Zermatt, Switzerland is a picturesque village in the Swiss Alps that is known for its stunning scenery and world-class skiing.
The town is situated at the foot of the Matterhorn, one of the most recognizable peaks in the world. Yet, there are plenty of things to do in Zermatt for non-skiers too that go beyond the slopes and mountain views.
The charming town has plenty of cosy restaurants, shopping opportunities and cultural activities for those looking for a more leisurely experience.
Whether you are visiting Zermatt for a relaxing and cosy vacation or an adrenaline-fueled adventure, this village has something for everyone.
If you are eager to start planning your holiday to this magical part of the world, read on to learn about 16 of the best things to do in Zermatt.
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Winter sports at the Matterhorn
The Matterhorn is one of the most iconic mountains in the world. Tourists flock from all over the globe to see its stunning peak and enjoy the winter sports activities available.
The very peak of the mountain is known as the Klein Matterhorn, which means Little Matterhorn. There is a cable car that can take you from Zermatt to Matterhorn in about 45 minutes, with amazing views along the way.
With over 300 kilometres of slopes and trails in the area, the Matterhorn becomes a haven for skiing and snowboarding during the wintertime. There are slopes for all skill levels, from very beginner to more advanced.
If needed, there are numerous ski schools in the area that offer lessons and guidance so you can gain confidence and get more comfortable on the slopes.
For those seeking a challenge, ice climbing on the Matterhorn’s frozen waterfalls is also a thrilling activity. Guides are available for hire to help you climb the frozen ice walls for a unique and unforgettable experience.
However, it is important to have the proper equipment and training before attempting to climb the mountain.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is a popular high-altitude area with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.
With a restaurant and a panoramic viewing platform, it’s one of the main attractions in Zermatt that you won’t want to miss. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise has one of the tallest cable cars in the world, reaching a maximum altitude of 3,883 metres above sea level.
The Glacier Palace is considered by some to be the coolest part, featuring ice sculptures, an ice slide, and other icy wonders all inside a glacier.
Matterhorn Museum – Zermatlantis
This great museum is found at the base of the Matterhorn, housed in a modern building that blends in with the traditional architecture of the village. It is dedicated to the history and culture of Zermatt, with a particular focus on the mountain and its impact on the village and its people.
Zermatlantis features a range of exhibitions, including displays on the geology and formation of the Matterhorn, the history of mountaineering in the region, and the daily life of the people of Zermatt.
One of the highlights is the reconstructed village street, which gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like in Zermatt in the 19th century.
The street is lined with traditional houses and shops, complete with authentic furnishings and tools. There’s also a multimedia show that tells the story of the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, including the tragic events that followed.
Gorner Gorge is a natural wonder in Zermatt that spans a kilometre long and reaches up to 20 metres deep.
It was formed over thousands of years by the waters of the Gornera River, which cut through the rock to create a narrow ravine.
There’s a wooden walkway that winds through a narrow canyon, offering spectacular views of the rushing river below and the towering cliffs that surround it.
Along the way, you’ll be treated with unique rock formations, waterfalls, and pools of crystal-clear water. The walkway is open from mid-June to mid-October only, making it one of the best things to do in Zermatt in summer.
Sunnegga is a mountain peak located near Zermatt that can be accessed by cable car. Once at the top, you can enjoy activities like hiking, mountain biking and skiing.
There are also several restaurants and cafes for you to simply relax and enjoy a meal or a drink while taking in the stunning scenery.
Fortunately, you can visit Sunnegga no matter the season. During winter, the area becomes a popular ski resort with runs suitable for skiers of all levels, including gentle slopes for beginners and challenging runs for more experienced skiers.
Sunnegga is also home to a children’s play area and ski school, making it a great destination for families with children.
In the summer, Sunnegga offers a range of hiking trails that go through forests, meadows and mountain landscapes.
The area is also known for its wildflowers, with plenty of different alpine plants and wildlife along the trails for you to spot.
Riffelsee is a small mountain lake accessible by a scenic hiking trail from Zermatt. The hike takes about an hour and a half, but you can also take the cable car to Rotenboden station and walk for about 10 minutes to get here.
Sitting at an altitude of over 2,700 metres above sea level, the scenic alpine lake has crystal-clear water which can reflect the Matterhorn perfectly on a nice day.
During the summertime, the lake is a gorgeous picnic spot, while in the winter, the lake is frozen over.
The Gornergrat Railway runs from Zermatt to the summit of Gornergrat at an elevation of over 3,000 metres, making it one of the highest open-air railways in Europe.
It’s also one of the oldest electric mountain railways in Switzerland, and takes just over half an hour to reach the top.
While, of course, the views once you reach the top are absolutely stunning, the journey up is fantastic too.
The Gornergrat Bahn passes through a variety of landscapes, including forests, rocky formations, and snow-covered peaks.
It is open year-round and operates several times a day, making it one of the things to do in Zermatt in winter as well as summer, as the experience changes depending on the season.
The Five Lakes Trail
The Five Lakes Trail is a popular hiking route known for its stunning alpine scenery, including panoramic views of the Matterhorn and the Dent Blanche.
It’s a great option for hikers looking to experience the natural beauty of the Swiss Alps and get some exercise at the same time.
As the name suggests, the trail takes you past five glacial lakes: Lac de Tsa, Lac des Autannes, Lac Retaud, Lac de Châteaupré and Lac d’Arbey.
These lakes are situated at varying altitudes, with the highest being Lac des Autannes at over 2,500 metres above sea level.
The trail is approximately 10 kilometres long in total and takes about four to five hours to complete. The starting point for the hike begins in the small village of La Sage, and the trail is well-marked throughout.
If you wish, you can take a chairlift to the trailhead, which can save some time and energy.
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge
Closer to the town of Randa is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world, measuring 494 metres long. The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, named after a Swiss mountaineer and psychologist, has been open since 2017.
Since the bridge sways slightly in the wind and is suspended at a height of 85 metres above the Grabengufer Ravine, it may not be suitable for those with a fear of heights!
Yet, those who are willing to give it a go are in for a thrilling and rewarding experience. For safety reasons, the bridge is closed during bad weather including high winds.
Wondering what to do in Zermatt in summer that will make your trip memorable? Mountain karting in Zermatt is an exciting and unique outdoor activity that combines the thrill of go-karting with the stunning natural scenery of the Swiss Alps.
Essentially, mountain karting involves riding down a winding mountain track on a three-wheeled kart, similar to a go-kart but with a wider base for added stability.
The track follows the natural terrain of the mountain, with plenty of twists and turns. This activity is sure to get your heart racing while also being suitable for all ages.
The Hörnlihütte Hike is another popular hiking trail that leads to the Hörnli Hut sitting at 3,260 metres above sea level. This hut, which is really a lodge, is the base camp for climbers attempting to summit the Matterhorn.
The hike starts in Zermatt and is about 5.5 kilometres long. Since the trail has a steep incline, it requires a good level of fitness and typically takes three to four hours to complete.
As it is a high-altitude hike, you should be adequately prepared and pay attention to changing weather conditions. However, you can take an overnight break at the Hörnli Hut if you make a reservation in advance.
Dine with local chefs
If you’re looking for a unique and immersive culinary experience in Zermatt, the Kitchen Around Backstage Dining Tour is a great option.
This guided tour takes you behind the scenes of some of Zermatt’s best restaurants, where you’ll meet the chefs and kitchen staff and learn about their cooking techniques and ingredients.
You’ll get a firsthand look at how these talented chefs prepare their dishes, and even have the opportunity to taste some of their creations.
Along the way, your guide will share interesting stories and insights about the culinary scene in Zermatt.
Interested in taking to the skies to enjoy the views of the Matterhorn and the surrounding Swiss Alps? This paragliding tour offers the opportunity for an unforgettable flight.
Since you’ll be with a trained and licensed pilot the whole time, this activity is suited for beginners with no prior experience.
For safety reasons, paragliding can only be done when the weather is nice, so try and book for the best day according to the forecast if possible.
Spot some blacknose sheep
When visiting Zermatt, you might be interested in seeing some of the local wildlife, like the adorable blacknose sheep.
While there are several places here where you might be able to see them, there are a few locations in particular that you can scope out. One popular option is the Schalisee pasture, which is located near the Sunnegga cable car station.
This area is known for its beautiful scenery and is a popular spot for hiking and picnicking, as well as for seeing sheep and other adorable farm animals.
Of course, you can also ask a local tourism office or staff at your accommodation for recommendations.
Enjoy a spa treatment
If you’re not particularly outdoorsy, you might be curious about what to do in Zermatt. Fortunately, Zermatt is known for its luxurious spa treatments, which are perfect for those looking to relax and rejuvenate.
Many of the town’s hotels and resorts have their own spas, which offer a wide range of treatments and therapies.
Some of the most popular spa treatments in Zermatt include massages, which come in many different styles such as Swedish, deep tissue, and hot stone.
You can also find treatments such as facials, body wraps and hydrotherapy, which involve the use of water and specialised equipment to help soothe sore muscles. This is especially beneficial if you’ve just come from a day of hiking.
Take a helicopter ride
There are several different helicopter tour options available in Zermatt, ranging from short sightseeing tours to longer excursions that take you deep into the heart of the Swiss Alps. Some tours include a stop for a meal or a hike, while others are more focused on the scenic beauty of the region.
During the helicopter tour, you will be able to admire the breathtaking views of the Matterhorn, as well as other peaks in the region such as the Monte Rosa, the Dent Blanche and the Weisshorn.
You’ll also get a bird’s-eye view of the town of Zermatt, the many ski runs, and the beautiful mountain valleys that surround it.
Make sure you select a tour operator that employs experienced pilots, who will provide a safety briefing and an introduction to the sights you’ll be seeing before takeoff.
Recommended tours in Zermatt
- Paragliding tandem flight in Zermatt – the Spectacular
- Private Ski Lesson – 3 hours Zermatt
- Guided Herbal Walk – Zermatt
- 2-hours small-group Walking Tour Zermatt Village
- Gourmande Wine and Dine Walking Tour in Valais
- Tapas tour in Zermatt
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