The 6 Best Neighbourhoods in Zermatt Switzerland for Tourists
For visitors preferring the Alpine scenery, lifestyle, and social activities, or who prefer to mix sports with time spent away from the slopes, you are spoilt for choice. During the day you can relax and recharge the batteries in the beautiful terraced cafes. Stroll round the town while you admire the authentic Alpine chalets and architecture, grab those fantastic photographic opportunities, and visit the many designer shops and boutiques along the main street.
Of course, in the evening, you can enjoy sampling the many gastronomic delights in Michelin starred alpine restaurants. Or enjoy a beer on the terrace of a friendly hostelry, while you plan the next day’s itinerary. Or maybe you’ll meet up with family and new found friends; to enjoy some much needed après-ski partying in Zermatt’s vibrant, bars and restaurants.
Zermatt’s popularity as a skiing, climbing, and get-away-from-it-all destination for the well-heeled, goes back as far as the late 19th century. Nonetheless, Zermatt hasn’t rested on its laurels, and continues to move with the times. While many cyclists prefer to stay on the flatter, designated tracks, lovers of extreme sports like mountain biking, continue to increase. Zermatt has some great routes for mountain bikers, and is actively working to add more, while retaining the unique vista of this scenic area.
During the summer months, there are hundreds of kilometres of hiking and cycling tracks, where you can enjoy the myriad displays of colourful alpine plants set against a back drop of the mighty Alps. Although skiers have plenty of chair-lifts and ski-lifts to choose from when it comes to getting themselves and skis onto the slopes, non-skiers haven’t been forgotten. For the walkers and hikers, you can join one of the many guided and unguided groups, who set off to enjoy the fantastic Alpine scenery from their hotels and meeting points in the town. If you want to start from higher up, you can ride up the mountains by funicular and cog railway, cable car or chair-lift.
Staying in the town centre district, will have you close to everything you need. The regular railway station and the cogwheel railway are a couple of minutes walk, and opposite each other on the Bahnhofplatz.
Zermatt has plenty of first-class accommodation. From sumptuous 5-star hotels, to mid-range 3 and 4-star hotels, to youth hostels, and self-catering Alpine chalets and apartments. If you like to keep your head in the clouds, there are also some fabulous mountainside hotels available.
For views across Zermatt, the Schonegg Chalet Hotel sits above the town, with access via an elevator from street level. The Silvana Mountain Hotel with its fine dining restaurant, luxurious spa, and ski slopes just outside your door. The Riffelalp Resort sitting over 2000 metres high, with numerous restaurants to choose from, a spa, and plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.
Or how about the second oldest hotel in Zermatt? Built in the mid-1850s, the hotel Riffelhaus boasts hot tubs, sun terraces and relaxing spa. If you want to go a little higher, consider the Kulmhotel Gornergrat. At 3100 metres above sea level it is Europe’s highest hotel. Open 12 months of the year, the hotel boasts its own restaurant, shops, and observatory, for those who enjoy a little star gazing.
There is a good choice of hotels in the town centre within half a kilometre of the train station. Hotel Omnia offers immediate quirkiness: it sits on a rock and guests enter through a tunnel, from there a lift leads to the lobby.
The Hotel Romantica offers central yet quiet accommodation and guests can enjoy its charming garden. The typical Alpine style can be appreciated at the Matterhorn Lodge; this hotel’s wellness facilities include three saunas. The historic Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, dating from 1879, proposes traditional luxury accommodation.
3. Lift areas (Sunnegga, Gornegrat, or Gornergrat Bahn)
The Hotel Bellerive, near the Sunnegga ski-lift (Talstation Sunnega-Rothorn), boasts modern interiors behind a traditional Valais facade. Hotel Bella Vista is a family-run hotel that offers typical chalet-style rooms and great views of the Matterhorn. Another hotel near the ski-lift, the Hotel Chesa Valese, is small and arty, full of fine details and historic curiosities; the atmosphere is vintage Alpine.
To reach the slopes it is practical to use the Gornergrat railway (Gornergrat Bahn GGB). Nearby there are top-class hotels, such as the Gornergrat Dorf which caters to winter skiers and summer hikers and offers old-style cosy hospitality. There are several four-star hotels near the Gornergrat Bahn including Hotel Helvetia, Sunstar Hotel, and many others. The luxury Schweizerhof Hotel near the Gornergrat lift has three restaurants and extensive wellness facilities including a pool.
4. Mountain hotel above the village
Wake up every day surrounded by mountains and sky! Is this what they call living on cloud nine? Some marvellous hotels in these towering mountains confer that cloud-nine feeling. The Riffelalp Resort Hotel sits almost in the sky at 2222m and offers great Alpine hospitality. Its setting is a picture postcard and the views are stunning, especially the nearby Matterhorn with its recognisable pyramid shape topped in snow. There are many skiing schools in the area that provide ski and snowboard lessons at all levels.
Another hotel that nestles in the shadow of the Matterhorn is the Riffelhaus Hotel. This historic hotel dates back to 1853. It was built to provide accommodation for mountaineering teams setting out to conquer the Matterhorn. This pioneering spirit can still be felt in its original beams and stones that had been hauled up the mountain by mules. Now it is a comfortable and tranquil mountain retreat, and it still attracts climbers heading for the Matterhorn as well as skiers and summer hikers.
The Silvana Mountain Hotel is a ski-in ski-out turning point: the main ski pistes start right here. The Silvana Hotel complex offers visitors a choice between the main Silvana Hotel, the Silvana Lodge with its charming junior suites and the newly renovated Mountain Chalet. This hotel is popular as a summer resort; hikers and bikers find it an excellent base-camp for mountain excursions.
The village neighbourhood of Täsch, known as the gateway to Zermatt, has some 1200 residents, and sits around five-kilometres north of the town. Although accommodation is somewhat limited by number, many visitors to the district prefer to base themselves in the cheaper Täsch hotels and hostels. Either taking the ten minute commute into Zermatt on a daily basis, or starting their activities from the village.
Just a thirty-minute drive or around one hour’s train ride from Zermatt, Visp is another popular alternative to the pricier Zermatt, and a great base for touring the area. From here, you can pick up the famous cog-wheel railway, which passes through four stations including Zermatt, on its way to Gornergrat.
This small, picture-postcard Alpine town is also the centre for cultural activity and wine growing activities in the region, with one vineyard, the Visperterminen, being the highest in Europe at 1150 metres. Accommodation is plentiful, and spreads from good value budget hostels and self-catering apartments, to 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5-star hotels.