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Transportation and Accommodations

Getting There

The closest airport to Zermatt is Zurich or Geneva in Switzerland. From either airport, you will need to take a combination of trains to reach the small ski town. I recommend using trainline to help figure out your options for how to reach Zermatt by train. There could easily be more than one train connection, but trains tend to run on time in Switzerland so traveling by train is efficient. The end destination station on Zermatt is Zermatt GBB.

Most trains from Zermatt will have a transfer in Visp where you switch to a mountain train which takes you to Zermatt. The average travel time from Zurich to Zermatt is 2.5 – 3 hours.

Getting Around

Zermatt itself is a car-free town. The only vehicles include mini electric cabs and buses. No other vehicles will be seen. The town itself is very walkable. If you are staying at a hotel or renting a chalet, the property managers may recommend a taxi with luggage, but otherwise it is very accessible on foot.


Zurich – Hotel Bristol

For those traveling through Zurich to reach Zermatt, it may be helpful to have a hotel in Zurich to break-up the travel. This hotel is a few minutes away from the Zurich train station, especially helpful if traveling from Zurich to Zermatt early in the day. The hotel is a casual three star hotel, without extra frills, but ideal location for a quick stay.


In Zermatt, accommodation options will vary between hotels, chalets, and managed rental properties. As Switzerland is quite expensive, accommodations may be a driving factor for your trip. Consider looking for a chalet with a kitchen enabling your group to cook rather than dine out for all meals. Staying in the central part of town, within a 10 minute walk from either the train station or the Matterhorn Paradise gondola base would be ideal. Staying closer to the gondola shortens your walk with ski equipment.

There are electric taxis and buses which can be used to reach accommodations from the bottom of the mountain, but at the end of the ski day, there are often long queues as others are waiting to use the same buses and taxis. Thus, being within walking distance is especially nice for flexibility and saving time.

Things to do and see

Zermatt is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. In winter, Zermatt operates as a high-end luxury ski resort, while in the summer and autumn, there are extensive hiking options, as well as other core active options like cycling, climbing, paragliding and more.

Winter in Zermatt

Zermatt is a quaint ski town, a true mountain haven in the Swiss Alps. The town itself is easily walkable, and filled with outdoorsy shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, and more.

Zermatt Mountain Ski Areas

Zermatt is broken up into 3 key areas – Sunnegga-Rothorn, Gornergrat, and Schwarzsee-Matterhorn Paradise. Once on the mountain, you can ski between all areas in Zermatt. As a whole, the Zermatt mountain is not best for advanced skiers unless going off piste. The majority of runs are blues and reds with a few blacks. Note that blues are the easiest routes, reds are intermediate, and blacks are challenging.

The Sunnega-Rothorn area has shorter runs and is very good for beginners and families. Another highlight of the Sunnega side is it has some excellent mountainside restaurants, best to book in advance rather than just skiing up to and hoping for a table.

Gornergrat also provides friendly terrain and can be good for intermediate skiers. The Gornegrat area has some absolutely stunning views of the Matterhorn.

Schwarzsee-Matterhorn includes the best terrain for advanced skiers. The runs are longer than the other two areas and are more challenging.

In addition to the three ares on the Swiss side, there is a pass where skiers can travel from Switzerland over to Italy. The Italian area is called Cervinia-Valtournenche. When traveling to Italy, you will need to reach Trockener-Steg. This is a large gondola which is closer in size to a cable car, but operates like a gondola with continuous cars taking people to the top.

When traveling over to Italy from Switzerland, it is important to get an early start and allow for enough time to explore. It is best to take first chair as it will take about an hour to reach the pass between Switzerland and Italy from the bottom. This time is mainly spent on gondolas to the top. Fortunately, the Matterhorn Express brings you all the way to Trockener-Steg. Then, at Trockener-Steg, you will switch to a larger gondola taking you to the very top. At this point, you will be able to start skiing. When given the choice, you will need to veer left in order to ski down in Italy.

A few differences to be aware of in Italy in comparison to Zermatt, Switzerland:

      • Signage is almost non-existent on the Italy side, meaning it can be very challenging to know what route you are going down. Be sure to study the map a bit before heading down on your first run, and bring a map with you. If not, you might end up going all the way to the base of the mountain accidentally and then be forced to wait in long queues for gondolas or cable cars to take you back up the mountain.
      • Lift lines are disorganized and often chairs are not filled up to capacity, even with long queues. This can be extremely frustrating! If skiing with a group, be willing to split up on the chair lifts to help reduce time waiting
      • Chair lifts are slow – not much else to it, they are slower than on the Zermatt side. Additionally, you often need to take different gondolas or chairlifts to reach the top meaning you will need to get in line a few times before you actually get out on a ski run. This makes you appreciate the Matterhorn Express in Zermatt as it is fully connected
      • Weather – Italy does have the weather in its favor. Based on its location, Italy is often much sunnier and warmer than Zermatt
      • Snow – Italy also tends to have better snow, especially in a year with low snowfall. Since the mountain is sun facing during the day, the sun helps warm up the snow in the morning. The Zermatt side often feels icier than Italy for this reason
Ski Map

Save the ski map and consider downloading the Zermatt Matterhorn app

Getting onto Zermatt Mountain

When skiing in Zermatt, there is an opportunity to ski from Switzerland directly to Italy and back. For lift tickets, you can purchase tickets for the Switzerland side, for the Italian side, or an international pass enabling you access to both sides. If purchasing the Switzerland side, adding the Italy side is quite cheap. It is also an option to purchase a single day pass to Italy on the day you choose to journey across the border. More details in Lift Tickets section below.

From Zermatt, there are three key options to ascend on the mountain.

      1. Gornergrat Railway – direct and indirect mountain train to the top of the Gornergrat section. The direct train runs every 30 minutes and the journey to the top lasts 30 minutes. The indirect train takes stops along the way, good for those not looking to go all the way to the top. This ride is scenic, but not the most efficient way to reach this top. It is best for non-skiiers or beginners looking to access easier terrain.
      2. Matterhorn Express – gondola operating from the base of the mountain, at the opposite side of town from the Gornergrat train. This gondola allows for a few stops along the way at Furi, Schwarzsee, and Trockener Steg.
      3. Sunnega – Located slightly behind the Gornergrat Railway station, the Sunnega gondola takes visitors up to the Sunnega area of the mountain.

As Zermatt is a ski and snowboard town, there are an abundance of stores offering rentals. Pick one that is a convenient location to pick up and drop off rentals based on your accommodation choice. Intersport is the company I recommend for easy rentals. They provide rentals all across Europe and have numerous stores within Zermatt. The INTERSPORT Slalom Sport Zermatt location (INTERSPORT Slalom Sport, Kirchstrasse 17,3920 – Zermatt) is quite large, with a decent assortment of boots, helmets, skis and snowboards for rent. The attendants are helpful and you can swap out rentals any time, especially helpful if boots are the wrong size or you are interested in trying different ski types.

Lift Tickets

When visiting Zermatt, you can buy lift tickets in advance up until you’re heading onto the mountain for the day. There are a few different options on tickets you can purchase.

Ski Pass Winter – Zermatt

The Ski Pass Winter provides buyers with consecutive day access to the Zermatt resort (including Sunnegga-Rothorn, Gornergrat, and Schwarzsee-Matterhorn Paradise) and can be purchased for different quantity of days.

Ski Pass Winter – International

The Ski Pass International provides buyers with consecutive day access to the entire Zermatt resort, while also allowing users to access the Italian side (Cervinia-Valtournenche)

Ikon pass

For those looking to ski in multiple destinations, especially including some US mountains, the Ikon pass might be a good option. Depending on the level of the pass, Ikon Pass holders are given a quantity of days they can use to ski at Zermatt. The following link helps to compare the different Ikon passes available for a given season.

The Ikon pass allows access to all of Zermatt (Sunnegga-Rothorn, Gornergrat, and Schwarzsee-Matterhorn Paradise), but it does not provide access to the Italian side (Cervinia-Valtournenche). If there are specific days you plan to visit Italy, you can purchase the international pass for a single day at the base of the mountain, or along the journey to Italy.

Flex Ski Pass

For those who do not want to ski consecutive days or want flexibility picking when to ski, the Flex ski pass offers the below choices:

      • 2 in 4 days
      • 3 in 5 days
      • 4 in 6 days
      • 5 in 7 days
      • 6 in 8 days
      • 5 in season (choose any 5 days in the calendar for selection)

Additionally, there is a Flex Ski Pass – Zermatt and a Flex Ski Pass – International, with the only difference being the International provides access to the Cervinia-Valtournenche in Italy as well.

Apres Ski

A big difference and benefit of skiing in Europe is the Apres Ski that comes with the experience. The restaurants, cafes and bars along the mountain all have different vibes. Europeans like to take breaks and enjoy the day, possibly starting with a pint or Aperol Spirtz early-on. As the late afternoon approaches, many mountains have well-known apres ski locations where skiers come to grab drinks, dance, and have a good time on the mountain. At some mountains, apres ski spots are towards the bottom of the mountain while others they are clearly on the main ski areas. The main difference here is how far you have to ski following your apres ski afternoon. Usually there is a non-ski option too, whether it is walking or a gondola down.

Food and Drink Recommendations



Located in Old Town, this is a prime spot for Raclette. The restaurant is simple, with a small menu mainly focused on fondue.

Restaurant Zeughauskeller

Bigger restaurant that is traditional Swiss with a variety of options. If possible, make reservations to try this spot.

Cantinetta Antinori

In the Old Town, this restaurant has a cozy atmosphere with an expansive menu including pasta, fish, grilled meats, and other options available. The food is tasty and location is great.

Chez Vrony
Zermatt mountain (Sunnega)

Mountainside restaurant with stunning views of the Matterhorn. Bookings are required, so plan to inquire in advance on their website. Same day bookings are feasible by phone so worth a call for availability in the morning if you have not booked in advance. The food and drinks are expensive, but good quality and great location. Plan for a nice long lunch here after a morning of skiing.

Adler Hitta
Zermatt mountain (Sunnega)

Another mountainside restaurant on the Sunnega side, with breathtaking Matterhorn views. Adler Hitta is also one to book in advance, but same day bookings are feasible by phone. They’re known for their roast chicken. Order up some plates to share with your group, like a nice charcuterie board.

Panoramic Schwarzsee
Zermatt Mountain (Schwarzsee-Matterhorn Paradise)

At the base of the Schwarzsee area, this panoramic terrace offers stunning views of the Matterhorn right in front of your face. Grab a pint or a bite to eat here. The food is nothing to get excited about, but provides a nice outdoor option for a snack and a magnificent view

Zermatt Mountain (Schwarzsee-Matterhorn Paradise)

Found on the side of the cat walk leading towards Hirli lift, Stafelalp has cozy vibes. Stop inside to warm up or grab a drink outside on a nice sunny day. This food was a bit expensive for the quality, but still nice stop


Delicious Swiss restaurant with a great atmosphere, where it feels like you’re eating in a luxurious cabin. They are known for their lamb here so be prepared to try a lot of quality options, while also making sure to get some fondue for the table


Quaint Swiss restaurant making a good spot for a first lunch in Zermatt with fondue. Try both the meat and cheese fondues to get a feel for the full experience


Hennu Stall
Zermatt Mountain (Schwarzsee-Matterhorn Paradise)

Prime apres ski destination towards the bottom of the mountain. Many will ski up to Hennu Stall on their last run of the day and grab a few drinks, dance and enjoy the end of the ski day. Although covered, the bar is mostly outside so you’ll be happy in your warm ski clothes still. When you’ve wrapped up, you can put your skis back on and ski to the bottom (just a few minutes down) or walk down to the base. For those who are not comfortable or able to ski at all, it is possible to reach Hennu Stall completely on foot.

Chamie Bar Fire Place

Just inside a Zermatt hotel, this cozy spot has a wide bar and comfortable couch and chairs seating all in the presence of a warm fire place. Stop in here before dinner after a day on the slopes for a cocktail or nice glass of wine.

Firefly / Bar 55

This little cocktail bar is another great spot for grabbing drinks after a day skiing. They make some fun house cocktails including a basil gin fizz alongside some holiday specials


Nightlife bar best for after dinner drinks taking you dancing late into the evening


Another late night spot, this is inside the fancy Post hotel with live music

Other Notes


Switzerland is known for being an expensive destination. Be prepared for this, also knowing there are ways you can mitigate your expenses. A few tips to help keep costs down include:

      • Control your upfront costs by booking accommodations, trains and flights early
      • Look for accommodations with a kitchen, enabling you to take advantage of grocery shopping and cooking in the mornings and evenings
      • Pack protein bars or snacks for the mountain (however, do not let this be an excuse to miss the opportunity for a few splurges on a mountain lunch. A few of the destinations, all though pricey, are great restaurants with spectacular views and fully adding to the experience)
      • Lift tickets and rentals are much cheaper than those in the US, so take this one as a win

For a ski trip, 4 – 6 days is perfect when visiting Zermatt. This allows for enough time to ski on different parts of the mountain, as well as time to go over to Italy. Choosing the longer option provides you with more flexibility if the weather is poor while visiting. There are occasions where the pass between Switzerland to Italy might be closed for part or all of the day. This can be an issue if you plan to visit Italy but the pass is closed or opens late morning as you need to allow enough time to get back from Italy to Switzerland. Many of the lifts stop running around 3:30, meaning you need to be heading onto your last lift enabling you to move back over to Switzerland by midday.


Transportation and Accommodations

Things to do and see

Food and Drinks

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