Just as Rome has the Colosseum and Paris the Eiffel Tower, so Switzerland has the Matterhorn. Located above Zermatt, this 48,195-foot wonder attracts hordes of visitors, eager to see the morning sunlight beam off its four faces, ski its neighboring mountains, or even attempt to climb the beast itself. The Matterhorn, however, is not for the faint-hearted and has claimed the lives of more than 500 people since it was first scaled in 1865—an average of 12 per year. It’s also been replicated at Disneyland in California as a rollercoaster.
Snowy Swiss-Italian Border
From Zermatt, a cable car takes skiers and snowboarders over the border to Cervinia, Italy, in the Aosta Valley on the backside of the Matterhorn. When conditions don't cooperate and the cable car is closed, skiers must brave what may be the world's longest T-bar ride to reach Cervinia. I make the trip just to have the pasta with lobster and fish soup at Chalet Etoile (hidden beneath the Rocce Nere chair lift). Beware of lingering too long over the complimentary post-lunch grappa. Lifts back to Switzerland stop at 3:30 and it's a long and pricey taxi ride back to Zermatt.
By Jen Murphy, AFAR Contributor
The Swiss and Germans call it the Matterhorn, the Italians call it Monte Cervino and the French call it Cervin. I can't imagine a more perfect view to wake up to each morning.
By Jen Murphy, AFAR Contributor
A ski town with no cars
Zermatt, Switzerland is amazing for a bunch of reasons: the Matterhorn is always in the background, there is great skiing within minutes of the town, classic Swiss architecture, and no cars. There is a train that takes you into the town, and once there it is mostly walking to get around.
By Derek Butcher, AFAR Staff
It's a long journey to the village of Zermatt, Switzerland. A village magically situated at the base of iconic Matterhorn. We arrived after driving hours of precariously winding alpine roads, followed by an enchanting but just as precarious train ride to Zermatt. You see the village is closed to all automobile traffic, and through winding pedestrian streets and charming timber chalets we were finally viewed the Swiss Icon we had traveled so far to see. Zermatt offers some of the best view of the Matterhorn. It also offers the best opportunity to get up and close with this natural wonder. From Zermatt you can hike, bike, and even ski the famous mountain. No trip to Switzerland is complete without a visit to Zermatt and the Matterhorn.
By Jimmy Zuehl
Skiing on the Matterhorn
Zermatt had some of the most difficult and beautiful slopes I’ve ever skied on with breathtaking view of the Matterhorn everywhere you look, and being able to ski from Switzerland to Italy was absolutely amazing. http://0dysseusjournal.blogspot.com/search/label/Zermatt
By Sharon In
Beautiful and a must see in Switzerland. After all I am sure many people have heard of the ride at Disney named after the Matterhorn. The ride up the mountain is fairly inexpensive , once on the mountain there are many places to hike and enjoy a lunch. The town below is Zermatt and it offers the feel of a ski village similar to Vail, beautiful however very expensive.
Kickbiking in Switzerland
I’d never heard of kickbikes before a visit to Zermatt, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as we rolled our way down the mountain. For more information and booking, visit www.zermatt.ch.
By Ellen Barone
Test Your Nerve with Extreme Skiing
While perfectly groomed corduroy pistes cater to elegant and steady skiers, the diverse extreme ski scene keeps adrenaline junkies fueled. Gstaad is renowned for heli-skiing, and drop-offs at five different sites give experienced skiers the chance to wind their way down untouched, knee-deep powder in the solitude of the Swiss Alps. The most popular ski tour in the Alps is the Haute Route—a week-long endurance adventure, beginning in Chamonix (France) and ending in Zermatt. The tour includes a 120km traverse, 6,000m of ascending and descending on slopes and glaciers, and continual ski/mountaineering training sessions—such as avalanche search and rescue, with expert instructors.
Break for Bubbly on the Slopes
This champagne bar looks like a mirage as you're coming down the last stretch of the narrow Sunnega run back into Zermatt. It's one of my favorite après ski spots, and the place where the local ski instructors gather at day's end. The Cuban-born bartender is always playing great tunes, from Bob Marley to Jack Johnson. Skiers stay warm thanks to heat lamps and fur blankets, and of course, multiple glasses of Veuve Cliquot or glühwein.
Classic Alpine Village
Looking over the town of Zermatt we were pleasantly surprised to find some winter walking trails around the outskirts of the town away from all of the crowds of people. Wondering through the town looking at all of the cabins had us dreaming of living in the Swiss Alps one day and picking out which cabin we would want. If you are looking for a little peace and quiet from the crowds in the center, trying heading out for a walk among the cabins and a nice view of the Matterhorn.
Off Piste and Glurwein
The slope was steeper standing on the edge than I had remembered. A tumble would be painful. Definitely would not be good. My younger brother whipped around me and sailed through the thick powder crying out as he zigged between snow-covered outcroppings and half-hidden evergreens. I took a deep breath and tipped my skis, grateful for that last glass of glurwein.
Beautiful and a must see in Switzerland. After all I am sure many people have heard of the ride at Disney named after the Matterhorn. The ride up the mountain is fairly inexpensive , once on the mountain there are many places to hike and enjoy a lunch. Would recommend to make this a more unique experience; pack a lunch and enjoy around the lake after hiking. The town below is Zermatt and it offers the feel of a ski village similar to Vail, beautiful however very expensive.
Zermatt Winter Hiking Trail
Sure, you can ski or snowboard in Zermatt. That's the "cool" thing to do, right? Isn't that the only reason to go? Not so much. About four hours before this photo was taken, we stood on a footbridge in downtown Zermatt and watched thousands of tourists packed into huge tour buses unload like ants and descend upon the cable cars to go up the mountain. My wife isn't able to ski very well, and I wanted to take some photographs without constantly looking over my shoulder worrying about a cluster of teenage snowboarders crashing into me or an impatient speed skier bearing down on me and looking annoyed as they whizzed past. Lucky for us, Zermatt has a huge selection of prepared winter walking trails, and this is one of them, just below the rail stop at Riffelalp. The signpost here lets walkers know there is a warm hut/restaurant up ahead serving food and drinks. If you look through the trees, you can see the Matterhorn. From Riffelalp, you can get back to the town in about two hours if walking downhill, but don't forget to stop for some gluwhein (hot, mulled red wine) to keep your parts moving well in the cold. You can even great a plate of rosti (hash browns) or salad and beer to refresh your spirits. You won't come across many walkers (we saw two the whole way down) and the quiet tranquility of the snow and trees is simply unforgettable. And best of all? No lift tickets, skis, helmets, or special passes are required. It's completely free.
By Joseph Smith