The famous snow-capped Matterhorn mountain. Moss-covered gorges with turquoise blue water below. Shimmering alpine lakes. Zermatt, located in the south of Switzerland by the Italian border, is a city as iconic as Switzerland itself thanks to the snowy peaks of the Matterhorn. Even if you’ve never heard of Switzerland you’ve probably seen the silhouette of the Matterhorn on a Toblerone which makes it, yes, candy famous. And though the Matterhorn is the main draw in this touristy town, there are so many things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland!
I recently went to Switzerland on a whirlwind tour, where I visited Zurich, Lucerne, Lauterbrunnen, and Zermatt to create the perfect 5-day Switzerland Itinerary. Each stop was absolutely enchanting in its own way, from modern & medieval Zurich, to the glimmering lake of Lucerne, to lovely Lauterbrunnen in the Alps, to Zermatt – the “face” of Switzerland.
In Zermatt, you can travel up the side of the mountain by train to see the Matterhorn up close and personal and dine on traditional Swiss cuisine, which means lots of cheese and chocolate. So let’s check out the best things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland!
Psst: Planning a visit to Switzerland or Austria? Check out some of our other posts to help you plan your trip!
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Things to Know about Visiting Zermatt, Switzerland
I had so many questions before heading to Switzerland. Like, how do I figure out their train system? (Easily, luckily!) How much German do I really need to know? (Not too much it turns out.) Can I survive on cheese and chocolate alone? (Apparently yes, though I did start to crave a vegetable now and again.)
How Long Should I Visit Zermatt?
Since 10 years is not a viable option, I’d say at least 3 days should be sufficient. The town itself isn’t too large, but you do want to have time to do some hiking, explore the stops off the train up to the Matterhorn, and have a little bit of built-in time in case any of your Matterhorn excursion days are cloudy or rainy and the visibility is low. If you can’t see the Matterhorn, what’s the point?
How Do I Get To Zermatt?
The easiest way is to fly into Zurich Airport, then take a train about 3.5 hours from Zurich to Zermatt. You can always search the train schedule for future times on google maps, and the trains are prompt and efficient. The trains are also very clean and super relaxing; you will literally be reclining and oohing and ahhing over the landscapes as you travel to Zermatt!
- A quick aside: Once you arrive at the Zermatt train station, you’ll pass a Brezelkönig (“pretzel king”) on the way out of the station. Stop and get yourself a pretzel, ideally covered in melted cheese like I did.
I also highly recommend getting a 4-day 2nd class Swiss Travel Pass, which not only covers trains and cable cars but most of the excursion transportation for the different things to do in Zermatt, even the museum. This pass pays for itself and takes the guesswork out of buying each ticket and excursion tickets. It’s really a lifesaver and a deal!
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What’s the best time of the year to visit Zermatt?
Since these things to do in Zermatt are for warm-weather activities, the best time to visit Switzerland is July-October.
I visited at the end of September and the weather was nearly perfect – days in the mid-70s while some nights in the Alps got into the 40s. That being said, since you’ll be going up to see the Matterhorn and Mountain Glacier Paradise you’ll want a winter jacket (I recommend packable down, which weighs almost nothing and takes up very little space in your bag) and winter boots for the snow!
Do I need to learn German?
Though you don’t need much German… I think a little German goes a long way!
While nothing bad happened by not knowing any German, I did have some lost-in-translation moments that would have been helpful with a little conversational ability. If you have a little time, learn a bit of German on Duolingo!
And though I keep saying “German”, you should know that German is only one of FOUR national languages of Switzerland. That’s right. Four. German, Italian, French, and Romansh.
While you’ll probably hear mostly German in Zermatt, expect to hear all these languages and more! Basically learn greetings in all these languages if possible – it’s like every person you talk to will greet you differently.
The most fun (and common) way to say goodbye is “Tschüss“, so at least learn that!
What apps should I download for Switzerland?
One thing I discovered about Switzerland is that since it is such a small country with only 8.7 million residents, they actually have their own apps which makes getting around and planning easier!
Here are the Swiss apps I used and a few others that will help with general traveling:
- MeteoSwiss: With this Switzerland-specific weather app you can search weather by area, and it will give information as to when precipitation is expected. It’s more accurate and very useful for trying to see the elusive Matterhorn!
- SBB Mobile: This is the app for the train and bus service in Switzerland, and will have timetables and platform numbers. This is a good app to have on your phone, though I pretty much just used Google Maps the entire time and it gave me accurate information.
- Google Maps: Not only is it helpful for train times and platforms, but it will also help you find places mentioned in the itinerary and give you specific walking directions. It’s also good to have if you need to type in “food” at any point. Walking all day makes you hungry!
- Google Translate: Unless you are fluent in German, you will want to have this downloaded to translate words you don’t know. Though a lot of signage and menus are in English, that’s not always the case. You can even use the camera function to translate in real time.
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Things To Do in Zermatt, Switzerland
Arriving in Zermatt is like stepping into an actual fairy tale, with Swiss chalets perched on nearby hills, red geraniums pouring out of window boxes, and the Matterhorn standing strong and radiant in the distance. If any place in the world has a certain aura, it’s certainly Zermatt!
Zermatt at once holds the sleepy charm of a Swiss mountain town mixed with a bustling tourist town. Though the history of Zermatt dates back to the 13th century, the sleep agricultural town was really put on the map in 1865 when Edward Whymper was the person to successfully scale the Matterhorn making it a household name and budding tourist destination.
Today Zermatt is all about the tourists, with high-end luxury shopping streets and a ton of hotels and restaurants (about half the town is employed by these). The town is also extremely walkable, and one of the special features of Zermatt is that it is car-free. While you will see small electric vehicles around town, no full-size vehicles are allowed.
Though the mountain is the undeniable star of the town, there are plenty of things to do in Zermatt, so let’s check them out!
Hike to Riffelsee Lake
If you’re visiting Zermatt, it really must be for one thing – to get closer to the Matterhorn, that 14,692′ peak of myth and one of the most iconic mountains in the world. Today, about 3000 hikers attempt to climb the Matterhorn each year, with an average of 5 people dying each year trying. To this day, over 500 people have died on the Matterhorn. And today, you’ll be climbing it yourself…
Lucky for you, the Matterhorn has its very own cogwheel train system called the Gornergrat Bahn! While the train is not covered under the Swiss Pass, it will give you 50% off on a day pass, making it under $50.
The Gornergrat Bahn station is by the main station where you arrived, and ideally, you want to get here early, definitely before the packed 10 am train. I got on around 9 am the first day I went and it wasn’t very crowded, especially the back few cars of the train. Your first stop is the place of photographic legend, so the fewer people the better!
Taking the Gornergrat Train is like riding through a perfectly painted landscape. You first wind a bit through Zermatt, then up the sides of pine-tree-covered mountains, until the tree line ends and you see the vast mountain plains as the Matterhorn gets closer and closer. You’ll pass through wooden tunnels, past glimmering lakes, and if you’re lucky, see some super cute mountain sheep.
Rifflesee Lake is the second-highest station on the Gornergrat line called “Rotenboden“, which takes about 30 minutes to reach from Zermatt. Once you depart the train, you’ll follow the big yellow hiking sign for “Riffelseeweg”, Rifflesee Lake, which is an easy 10-minute hike down (you’ll very quickly be able to see the lake you’re hiking towards).
So why is this lake so special?
Walking up to this lake, you get a beautifully framed image of the Matterhorn, which is reflected perfectly in the small lake below you. On a sunny day, the Matterhorn will be perfectly lit and you’ll get the most stunning view of the mountain possible. You’ve probably seen this image a hundred times and now you know where it is from!
Take in the glory of this view (and adapt to the 9,236 feet a bit) before hiking back up to the train station and heading up to the highest station!
If you want even more hiking in Zermatt, especially more strenuous hikes, check out this Zermatt hiking guide.
- A note about train schedules: Keep an eye on the train schedule for the last train of the day, especially if you go later in the day. You do not want to get stuck on the mountain!
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Take in the Matterhorn from Gornergrat Station
Gornergrat is the highest station on the railway and the second-highest railway station in Europe at 10,135 feet. This is high, and nearly double the altitude of Zermatt, and altitude sickness is real – so listen to your body, drink lots of water, and sit if you need to, especially if you become short of breath. After about 20 minutes of being up there it hit me hard, so be careful! It’s also cold, even in the warmer months, so bring a good jacket!
Gornergrat Station affords you the most intimate views of the Matterhorn – it’s right there! Outside on the viewing platform, you can see 29 mountains looming in panoramic glory, as well as the Gorner Glacier below, which is the third-largest glacier in the Alps at over 8 miles long. From above it’s hard to imagine it’s that long – it seems so small and white, tucked into the mountain valley.
Inside the summit station, there is a restaurant, an astronomical observatory, a gift shop, and Europe’s highest-altitude hotel. There are also restrooms, water fountains, and places to sit if you need them. But the real star is taking in all the glory of the outdoors, staring into the face of the Matterhorn and walking along some of the short adjoining trails.
The air doesn’t get much cleaner (or thinner) than this, so bask in the glory of untouched nature until you’re ready to head down to a lower altitude (or start to feel woozy).
Ascend to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
For a totally different perspective of the Matterhorn, you can head up to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, the highest cable car station in Europe at 12,739′. This high up, there is snow 365 days a year, and skiers are able to ski freely between Switzerland and Italy. But besides skiing, there is plenty to do up at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise for the casual visitor!
The biggest draw to ascending to the highest cable car station in Europe is, of course, the views! From the 360° viewing platform, you can see 38 13,000-foot peaks and 14 glaciers on a clear day in Switzerland, Italy, and France. In the north, you’ll see big peaks like Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, the craggy north face of the Breithorn in the west, and the highest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc, in the east. It’s like standing on top of the world (or at least on top of Europe), and you’ll hear only the sound of the thin, crisp air (and tourists).
You can even lock a padlock with a loved one (which you can purchase in the amazing gift shop) to the viewing platform as a symbol of your undying love, and if you drop the key in the letterbox at the entrance to the elevator, someone will set it in ice at the Glacier Palace. Now your love will be frozen in time forever!
Located 50 feet below the surface of Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the Glacier Palace, where intricate ice sculptures are displayed. On this winding ice cavern far below the surface, you’ll encounter sculptures of animals like a pack of wolves, fighting bulls, and soaring eagles, as well as dragons, flowers frozen in ice, and altars to Mother Mary and Buddha. My personal favorite feature is a slide made entirely of ice. Who doesn’t like a slide?
You can also find a restaurant, a cinema lounge showing off the sights of the Matterhorn, and a really awesome gift shop that sells cool Matterhorn swag, like gin made from alpine flowers and a special seethrough blue Swiss army knife (both of which I bought). You can spend about an hour up here exploring this paradise, unless you of course decide to ski or take a tour. Keep in mind that Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is over 7000 feet higher than Zermatt, so monitor symptoms of altitude sickness.
To get to MGP, you’ll walk about a mile from the center of town along the Matter Vispa, the blue river through the outskirts of Zermatt, and take a series of gondolas starting at the Furi station following the signs for MGP. The cost is about $100, but you get half off of that with the Swiss Travel Pass.
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Explore Zermatt & the Matterhorn Museum
Zermatt is one of the highest ski resorts in the world, the town nestled snugly at 5,276′. With two-million visitors a year, Zermatt is the kind of place that has more hotel beds than people actually living there, which makes other parts of Switzerland like Lauterbrunnen look like a sleepy hamlet. While Zermatt is small enough to traverse by foot, there are plenty of shops (some reallllllyyyy expensive… like, do you need a $10,000 watch?), restaurants, and even a Matterhorn Museum to keep you occupied as you explore the home of the Matterhorn.
In the middle of town, you will find the Matterhorn Museum – Zermatlantis, housed in a blue glass geometric mountain (A+ for theming). This is the place to hear the stories of the people who lived (and died) trying to climb the Matterhorn (which means “meadow peak”), including the severed rope during the first ascent in 1865 where four of the seven climbers fell to their deaths. Eek. You can even visit some of these climbers from the first ascent and more (about 50 in all) of those who have died on the Matterhorn or surrounding mountains at the Mountaineer’s Cemetary which resides behind Parish Church of St. Mauritius.
The museum is really immersive, with turn-of-the-century replica buildings you can explore with artifacts inside (actually most of the museum is underground!) to make you really feel like you’re getting ready for your own climb! The museum is only open until 6pm, so make it a priority to stop here!
Also, be sure to stop by Fuchs Bakery on the main boulevard as you’re wandering around. Here you’ll find fancy chocolate, including chocolates in the shape of the Matterhorn which are creamy and delicious and make great souvenirs!
- Travel Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of a good grocery store in a foreign country. Migros Supermarkt is the place to stock up on (more) chocolate, cheese, and wine if you need it (I did). I even ended up buying a pair of shoes here!
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Eat a Delicious Meal
Switzerland is the land of käsespätzle and fondue, two cheese dishes that will warm your heart and clog your arteries (worth it, though!). Besides the traditional Swiss cheese dishes, you can find even more cheese with pizza and pasta. What? Those aren’t Swiss? Well, hear me out…
Zermatt is in the very south of Switzerland and borders, you guessed it, Italy, so Zermatt is the perfect place to take a break from all the rich Swiss food and try some, er, rich Italian food instead!
Here are just a few of the many places to try in Zermatt!
Alphitta is located in Riffelalp, a little Hamlet you can get to by existing at the Riffelalp Station, the second station up on the Gornergrat Train line. Once you exit the station, you’ll follow a path through a pristine pine forest to the little resort town of Riffelalp, where restaurant Alphitta has starring views of, you guessed it, the Matterhorn.
On a sunny day (and hopefully, it’s sunny if you are visiting), you can order the Swiss dish Rösti, which is like a potato pancake with cheese and a sunny side egg on top. It is slightly crispy, cheesy, and a nice filling meal as you are traversing the high mountainous altitude.
Eating this little slice of Switzerland while viewing the most iconic mountain in Switzerland may literally turn you part Swiss, and if you’re lucky, there may even be some live music on their expansive deck. Sit and relax and look at that mountain! It has nowhere to be.
Vegistube, as the name sounds, is a vegetarian restaurant along the main street of Zermatt. I ate here at a moment during my trip when I decided I needed to put down the chocolate and cheese pretzels and eat something that had nutritional value.
I had the Sweet potato curry with pomegranate, spinach and rice, which was delightful and delicate, a nice foil to all the heavy food I had eaten. They also have pizza, and Raclette, a Swiss, melted cheese dish, the smell of which you can pick up wafting through the strees of the city.
Sit outside if you can, and watch the tourists stroll by while having a Zermatt Bier. It’s a great place to wind down in the heart of the action.
Grampi’s has the typical Tuscan Italian feel, decked out in cozy oranges and yellows with the ceiling covered in different photographs and random memorabilia. You can easily spend the entire time waiting for your food craning your neck and looking at all the photographs firmly (I hope) attached to the ceiling.
The food here is the quintessential Italian fare, but authentic and done to perfection. If you’re basic (no judgment!) the Margherita pizza with fresh basil, mozzarella, and zesty tomato sauce is a complete star, but you can definitely dive into dishes like Spaghetti “GramPi’s” with prawns, cherry tomatoes, and garlic.
Honestly, whatever you choose here is going to be a deliciously rich way to eat in the Swiss Alps, and the service is super friendly and helpful! Buon appetito!
If there is one thing I wish I would have done in my five days in Switzerland, it would have been to hike 45 minutes up 1168 feet to go to a scenic restaurant overlooking Zermatt. Seriously! I noticed it perching on a hill overlooking the valley and I was told it was a restaurant you could only get to by hiking – now that peaks my interest (hehehe).
Edelweiss is the perfect place to get cheese after your short but steep hike – whether you want traditional Rösti, fondue or homemade quiche. And you can enjoy fruit pie or carrot cake with some coffee before heading back down, or if you’re inclined, hike the 12-mile Edelweiss trail (or just hike a bit of it and turn back). Or you can simply just enjoy the views from this high up, overlooking Zermatt, the building looks like little Lego houses in the valley.
It’s under a mile to get up there, but it is steep, and the easiest way to find the trail is to take Triftweg (way) onto the trail and then get on Edleweissweg until you reach the restaurant. You can also look at these Google Maps directions and keep your eye out for big yellow directional signs!
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Check out the Gorner Gorge
The Gorner Gorge is like a whimsical mountain paradise, where you expect to see fairies and water sprites at any second from the corner of your eye.
Since the ice age about 220 million years ago, the waters of Gorner Gorge carved a chasm in the greenish serpentinite rock, which can be explored by wooden bridges attached to the sides of the rock. Winding through the sometimes narrow sections of these wooden bridges, you’ll be able to see aquamarine waters below flowing from a small, gurgling waterfall.
I walked through it around 5pm (they close around 5:45pm), and I was pretty much alone, and got to take in the serene water below and the various moss and ferns on the rock around me. The entire excursion only takes about 20 minutes, and once you reach the top of a large set of stairs you’ve reached the end, and you’ll have to turn around and walk back through.
Keep in mind there is a small fee to enter (5CF) and it is cash only, and there is a little bit of a hike up into the woods to get to the initial entrance. To get to the Gorge itself, it’s about a 1.2 mile walk from the center of Zermatt, and you’ll walk along the Matter Vispa, the blue river through the outskirts of Zermatt.
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Stroll Through Hinterdorf
Zermatt, with all its hotels, high-end shops, and fancy dining options does have an older, more quaint side.
Hinterdorf (“rear village”) is the old village of Zermatt, with more than 30 barns, stores, stables and houses built between the 16th and 18th centuries along the stretch of Hinterdorfstrasse off the main thoroughfare Bahnhofstrasse.
These raised houses are dark in color, due to the resinous larch timber used to support the snow and are resistant to pests like termites. One of the most defining features of these little houses are the circular stone slabs under the support beams of the storehouses to keep mice out.
Walking down this street is like stepping back in time; it’s very quaint, with plenty of luscious red geraniums spilling out of window boxes. Eating a pretzel as you stroll will heighten the Swiss fantasy (maybe) and it’s a great place to feel the old-world Swiss ambiance. You can even take a guided tour in English of the street if you contact Zermatt Tourism!
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Check Out Zermatt Nightlife
Since Zermatt is a bustling tourist and ski town, there are bars and nightlife to be had! Here are a few places to check out for an après-ski (or just après-sightseeing) drink:
Bazaar at CERVO Mountain Resort
CERVO Mountain Resort, an ultra-hip, ultra-expensive 5-star resort. It’s the kind of place that wouldn’t call itself a hotel but a “way of life” or a “concept”. You know the place.
I first discovered this place as I sat in my hotel room at Hotel Alpenroyal, when I heard the thumping of what I would call enticing Swiss techno music. I kept looking out my window at this hotel on a hill decorated with twinkling lights, where it seemed like something fantastic was happening. So I went to go find out.
I entered by way of the bar deck and the place was packed with people speaking all kinds of languages and dressed like they owned a million-dollar start-up. I wandered inside, where there were winding hallways, a bar behind a bank vault door, and man in a trench coat and pilot hat spinning those wild Swiss beats, dancing with abandon to the sound of his own music.
Was I in Wonderland?
I soon realized by posters on the wall I had inadvertently crashed a party that was part of a weekend-long art festival. The signs on the wall listed past events like an “Interactive Group Macrame Piece” and an “Exstatice Dance Ceremony”. How I wished I could have witnessed those things!
While people danced, I saw uninterested children watching their parents party while eating the most delicious-smelling fries, which I found out were their signature Cervo Fries, which have 12-month-aged parmesan and truffle oil. They smelled so good! Alas, when I went to order them, the kitchen had closed.
So please go to their bar Bazaar and get some fries for me. And yes, I told you this entire story just to tell you to get fancy fries as a late-night snack. You’re welcome. Obviously, you need to check out their drinks, like maybe their szechuan peppered whiskey, saffron-vodka yuzu, or something as equally ridiculous and fancy.
While I can’t guarantee there will be a crazy party, you are sure to meet some interesting folks and get some amazing drinks. And fries!
Hexen Bar is for all my witches out there, or fans of witches!
Hexen in German means “witches”, and this bar delivers on this ambiance. In this wood-paneled bar with green accents, you will see witches riding broomsticks hanging from the ceiling, with colorful lanterns and an overall magical vibe. The menu here is called the “book of spells”, as it should be, and contains witchy spins on classic drinks.
Their signature drink is the Hexen Sour, with Amaretto, vodka, lemon juice and a “secret shot”, if I am not completely making up that German translation! They also have plenty of other Hexen twists on drinks like martinis and Piña Coladas, and plenty of non-witchy drinks for muggles as well.
The bar is small but super cozy, and you will find a good mix of locals and tourists, just make sure you are not disparaging to any witches… you may find out it’s not just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!
If you walked around Hinterdorf during the day, now you have the chance to come back at nighttime to check out this little traditional German bar nestled among the old houses! Z’alt Hischi is as German and cozy as it gets with strong pours, wooden furniture, and plenty of photographs of Zermatt in days gone by.
While there is no lack of beer here, try their special Eierlikör (egg liquor), which is like egg nog more or less. This will definitely give you more of the “locals” experience, and keep in mind they are cash only!
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Hike to the Base of the Matterhorn
If you want all the thrill of climbing the Matterhorn, without, you know, actually climbing the Matterhorn, you can hike the Hörnlihütte trail. “Hörnlihütte”means Hörnli hut, and this 5-mile out-and-back trail takes you to the hut at the base of the Matterhorn to revel in its glory.
The hike itself is pretty strenuous, taking you up 2,245 feet, but the views are out of this world, the Matterhorn looming closer and closer. You start the hike at the Schwarzsee lift station, which you get to by taking the gondola from the Furi Station in Zermatt. From here you’ll pass a big “Zermatt” sign great for a photo and Schwarzsee lake, “black lake”, which indeed looks dark on the hillside.
After passing along a craggy stretch with the huge white Weisshorn in the distance, you’ll get a stunning view of the Matterhorn and start taking metal stairs and bridges along rocky stretches, before eventually walking along a ridgeline right towards the Matterhorn. Afterward, you’ll hit rocky switchbacks up the final stretch, which is about the last 1000 feet, with ropes to hold onto to keep you on the mountain.
Once at Hörnlihütte you can snag an outdoor table and order some food, like pasta, Röstis, homemade cake, and beer if you like, all at one of the highest restaurants in the world. While people actually stay the night at this hut to try their own shot at climbing the Matterhorn, it’s a great place to rest and enjoy the views of this famous peak and the surrounding mountains before making your way back down.
The entire hike should take around 4 hours, and you should start early around 9am to get the best weather since a) the sun on the Matterhorn in the morning is divine and b) there is always a chance of afternoon thunderstorms. The Schwarzsee station is also on the same line as Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, so if you start early you could always visit that after as well!
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Just Look at the Matterhorn
Every chance you get, soak in the majesty of the Matterhorn. I know this post has mentioned it a million times, but it really deserves the admiration.
Before hopping on your 3.5-hour train ride back to Zurich to fly home make sure you say goodbye to the Matterhorn. She is especially stunning as the sun comes up, the rays casting a yellow glow on an otherwise cold and icy crag.
There really is no place like Switzerland and no mountain like the Matterhorn.
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Where to Stay in Zermatt, Switzerland
Here are some options if you want to stay in a more budget hotel, one in the middle of town, or do something a little more luxurious. Just keep in mind that you can any of these hotels from the station to collect you and your luggage so you don’t have to huff and puff up any hills!
- Hotel Alpenroyal – This is the hotel I stayed in and it is a good budget option. Not only does it come with an epic Swiss breakfast (meats, cheeses, breads, etc.), the hotel patio has a gorgeous view of the Matterhorn. They also have an indoor pool and hot tub, so plan accordingly.
- Unique Hotel Post – This hotel is funky and modern, and right in the heart of Zermatt on the main street, so it’s easy to get to the train and be more in the action. Speaking of action, this hotel has 4 restaurants and 5 bars and clubs. That paired with a gorgeous spa area including a sauna, a steam bath and a hot tub you may never see the Matterhorn after all!
- CERVO Mountain Resort – If my story about fries and art parties inspired you above, check out the luxurious CERVO Mountain Resort. There are 3 restaurants onsite, plenty of gorgeous decor, and some of the rooms feature Matterhorn views. You will also have access to a wellness area with a sauna, steam bath, terrace, massage room, and relaxation room with an open fireplace, so you’ll be chilling out real hard!
- Quick Drying Shorts (His & Hers): We’re obsessed with the Zion line from prAna, which is what our favorite hiking pants are made from. These shorts are made from the same stretchy, high-tech, quick-drying fabric! Jeremy’s shorts double as both the shorts he wears every day and a swimsuit. They’re a 2-for-1 (which means less space in your carry-on) and they look great, too! They dry quickly, making them perfect for hopping in and out of waterfalls, rivers, and the ocean and then resuming your normal travel activities.
- Hiking & Adventure Travel Pants (His & Hers): You’re going to need a pair of pants that serve multiple purposes and are up for adventure anywhere: beach, jungle, river, mountains, and city. Luckily, these awesome prAna hiking pants were designed with travel and hiking in mind and were up to every challenge we threw at them. They’re also quick-dry, so I even wore them while white-water rafting and waterfall rappelling in San Gil.
- Travel Jeans: Unlike regular jeans, travel jeans are designed specifically to solve travel-related woes. One of my personal woes is the lack of pockets on women’s jeans. My favorite travel jeans have 6 POCKETS. 6!! And 2 of them are zipped and hidden inside other pockets, for extra pickpocket protection – crucial in any European country. Jeremy and I each have a pair of Aviator USA black jeans. They’re super stretchy and buttery soft, dry quickly in the rain or when wet, and keep our legs warm when it’s cold out. They’re cozy enough to wear on a plane, stretchy enough to accommodate that 5 extra pounds of holiday weight I always seem to bring back home with me, and they’re super cute! We’re both obsessed. Read more in our guides to travel pants for women and men.
- Wool Clothing: Yes, seriously. Merino wool is a miracle travel fabric. It keeps you cool when it’s hot AND keeps you warm when it’s cold. When it gets wet, you’ll stay comfortable while your clothing dries. It naturally resists the growth of fungus and bacteria, so it never stinks – a must-have for travel! It’s even flame retardant. What more could you ask for? Today’s performance wool isn’t like the itchy wool of the past – it’s thin, stretchy, and super soft to the touch, like cotton. We highly recommend wool clothing for travel. Here’s what I bring T-shirt | Sports Bra | Travel Bra | Half Zip Womans | Underwear and Here’s what Jeremy brings: Crew-neck shirt | V-neck Shirt | Underwear | Socks
- Hemp Clothing: Much like merino wool, hemp is a fantastic travel textile. It’s also temperature regulating, meaning it’s cool to the touch and keeps you cool when it’s hot (but also insulates you when it’s cold out). It’s also naturally anti-bacterial, so you won’t get that stinky “I’ve been sweating in this for a week straight” smell. And as a huge bonus, hemp is more sustainable than most other textiles, requiring little water and almost no pesticides to thrive and grow. Hemp is even able to clean up polluted soil, making it a tool for actually fighting against climate change. Hell yeah! Because it’s not a super popular textile (yet), it’s a little hard to find. One of our favorite eco-friendly clothing brands, prAna, makes a fantastic hemp line – browse women’s and men’s. (Lia loves this comfy t-shirt!)
- Day Bag: I carry this cute day bag with me every single day packed with anything I need for the day – a water bottle, an endless supply of snacks, whatever.
Note: We didn’t list out everything here, so make sure you pack plenty of basics!
About the Author: Richie Goff is a Louisville, Kentucky native with a great love of the outdoors. When he is not growing flowers for fun, he is the Editor-in-Chief of Practical Wanderlust and Let’s Go Louisville. He has been a friend of Lia’s since high school, and they have taken plenty of their own disaster-prone adventures together!
Are you packing your bags and singing “The Sound of Music” at the top of your lungs yet? Which of these things in Zermatt are you dying to do (probably one of the hikes, right?)? Drop your comments and questions about visiting Switzerland in the comments below!
Psst: Planning a visit to Switzerland or Austria? Check out some of our other posts to help you plan your trip!
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Our Top Travel Tips & Resources
- Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Money-saving tips: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on only on a budget airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
- Accommodations: We usually stay in budget-friendly vacation rentals, boutique hotels or private rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to book hotels (we love their flexible cancellation policy) and Hostelworld to book hostels (low deposit, easy change/cancellation, and excellent reviews). For vacation rentals, we prefer to book using VRBO because they’ve got lower fees and better support than Airbnb, and we’re not fans of Airbnb’s unethical track record. You can also book vacation rentals on Expedia and Hotels.com. We also use TrustedHousesitters as both hosts (for our home and our fur-child) and travelers!
- Travel Insurance: We always, always, ALWAYS buy travel insurance for international trips, and we STRONGLY suggest it – visit our Travel Insurance Guide to find out why. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance. SafetyWing is one of the few policies that covers Covid-19, and they have excellent monthly policies that are perfect for Digital Nomads and long term travelers!
- Travel Credit Card: We book all of our trips on our favorite travel credit card. Not only do we earn cash back that we can spend on more travel, but the card offers fantastic travel perks like travel insurance, trip delay and cancellation coverage, lost baggage reimbursement, and rental car coverage, which helps protect us on our travels. Learn more here.
- Vaccines & Meds: We use the travel guides on the CDC website to research recommended medications and vaccines for international trips. We always recommend getting every vaccine recommended by the CDC! You can get them at your primary care doctor’s office or a walk-in pharmacy.
- Tours: We love booking guided tours, especially food tours and walking tours, to get a local’s perspective and a history lesson while sight-seeing! We book our tours using Viator and GetYourGuide.
- Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to figure out how to get from place to place, and book local transportation online using Bookaway wherever we can. When we book a rental car, we use DiscoverCars to compare rental companies and find the best deal.
- Luggage Storage: Whenever we’re checking out early or taking advantage of a long layover, we use LuggageHero to safely store our luggage while we’re running around. Use the code PRACTICALW for 2 hours of free luggage storage on us.
- VPN Service: A VPN keeps your digital information (like website login details, bank info, etc) safe, even when you’re connected to an unsecured network while traveling. Plus, it lets you use Netflix & other streaming sites abroad! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO when you sign up!
- What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we bring on every trip. We also have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and many more. Take a look at all of our packing guides!