Best Things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland

WHAT TO DO IN ZERMATT – PLACES TO VISIT AND THINGS TO DO

Are you heading to Zermatt and wondering about the best things to do in Zermatt? Then this post is for you as it will help you plan your Zermatt trip.

Are you looking for a perfect cute town to visit in Switzerland? Zermatt is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Switzerland, and while it is a perfect place to visit in winter in Switzerland, it is actually a great idea at any time of the year.

I have been to Zermatt a few times so far. However, I am neither a skiing person nor overly sporty, yet I enjoy time outdoors and being active.

In this post, I am not only talking about the top things in Zermatt, I will also provide you with some travel information for your trip at the end of the post. 

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

Things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland, Arzo Travels
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Here are the Best Places to Visit in Zermatt

Ready to find out about the best things to do in Zermatt in summer? Here are my top recommendations for what to do.

Admire the Matterhorn

To say the Matterhorn Mountain plays an important role in/for Zermatt would be a slight understatement. I actually go as far as to say that Zermatt is all (or almost all) about the Matterhorn.

Matterhorn and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps best places to ski
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The majestic Matterhorn straddles the main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy. With 4,478 meters high is it one of the tallest (but not the tallest) mountains in Switzerland and it is mostly admired for its unique shape. 

And whether you visit a restaurant, a mountain peak, a hike, or a hotel – it all comes back to the Matterhorn.

Rooms with a Matterhorn view are more expensive, bars and restaurants with a Matterhorn view are more crowded! Hikes and mountain peaks with fantastic views of the Matterhorn are the most popular ones.

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But no worries, the Matterhorn is so omnipresent you can see it from many places in Zermatt. Among all the mountains in Switzerland, this is truly a very unique one!

MATTERHORN FUN FACTS

  • Matterhorn is the German name – in Italian it is Cervino and in French, it is known as the Mont Cervin.
  • Annually, 3000 people climb the Matterhorn successfully.
  • The youngest person who climbed the Matterhorn was just 8 years old! The oldest climber who successfully got to the summit was 89 years old!
  • Even a Pope climbed the Matterhorn: Pope Pius XI in 1889.
  • In 1892 the Swiss Federal Assembly approved a proposal for cable car access – but after more than 68,000 people signed a petition against a cable car, the construction was prevented.
  • Want to hike the Matterhorn yourself? Then you should be experienced in rock climbing and alpine hikes – let´s put it like that: most of us are probably not going to climb/hike the Matterhorn! But there are some fantastic hikes that offer great views of the Matterhorn.

Stroll Zermatt Town

If you use this post as a Zermatt itinerary, I suggest starting with the town center. It starts just left from the train station. 

Zermatt old town with Arzo Travels
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One of the first things I noticed in Zermatt: many tourists, many flower pots, and many ads for luxury watches (and shops) everywhere.

Flower pots, flower pots, and flower pots make Zermatt pretty pretty pretty. If only more places looked like that… Strolling this area is such a lovely and nice way to spend time and one of the top things to do in Zermatt. The houses are so charming and the scenery makes everything more beautiful.

As in all parts of Switzerland, water fountains provide fresh drinking water. So bring your bottle and refill it with try fresh water.

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Walk Along the Matter Vispa River

From the old town, it is not very far from the lovely Matter Vispa River. TheVispa is a river in the canton of Valais with a length of 84 kilometers (52 miles). 

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I really liked the Vispa River with its quite strong current and unusual gray/white color (glacier water). You cannot miss it, and though this is not one of the typical Zermatt tourist attractions, I still enjoyed my walk along the river.

There are many cafes and restaurants along the river where you can sit down and relax – or you bring your own snacks and sit on a bench and enjoy these impressive Matterhorn views.

Head to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise – Klein Matterhorn

Let´s visit a mountain peak (of course, with great views of the Matterhorn). Since visiting Matterhorn itself is kind of let´s say, a challenging part, here is a great alternative: Klein Matterhorn or Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.

While Zermatt is about 1,600 meters above sea level, Klein Matterhorn is almost about 4,000 meters high and has the highest cable car station in Europe.

Matterhorn Cable Car @shutterstock
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Matterhorn Cable Car @shutterstock

It comes with 360° views of other peaks & glaciers and visiting is one of the best things to do in Zermatt.

HOWEVER, I was warned before that the altitude might cause some problems but I did not take it seriously. So I went straight up with the cable cars. You have to change cable cars a couple of times, and it takes about 30 minutes to the top. It might sound long, but it is actually very fast to get up so high.

  • I recommend getting out of at one of those stops and taking a break for half an hour or so, so you are not up that fast.
  • And to drink a lot of plain water.

Then it should be even more fun because you are less likely will feel sick.

You could start with visiting the highest viewing platforms in the Alps. The panorama view allows you to take in all the 38 mountain peaks towering over 4,000 meters. If you are lucky and the view is very clear, you can even see the Mont Blanc (I was not so lucky).

A little cinema lounge shows videos about the Matterhorn and the Alps – quite interesting to learn more about it!

At the top are a restaurant and shop. The Glacier Palace, which is close to the restaurant, is another main attraction. It is a kind of museum, inside of a glacier, with ice crystals and ice sculptures.

Glacier Palace Matterhorn @shutterstock
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Glacier Palace Matterhorn @shutterstock

There is also a snow sports area (open all year). If you have a ticket, the snow tubing is free of charge. I would have loved to do that but I was there with my little puppy and didn’t know where to “park“ him.

Though I didn’t feel 100% well, it was definitely worth seeing Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. Even if you are used to beautiful mountain views, I am sure this trip will amaze you.

TIP: Check out the opening hours, because certain activities/places close quite early, e.g. Glacier Palace.

HOW TO GET TO KLEIN MATTERHORN:

  • There are no hiking trails, so you can only get there via cable cars.
  • The cable car station in Zermatt is easy to find – head towards Furi cable car station and start your first part of the trip there. Then you have to change cable cars a few times but it is quite straight forward.
  • It takes about 40 minutes to get to the top (without stops).

Get up Gornergrat

Gornergrat is another beautiful mountain standing at about 3135 meters above sea level (almost 1000 meters lower than Klein Matterhorn) with no less stunning views. The “opening hours” are longer than on Klein Matterhorn, so if you start your day later or very early, this might be an alternative.

Places to visit in Zermatt - points of interest in Zermatt Gornergrat
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Getting up Gornergrat Mountain in Zermatt @shutterstuck

I got up the Gornergrat by the cogwheel (it just takes 30 minutes) and then hiked down all the way to Zermatt. 

View from Gornergrat with Monte Rosa in Zermatt
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Up Gornergrat the views of the surrounding mountains and a glacier were breathtaking. Luckily, the sky was clear (unlike when I visited Klein Matterhorn) which allowed me to enjoy this day trip even more. You can see the highest mountain of Switzerland – Mount Rosa (also known as the Dufourspitze) which stands at 4634 meters above sea level.
Grand Tour Gornergrat in Zermatt
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TIP: No worries, I could not name all the mountains myself. There are telescopes (free to use) that also give you all the names of the mountains you can see.

Just in June 2021, a new attraction has opened at Gornergrat – Zooom the Matterhorn. It is an interactive museum with virtual activities like paragliding.

Virtual paragliding in Zermatt was really, really great. It is just a short experience (3 minutes) but good enough for me.

  • If you have a Gornergrat ticket (one-way or return), you can visit this museum for free in 2021 – from 2022 onwards, it costs around CHF 7.
  • If you travel with a dog, you will need to put him/her in a bag.

HIKING AT GORNERGRAT

Even if you are not into hiking, I highly recommend the short hiking loop at the top of Gornergrat. It takes about 20-30 minutes and you have superb views already.

Additionally, you can also hike down. It takes several hours and it is a quite steep hike – but it is worth it. 

I hiked down – all the way to Zermatt. Amongst others, you will pass Lake Riffelsee. It is a small and yet beautiful lake that – on clear days without wind – has the reflection of the Matterhorn.

Riffelsee in Zermatt with Matterhorn
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My initial plan was to hike to the Gorner Gorge (which “lies” on the way to Zermatt) but it was closed already. Either way, hiking in and around Gornergrat is a good way to see more of the stunning nature in Zermatt.

The hike was steep downhill and not knee-friendly. I still recommend it, if you are a fit person. It took me about 5-6 hours, but apparently, it will only take 3-4 hours to some more sporty people.

Visit Gorner Gorge

Another place to visit in Zermatt is Gorner Gorge. An astonishing 220 million years old is the rock, greenish serpentinite. You do not actually have to visit the gorge and pay the entrance fee – you will see quite a bit already by just hiking down from Gornergrat. And it looks stunning!

If you hike down from Gornergrat, then you can add it to your itinerary, as it is “on your way” to Zermatt town.

Gorner Gorge a must see place in summer in Zermatt
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Some parts are open 24/7 and then you can also go inside the gorge.

  • Gorner Gorge is closed during winter times, making it the perfect Zermatt summer activity.
  • Entry is only about CHF 5. They only take cash (yes, even though it is 2021)!

You can do the above-mentioned activities in 2 days in Zermatt. However, of course, there is much more to do in Zermatt. If you stay longer than 2 days in Zermatt, especially in the summer months, you can spend weeks outdoors exploring the area without getting bored.

Shred the Slopes with Summer Skiing

Okay, you may think of winter in Zermatt as the only time you can ski. But opportunities for skiing in the Alps are year-round.

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Zermatt has the largest ski area you can find in the world – it’s also the highest altitude, so fresh snowfall is common, even in the summer months. Go skiing in the early morning, when conditions are at their best. You can then spend the rest of the day indulging in some summer sun and enjoying a few of the other summer activities on this list.

Summer skiing here is closed at noon so that the snow stays fresh during the hottest part of the day. It’ll be ready for you again in the morning.

You can summer ski at Klein Matterhorn – here you can enjoy snow sports along 21 km of pistes.

Go Hiking Along the Mountain Trails – 5-Lake Walk

Hiking is certainly one of the best things to do in Zermatt. The town is surrounded by incredible mountains, including the – here we go again – iconic Matterhorn. There are over 400 km of hiking trails to explore so you can spend days or even weeks doing just that. 

You can easily embark on a hiking trip on your own or hire a guide for a more informative and directional hiking tour. There’s hiking for all ages and fitness levels, and you’ll always have majestic views and lush surroundings.  You may even spot some of the local wildlife.

The most popular hike is probably the 5-lake hike. As the name suggests, you will see 5 lakes during the hike and it is pretty nice.

I have done two hikes in Zermatt – hiking down from Gornergrat to Zermatt and the 5-lake walk. Both hikes are labeled as “intermediate” – they include a lot of steep downhill or uphill hiking. I got up both times via cable car/cogwheel and then headed down. If you do it the other way around, it includes a lot of uphill hiking.

5-LAKE WALK

The lakes you see during this popular hike are Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Leisee, and Moosjisee- more on the first one later. You can swim in a couple of lakes, which makes the hike a popular activity for families (even though it is not the easiest hike out there).

I suggest getting up with a cable car/funicular to Sunnegga first, and then change the cable car to Blauherd mountain peak and start your hike there.

It is a steep walk but doable – not all lakes were stunning. It was a bit too cold to swim when I visited but on a hot day swimming in the lakes could be a fantastic activity.

5 Lake Hike in Zermatt with Arzo Travels
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Moosjisee – Puppygak

My two favorite lakes were Stellisee and Moosjisee. The first lake is impressive because you can see the reflection of the Matterhorn (on clear and windless days) and the last – artificial – lake has just an incredible water color and you have the Matterhorn in the background.

Head Out on a Mountain Biking Adventure

If you prefer mountain biking, no worries. Zermatt offers plenty of that, too, with over 220 km of signposted trails specifically geared towards cyclists. Zermatt has something for everyone, with a diverse collection of tracks and trails. 

Whether you’re an advanced cyclist looking for challenging technical trails, or just interested in exploring the mountainous area at a comfortable pace – Zermatt is the perfect place to enjoy a mountain biking adventure. 

Mountain Biking in Zermatt
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If you do not have your own bike with you, do not worry. There are a couple of bike rentals in Zermatt. Rent a bicycle and head out on a ride.

Getting up by cable cars means that even short rides can start high in the mountains, surrounded by exquisite views. You can also explore further on a multi-day trip, going deep into the mountains. I am no expert, so I leave it here.

Try Rock Climbing in the Alpen Mountains

As mentioned, I am not to sportiest person out there, and climbing sounds like a lot of effort. However, Zermatt really is the perfect place for adventure sports and one of the best things to do during the summer months is rock climbing.

If you know what you’re doing, you can spend days on multi-pitch climbs with phenomenal views and nearly untouched locations. There’s also sport climbing available for the uninitiated to the highly skilled. It all depends on the kind of challenge you’re looking for.

Keep in mind: You do need to be relatively fit. And you shouldn’t try if you have a serious fear of heights. Because you certainly will be high up.

You can also get some practice in at the indoor climbing wall before setting off for the mountains.

Have a Barbeque / Picnic at a Park

Zermatt has some truly lovely parks, which come to life in summer. The Attermenzen campsite and Schweigmatten are both fantastic places to set up a wood fire. 

Surrounded by Zermatt’s iconic wilderness, with the river running alongside, barbequing at the Attermenzen campsite is a wonderful way to spend a summer’s day. You can get all your favorite foods on the fire and relax with a good book – or with family and friends.

With all the adventure and activity of your summer vacation in Zermatt, a little chill time is always welcome.

Of course, a picnic in the park is also a great option, particularly if you have less time to spare. You’ll find tables and benches at the parks, as well as wood for burning if you want it.

Go Flying Through the Trees at Forest Fun Park

Another fun attraction is the Forest Fun Park. It’s perfect for families with kids, but solo travelers will also find it a great deal of fun.  

There are five different rope courses for beginners to experienced visitors. All of them take you through the trees, testing your balance and whizzing you along zip lines. It’s a very unusual experience and one that really gets the blood pumping. 

Expect to spend about three hours in the treetops. You can really challenge yourself with one of the harder courses, or take it easy with the green course. 

Relax at Schalisee Lake

I talked about the lake before when I described the 5-lake hike. The Schalisee is an idyllic lake lying in Nikolai Valley, surrounded by mountain peaks. Its waters are the perfect place to swim for the brave. Even in summer, swimming in Alpine lakes will leave you with a chill till you thaw in the sun. 

Lake with Matterhorn in background arzo Travels
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Have a picnic along the lake’s edge, and catch a tan. You can leave it at this, enjoying some laid-back summer fun.

See the Matterhorn From a Sightseeing Flight

The Matterhorn is one of the most beautiful mountain peaks in the world, covered in snow and surrounded but the majestic Alps. If ever you’re going to explore somewhere by flight, this is it. At least, it is on my own Zermatt Bucket List.

A helicopter flight is definitely pricey – but if you do have the spare cash to splurge on your Zermatt trip, you’ll certainly land with no regrets.  

You can see it all in just a 20-minute flight, but they range from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on just how much you want to see.

Travel Information for Your Zermatt Itinerary

Here are some important travel tips for your trip.

SWISS TRAVEL PASS

If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass.

  • It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs.
  • You can also do boat cruises without additional costs – there are no lakes in Zermatt to cruise but if you create a Switzerland itinerary, then you might enjoy those boat cruises.
  • It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides (you can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price). You can use it for all the mountain rides mentioned here. 
  • Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.

The prices are quite high – but I have bought them myself, and it pays off if you get around via public transportation and are active. If you just plan to visit other places and stay in Switzerland for more than 3-4 days it most likely will make sense financially. 

So, check out prices for train rides and mountain excursions and then calculate if it is a good option for you. For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/ mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland). 

How to Get to Zermatt

If you plan a Switzerland road trip, you should know that Zermatt is a car-free town. So you have to leave your car in Taesch, a little village close to Zermatt. There is a big covered big car park, which charges about 13€ for 24 hours of parking.

From there you have to take a train that brings you up to Zermatt. With a Swiss Travel Pass, you can get up for free. Without a Swiss Travel Pass, you pay around 15€ for a return ticket.

You could also hike up or cycle – the distance is about 7 km, and it is not flat but probably great if you want to start with some hike.

How to Get Around Zermatt

Since Zermatt is a car-free town, there are not many choices for the means of transportation.

However, there are cars in Zermatt – but they are electric. Actually, it is full of taxis, shuttle buses, and regular buses. So, do not be surprised to see it full of little cars.

  • Regular buses – there are several stops through the town. Just hop on any bus at one of the few stations. I had a Swiss Travel Pass, so I could use them for free (I only used them once after the hike). Apparently, you can use them for free if you have other cards as well, but please double-check before.
  • There are also taxis – they are also electric and quite small.
  • As Zermatt is geographically not so big, you can easily walk to many places or use a bike. If you are not an experienced hiker, check out my guide with hiking tips in Switzerland.

Where to Stay in Zermatt

Zermatt is known for being an extremely luxurious destination (even for Switzerland standards). There are no real budget hotels (if you like to find out about my best tips on saving money in Switzerland, click here).

  • Luxury hotels in Zermatt: This luxury hotel in Zermatt knows how to spoil its guests, the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof
  • Mid-range hotels in ZermattHere is an idea for mid-range hotels in Zermatt: Sunstar Style Hotel. I stayed at this one. The prices were very reasonable (summer prices are normally better than the prices in winter) and the location was great. I even had a great room view of Matterhorn. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend booking a hotel room with a view of Matterhorn even though it might be more expensive.
  • Click here to find my accommodation guide for Zermatt.

Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

  • Tips for (solo) female travelers: Zermatt felt so extremely safe and I cannot recommend it enough to travel alone. The altitude caused more problems than being a solo traveler. 
  • Exercise common sense and keep your belongings to yourself.
  • Do not drink too much – even though Switzerland is a safe country, it is always safer to not drink (much) when you travel solo.

What to Pack for Zermatt

If you visit Zermatt, check out my packing guide, where you will find out what to pack for your Switzerland trip

FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEST THINGS TO DO IN ZERMATT

Zermatt is a must-see place that should be on any Switzerland itinerary. I loved every second of my trip, and even though I haven’t managed to do all the above-mentioned activities myself (especially the helicopter ride is a big dream of mine), I believe these are the best things to do in Zermatt.

If you have only 2 days in Zermatt, you clearly cannot do all, but still, you can fit in a lot.

I hope you have gotten some travel inspiration and added some of these attractions to your Zermatt itinerary.

Here are more travel tips for Switzerland:

Safe Travels, Arzo
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