Zermatt

Zermatt-Matterhorn ski: Complete guide to the Swiss resort

The ski resort of Zermatt

A pinnacle of the alpine mountain experience

Beyond its reputation as an exclusive and touristy ski resort, skiing in Zermatt embodies every skier’s dream: 360 km of well-groomed and challenging slopes, guaranteed snow at high altitudes and an exceptional panorama of the Matterhorn and the Swiss Alps. As for the village, it has retained its authentic charm and brilliantly blends tradition and modern design.

Slopes

360

of slopes

Ski pass

75

adult day pass

Snow cover

75

of the ski area is snowsure

Altitude

1620

village

3899

peak

Slope difficulty

74

of blue slopes

Blue slope

220

of red slopes

Piste rouge

64

of black and yellow slopes

Black slope

We like

  • Breathtaking panorama of the Matterhorn and other peaks in the region
  • The sheer size of the ski area and the quality of the slope preparation
  • A well-preserved, cosmopolitan and car-free Valais village
  • World-class restaurants and après-ski

We don't like

  • Expensive ski passes
  • Hotels and apartments are often fully booked long in advance.
  • Tacky souvenir stores and hoards of tourists

Zermatt ski area

Designed for experienced skiers

Zermatt is one of the largest and highest ski areas in Europe. At 3,883 metres, the slopes are partly on a glacier and offer an exceptional panorama of the Matterhorn, the valley and the surrounding 4,000-metre high peaks.

Suitable for good skiers, the Swiss ski area is also linked to the Italian resort of Breuil-Cervinia. It is possible to ski from one side of the mountain to the other via the Saint-Théodule pass. Allow 2 to 3 days to explore the entire ski area comfortably.

Aerial view of the Zermatt ski area
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Most of the slopes are located between 2’500 and 3’800 m above sea level. This means that the resort enjoys very good snow conditions throughout the season. In milder winters, skiing is guaranteed: 75% of the ski area can be artificially snow-covered and snow is guaranteed on the glacier.

Summer skiing in Zermatt

Thanks to the glacier, it is possible to ski in Zermatt also in summer. A small part of the ski area (21 km) remains open during the summer months. The slopes are open in the mornings until noon.

With 60% of challenging red runs, the area is a paradise for intermediate and advanced skiers. Prepared daily and well groomed, the slopes are a pure joy: wide, long and varied as you wish. Skiing down the slopes whilst staring at the Matterhorn is an exciting experience. The mountain is so hypnotic you cannot take your eyes off it. There are very few “flat” slopes, with a low gradient, linking the different sides together. The area is therefore also well suitable for snowboarders.

The facilities are modern and of very good quality. The ski area is accessible via 3 different stations from the village of Zermat (see map of the ski slopes in Zermatt):

  • The Gornergrat rack railway (opposite the SBB station). The mythical but slow railway line (33 minutes to the summit).
  • Zermatt-Sunnegga funicular (fastest connection, 10 minutes)
  • To the north is the gondola station Zermatt-Furi. Convenient if you stay on that side of the village. The ist the fastest access to the glacier and the Italian side.
The majority of the lifts are chairlifts, gondolas or cable cars. Ski lifts are rare and are mainly concentrated on the glacier Due to the size of the area, long waiting lines are rare. However, expect crowds if you aim for the first morning trains to the Gornergrat. The lifts are open from 8.30 am. Last departure for the glacier at 3.30 pm. Last departure for the glacier at 3.30 pm.

Adult Ski passes

Ski passes
km of slopes
Price
1 day Zermatt
200 km
75 CHF
1 day with Italy
360 km
87 CHF
Beginner’s pass
Blue slopes (Sunnegga)
50 CHF
Summer skiing
80 km
80 CHF
1/2 day
None
None

Children’s ski passes

Age
Discount
Younger than 9 y.o.
Free
9 to 15 y.o.
-50%
15 to 19 y.o.
-15%
There are no half-day ski passes.

SwissPass

The SwissPass is now supported. You can also refill a compatible magnetic card (Keycard) from another ski resort if you have one. To avoid queuing at the cash desk, buy the online pass and load it on the Keycard or SwissPass. To avoid queuing at the cash desk, buy the pass online and load it on the Keycard or SwissPass.

Like all major ski resorts, Zermatt now offers secure freeride zones. There are 36 km of yellow runs from the Stockorn and Rothorn peaks. The snowpark on the glacier remains partially open in summer. Its facilities are suitable for beginners and advanced riders alike:

  • Slopestyle with three rails and three jumps (intermediate to professional level)
  • Beginner Line with twelve jumps and twelve boxes (easy level)
  • Rail Garden with eight rails (medium to professional level)
Cracks in the on the glaciers are a real danger in the upper part of the ski area. Do not leave the marked trails when descending from the small Matterhorn, the Rosa Plateau or the Trockener Steg.

Zermatt offers a wide range of activities for non-skiers: hiking trails, snowshoeing, tobogganing, curling or outdoor skating. For the more curious, the Matterhorn Museum is worth a visit. Visitors can find out how the inhabitants of Zermatt lived in past centuries and have a heart for the history of the conquest of the summit.

Zermatt is not the most suitable ski resort for beginners. The area is at a high altitude and features significant differences in altitude. The ski area is only accessible by train or cable care, making the purchase to a full ski pass necessary, which is expensive to enjoy only a small number of easy slopes. However, Zermatt does offer two areas specially designed for beginners with suitable training slopes and lifts. For CHF 50.00, the Beginner’s pass gives access to the Wolli area in Sunnegga and the blue pistes in Blauherd. Several ski and snowboard schools offer courses for beginners and advanced skiers, with packages ranging from a single hour to a full week.

It is possible to rent all your ski or snowboard equipment directly on site in the village.

  • Count between 60 and 70 CHF per day for a ski/boots or snowboard/boots set.
  • Count about 75 CHF per day for a set of pants/jacket/gloves/helmet.

The village of Zermatt

Authenticity and modernity

View of the village of Zermatt by night

Nestled deep in the mountains, far from the big cities, the village of Zermatt is a real microcosm. Visitors quickly get used to taking up the space left by motor traffic in this compact, car-free village. Zermatt is all about strolling through the streets and enjoying its charm and activities while contemplating the distinctive pyramid-shaped silhouette of the Matterhorn. Relaxed and distracted from their daily life, travellers can enjoy the charm of the village and its activities in complete serenity.

Zermatt has managed to preserve all its traditional character, with authentic wooden chalets. The barns and straw barns in the old village date back to the 16th century and bear evidence of the local architectural culture. The main street, Bahnhofstrasse, is lined with souvenir and luxury shops. However, it is easy to get out of the flow by exploring the surrounding alleys. Curious visitors will discover a real local life in the village. The stylish, modern interiors are decorated in alpine chic style, combining wood, stone and soft light.

In Zermatt, there is no shortage of good dining options. The resort has nearly one hundred restaurants, 16 of which are listed in the Michelin Guide. The two-star After Seven is considered as one of the 25 best restaurants in Switzerland. World-class lounges and après-ski are also Zermatt’s specialities.

Tips

For a stylish après-ski, go to the Cervo. Located at the end of the slope between Sunnegga and Zermatt, the hotel offers an outdoor bar and live music for a neat and cosy atmosphere. For a casual evening, try a Zermatt Burger at Brown Cow. The comforting menu is good value for money. If all the tables are taken, you can wait with a cocktail at the Papa Caesar on the first floor. After an afternoon skiing down the slopes of Breuil-Cervinia, extend the Italian experience at Gusto Matto. The stylish interior is divided into a bar and a restaurant. A lovely selection of fine Italian wines and dishes, which the sommelier will be pleased to present to you.

Zermatt does not offer thermal baths or wellness centres as such. The most best spas and saunas are located in hotels and their access is almost exclusively reserved for guests. However, there are some hotels that open their spa facilities to outside visitors. This is the case of the Hotel Ginabelle. The hotel’s interior is a little old-fashioned, but well maintained, and it features a beautiful 34° outdoor swimming pool.

Who goes to Zermatt?

Despite the resort’s prestigious reputation, the atmosphere is much less pretentious than in St. Moritz or Verbier. A diverse and cosmopolitan crowd rubs shoulders with passionate skiers, gourmets, romantic souls and day-trippers. None of them can escape the traditional Matterhorn photo.

Zermatt is made for:

  • Intermediate and advanced skiers
  • Romantics and snow lovers
  • Foodies
  • Design fanatics

Getting to Zermatt

Location and how to get there

Zermatt is located in Switzerland in the canton of Valais, on the border with Italy. The inhabitants speak Swiss-German, but you won’t have any problems with English as Zermatt is very international.

Due to Zermatt’s remote location and high altitude, expect a longer journey than to other Swiss ski resorts. However, Zermatt is easily accessible by train, the only means of transport to reach the village. There is a car park and shuttle connections to the village of Täsch, located further down the valley.

Zermatt is a car-free village. You have to leave yours in the car park of Täsch village, 5 km from the resort (CHF 15.50 per day). The last part of the journey is by train. The cost of the shuttle train the village is included in the parking fee. Trains leave every 20 minutes to Zermatt from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., 365 days a year. The journey takes 12 minutes. If you are driving from the German-speaking part of Switzerland, use the Lötschberg railway tunnel. You will reach the Valais region without detour through French-speaking Switzerland. For this you will have to load your car onto the train in Kandersteg and unload it in Goppenstein. If you can, leave your car at home and take the train to Zermatt. The station is very well connected to the SBB network (direct train from Visp) and the route is splendid. Considering the expensive parking in Täsch, the train can even be competitive economically speaking.

Distance by car to Zermatt from:

From
Journey time
Lausanne
2h30
Fribourg
2h45
Geneva-Airport
3h
Zurich-Airport
4h
Lyon
4h30
Paris
7h45

We advise you to come to Zermatt by train. The journey from Visp is fantastic. From any Swiss train station, go to Visp in Valais. Then change and board the famous red train to Zermatt.

Distance by train from:

From
Journey time
Changes
Berne
2h15
1 x
Fribourg
2h50
2 x
Lausanne
3h
1 x
Zurich
3h15
1 x
Geneva-Airport
4h
2 x
Lyon
6h15
3 x
Paris
7h00
2 x
SBB train timetable Expert tip: if you are travelling with bulky luggage and ski equipment, you should use SBB luggage service. SBB transfers your luggage or skis from major Swiss cities and airports for CHF 12 per piece of luggage per journey if you have a train ticket to Zermatt. Please note, however, that there is a one to two-day delay between the handover of your luggage and its arrival in Zermatt. Ask at an SBB station ticket office beforehand. SBB also offers “Snow n’ Rail” offers that combine train and cable car tickets. In Winter, SBB also offers “Snow n’ Rail” offers that combine train and cable car tickets. Compatible with GA and Half-Fare travelcard.

3 to 4 hours separate Zermatt from the international airports of Zurich and Geneva. Zurich Airport is the country’s most convenient and modern airport. The airport has better facilities and the train rides requires less changing than from Geneva. Reaching Zermatt by train from Zurich airport is the easiest, fastest and most comfortable option. On the other hand, you should expect to pay around CHF 30 more per journey than if you were travelling from Geneva.

From Zurich Airport

Get off at the airport’s underground station and then take the InterCity 8 train, direction Bern/Brig, to Visp in Valais. From there, change and take the train to Zermatt. The adult single journey without discount costs CHF 129. Travel time: 3h30

From Geneva Airport

The train ticket is cheaper from Geneva than from Zurich. However, the journey is longer and you have to change trains once in Lausanne and once in Visp. The adult single journey without discount costs CHF 98 Journey time: 4 h Air Zermatt offers direct helicopter shuttle services from the airports of Geneva (45 min), Zurich (1 hr), Bern (35 min), Sion (15 min) and Basel (1 hr 10). Prices on request.

Since Zermatt is a car-free village, the only way to get around is on foot or with electric carts (taxi). The village being relatively compact, if you take a hotel close enough to the ski lifts or the train station, you will not need carts during your stay. See our hotel selection at the foot of the lifts.

Hotels in Zermatt

The best hotels in Zermatt

Zermatt’s hotel offer is outstanding. However, the resort is very popular in the high season. The best hotels and chalets are sometimes booked up to many months in advance. So plan as early as possible to avoid having to settle for a hotel in Täsch.

Count at least 2 full days on the premises to make the most of your stay. To explore the entire ski area and enjoy the village and its activities in peace and quiet, however, opt for a stay of 3 full days or more.

Best seasons for skiing

To enjoy good snow conditions, visit Zermatt between the beginning of December and the end of March. To avoid crowds on the slopes and in the village, while enjoying optimal skiing conditions, opt for the following periods:
  • From 1 to 15 December (before the Christmas festivities)
  • From 10 January to 30 January (after New Year’s Day and before the February/March school holidays)

Avoid the following dates

Unless you’re seeking the magic of Christmas and New Year’s Eve festivities, avoid the period from December 20 to January 10. Good hotels are booked many months in advance and at much higher prices than the rest of the year. The slopes are also packed.

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