The mighty and unmistakeable pyramid-like rocky slopes of the Matterhorn (4,478 meters) rises majestically above the pretty town of Zermatt to remind you of the fine mountaineering history that surrounds the visitor at every step. It is small wonder that the triangular shape of this formidable peak is the icon of Zermatt and the reason why visitors love this alpine tangle of old buildings and narrow streets so much.
Zermatt has traditionally been the base for those making their own attempts on the Matterhorn, but it really started attracting visitors after the first successful climb by Edward Whimper in 1865. People from all over the world wanted to see for themselves the mountain that created such a tragic success story. Luckily, Zermatt has not changed its ambiance over the years, it still does not allow combustion engine vehicles to enter the streets and the minibusses and taxis you will use are all electrically driven to reduce pollution.
The mountains that surround Zermatt are high enough to allow year-round skiing and even though there may be only a few runs open in July and August, they still manage to attract skiers of all abilities who are drawn to the slopes, or climbers and trekkers wanting a day doing something different.
The walking in the area is superb and Zermatt is the traditional end point of the long-distance trek, the Haute Route. This 200 kilometer, 8-10 day route starts in Chamonix, France and ends under the shadow of the Matterhorn in Zermatt. On any day of the year, you can spot a weary group or individual walking into Zermatt under a heavy pack and sport a huge, accomplished smile as they complete this arduous journey.
If this is a little too much for your appetite then day trips can be organized with local guides that more suit both your abilities and energy levels. A trip that must be taken is on the electric cog train to Gornergrat. At just over 3,000 meters you will enjoy stunning views of the mountains and of course, the Matterhorn, from the viewing deck on the Gornergrat mountain. A different perspective can be obtained by booking a flight on a helicopter for a sightseeing tour. If you can take a group of more than three people then Air Zermatt will even allow you to choose the route of your choice for a truly unique experience.
With a plethora of hotels, apartments, mountain chalet’s and even camping options, Zermatt has a wide range of accommodation for every budget. The town also has a surprising amount of options for your après-ski entertainment with over 100 restaurants, 70 bars and an ever-growing selection of nightclubs. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a dignified dining experience or an exuberant and rocking night out, you will find it in Zermatt and in abundance.
When the day dawns and the partying has to stop why not head over to the Matterhorn Museum and find out more about not just the mountain and its fearsome reputation, but also explore the history of Zermatt and gain a little more perspective of what makes this unique Swiss town a firm favorite with so many visitors.
Once visited, Zermatt is never forgotten, and like a powerful magnet, it will attract you back for more mountain adventures in the shadow of the Matterhorn.