Spectacularly situated at the foot of the Matterhorn, Zermatt has the reputation of being a world-class resort with a lot to offer in the way of fantastic skiing, picturesque surroundings and a dynamic après-ski scene. In July, myself and my colleague Pete were lucky enough to travel out to Zermatt to discover what makes this Swiss ski resort so iconic (other than the imposing Matterhorn which dominates the sky line).
On arrival into Geneva we caught the train up to the town of Visp and from there took the connection to Zermatt. The train journey up to the resort is beautiful and in itself, offers a unique transfer option and fantastic start to a ski holiday in Zermatt. The train station within the resort is situated just off the pedestrianised high street, guaranteeing an impressive arrival as you step off the train into this chocolate-box, winter wonderland.
On the first morning, we took a trip on Europe’s highest-altitude cable car up to the Matterhorn glacier which sits at 3883m. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to sample the summer skiing but from the top of the cable car we were able to gain an insight of what the skiing in Zermatt is like, with views across this incredible ski terrain and over to the breath-taking silhouette of the Matterhorn.
In the afternoon we arranged to visit some of Zermatt’s finest hotels, from the lavish and opulent Mont Cervin Palace to the futuristic, minimalistic Matterhorn Focus. There are hundreds of spectacular hotels in the resort but the Hotel Omnia is particularly outstanding. Built into the rock side, The Omnia is situated in a commanding position with spectacular views from its dramatic vantage point above the roof tops of Zermatt. The interior is as imposing as the exterior, offering state of the art design which includes the hotel’s most unique feature: ‘the Cavern’. This is a multifunctional area made entirely of glass, which has been built into the side of the mountain and appears to ‘float’ over a pool of water.
After our trip up the glacier and various tours of Zermatt’s premium properties, we spent the evening strolling around the picture post-card village centre and sampling the reputable nightlife of Zermatt. As a year round resort, the streets are never empty and so even in the summer months the bars are lively, the restaurants are full and there is a general buzz around town.
On the first night of the trip we ate at the Pizza and Spaghetti Factory. Although the name is not particularly inviting, this is an impressive restaurant designed over three levels, within the contemporary Post Hotel (which incidentally seems to be the most popular night-spot of the resort with its 4 restaurants and 5 bars and clubs). On the second night we sampled a more traditional restaurant, the Café du Pont which offers delicious Swiss cuisine at great value. With regards to dining in Zermatt, there is something to suit all tastes and budgets, from Michelin starred restaurants to laid back pizzerias. The same can also be said for the dining options on the slopes, as Zermatt holds the reputation of having some of the finest mountain restaurants in the world!
There was only one thing left to do before our departure! After Pascal at the tourist office advised us that the Zermatt experience is only truly complete once you have danced on the barrel in the Broken Bar or taken a trip on the Gornegrat Railway, we opted for the latter and embarked on a breath-taking ascent up the mountain. This historic railway is not only an iconic part of Zermatt’s heritage, it also serves an important function during the winter months and acts as one of three main ski lifts transporting skiers from the resort centre up onto the mountain. The 30 minute journey takes you through idyllic forests, across viaducts and over beautiful mountain scenery, terminating at 3100m on a sunny platform with impressive views of the glacier and the Matterhorn.
With it’s historic village centre oozing with alpine charm, the finest Swiss restaurants, a lively night-life, breath-taking scenery and a fantastic ski area, it is clear what makes Zermatt one of the most renowned ski resorts in the world.
This is a guest post written by Amy Askew an avid blog writer and intrepid traveller to ski resorts and ski chalets around the world!