the sky was clear and we had some great views of the Matterhorn.
When we were done, there was a small little snack stand where you can sit and relax. They have cold drinks for purchase – necessary after a few hours in the sun.
The Forest Fun Park is a short walk from the village. Some guests also took small electric taxis, which will quickly take you to and from the park.
Want to learn about the history of Zermatt and the Matterhorn? The Matterhorn Museum is a subterranean museum focused on showcasing the transformation and development of Zermatt into the town it is today. It also showcases the history of the first ascent of the Matterhorn and the lives lost during that trip as well as special exhibitions.
Dated online tickets can be purchased in advance on the official Zermatt website.
Snow Activities and Winter Sports
While I’m not a skier, it’s apparent that the ski resort Zermatt is a fantastic place to enjoy world-class skiing in the winter season. The luxurious resorts that line the village offer cozy firepits, ski storage, luxurious pools, and other amenities that skiers seek and appreciate.
Zermatt is also home to some FIS Alpine World Cup races. Special packages are available from the various local hotels for this event.
You can see more information on skiing and snowboarding in Zermatt here.
Shopping In Zermatt
I love shopping, so I was especially excited to take some time to explore the little shops that line the main street in Zermatt. It’s not a large street, but it’s filled with some cute stores with fun merchandise.
Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc, not the Euro (they aren’t in the EU). Prices are generally pretty high, and the conversion can be a little misleading if you are used to Euros. Meaning, you may be paying more for an item than you think you are paying.
Some of the best merchandise to find in the shops include chocolate (of course), Swiss Army knives that could be personalized while you wait, cuckoo clothes, clothing (pricey, but some great options), and watches. I also found some really nice disposable Swiss pens in one of the gift shops.
If you enjoy shopping, you won’t need to reserve too much time. Just be sure to be mindful of their hours – shops often closed for lunch and weren’t open too late into the evenings.
Eating Various Cuisines
For a really small area, I was surprised at all of the different cuisines represented by the restaurants in Zermatt. Of course, there are Swiss restaurants with traditional dishes, including Restaurant Walliserstube, and Restaurant Whymper-Stube, which were both highly recommended. Be sure to get fondue.
Thanks to the proximity to the Italian border, there are also some great Italian restaurants. We visited Grampy’s Restaurant, an Italian restaurant with different kinds of pasta and pizzas. Other options include Molino and Le Chalet Da Giuseppe.
Although I was initially skeptical, one of our favorite restaurants during our vacation was the Brown Cow Pub. Offering burgers, wings, and fries, the Brown Cow is a casual spot that doesn’t require reservations. The food quality is excellent, and we really enjoyed dining there.
For an amateur photographer, Zermatt is an absolute paradise. In addition to the Matterhorn, which is obviously a heavily photographed icon, there are other great things to take pictures of. There are animals (the sheep and goats), shops, flowers, plants, the Visp River, panoramic views, and much more.
In addition to my iPhone, I brought along two specialty cameras. I used my Insta360 X3 for 360-degree pictures of the mountains and of the town, while my Insta360 Go3 was clipped to my helmet at the Forest Fun Park.
Want a completely unique view of Zermatt and the mountains? This tandem paragliding ride can be booked in advance. Since it’s a tandem trip, you won’t have to worry about anything – the guide will handle the logistics of the paragliding.
I didn’t get a chance to do this, but the tour is highly rated. I’d still recommend doing your due diligence. There is also a list of prohibited items on the website – be sure to review those so you don’t bring something that you aren’t allowed to have.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Cable Car
Another thing I wish I had the opportunity to experience is the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Cable Car. This trip’s starting point is at the Zermatt-Matterhorn Valley station, with a stopover at the Trockerner Steg. From there, you’ll board a cable car to the Matterhorn Glacier Palace – a popular attraction in the area.
This area includes ice sculptures, a restaurant, a shop, and a small cinema. You can book tickets for this excursion here.
Getting to Zermatt
Although cars are not permitted in Zermatt, it’s fairly easy to reach by train. If you are driving (or taking a motor coach), you’ll park in nearby Täsch and take a quick train ride into the town of Zermatt. There are lots of trains running throughout the day, so this is a very easy process.
The train takes you to the Zermatt town center. Many of the hotels are within short walking distance, or many of the hotels have small electric vehicles available to take you.
Flying in? The closest international airports are either Geneva Switzerland or Zurich Switzerland. Once you land, you can take a train to Zermatt.
Get details on the Swiss Travel Pass here.
Where to Stay in Zermatt
For a small town, Zermatt has some fantastic luxury hotels. For our trip, we stayed at the Mont Cervin Palace. This beautiful hotel offers a spa, pool, restaurant, fantastic location, and beautiful rooms.
While the hotel didn’t have air conditioning, our room had a sitting room, one and a half baths, a desk, and a gorgeous balcony with a view of the Matterhorn. We had two rooms for our family of four – adjacent, but not connecting rooms. I loved sitting outside and enjoying the views.
Frequently Asked Questions
The temperatures during our visit were in the high 60s to low 70s. It was so comfortable. I really enjoyed visiting in the summer months, but you’ll want to visit during the winter months if you want to ski.
It does depend on the types of activities you want to do. I’d recommend that you spend at least three nights in Zermatt to have time to do multiple activities and not rush through things.