Fun Zermatt Activities in Winter
- 1 Fun Zermatt Activities in Winter
- 2 WINTER TRAVEL TIPS FOR ZERMATT
- 3 WINTER FUN IN ZERMATT – WHAT TO DO
Do you plan to spend some time in Zermatt in winter? First of all, lucky you.
Switzerland in the winter is so rich in beautiful and stunning places – but Zermatt in the winter is probably one of the best places to visit! Though I am not a winter sports enthusiast (but I might get there), but I was blown away by its beauty in the winter months.
So, you might be wondering about the best winter activities and the best things to do in the winter? Then this post is for you. Find out what to do and many more travel tips.
Located in the southern part of Switzerland, this little town is famous as a winter sports destination in the canton of Valais.
At an elevation of 1,620 meters, Zermatt lies at the base of Switzerland’s highest peaks. With such proximity to the Swiss Alps and guaranteed snow throughout the winter, it’s no wonder Zermatt is one of the most popular winter vacation spots in the world.
Zermatt is very well-known, so you can believe that there will be plenty of people enjoying indoor and outdoor activities during the winter. It is also rather expensive and a preferred destination for the rich. While not very affordable, it is amazing, and if you can afford the trip, you won’t be disappointed.
From mountain excursions to skiing to tobogganing and paragliding, there is something for every winter sports enthusiast. And if you prefer to stay inside, there are restaurants and a museum to enjoy.
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WINTER TRAVEL TIPS FOR ZERMATT
Let´s start with how to get to Zermatt because it is not as accessible as other towns in Switzerland.
How to Get to Zermatt
Zermatt does not have an airport. Most likely, you will fly into Geneva or Zurich and then take a train to Zermatt. Driving in Switzerland is fun, but in the winter, it is probably only for more experienced drivers.
If you plan to drive: Zermatt is car-free, you have to drive to Taesch (a little village close to Zermatt) and leave your car in a big car park in Taesch which charges about 13€ for 24 hours of parking.
From there, take a train to Zermatt. With a Swiss Travel Pass, you do not need an extra ticket and get up for free. Without a Swiss Travel Pass, you pay around 15€ for a return ticket from Taesch to Zermatt.
If you come by train, ask for the most scenic train ride. Train rides in Switzerland are mostly amazing, but not always, and it is worth asking for the scenic train rides.
Where to Stay in Zermatt
Zermatt is known for being an extremely luxurious destination. Prices in the winter are higher than in the summer (or fall and spring). There are no real budget hotels (if you like to find out about my best tips on saving money in Switzerland, click here). If you visit Zermatt in December, prices might be even higher. Especially around Christmas, Zermatt is popular. However, it probably is worth it.
Luxury hotels in Zermatt
Mid-range hotels in Zermatt
I stayed at the latter 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 as it is with some extra $.
Click here to find my accommodation guide for Zermatt.
WHAT TO PACK FOR ZERMATT IN WINTER
Though Zermatt in December is not as cold as many think, it is still important to dress warmly. Or better to dress in layers.
Coat – Warm And Waterproof: A warm, waterproof jacket should be one of the very first items that you think to pack. Avoid choosing a bulky jacket that takes up a lot of space. This can make you feel uncomfortable when you have layers underneath. Instead, opt for a lightweight, trench raincoat that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable.
Hat: A knitted beanie is a perfect solution for keeping the warmth in while you venture out. A hat will keep you toasty warm wherever you are.
Gloves: A pair of gloves can do wonders for your mobility, dexterity, and comfort. When selecting your options, it’s worth investing in a pair that can dry quickly and are touch-screen compatible.
Scarf Or Turtleneck: A warm scarf and/or turtleneck sweater are key items for keeping your neck covered. A turtleneck sweater is perfect as a garment to wear underneath your jacket, while the scarf can be removed easily.
Leggings: Leggings are an essential item to pack as you can dress them up or down. You can even wear them underneath your denims as an extra layer of warmth.
Socks: When it comes to packing socks for your Iceland trip – the thicker the better. Chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors in the snow, and you’ll want your feet to be warm and cozy.
Thermals: My favorite winter clothes are thermals. A quality set of thermals is your key to enjoying the winter weather in Iceland. You have to wear them on a cold day to believe what a wonderful invention it is!
Comfortable Walking Shoes: If you can only pack one pair of shoes, then make sure that they are a trusty pair of waterproof snowshoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible. Snowshoes allow you to enjoy a variety of activities while keeping your feet warm and dry.
Zermatt in winter is not only about winter sports – though the it is without a doubt a top-notch destination for winter sport lovers. While most ski resorts will offer rental equipment, there are a few essentials to pack for yourself.
Ski Jacket: When choosing the perfect ski jacket, you need to consider warmth, level of waterproofing, and freedom of movement. A jacket that is adjustable in fit, seals effectively, and dries quickly is the perfect apparel for snowboarding, skiing, and other winter outdoor sports.
Ski Pants: A trusty pair of insulated ski pants are the next essential item for all winter sports fans. Make sure that your choice of pants is breathable, warm, and waterproof. These details will keep you dry, warm, and comfortable on the slopes.
Winter Protection: There are a few items that will make your winter vacation all the more comfortable. The last thing that you want is to be soaked on your first day, or get a migraine from snow blindness.
Chapstick: Visiting Switzerland in winter will most likely find you spending hours of fun on the snow-covered slopes. This can quickly dry out your lips and burn your skin. In this instance, you’re going to be grateful that you’ve packed your moisturizing stick of Chapstick.
Sunglasses: The best days on the slopes are the ones accompanied by clear, sunny skies and good conditions. These circumstances also increase the glare of the sun on the white snow, making it close to unbearable on your eyes. A pair of polarized sunglasses or ski goggles can protect your eyes from the wind and bright light.
WINTER FUN IN ZERMATT – WHAT TO DO
Okay, here are the top winter activities.
Skiing and Snowboarding
What is the most popular winter activity in Zermatt? You guessed it – skiing (and snowboarding). There’s nowhere better suited for ski and snowboard lovers.
Right next to town, you’ll find one of the highest ski areas in Switzerland. Sitting at an altitude of 3,883 meters, the Matterhorn ski paradise offers amazing runs for even the most experienced skier. There are 360 kilometers of run for various experience levels – blue, red, black, and yellow.
There are chair lifts and cable cars to get you to the top. Zermatt also offers nine ski schools with multilingual instructors to teach beginners and help more experienced skiers improve. If you don’t have your skis, the sports shops will rent them to you.
After you’re done, check out one of the many restaurants and bars that offer gourmet food, drinks, and a social aprés ski atmosphere.
Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing
Hiking isn’t just for summer. If you prefer to be on your feet rather than skis, consider a winter hike and snowshoeing. This is a great way to experience Zermatt in December, January, February, or even in early March or November. The gorgeous views from Gornergrat are probably one highlight when visiting during that time.
Located just southeast of the town of Zermatt, Gornergrat is a rocky ridge of the Pennine Alps that provides great views of Gorner Glacier. You can get up there by taking the open-air railway (the only one in Europe) from Zermatt – more on that later.
Your winter hike will give you a chance to really explore the natural beauty of the area – including overhanging terraces that allow for picture-perfect views of Zermatt, Täsch, and Randa. There are guided hikes as well as self-guided trails you can take. Don’t forget to stop for a bite at the mountain restaurant before heading back.
How about ice sports? Whether you visit Zermatt in January or any other winter month – it has a lot to offer, including ice skating, hockey, curling, and ice falls.
Right in the center of Zermatt, you will find ice rinks that are perfect for families and groups of various ages. Besides ice skating, these rinks are very popular for both Bavarian and Scottish curling. The Obere Matten Sports and Recreation Arena is perfect for ice sports of all kinds.
If you step outside the village proper, you will experience the gorgeous ice falls. There you can climb around huge icicles while watching this beautiful display of nature. If you need any equipment, many of the nearby sports stores in Zermatt have some for rent.
Sledding and tobogganing are other favorite pastimes in Zermatt. If you love the excitement of going down steep trails, then you might want to spend some of your vacations on these runs. There are three to choose from, ranging from easy to medium levels.
The easiest is the Randa run, which is gentle and slow, and located in town – perfect for beginners and families with children. The Rotenboden run is slightly longer and more exciting. Over the course of ten minutes, you will see the beauty of the Matterhorn as you sled down from Gornergrat.
The medium-level one is the Täsch run, which you can only access on foot. Once you trek up the slope, you’ll be able to speed down 3.6 kilometers of the snow-covered hill for an exhilarating ride. This is a great Zermatt winter activity if you want a few thrills.
Town of Zermatt
Seeing lovely Zermatt under the cover of snow and the bright sun is a worthwhile winter activity. Stroll the streets of this Alpine village – at this time of year, it is like a winter wonderland.
Zermatt is car-free, so you will only see a few taxis and buses, which are electric. But not to worry, it is so small that you can easily make your way around on foot – or by bike. Stop by the ice rink, and people watch, window shop some of the boutiques, and stop for some food or a drink at one of the restaurants.
Paragliding and Heliskiing
If touring the town wasn’t exciting enough, there is always paragliding in winter. Zermatt has plenty to offer to more adventurous tourists.
Zermatt has two flying schools that offer tandem paragliding and lessons for anyone wanting to go solo. If you prefer to heliski, you have the option to take a helicopter up to the top of the mountain and then ski down on untouched snow.
This way, you can experience the Matterhorn in all of its glory with a helicopter fly-around. See one of the highest peaks in the Alps from all sides. This thrilling winter activity shouldn’t be missed.
Matterhorn Museum – Zermatlantis
To top off this list of winter activities in Zermatt, you should definitely make a stop at the Matterhorn Museum – Zermatlantis. This museum provides the history of Zermatt, from its origins as a farming village to its current-day status as a world-renowned Alpine resort.
You can see a short film about the first ascent and see the broken rope that led to tragedy. If you are interested in history, you might also find the exhibits of the stone ax from the Neolithic Period (3000-5000 BC) and the remains of the “Söldner” mercenary from around the 16th century worth visiting.
There are original houses and interiors to be seen, which help illustrate how Zermatt was a century ago. Architecture lovers may also want to note the museum’s own design, which was the work of famous Steiner Sarnen.
There are so many great places to go and things to do in Zermatt in winter. I hope this list of Zermatt’s winter activities will help you plan your own trip to this charming and luxurious Alpine ski resort.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Going up to Gornergrat, at just over three thousand meters in height, you will see some stunning views all around you. It’s a breathtaking panorama. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is one of the best places to visit in Zermatt in the winter.
The views that you will get at almost four thousand meters are unbeatable.
The summit lift will take you to the highest viewing platform in the Alps, which is at an elevation of 3,900 meters. You can turn full circle and see an amazing panorama of 38 peaks, including mountains in Italy, France, and Switzerland.
A restaurant at the top offers amazing views with your meal if you want to stop and relax for a bit. Afterward, you are very close to the Glacier Palace, a really cool museum of sorts. Housed inside of a glacier, you’ll find ice crystals and ice sculptures once you enter.
Who doesn’t love a winter train ride through the mountains? If you want to break from active winter activities in Zermatt, take the Gornergrat Bahn. This mountain rack railway will take you from the town of Zermatt up to the top of Gornergrat. But the destination is only half the fun, as the train ride is really cool.
From the Gornergrat Bahn, you can watch the breathtaking views unfold as you climb another 1,500 meters from Zermatt to 3,000 meters above sea level. Sit back, relax, and don’t forget to take some pictures. You don’t often get to climb the Alps by train!
More Mountain Excursions
With all this natural beauty, one of the best things to do in Zermatt in winter is to go on a mountain excursion – other than the ones mentioned above.
This close to the Alps and some of its most impressive peaks, how could you not?
Rothorn is another summit you won’t want to miss. At just a little higher than Gornergrat, you can reach it via cable car between Sunnegga and Blauherd.
Sunnegga is about 2300 meters in elevation and provides a great winter destination for families, with a beginning skier’s area called Wolli’s Park. You might also want to see Schwarzee, which is the cable car station that directly accesses the ski trails down the Matterhorn in winter.
So, while Zermatt is a perfect place to visit all-year-round, Zermatt in winter is especially charming. There is so much more to do than just winter sports – though this surely alone is reason enough to visit. So, if you are headed to Zermatt in the winter months, I hope this winter travel guide helps you plan your trip to this cute town.