With a love of both the mountains and Disney, how could we miss a chance to visit the village of Zermatt? This iconic mountain resort is best known for its incredible views of the Matterhorn. The majestic landscape and Swiss hospitality was unmatched by any other destination we’ve visited. I think it’s safe to say, we found our new favorite place in the world!
What To Pack
Don’t head to the alps without comfortable shoes! Even if you don’t plan to do any serious hiking, there are no cars in Zermatt. There are a few golf cart-like vehicles that serve as taxis, buses and garbage trucks; but overall Zermatt is a walking town. If you do plan on using a taxi at some point you will need to bring cash. Remember, Switzerland uses the franc, not the euro!
You will also want to pack layers of warm clothes. We visited in June and enjoyed summer temperatures in the mid 70°s, however, the temperature at the top of the mountains was only 34° F. With the combination of sun and snow, we suggest adding Chapstick to your packing list as well!
Where to Stay
We opted for an Airbnb with incredible views of the mountains. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, but Switzerland is quite expensive, and we found that Airbnb had the best value per night. We also enjoyed that our rental was higher up in the mountains, farther from the touristy resorts. That being said, our secluded Airbnb was a farther distance from any amenities, so we had to hike up and down the mountain trail each time we needed anything.
Overall, we enjoyed the short treks and even came across a hidden gem. We discovered a series of hand carved shrines depicting the stations of the cross. These small alters line the Waldweg forest path and helped us find our way up the mountain trail toward our Airbnb each night.
Where to Go
The first place you should see is the village of Zermatt. Essentially, Zermatt is a ski resort. Like Tahoe or Aspen, you will find lots of sporting stores and souvenir shops. Typically this shopping tourism doesn’t appeal to us, but Zermatt is special. It has a long history as a world-class ski destination and you will want to take some time to look around. We purchased postcards that showcased the picturesque architecture and landscape. Don’t forget to stop by the Lindt store and try a sample of Swiss chocolate while you’re there!!
The next thing you will want to do is get higher up into the mountains. The most popular way to do this is via a cog train or gondola. We opted for the gondola and purchased passes up to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. These tickets are about $100 USD per person and double as a lift pass for those wishing to ski or snowboard. We were hoping to get great views of the mountains, but the higher we ascended into the clouds, the less visibility there was. Surprisingly, this didn’t put a damper on our experience. It was amazing to be able to go so far up the mountain and look down onto the glaciers. At the top, there was an ice cave with sculptures, a snow tube track, and restaurant/cafe. We spent just a couple of hours exploring, but you could easily spend a whole afternoon here.
Where to Eat
Zermatt’s food was some of our favorite. Swiss cuisine combined our favorite German ingredients and French cooking techniques. Keep in mind, Zermatt is a quiet town and many restaurants close early. Because we visited during summer, the hours of operation on Yelp! and TripAdvisor were not accurate. Even some of the hours posted outside restaurants were inaccurate, and we got the feeling that Zermatt is the kind of place that closes up early if nobody is around.
If you do find yourself hungry later into the evening, check out Vieux-Valais da Nico. This delicious Italian restaurant will remind you how close to the border you actually are. Their authentic wood fire pizza is available after the rest of the kitchen closes, and their lovely staff made sure we didn’t starve our first night in town!
For lunch, you’ll want to visit Restaurant Old Zermatt. This restaurant is a bit more touristy but has patio seating that looks out to the mountains. Hearty portions of food made the prices well worth it, and the view of the Matterhorn was unbeatable.
Our favorite dinner, though, was at Restaurant Whymper-Stube. Named after the famous mountaineer, Edward Whymper, this cozy restaurant serves up authentic Swiss meals. The staff was lovely and our waitress gave us recommendations on what to order. The restaurants tomato based cheese fondue was incredible, and our waitress concluded our meal by mixing the fondue’s beef broth with sherry for a delicious soup course.
Finally, staying true to our favorite travel tips for couples, we also found a spot to get our caffeine fix. Homemade Cafe is located in the heart of town and offers everything from a full coffee bar to a shop that sells homemade syrups and jams. The cafe has glass windows that look out to chalet style storefronts, so we stopped here on our way out of Zermatt to enjoy one last view of the beautiful village.
Headed to Zermatt soon? We would love to hear your tips for visiting!