Zermatt located in the German-speaking area of the Valais canton in the Southern Alps. The Swiss ski resort of Zermatt lies at an altitude of 1,600m with the slopes rising to 3,820m making it some of the highest skiing in Europe. Linked with the Italian resort of Cervinia, Zermatt boasts a vast 360km ski area.
Zermatt ski resort
Zermatt’s 200 km ski area is made up of three linked sectors: all sectors are well connected by fast chairs, gondolas, big cable cars or mountain railways. There are still T-bars on the glacier.
Sunnegga-Blauherd-Rothorn ski area is accessed via an underground funicular railway directly from the centre of the village.
The neighbouring Riffel-Gornergrat-Hohtalli area is linked to the Sunnegga-Rothorn slopes by cable car and chairlift, but can also be reached directly from Zermatt village by rack railway.
The Schwarzee-Trockener Steg- Matterhorn Glacier Paradise area is the largest of the zones & includes a massive vertical drop of over 2,200m back to town & largely north facing snow-sure slopes.
The Matterhorn Express gondola from the south end of the village goes first to Furi (where you can change to another gondola to go to Riffelberg, for Gornergrat) and on to the small but worthwhile Schwarzsee area. The same gondola goes on up to Trockener Steg, focal point of the fourth sector, the super-high Matterhorn glacier paradise. The alternative jumbo cable car from Furi to Trockener Steg now works only in very busy times or when the gondola is closed (eg because of high winds). Above Trockener Steg the new 28-seater Matterhorn Glacier Ride gondola makes a spectacular ascent to Klein Matterhorn. At the top, you walk through a long tunnel to the highest piste in Europe. From Trockener Steg there are two ways to Cervinia (via the cable car to Klein Matterhorn or via two long successive draglifts).
For the 2021/22 season, another identical 28-seater gondola is due to open to Klein Matterhorn from Testa Grigia above Cervinia in Italy. This will mean that Zermatt and Cervinia will be fully connected by cable cars and gondolas, making the journey easily accessible to pedestrians as well as skiers.
Zermatt’s pistes are not for the faint hearted and some may find it all a bit too challenging, however the link to Cervinia opens up not only a total area of 360kms but pistes much more suited to beginners and early intermediates.
Intermediate and advanced skiers will love the resort’s long runs (the longest is 25 km). Two thirds of runs are red: some, such as the red off the top of Hohtalli in the Gornergrat sector, are tough enough to be described as “dark red”. The north face of the Stockhorn and Hohtalli is also often recommended by expert skiers. The huge array of red, yellow and black runs means you can easily return to Zermatt multiple times and discover something new each year.
The principal Klein Matterhorn ski area has a sequence of gondolas and cable cars that climb from the southern end of Zermatt to the highest pistes in Europe, linked with the ski area of Cervinia in Italy. On the Swiss side there are gentle blue and red pistes on the Theodul Glacier and epic long runs down to Zermatt over great varied terrain. The runs on the glacier tend to be some of the more easier slopes Zermatt has to offer and timid intermediates will be more comfortable here.
Beware the black run from Furgg to Furi at the end of the day. It is not steep, but gets chopped up, mogulled in places and very crowded. A much more relaxed alternative is the scenic Weisse Perle run from Schwarzsee (the Stafelalp variant is even more scenic but has a short uphill section). The final red run from Furi to the village gets unpleasantly crowded.
Zermatt for beginners: With nursery slopes spread across the mountain, Zermatt is not renowned as a resort for beginners. However, it is worth remembering that with the Wolli Card, children up to age nine travel free on all mountain lifts. A discounted beginners ski pass is also available which offers access to the Sunnegga-Blauherd beginner area. The most popular place to learn to ski is the Sunnegga area, which is home to ‘Wolli’s Park’ with play zones and four magic carpets. The easiest pistes (nr: 36, 37, 38, 45) are located on Gornergrat which is reached by an efficient cog railway from the centre of the village or the Riffelberg Express gondola from Furi.
Many of the blue runs tend to be at the difficult end of their classification. Reds vary unhelpfully: some are quite tough; some ought to be classified blue. Few are really what you might call ‘cruising’ runs.
Zermatt off piste
There is extensive freeride terrain in Zermatt, with large areas of untouched snow waiting to be explored. Top off-piste areas to explore include Rothorn, with around 1,000 metres at 35%. Get off at the top of the Rothorn station and leave the crowds behind to explore the untracked snow on the north face. Or for a gentler introduction to off piste, explore the east side of the mountain with arand a 25% gradient. Stockhorn and Gant also offer exciting off-piste. The area under the Gant cable car is perhaps too well known, but if you take the drag lifts to Stockhorn and walk along the ridge for around half an hour, you’ll find around 1,000 metres of rolling terrain.
The "Zermatt Snow Park" offers various obstacles for beginners and pros of the scene, which allow for spectacular jumps and tricks. In winter the park consists of a beginner line with 12 jumps and 12 boxes as well as an obstacle course with three rails and further jumps and a rail garden for advanced riders. Professional boarders tend to the park conditions all year round and even in summer it is open to public, in a slightly adapted form. Newbies and pros will feel right at home here at 3,250 m altitude and over a length of 1,200 m, underlined with perfect obstacle conditions!
The town has immense charm and is car free with fine 5* hotels to simple chalet style hotels. Chocolate box styled chalets are scattered around the hills that surround the town and other buildings built in a local style add to the charm of this most popular of ski resorts. There are three main streets which run along the banks of the river Matter Vispa, and numerous cross-streets, especially around the station and the church which forms the center of the village.
Zermatt’s emblematic, unmistakable Matterhorn is not visible from central parts of the village – if you want the famous view from your balcony, stay on the east side of the village, or at the south end – but once you are on the slopes its unique profile dominates the views wherever you go.
The village is car-free, but not traffic-free – electric buggies operating either as hotel shuttles or as public taxis zip around the streets. Residents and taxis can drive up to Zermatt, but the rest of us must park at Täsch (or more distant Visp) and arrive by train. At Täsch there’s a big car park, and you can wheel luggage trolleys on and off the trains.
Numerous other winter activities are also available in Zermatt. There are two toboggan runs, snow shoeing, ice skating, curling, cross country skiing, heli-skiing and paragliding. For children there are numerous playgrounds with fun activities for all ages and for the adults, there are many wonderful spas available, to receive ultimate pampering, There are also a wonderful selections of luxurious fashion shops and luxury goods stores in and around the village.
Zermatt has a huge variety of different cuisine to tempt you - everything from gourmet options to Swiss, Italian and Asian, including a McDonalds or Michelin star restaurants. An after dinner drink in the stylish Papa Caesar Cocktail Bar or dance the night (and morning) away at The Schnee Wittchen Night Club. You can take in live music in The Pink Music Bar, Blue Lounge Blauherd or the Hennu Stall Après Skihütte...