Best Things To Do In Zermatt
Zermatt, yes the pretty idyllic mountain village tucked away in the Matter-Valley in the Swiss Alps. I am sure you have heard of it, and if not of Zermatt village, then for sure about the mighty Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn is that mountain that dominates the skyline, creating one of the most unique alpine landscapes in Europe if not worldwide.
Hiking trails, biking routes, relaxing wellness oasis and other amazing activities are limitless. I have put together some of the highlights we experienced whilst visiting Zermatt as a family for two days. You will find below enough things to do in Zermatt to create a jam packed two days for sure. This is the Ultimate Zermatt Guide for first time visitors.
Being an all year-round Swiss resort, you can use this Ultimate Zermatt Guide for first time visitors pretty much in any season. Whether it is for the hiking trails, the unforgettable journeys up into the mountains by using the Zermatt Bergbahnen and the Gornergrat Bahn, or simply strolling the picturesque streets of Zermatt, you will find here the best things to do in Zermatt.
And not to forget, the skiing. Not only available during the winter months, Zermatt offers skiing and snowboarding 365 days a year!
How amazing is that! The list of the best things to do in Zermatt is endless.
And Here are our 13 Best Things to do in Zermatt
Should the below CONTENT box be closed please open it up to reveal our 13 Best Things to do in Zermatt. This gives you an amazing guide for first time visitors to Zermatt
- Our best 13 Things to do in Zermatt
- 1. Visit the Zermatt- Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
- 2. Step deep into The Glacier Palace at Klein Matterhorn
- 3. Ski, sledge or build a snowman at Zermatt’s Klein Matterhorn Ski park
- 4. Hike to the suspension bridge and cross the Gornergorge at Furi
- 5. Have a BBQ at the Dossen Playground area offered by “Schweizer Familie”
- 6. Visit the Gletscher Garten
- 7. Stroll through Zermatt’s old town
- 8. Ride Europe’s Highest Train – The Gornergrat Bahn
- 9. Walk to the Glacier view point at Gornergrat
- 10. Hike to Riffelsee from Gornergrat
- 11. Marvel at the Matterhorn from Rothorn and walk the Peak Collection path
- 12. Let the kids have fun at the Leisee & Wolipark, At Sunegga
- 13. Visit Findeln and walk down to Zermatt Village
- Our thoughts about these 13 Best Things to do in Zermatt
- Tips & Suggestions
On this map you will see the locations of our 13 best things to do in Zermatt. This gives you a good idea of the locality and an area overview. For a larger map view click on the picture.
What you Need, to Experience the 13 Best Things to do in Zermatt
Apart from a camera, hiking boots, a picnic bag & a Zermatt Peak Pass, you do not need much for the discovery of the 13 Best things to do in Zermatt adventure.
However, if you are following this “Ultimate Zermatt Guide for First Time Visitors" then the best option is to get the 2 days Peak Pass. This gives you the ultimate freedom to discover the best things to do in Zermatt and its surrounding mountains. And if this is your one and only time visiting Zermatt, then definitely the option you must choose.
All three alpine regions, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Rothorn, and Gornergrat are included in this unlimited pass. A one-day pass in summer 2020 was Chf 202.- per person but a two-day pass was only Chf 225.-. therefore, definitely well worth to spend the night and make the most of your visit with a two-day pass.
For other pass options and to check on the accurate pricing structure, please do refer back to the local website, because it may change from season to season. And there are also many special offers to be found.
Should you be travelling on a Swiss railway ticket, you might get some discount on the lift tickets, please check with Zermatt-Bergbahnen directly as they can help you book the perfect Zermatt ticket for the whole family. Children up to 9 years of age normally travel free plus they also can get a very cheap Swiss railway ticket if they travel with an adult. You can find more on train tickets on our “How to travel Switzerland on a budget” article.
1 / Visit the Zermatt- Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
This will be your highest altitude visit in Zermatt (3883m) and simply must be on your things to do in Zermatt list. Be prepared to marvel at 16 glaciers and count thirty 4000+ metre peaks in 3 countries.
Europe’s highest cable car station is at Klein Matterhorn and already the ride up there is an adventure not to be missed.
You can read our full article here, on how to get to Klein Matterhorn and its Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
2 / Step deep in to The Glacier Palace at Klein Matterhorn
Honestly, this was one of my favourite things to do in Zermatt during our two day stay. To physically enter deep inside a glacier (15 metres) at nearly 4000m altitude, left me in awe.
And the whole Palace does not disappoint. Some of the most amazing ice sculptures you may have ever seen are displayed inside, just stunning. Shine your phone torch into the deep crevasses, everything is sparking like little diamonds. Magnificent.
But it is cold, so make sure you are appropriately dressed for it, and believe me just a jumper is not enough.
Check out our full experience stepping in to the world's highest Glacier Palace at Klein Matterhorn
3 / Ski, Sledge or Build a Snowman at Zermatt’s Klein Matterhorn Ski Park
Would you have thought that building a snowman could be on your "Best Things to do in Zermatt" list, on your summer trip? Well it is. While you are up at Klein Matterhorn enjoying the Glacier Palace and marveling at the breathtaking view on the viewing platform, step out onto the snow.
Build a snowman, even rent some ski’s (in Zermatt village) and tick the bucket list activity “Skiing on a glacier during the summer in Switzerland”. Fun is guaranteed!
You can rent the ski gear in any Zermatt Sport shop and there is even one right at the Matterhorn Express cablecar station from where you start this adventure.
4 / Hike to the Suspension Bridge and cross the Gornergorge at Furi
First, this is not to be confused with the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge – which is the world’s longest suspension bridge. This one here is in Zermatt, located in Furi and crosses over the Gornergorge.
A great combination is to firstly visit the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise up at Klein Matterhorn, and on your way back down to Zermatt, exit the cable car in Furi and follow the yellow hiking sign “Hängebrücke”. It is only about 15 min hike from the cable car station. Along the path through Furi you will pass some cosy and super cute alpine restaurants. All of which have a very good reputation for food and ambience.
5 / BBQ at the Dossen Playground area, facilities provided by “Schweizer Familie”
Just a little further from the “Hängebrücke” (suspension bridge) you will find an amazing play area with great BBQ facilities, sponsored by the “Schweizer Familie” magazine. Wood is provided all you need to bring are the sausages or steaks.
The kids can have fun on the zipline, climbing wall, swings or practice a little tune on the wooden musical instrument.
An amazing place to spend some quality family time. I can imagine that this place is on many Things to do in Zermatt lists. Therefore, it is getting quite full at weekends or during the school holidays. But the bbq area is quite large, so if it’s busy ask to share a bbq, place your sausage on the hot charcoal and enjoy.
6 / Visit the Gletscher Garten
We absolutely loved this place, the kids as much as us and it must be on every Best Things to do in Zermatt list. Don’t think your kids will be too young for it. Ours at age 5 found it the coolest place and by explaining to them in simple words what it was all about their interest was heightened.
It is in the same area as the “Hängebrücke” (No.4 suspension bridge) and the Dossen Play Area (No.5), just a little further up the trail. Here you step back in time, the time when the glacier has covered the entire area you are about to enter.
The path is equipped with a lot of information boards and old photographs of how it was many, many years back.
See holes in the rocks formed by the sheer force of swirling water and at the same time creating a smooth surface.
There is also a BBQ station should the other one be super packed.
7 / Stroll through Zermatt’s old Town
To finish the day in Zermatt, it is always nice to stroll through the old town of Zermatt. Look for the street where the “Mazots” are nestled one next to the other, where one can imagine history and stories floating amongst these traditional Valaisanne houses.
Some of these old Mazots have been transformed into beautiful holiday accommodation combining old and new within tasteful renovations.
You also find the Matterhorn museum not far from here. Discover the history of the Matterhorn, when it was 1st climbed, by whom, and more. As Zermatt attracts a lot of wealthy tourists, you quickly discover that it is home to jewelry shops displaying some of the most expensive watches you may have ever seen.
Plenty of wine bars, coffee shops and other restaurants invite you for a drink. Or why not enjoy a nice traditional cheese or even a tomato fondue in the “Fondue Stube”
8 / Ride Europe’s Highest Train – The Gornergrat Bahn
If you have not yet been up the Gornergrat it is now time to ride the Gornergrat Bahn. Be prepared for a scenic 33min ride with a vertical climb of 1,469 m.
The Gornergrat Bahn is Europe's highest open-air cog railway and brings passengers direct from Zermatt to the summit of the Gornergrat at 3135m.
You can get off the train at Riffelalp and Riffelberg if you wish. Or why not hike from Riffelap to Riffelberg and hop back on the Gornergrat Bahn for the last few metres up to the Gornergrat.
At the top, visit Europe’s highest shopping centre (small but fine). You will also find a restaurant, hotel and facilities.
Sit on the right side of the train to go up and make sure there is a window you can open if you would like to make some great pictures.
9 / Walk to the Glacier View Point at Gornergrat
Once you have arrived at the Gornergrat the vista over the Gorner-Galcier and the other glaciers left and right of it is stunning. But there is more. When you are at the top of the viewing platform don’t just be satisfied with this. Yes, it is amazingly beautiful but make it exceptional. Follow the footpath sign for the round trip. It will take you about 20 minutes and to my amazement, only a handful of people actually walked this path.
At the furthest point it feels like you are standing at the edge, in other words paradise lies in front of you. To see this icefield with so many glaciers stretching down in the same direction from the high snowcapped mountains was an unbelievable sight to see. Don’t forget there might come the time when seeing glaciers is no longer on your Best Things to do in Zermatt list. So, make the most out of it whilst you still can.
This path starts just before the viewing platform and finishes at the top of the platform.
10 / Hike to the Famous Riffelsee from Gornergrat
Even if you have not planned to make this a hiking adventure, whilst up at the Gornergrat you must hike down to the Riffelsee.
You can do this in 2 ways. The longer option is a hike down from the top of Gornergrat to Riffelsee. It will take you no more than one hour including photo stops.
It is a bit steep in some places but nothing too much to worry about. The path is also used by mountain bikers as of 16h00. Therefore be prepared to make some space for them as well.
The easier and faster option, would be to ride back down with the Gornergrat Bahn to Riffelsee and walk down to the lake which will only take you about 5 min.
You will have seen many photos of the Matterhorn mirrored in a lake, well this is the place. If you are lucky, and the weather is calm with no wind you should have an amazing photo opportunity.
An amazing place to be at the end of the day due to fewer people, but the sun will be right in front of you and therefore not that perfect for great photography.
Sunrise must be amazing here or if you are not an early riser make it early as possible to get the perfect click.
11 / Marvel at the Matterhorn from Rothorn and walk the Peak Collection Path
As I have said at the beginning it is best to get the 2 day peak pass to ensure you can fit as many of these best Things to do in Zermatt activities. Consequently, you can ride up every peak which makes these two days so worth it.
To reach the Rothorn you have the joy of first riding the Sunegga Funicular from Zermatt up to Sunegga. Then hop on the Blauherd bubble lift and finally finish the ride in the Blauherd-Gondola up to Rothorn at 3101m.
It feels like you are at the same height as the top of the Matterhorn, and to see it from this perspective is another amazing experience.
There is an interesting walkway featuring signs showing many the first climbs of the surrounding peaks. Each sign has a rock from the featured mountain placed as a symbol. Beautifully done and interesting to read. We had enough time to do the circle walk and take the gondola back down again, 30 minutes later.
If you are collecting the Photo Points of the Swiss Grand Tour – there is one up at Rothorn.
12 / Let the Kids have fun at the Stellisee & Wolipark, At Sunnegga
No matter your itinerary, you cannot omit the Leisee from your best things to do in Zermatt itinerary list. It’s an amazing playground, with BBQ stations and the view of the Matterhorn, definitely a family paradise.
You could even just spend the whole day up here with BBQ, play and swim.
The kids loved the little cable ferry, and transported hikers from one side of the lake to the other. Such a joy to watch.
Check our One Day in Zermatt with Kids article. You will find all the info on how to get to Leisee from Zermatt
13 / Visit Findeln and Walk Down to Zermatt Village
Our last activity on our handpicked Best Things to do in Zermatt – the Ultimate Guide for First Time Visitors article is the walk down to Zermatt through Findeln.
Of course, if you do not have the time to walk down you could take the funicular back to Zermatt.
But if you do still have some energy, it is a nice 3.5 km hike down to Zermatt. I highly recommend it.
And what we loved is that it brings you through Findeln, the little hamlet below Sunnegga. Maybe you will encounter the Valais Blacknose sheep which are a friendly breed and can be patted. But careful they have horns.
You can find the hiking map down to Zermatt on our “How to spend a day in Zermatt with Kids” article.
Our Thoughts About These 13 Best Things to do in Zermatt
I, and I am sure I speak for the whole family, would do all these 13 best things to do in Zermatt again without hesitation. It has opened up an amazing perspective and afforded knowledge about Zermatt and its different areas. This Ultimate Zermatt Guide for first time visitors, gives you a good overview of the whole area, so you can pick where you would maybe like to visit and explore a bit deeper.
We were busy bees over these two days, but this is what exploring in a short time is all about. And we left Zermatt with four happy hearts. We are already looking forward to returning during the winter season.
Where to stay in Zermatt
If you are looking for a place to sleep, consider the Mountain Paradise Hotel .
where we stayed. A chalet style small hotel only 3 min from the Matterhorn Express Station and the RED BUS line stops right outside the door. Plus it is away from the crowds and has a magnificent view of the Matterhorn.
Tips & Suggestions
- I have listed these 13 Best Things to do in Zermatt pretty much as we did them. Day one was points 1-7 and day two the rest.
- However, there is one suggestion I would have. If you do have the Peak Pass which means there is unlimited riding on all lift stations, after number 6 the Gletscher Garten (Glacier Garden) I would have loved to head over to Riffelberg with the bubble cable car from Furi. It was an amazing afternoon and from there we could have gone up to the Gornergrat again to capture the evening sun.
But the lift was closed on our weekend, so to go all the way down to Zermatt and back up with the Gornergrat Bahn would have made it far too late for the kids.
Check out if this connection is working when you visit as it would make a nice finish to the day. I have marked this lift on the Zermatt Map above.
- Remember to bring warm clothes for the Matterhorn Glacier Palace.
- If you want to make nice photos of the Matterhorn mirroring in Riffelsee, remember the afternoon sun is right by the Matterhorn which means it is not the ideal light for photography.
You May Also Like These Activities In Valais
- Nendaz – Siviez: Bisse de Chervé – Panoramic Hike in Nendaz
- Arolla – Sentier des Marmottes – Marmot Trail
- Grimentz – Moiry Lake & Glacier Hike
- Grimentz-Zinal, Hiking up to the Cabane du petit Mountet
- Lac de Salanfe – Hiking up to Salanfe Lake at the foot of Les Dents du Midi
- Lötschental Panoramic Trail – Fafleralp to Lauchernalp with map & video
I hope that the information provided here will prove itself useful when planning your trip to Zermatt on your discovery of the 13 Best Things to do in Zermatt
If I have left anything out or you have a question, please ask your questions in the comments below so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries also.