This tiny town of no more than five or six streets is a mecca for mountaineers and skiers. Perched high in the Swiss Alps and in view of the Matterhorn’s distinct triangular peak, it’s long been regarded as one of the region’s most prestigious ski resort towns. Snow-loving adrenaline junkies relish the chance to spend their days on the slopes, but there’s plenty to entertain everyone – even those who like to take things slow.
Awe-inspiring views of the Toblerone-like Matterhorn and other towering peaks are to be had from every spot in the village. For even more dramatic vistas, brave a cable car trip up the mountain to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. These are Europe’s highest-altitude cable cars, travelling to a height of 3883m. From this mountaintop perch, you’ll have near-panoramic views of the surrounding 14 glaciers and 38 peaks.
Only experienced climbers can venture to the Matterhorn’s summit. However its neighbour, the Breithorn, suits amateur climbers who want a taste of high altitude exercise. It’s a two-hour hike from the cable car dropoff point, including a somewhat gruelling final ascent up a steep slope. You’ll need crampons and a rope for this last section, so it may be best to hire a guide. Once perched on Breithorn’s snowy summit, you’ll be treated to dazzling views across the range.
Understandably, many enjoy going down the mountain much more than going up. Zermatt is famous around the world for pristine skiing conditions, often year round. Four ski areas have slopes suitable for cautious beginners and adventurous experts.
The town bursts into life when the sun sets and the skiers come in off the slopes. Numerous bars and restaurants offer hearty food to warm and nourish. And although there’s often close to 20,000 people dining, drinking and laughing in this tiny town, it never feels claustrophobic or overcrowded. This is largely due to the ban on cars in the city. Even as partygoers carouse inside, the snow-lined streets are peaceful and quiet, perfect for reflective walks in the moonlight.
When it comes time to leave Zermatt, make sure to stop awhile in the quaint village of Täsch. It’s just a short train ride down the mountain through picture-book scenery. The locals love cross-country skiing and relish the opportunity to take visitors along the picturesque trails.
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