Top five things to do in Zermatt

Things to do in Zermatt

Zermatt is one of our favourite locations and the final destination on the world-famous Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route Trek. The surrounding mountains are a playground for trekkers, skiers and climbers. But there are also plenty of things to do in Zermatt itself!

1) Gornergrat

Things to do in Zermatt number 1 Gornergratbahn
The Gornergrat cogwheel railway ascends from Zermatt (1616 m) to the Gornergrat (3090 m), offering unique views of the Matterhorn and other peaks. Photo credit: Gornergratbahn

Tourists flock from around the world to see the iconic Matterhorn, and the best views are undoubtedly from the Gornergrat. To get there, go to Zermatt town centre and take the Gornergratbahn, the highest open-air railway in Europe. The cog railway will delight train enthusiasts, taking roughly half an hour to reach the summit station at 3100m (10,170 feet). From the station, you can see 29 of the Alps highest peaks, including the Matterhorn. Remember to wrap up warm, as it’s much colder at the top!

A day trip to the Gornergrat is one of the highlights of our Swiss winter adventure tours. It’s also an easy choice for this list of the best things to do in Zermatt.

2) Glacier Paradise

Take the highest cable car in Europe up to 3883m for views of Mont Blanc, Gran Paradiso, and the south face of the Matterhorn. From the observation platform, you can watch alpinists hiking up the Breithorn. The summit is just 2.5 hours from the cable car, making the Breithorn one of the most accessible 4000m mountains in the Alps. It’s a fantastic introduction to alpinism.

For those on a more leisurely trip to Glacier Paradise, there are ice caves and an eco-friendly restaurant with large panoramic windows. That way, you can enjoy lunch with a view!

3) Five lakes walk

Things to do in Zermatt number 3, 5 lakes walk
The Matterhorn reflected in Riffel Lake, photo credit: Swiss Tourism

This is one of the finest short walks in Zermatt, and arguably the Alps! The trail leads you past five mountain lakes, three of which hold perfect reflections of the Matterhorn on a clear day. If you visit in summer, be sure to pack your swimsuit as you’ll want to cool off with some swimming in the Leisee and Grunsee lakes.

The surrounding alpine meadows are home to marmots, chamois, and rare alpine flowers. It’s worth taking a picnic and spending some time in this special place.

The trail starts from the Blauherd mountain station. To get there, catch the funicular from Zermatt to Sunnegga and then take a gondola or chairlift to Blauherd.

The walk is gentle, and there is also a playground at Leisee Lake. This makes it one of the best things to do in Zermatt with children.

4) Matterhorn museum

The Matterhorn museum chronicles the development of Zermatt from a sleepy mountain village to the tourist hotspot it is today.

Zermatt’s success is due to its location below the Matterhorn, and the museum tells the story of its first ascent — one of the biggest and most notorious climbing achievements of the 18th century. Four of the seven climbers lost their lives in the attempt, and news of the tragedy quickly spread across Europe. The story put the Matterhorn and Zermatt firmly on the map!

The museum is in the village centre and is open most days from 11am to 6pm. It’s one of the best things to do in Zermatt on a rainy day.

5) Zermatt Village tour

Things to do in Zermatt number 5 village tour
Aprés ski in Zermatt. Photo credit: Switzerland Tourism.

Although tourism is booming in Zermatt, the Swiss have gone to great lengths to ensure it retains its village charm. New construction is tastefully blended into the style of the old town, which contains 500-year-old barns and grain stores.

In 1961, they closed the town to traffic, and the only vehicles you will see are small electric carts carrying supplies to the various hotels and restaurants.

It’s worth spending a few hours exploring the streets, shops, and cafés. The best places to take photos in the village are at the church square and the Kirchbrucke bridge, both offering exceptional Matterhorn views.

In summer, head to Bahnhofstrasse at 9am or 5pm to watch the twice daily procession of blackneck goats making their way between the meadow and their sleeping place. Although blackneck goats were once wide spread throughout the Alps, they have declined in recent decades because other goats produce more milk. However, this charismatic species made a comeback in Zermatt in the ’90s when the tourist board restarted this ancient tradition.

Jennifer Stretton
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