Even though it was 11pm and we couldn’t grasp the sheer beauty of this place as we rode the train in from Tasch, I knew exactly what was in store. My time in Zermatt during summer months was blissful, but I love how places completely transform in new seasons. Different temps, same fondue 😉
Population: 6,000 inhabitants; ~2 million visitors yearly
Language: German, French, Italian, Romansh
Climate: Subarctic; cool summers with snowy, cold winters
Here’s a summer vs. winter moment, and I’d recommend BOTH 100%.
Arrival into Car-Free Zermatt: Fly into Geneva or Zurich – both are similar distances to Zermatt and are well connected to the Swiss rail network. Both airports offer many train connections per day to/from Visp where you then have to change trains to arrive in *car-free* Zermatt where sustainability is of central importance and electric buggys are in abundance. If you self-drive or take a taxi from the airport, your ride will end 5km away from Zermatt in Tasch where you’ll take the shuttle train in (lasting only 12 minutes).
Cafe Du Pont – This cheese house was mountain-themed and super friendly and homey. I needed to be rolled out of there after eating my body weight in fondue, but #noregrets. Pro tip: fondue for 1 person very much feeds 2 people.
Brown Cow Pub – So nice we went twice! This spot is great for a lil après ski beer. We ended up sitting next to a guy who ordered the cheeseburger so what did we do the next day? Went back for the burger.
Stockhorn Grill – Mmmmmm. I could’ve gone back and back and back to this restaurant. The beef skewers are honestly hard to beat.
Papperla Pub – The tag line for this place: ‘Apres-ski, the place to be.’ Open from 2pm-2am, this place is POPPIN – bottles, booties, live music, Jäger bombs, everything. It’s loud and fun and if you’re into that, head here.
Cafe Fuchs – If you’re an early riser, it’s challenging to find breakfast spots that open early. Fusch opens at 7am for all you skiers out there.
Restaurant Pinte & Arvenstube – This traditional timber chalet is oh so cute inside with scrumptious pasta and other offerings on the menu.
Grampi’s Pizza – Truth be told, I didn’t actually eat here…but it wasn’t for lack of trying. A favorite amongst locals and tourists alike, Grampi’s Pizza was always crazy packed. Go early, get a res, do what you gotta do to try this za.
Chez Vrony – The Swiss side’s tastiest and prettiest slope-side address at almost 7,000 ft elevation offers (you guessed it) the best fondue, meats and treats around.
Le Gitan Zermatterstubli – Fancy some champagne and truffles? *raises hand* mMmmMmm. Alex and I stopped in for a cappuccino but really wanted to make it back for dinner. Ohhh well, love a good reason to return!
The concept of skiing has always been so funny to me. We strap sticks onto our feet and throw ourselves down an icy mountain. Seems safe enough right? But alas I adore it, and I’ve been waiting for this moment for yearsss. Skiing the Swiss Alps is a huge bucket list item for me. (Fun fact: you can even ski in the summer here!) And the fact that one can just SKI INTO ITALY are you kidding me?! Pinch me. Traversing between two countries atop this monstrous mountain range was my dream come true. The adrenaline, the scenery, the love behind the lens, the real winter games. It’s all here.
Skiing both the Swiss and Italian side: head to the Matterhorn Express (very walkable from our apt discussed below), rent equipment here and head up! My advice is to then get on the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, the world’s highest-altitude 3S cable car (12,739 ft!) to gawk at 14 glaciers and 38 mountain peaks from above. You can then ski into Italy, no passport required! Eat lunch at Igloo Cervinia for goulash, penne, beer, wine and limoncello. When you’re in Italy, you get it all. Indulgence is the name of the game here.
On the way back, it can be a bit overwhelming. I found skiing here incredible, but there wasn’t much signage like there is on U.S. mountains. Thankfully we met Bonnie, an Oregon native who’d been in Zermatt for 30+ years. She’s 75, she might be in better shape than me, and if it wasn’t for her, we most likely would’ve gotten a bit lost. On the way back, you’ll take 2 Cervinia lifts, then the massive cattle-like cable car, then you’ll ski down and hop on the Furri Gondola into Zermatt.
Chez Nous – The above photo was the entry to our place of lodging…straight from the pages of a winter wonderland! This Airbnb was one out of my dreams with the best Superhost around. Lizzie welcomed us into the cozy complex around 11pm at night. She mentioned that because it was so late and that it still wasn’t exactly high season, it could be hard to find places open for dinner. I was so hungry, so she brought in eggs and a yummy loaf of freshly baked bread with the most mouth-watering chocolates EVER. Maybe I was hungry, maybe it was just that good – but it was one of the best mountainside dinners I’ve ever had. One of my favorite things was waking up to our Matterhorn view every morning + the location and close proximity to everything. Please, by all means, stay here 🙂
My pink GMG coat is currently on major sale! I straight up l-i-v-e-d in this coat all 5 days in Zermatt. It’s extremely warm, soft and a unique shade of pink.
Matterhorn Museum – The museum provides fascinating insight into village life from many years back, mountaineering and climbing the Matterhorn. My previous stay in Zermatt during summer months coincided with the 150 anniversary of the Matterhorn’s first accent by Englishman Edward Whymper and two mountain guides from Zermatt. It was a dramatic affair as four other members of the roped team were killed on the descent when one slipped and pulled the other three with him down the north face. The three survivors were later accused of having cut the rope below to ensure that they were not dragged down with the others, and it’s a mystery that’s still talked about today.
Sunnegga Express – Take the Sunnegga Express tunnel funicular up to Sunnegga (7,500 ft in elevation) for amazing views of the Matterhorn. This is a great spot for families or if you’re crazy like me, a sunrise mission (above photo taken in 2015!) 🙂 An alpine breakfast buffet at the cozy restaurant is waiting.
Don’t leave without buying (and devouring) many Toblerone chocolates (all in the shape of the Matterhorn if you need it spelled out for ya).