Zermatt is a special and unique place, because of its international ski area, lively village and incredible views dominated by the iconic Matterhorn and its restricted access.
While there are other car free resorts in the Alps and Switzerland, none compare to Zermatt in terms of scale and range of facilities.
In any case, here are some great Zermatt tips and advice from Matterhorn Chalets that will save you money and help you make the best of the ‘Zermatt Experience’.
- Getting Around – Take the bus (but remember your lift pass)
Zermatt is a big village, but it’s not that big: you can walk from one end of it to the other in about 20 minutes, but this isn’t always the most practical option.
There are fast electric taxis which can cost up to CHF40 for the longest journeys. A great alternative is the frighteningly efficient, frequent and regular electric bus service.
The ‘Green’ bus route follows the river and links the Matterhorn Express gondola, Sunnegga funicular and Gornergrat rail station. The ‘Red’ buses follow a large circuit that takes in the entire length and breadth of the village.
A weekly bus pass costs CHF22, but they are free for lift pass holders. If you are in ski gear, the drivers generally assume that you have a lift pass and don’t even ask but in the evening, it is not uncommon to be challenged so remember to have your lift pass with you to avoid having to pay.
- Equipment Advice – Rent, but don’t carry…
Unless your accommodation is right next one of the three ski departure points around the village, the chances are that getting to and from the lifts will require either a walk, a taxi ride or the bus.
While this may be fine in the morning when energy levels are high, a slog back to your chalet in ski boots carrying skis is the last thing you want at the end of the day.
A great solution is to use the overnight storage facilities located at the hire shops at all three of the ski departure points.
These shops are Dorsaz at the Matterhorn Express and Bayard at Sunnegga and Gornergrat. While there may be cheaper deals available online elsewhere, we think it’s worth paying a little extra so you can leave your gear next to the lifts and make the journey home in comfortable shoes.
- Zermatt Ski Pass Advice – Remember that kids can ski for free
Even though Zermatt is ‘high-end’ in most respects, the lift company is very generous with its discounts on ski passes for younger people.
Children under 9 ski for free, under-16s get half price passes and young adults under 20 get a discount of 25%.
What is less widely known is that on Saturdays, under-16s can ski for free. This means that if your holiday includes skiing on a Saturday, you could save at least CHF25 on the price of the children’s passes by buying a 5 day pass for the Monday to Friday and then claiming a free pass for the Saturday.
You can read more about why Zermatt is great for children in our special blog post here.
- Cervinia Day Trip Advice – Eliminate the last-lift panic of dining in Italy
One of the features of Zermatt’s skiing area is that it links with the Italian resort of Cervinia, which has brilliant skiing and even better lunch opportunities.
The practicalities of going to Italy are not without complication as the access is via Plateau Rosa, near the highest point of the two lift systems, and whilst going over there is a wonderful morning’s excursion, getting back up and over to Zermatt after lunch can be fraught, especially earlier in the season when the lifts close early.
Avoid this by lunching at the Testa Grigia refuge right on the Swiss–Italian border.
From the outside, this place looks like a ramshackle snack bar but inside the ground floor restaurant is hidden jewel. The décor is old and the service chaotically Italian but the staff are very friendly and the food is both excellent and very good value.
And when you want to get back to Zermatt after lunch, there are no lifts to worry about – just an uninterrupted ski from 3400m all the way down to the village.
- Getting to Zermatt Tip – If you have lots of luggage, a taxi can be more convenient than train
Usually access to Zermatt from the valley is by train but there is a road linking Zermatt to Täsch.
In some places, it’s pretty narrow and passing vehicles have to squeeze by each other. However, some of the local taxi firms have special permission to use the road and offer a package combining parking for the duration of your stay with a return taxi transfer up to Zermatt.
While the price of a return ticket on the Zermatt shuttle train is CHF16.40, a week’s parking in the public car park at Tasch costs over CHF100.
For just CHF5 more, a group of four can leave their car with the taxi company who will look after it for the week and drive you and all your kit up to Zermatt.
- Top Tip for a Non-Ski Activity – do the Gornerschlucht!
Unlike so many ski resorts where all there is to do is ski and eat, Zermatt offers a panoply of non-skiing activities ranging from the cultural to the physical and everything in between.
At the physical end of the scale, try the descent of the Gornerschlucht (or Gorner-gorge) – a naturally-formed adventure playground for adults and older children.
Sculpted in the rock over thousands of years by the runoff from the Gorner glacier, this deep trench has been equipped by the local mountain guides with an exciting series of abseils, zip wires, swing ropes and monkey bridges to create a truly amazing aerial diversion, well sheltered from bad weather.
The descent takes about three hours and bookings are handled by the Alpin Center who will arrange a guide who can provide all the necessary equipment.
This article was written by Ed Mannix – owner of Matterhorn Chalets.
If you are looking for accommodation in Zermatt, whether catered chalets, self-catering apartments or B&B options, then contact Ed and Suzanne at Matterhorn Chalets for advice on the best option for you.