My passion for travel started in university when I was abroad in Berlin for six months. Living in Europe stunned me by how close I was to visiting other countries, discovering new cultures and having experiences.
Coming from the US, that always seemed like such an unattainable goal. Everything was so far away! Once I was in Europe, I fell in love with travel and knew that one day I would need to live on the continent.
Zermatt Trips in Summer and Fall
I had the pleasure of visiting Zermatt earlier in the summer. Seeing the Matterhorn was always one of those bucket-list experiences for me. What I didn’t expect, though, was to fall in love with the whole region of Zermatt.
It was one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen in Switzerland. I just knew that I would need to visit again during the fall to see the same beautiful vistas with the leaves changing colours. And so that’s what I did! I consider myself lucky to have visited Zermatt twice this year.
Long Weekend Trip to Zermatt
Our latest trip to Zermatt was a long weekend and we stayed for two nights. Most of our time was spent hiking outdoors and checking out the amazing fall foliage. As the sun sets early this time of year, in the evenings we would head into the village of Zermatt for dinner, a drink and shopping.
My Favourite Place: Gornergrat
My favourite place in Zermatt is Gornergrat. It was incredible to see. Taking the Gornergrat Bahn (train), you not only have amazing views of the Matterhorn during the ride but once you reach the end of the line you walk up just a bit more to have a 360 degree panoramic view.
There are mountains all around, including not only the Matterhorn but also Monte Rosa which is the tallest mountain in Switzerland.
5 Best Things To Do in Zermatt
The main attraction of Zermatt is without a doubt the uniquely beautiful Matterhorn which rises majestically above the town at a height of 4478m. But like I said before, there is so much more to this town and region than just the one mountain peak. Below are my top 5 recommendations:
- Hike the Five Lakes Trail – This is a challenging hike but definitely worth it. You get offered incredible reflections of the Matterhorn on three different lakes as you pass by five mountain lakes – Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grunsee, Moosjisee and Leisse. A great way to spend a day!
- Take the Gornergrat Train to the Top of the Mountain – Go from 658 metres starting at the bottom of the valley in Visp to 3089 metres at the top of Gornergrat. You can enjoy a fantastic view of the Gorner Glacier at the last stop and also the marvellous Monte Rosa, above 4000m.
- Tackle the Riffelsee Lake Hike – The Riffelsee hike is one of the best spots in Zermatt to find the perfect lake reflection of the mighty Matterhorn. Take the train to Riffelalp before hiking around the mountain and reaching Riffelsee with its extraordinary reflection.
- Gondola Ride to Furi – The mountain hamlet of Furi can be reached by taking a gondola from Zermatt. From there you can hike to the hanging bridge and then make your way back down to Zermatt. The gondola ride itself is beautiful and the hike back is arguably even better.
- Explore the Village of Zermatt – From eating your way through the village, to shopping in the quaint stores, to visiting the Matterhorn Museum, to taking a comprehensive village tour – there is never a shortage of things to see and do in the wonderful Zermatt village.
Believe it or not, the Matterhorn is only the 10th highest mountain of Switzerland! But it’s shape is so unique and the peak is isolated from any other mountain. All of the above mentioned things to do in Zermatt offer different opportunities to see the Matterhorn in all of her glory.
Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast up for all-day hikes in high altitude or would rather take it easy and let a train take you up the mountain – we know that you will definitely fall in love with the majestic Matterhorn!
Enjoy the Village Life of Zermatt
Zermatt is a small mountain village that is pedestrian only. Because of this, it is mostly geared towards vacation homes and tourists – not a ton of locals in the area but everyone we did meet from the region was so lovely.
For an authentic Valais (name of the region) experience, I would head to Schaferstube Restaurant. It’s an authentic restaurant with excellent food and wine from the region. Definitely order the Fondue a la Maison!
If you are looking for a meal that is less pricey but just as good quality, then head to Du Pont Restaurant which is in fact the oldest restaurant and business in Zermatt. They serve some delicious Swiss specialties as well.
There are tons of hotels to choose from in Zermatt – all of which differ in price. As Zermatt is a pedestrian only village, we recommend staying close to the train station so you can arrive via train and drop your luggage easily.
When booking, request a hotel that has Matterhorn views. This is the best way to enjoy a morning sunrise and afternoon sunset from your room. It’s usually a bit more expensive this way but totally worth it for the views.
Favourite Memory from Zermatt
As a NYC native, most of my life has been lived at sea level. This has meant that altitudes pose a bit of a challenge for me. I took the Gornergrat train to the top of the line (3089 metres above sea level) but there was still a few hundred meters to go to reach the summit of Gornergrat.
Even though it only took 10 minutes, the steep hill combined with the lower oxygen levels was so challenging! At the time, I considered not going any higher. But in the end I did and I am so glad! At the top of the Gornergrat you have a full 360 degree view of mountains all around you.
It was like nothing I have ever experienced! I’m so glad that I pushed myself for the last leg of the hike to experience this unique moment in Zermatt.
Need to Know Before you Go
One thing to keep in mind for your Zermatt trip is that the face value of public transport seems expensive. However, if you are travelling through Switzerland, I recommend purchasing a half-fare card. It costs 180 Swiss franc and is valid for one year. It will save you half on all transit fares.
We purchased this card and were able to benefit from reduced fares on our train to Zermatt, the Matterhorn Glacier Express Gondolas and the Gornergrat Bahn. And even though Switzerland is viewed as a winter destination (the skiing is amazing), Zermatt can be visited in every season.
Choose whether you prefer snow and skiing, fall foliage colours or hiking in the summer with beautiful mountain flowers. The choice is yours! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy your visit to Zermatt just as much as I did.