Zermatt, the perfect luxury getaway destination

January 21, 2019 (Last Updated: December 15, 2022)
by Carolyn
Gornergratbahn with Matterhorn

Whether you’re treating yourself to a weekend break or including it as part of a longer European holiday, there’s nothing like a luxury getaway to Zermatt recharge the batteries.  

Zermatt offers plenty to do in both summer and winter and if it’s a little bit of luxury you’re after, this is the place for you. 

The first thing to do is to find your ideal accommodation and there’s plenty of choice in Zermatt amongst these beautiful vacation rentals in Switzerland.  

Below you’ll find my recommended things to do on your luxury getaway in Zermatt.

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What to do in Zermatt

Matterhorn Excursions

No visit to Zermatt is complete without an up-close-and-personal look at the one of the world’s most famous mountains.  Towering 4487 metres above sea level, the Matterhorn’s iconic pointed peak is one of Switzerland’s most recognisable sights.

An excursion to see the Matterhorn up close is one of the must-do day trips from Zermatt and there are a variety of different ways to get there.

Gornergrat cogwheel train

Gornergratbahn In just 30 minutes, the Gornergratbahn travels from Zermatt to Gornergrat.

The best way to see the Matterhorn up close is by taking the Gornergratbahn, Europe’s highest-altitude cogwheel railway to the Gornergrat, at an altitude of 3089 metres.

The 30-minute ride from Zermatt stops at four stations along the way and provides an endless view of spectacular scenery. Click here to buy your tickets.

Emerging from the train at the Gornergrat, you are greeted by the massive Matterhorn right in front of you.  

A sunny terrace right where you disembark the train is the perfect place to admire the views. From here you can see 29 four-thousand-metre peaks and the incredible Gorner Glacier.

Grenz glacier Gornergrat The Gorner Glacier is an impressive sight from the viewing platform at Gornergrat.

Aside from the views, there are plenty of reasons to visit Gornergrat. Things to do in summer include walking tours along the glacier and to Riffelsee with a guide, visiting the tiny chapel and shopping.

During winter, you can hurtle down Switzerland’s highest toboggan run or enjoy a fondue dinner in an igloo.

The Gornergrat bahn departs from Zermatt train station in the centre of the village. It operates year round.


From late April until late October, discounted tickets are offered on the Gornergratbahn for those who depart from Zermatt after 3.35pm. 

Rothorn by funicular and cable car

Another option is to take a funicular from Zermatt to Sunnegga where you transfer to a cable car for the final part of the journey to Rothorn.  

Up here you have an uninterrupted panorama of four-thousand-metre peaks. It’s a view you definitely won’t forget.

The Sunnegga – Rothorn cable car station is about a 10 minute walk from Zermatt railway station. The cable car operates year round.

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise by cable car

Cable car in Zermatt Cable cars operate year round – for skiiers in winter and sightseers in summer.

Winter or summer, the trip from Zermatt to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise on the Matterhorn Express is a memorable one and not just because it ends at Europe’s highest car cable station.   

At the summit, there’s a cinema, dining options, ski slopes for year-round skiing, and the Glacier Palace where you descend 15 metres below the surface by a lift.  Here you can witness magnificent ice sculptures and walk along the floor of an ice crevasse.

The views up here – at 3,883 metres above sea level – are the main attraction, though.  Fourteen glaciers and 38 four-thousand-metre peaks span the 360* panorama before you but reaching the top can be pretty spectacular, too!

Starting in the 2018/19 winter season, visitors can now reach the summit aboard one of four Swarovski-encrusted cable car cabins.  Both inside and out, the cabins are adorned with thousands of Swarovski crystals.

As impressive as that may be, the real highlight of the Crystal Ride by Swarovski is the glass floor which, three minutes into the journey, becomes transparent, revealing views of the glacier 170 metres below!

The Crystal Ride by Swarovski operates year round between Trockener Steg station and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.  Tickets can only be purchase at Trockener Steg station.


The Matterhorn cable car station is located about 15 minutes’ walk from Zermatt train station.

Enjoy a tandem paragliding flight with Matterhorn views

Experience once-in-a-lifetime views of the Matterhorn on a tandem paragliding flight at a 3000-4000-meter altitude. 

Enjoy spectacular 360° views over Switzerland, Italy, and France and take home photos and videos that your pilot has recorded so you can relive your adventure over and over again.


Helicopter sightseeing around the Matterhorn

For the ultimate luxury experience why not treat yourself to a sightseeing flight around the Matterhorn by helicopter? 

There’s no better way to appreciate the sheer size of the Matterhorn and the surrounding Alps than from above.  Your 20, 30 or 40 minute Zermatt helicopter tour will leave you breathless.

The Zermatt Tourist Office has contact details for local helicopter operators.

Soak in a spa

Soothe away your troubles at one of Zermatt’s many wellness and spa resorts. A soak in thermal waters is a luxurious way to relax both your body and mind.

At Thermalbad Brigerbad you can immerse yourself in the soothing waters, try out the hammam and sauna or treat yourself to one of the many wellness treatments available.

Many of the Zermatt luxury hotels also have their own wellness centres which are the perfect tonic after a day of sightseeing or skiing.

Indulge in some retail therapy

Zermatt, alpine village in Switzerland The beautiful alpine village of Zermatt.

Bahnhofstrasse, lined with alpine chalets, is the place to head for some retail therapy.  The main street of Zermatt village is lined with shops selling an endless array of products. From jewellery and watches, to souvenirs and sports wear, it’s all here available for purchase on Bahnhofstrasse.

You can spend hours browsing in designer label stores, choosing the perfect Swiss souvenir or kitting yourself out in the latest outdoor gear.

For purchases of a more practical nature, there’s a good-sized Coop supermarket, a number of bakeries and coffee shops, and a Lindt Chocolate store.

Delight your taste buds

Amongst the many eateries in town, Zermatt is home to a wide array of dining options including three Michelin-starred restaurants. 

After Seven has been awarded Two Michelin stars, whilst The Omnia and Ristorante Capri are both One Michelin star establishments. Here you can indulge your taste buds as you feast on internationally-inspired cuisine prepared by some of the best chefs in Switzerland.

For something a little more traditionally Swiss, there are over 50 restaurants in town offering fondue and raclette, Switzerland’s famous cheese dish.

And for something completely different, you can even enjoy a fondue meal in a cable car!  Ask at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise valley station for more details.

Enjoy the great outdoors

You’ve pampered your body with wellness and food, but to replenish your soul you need to hit the great outdoors.  Let yourself luxuriate in the crisp, cool mountain air that only comes at this altitude.

No matter how active you wish to be, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Zermatt.

Zermatt hikes

Hiking from Rotenboden to Riffelberg Walking from Rotenboden to Riffelberg is not difficult and only takes about one hour.

As easy, but rewarding walk is on the Riffelseeweg trail.  From Rotenboden, the trail meanders its way down the Gornergrat past the picturesque Riffelsee (Riffel Lake) and on to Riffelberg.

Snap a photo or two of the Matterhorn’s mirror image in the lake and then finish your walk with a delicious lunch at the Riffelberg Hotel before hopping aboard the Gornergratbahn for the ride back to Zermatt.

Allow 1 hour for your hike. 

The Five Lakes Walk is another perfect hike for those after a leisurely stroll. The trail meanders through swathes of alpine flowers and past five lakes on its way from Blauherd to Sunegga.  

Again you’ll be rewarded with wonderful reflections of the Matterhorn in the lakes.  (Allow around 2.5 hours to complete the trail.)

To reach Blauherd, take the funicular and cable car via Sunegga.

The whole region around Zermatt is dotted with hiking and mountain bike trails, with paths catering to all levels of fitness.  

Riffelsee with Matterhorn reflection The Matterhorn reflected in Riffelsee.

A stroll around the village provides both a history lesson and a look at some fine examples of Swiss architecture.  In the old part of town, wooden houses and barns are built on flat stones supported by stilts, and the local breed of sheep graze on grassy patches amongst the alleys.

A visit to town’s cemetery is a moving experience.  Here, the bodies of countless young men and women who died trying to conquer the surrounding alpine peaks rest.

Across the road, a statue of Zermatt’s most famous former resident, Ulrich Inderbinen, stands.  Inderbinen was a mountain guide who had scaled the Matterhorn an incredible 370 times, the last ascent when he was 90 years old!  He died, aged 104, in 2004 but his fame in the town lives on.

Forest Fun Park

Adrenaline-seekers should head for Forest Fun Park where they can fly through the air on 31 zip lines and tackle the 95 different obstacles in between the trees designed to promote balance and strength.

There are five different trails with zip lines for adults and three different trails with zip lines for children (from ages 4 years old).

Forest Fun Park is located close to the Matterhorn cable car station (Matterhorn Express) and is open every day.

Suspension Bridge Randa

Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge near Zermatt The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge is definitely not for the faint hearted!

If you take your hiking a bit more seriously, the four-hour circular hike to the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge could be the challenge you need.

The 8.7 kilometre trail starts and finishes in Randa and includes a crossing of the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge.  Five hundred metres long and 85-metres above the ground at its highest point, the bridge takes around ten minutes to cross.

It’s definitely not something those with a fear of heights should attempt!

Year-round skiing and snow fun

Skiing at Zermatt
Zermatt is one of few places in Europe that offers year-round skiing. Photograph: © Pascal Gertschen / Zermatt Tourism

Skiing is one of Zermatt’s draw cards and with the slopes open year round, there’s no excuse for not clipping on your skis no matter when you visit.

Summer skiing is available on Theodul Glacier at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and it’s here that most of the world’s top ski teams come to train in the off-season.  

The Zermatt ski resort, though, is much better known for its winter skiing. With 360 kilometres of pistes – including ski pistes that are linked across the border to Italy – it’s easy to see why skiers from around the world flock to Zermatt.

Zermatt is also one of few ski resorts in Switzerland that guarantees snow at Christmas.

Things to do in Zermatt for non-skiers

Matterhorn at sunrise I’m not an early riser but it was worth getting out of bed at 6am to see the Matterhorn bathed in the morning sunshine.

If you’re not into swooshing down the slopes, there are still plenty of things to do in Zermatt for non-skiers.

Popular Zermatt winter activities include tobogganing, ice skating on Zermatt’s ice rink, or learning more about the village on a guided walking tour of Zermatt.  

And early riser or not, I encourage you to get up at sunrise to watch as the Matterhorn is bathed in the sun’s golden light.  It’s a beautiful sight.

With the approach of the festive season in Zermatt, Christmas trees and fairy lights decorate the already pretty streets.  With snow underfoot and the delicious aromas of mulled wine and fondue in the air, there’s no better time to visit Zermatt than Christmas time.

How to get to Zermatt

Matterhorn reflection The Matterhorn reflected in a crystal clear alpine lake.

Zermatt is located in the Valais region in southern Switzerland, close to the Italian border.  It is around 230 kilometres from Geneva, Zurich and Milan, where you’ll find the closest airports to Zermatt.

By car

Zermatt is a car-free village so those arriving by car must park in the village of Täsch, 5 kilometres from Zermatt.  The Matterhorn Terminal has more than 2,000 covered parking spaces available for visitors.

From Täsch, Zermatt can be reached by shuttle train in just 12 minutes, or by taxi.  Trains depart every 20 minutes.

Most hotels provide complimentary transport in their electric taxis from the train station.

Parking costs CHF15.50 per day (24 hours) and shuttle trains from Tasch to Zermatt (and vice versa) run every 25 to 30 minutes – price CHF16.40 return per adult.  

Train tickets can be purchased from the machines in the station (English language option available) using a credit card.

Electric taxis in Zermatt Zermatt is a car-free town so the only vehicles you’ll see are these electric taxis.

Zermatt is one of the destinations recommended by Switzerland Tourism on their Grand Tour of Switzerland.  Click here to view the suggested itinerary.

By train

Zermatt can also be reached by train. Most services connect in Brig and/or Visp. Approximate travel times are:

  • Zurich to Zermatt train – 3 hours 35 minutes (via Visp)
  • Geneva to Zermatt – 3 hours 45 minutes (via Visp)
  • Milan to Zermatt – 3 hours 50 minutes (via Brig)

The most relaxing and luxurious way to arrive in Zermatt is on the Glacier Express, one of Switzerland’s scenic trains.   Called ‘the world’s slowest express train’, the Glacier Express travels 290 kilometres between St. Moritz and Zermatt, crossing 291 bridges and passing through 91 tunnels en-route.

The journey takes 7.5 hours and passes through some of the most spectacular scenery Switzerland has to offer.

Check timetables on the official website.

Zermatt makes a great destination year-round but is perhaps prettiest in winter. Photograph: © Pascal Gertschen / Zermatt Tourism

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Zermatt luxury getaways