Home to the mythic Matterhorn peak, a chic town focused on sustainability, an outdoor adventurer’s heaven — no matter how you describe Zermatt, this idyllic Swiss mountain town needs no introduction. But deciding what to do in Zermatt can be overwhelming.
Here, we’re sharing 16 Switzerland Zermatt attractions for the winter traveler, from riding the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and the Mountaineer’s Cemetery to exploring the Hinterdorfstrasse in Zermatt town.
Located in the German-speaking part of the southwestern canton of Valais, Zermatt is an Alpine town known for adventure, good food, and history. This alpine town is a popular mountain destination year-round, but we think it really shines come winter. Zermatt is easily accessed by train, and the car-free village is a perfect place to enjoy the Swiss Alps.
As a filmmaker and travel planner, I’ve been fortunate to see many incredible places. But Zermatt is where I felt at home from my first visit. After working in Zermatt for the Swiss Tourism Board on a film campaign, I canceled my plans so I could stay a few extra nights. I could have easily stayed the entire winter and have returned many times since.
16 Switzerland Zermatt Attractions For A Magical Winter
With some of the best hikes in Switzerland, you’ll want to put a summertime visit to Zermatt on the bucket list. But here we’re focusing squarely on the winter months. Here is a list of the best things to do in this fantastic place in the wintertime:
Ride The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Standing at 12,739 feet, the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is Europe’s highest cable car station. Ride it to get a jaw-dropping perspective on the Pennine Alps. The Klein Matterhorn Cable Car is the highest summit station in Europe and has a solar-powered Glacier Matterhorn Viewing Platform. From the top, you can see 38 mountain peaks and 14 glaciers across Switzerland, France, and Italy.
Go the first chance you see a cloudless, clear day, or you’ll risk missing out on this incredible viewing deck, which provides some of the closest views you’ll get of the mighty Matterhorn. Note that the weather can change quickly, so snap those pictures when you have a precise moment.
Ski The Swiss Mountains: Conquer the Slopes All Year Round
Alpine skiing is possible 365 days a year in Zermatt, thanks to its more than 220 miles of pistes. There are three main mountain resorts you can ski from Zermatt — the Sunnegga-Rothorn area, the Gornergrat sector, and the mogul skier’s paradise of Triftji — and you can even ski over to Italy for the day.
The ski season runs December through April, though we suggest you avoid the crowds during the Christmas holidays. To beat the crowds, head up extra early in the mornings (the second two weeks in January are excellent low-tourism times). Bonus! Opt for a day of heliskiing to get the first tracks and ski the Italian side all in one day.
Nordic Skiing: Traverse the Scenic Trails
For a serene experience, explore Zermatt’s Nordic trails. Glide through the tranquil landscape and immerse yourself in the pristine beauty of the mountains.
Contact us if you need you need a great ski guide, want help booking winter activities, and plan a food-filled getaway in Zermatt or other European ski destinations. We’ve got you covered with our custom travel planning services.
Ride the Gornergrat Railway (and go Sledging)
The Gornergrat Railway is a train (the world’s first electric cog railway, FYI) that links the town of Zermatt to the Gornergrat peak. Over a half-hour train ride, you’ll climb over 4,000 feet and pass stunning bridges, tunnels, alpine lakes, and forests.
Heading up, sit on the right side of the train for the best views. You’ll be treated to views of Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, and, of course, the Gorncer Glacier. You can also see the Monte Rosa Hut, awarded the 2010 Solar Prize, from here, which you can hike out to with a local guide and make an overnight trip from June through September. Or you can use the Gornergrat train to go Sledging – what the Swiss call sledding.
Go Dog Sledding
Trockener Steg is where you can find dog sledding in the winter months. The musher will take you on a guided tour while you enjoy the peaceful mountainous surroundings at nearly 10,000 feet.
Paraglide Above Peaks
Throughout the Alps, you’ll see daredevils soaring high above the peaks. But, in Zermatt, you can ride the warm thermals year-round with local outfitters.
One of the highest peaks in the Valais canon is the Rothorn. It’s like a reenactment of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” to reach the Rothorn, as you’ll take a combination of a funicular, a gondola, and a cable car. But we think it’s worth it for the view of Rothorn and, of course, the Matterhorn.
Meet the Black-nosed Sheep
The famous black-nosed sheep graze the mountain in the summer. You can find them by hiking out to where they are as they have a tracking device, which is a popular tourist attraction and fun for kids, too. In the winter months, you can go on a tour to see them in their barn at the edge of town, run by the Julen family, who also own Hotel Julen.
Visit the Mountaineer’s Cemetery
The Mountaineers’ Cemetery is a peaceful place on the edge of town where many of the most legendary mountain adventurers are buried. There’s even an empty grave for those who have never returned home.
Visit the Matterhorn Museum
Even if you’re not a museum person, the Matterhorn Museum (aka Zermatlantis) is worth walking through to see and hear the stories of those who made the town from the town history to the first ascent of the Matterhorn. This is one that’s great for the whole family if you’re traveling with kids.
Explore Zermatt Village
At the foot of the Matterhorn is the Village of Zermatt. You’ll feel the impact of the hard work they’ve done to keep this Zermatt Village sustainable, especially when it comes to getting around. Only electric vehicles specially built for the town can drive the roads – no cars allowed — though many locals bike through freshly fallen snow. You’ll also see the occasional zero-emission e-Bus, which has a locally-made engine. The town has great shops and places to duck into for a snack or a drink.
Walk the Hinterdorfstrasse in the Old Village
An absolute must-see in the heart of the town center is the old village called Hinterdorfstrasse. Be sure you step off the main streets and walk down some back alleys and side streets to enter the heart of historic Zermatt. The vintage wooden homes, as well as barns and some on stilts, were built between the 16th and 18th centuries.
Taste The Alpine Fare
There are so many farm-to-table plates to taste in Zermatt, from classic cuisine like Scäferstube to Argentinian-inspired food at 1818 inside Hotel Monte Rosa. There are some great Michelin-star (and green star) meals, too.
A personal favorite is Brasserie Uno, which was named after the owner Andreas Alm’s grandfather, Theo. This spot is casual fine dining, serving up seasonal and sustainable cuisine. They are Slow Food certified – any food waste incurred is recycled into energy that powers the village.
Book A Spa Session
Spa culture in Switzerland is everywhere, and after a day on the mountain, you’ll want to relax somewhere you can warm up. Look for a hotel with a great spa, where with your stay you can access sauna, steam, and relaxation areas, as well as indoor pools. Our team can help you book hotels like this often with perks. Reach out if you’re planning your trip and need expert hotel advice.
End The Day With Après
In town or on top of the snowy mountains, there are great après ski spots everywhere you turn. Zermatt has a gamut of places from kitschy with live music and laid back in town with great cocktails. You can visit classic spots like the elegant Elsie’s Wine Bar or stay late at dive bars like Z’alt Hischi.
Day Trip To Zmutt Village
Off the beaten path, Zmutt village was a small settlement that was a step back in time. They have a few small restaurants in the old chalets, so this spot is worth a visit.
Ride The Glacier Express
If you’re extending your trip to Switzerland, consider riding the famous Glacier Express train. Coined the slowest express train in the world, this tourist train passes by some of the most gorgeous landscapes on its 8-hour journey between Zermatt and St. Moritz. The train operates from mid-December to October, so it’s one of the best ways (and slowest ways) to explore the country.
Frequently Asked Questions
Must-see attractions in Zermatt include the Matterhorn, one of the most iconic mountains in the world, the Gornergrat Railway offering stunning panoramic views, and the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Europe's highest cable car station with a fascinating glacier palace.
The most popular way to reach the Matterhorn is by taking the Gornergrat Railway or the Klein Matterhorn Cable Car. Both provide stunning Alps views on your way to this iconic mountain peak.
Zermatt is renowned for its winter sports, particularly skiing and snowboarding, with vast terrain accommodating all levels. Other activities include dog sledding, paragliding, ice climbing, winter hiking, and scenic trips on the Gornergrat Railway.
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Have Us Plan Your Switzerland Trip
Whether you’re an off-piste skier looking to cover the entire mountain, a beginner skier, or just into being a snow bunny and enjoying the spa and après culture and amazing cuisine, Zermatt has something for everyone to enjoy all in a picturesque village. We’re here to help you plan a magical getaway to match your personal travel style Book a call to get started.