Zermatt is acclaimed as the highest ski resort in the Alps, with the ski area at between 2,500 and 3,900 metres and more than 2,100 metres of vertical drop and also boasts Europe’s most iconic mountain, famous with its bold pyramid shape. The Matterhorn rises immediately behind the town and is visible from much of the mountain’s 360km lift system, which connects two countries and three resort towns. The other side of the Matterhorn is in Italy and perhaps one of the memorable moments for a skier, is cruising over the Theodul Pass and down into the Italian lift system of Cervinia.
The world’s highest 3S cableway opened for the 2019 season after 2.5 years’ construction work. The “Matterhorn glacier ride” carries 2,000 skiers an hour to the Matterhorn Glacier, at 3,883 metres altitude, where you can ski year-round. A free Zermatt Ski guide app uses GPS to help skiers navigate between mountain locations, with time and routes adjusted to the user’s skiing style, safety concerns, weather and the status of open/closed lifts and pistes.
Along with offering some outstanding skiing and snowboarding, 365 days a year in a postcard setting, Zermatt is famous for its long ski runs, with terrain for all skill levels but particularly for intermediates. Beginner skiers and children will find friendly terrain at Wolli’s Park, at the top of the Sunnegga funicular. From here, experienced skiers can access the gondolas, chairlifts and a cable car up to the Rothorn’s trails and snowfields or link to the Gornergrat ski pistes. The Gornergrat can also be accessed by a rack-railroad that climbs up the slopes of the Riffelberg, where the Riffelhaus 1853 hotel has a restaurant and terrace, all with superb views of the Matterhorn.
Children up to age nine accompanied by an adult with a multi-day pass travel free on the mountain lifts and the free Wolli Card, valid for one year, gives them access to the Gornergrat Bahn and free lodging in some Zermatt hotels. All skiers pay only for the mountain areas they ski, with the new Easy Ski Card that bills only for actual rides taken. Zermatt is also the first destination in Europe to be a partner on the American Ikon Pass, allowing access to 41 ski destinations on five continents, though this changes annually.
The Stoked Kids Club in the Schweigmatten, a snow sports school, has the latest learning aids and a conveyor belt lift on kid-friendly terrain. There is also the creative new terrain in Snow park Zermatt, a course challenging riders with tunnels, hills, banked curves, jumps, and obstacles. It will also be possible for the first time to toboggan down the Alps’ highest toboggan run on a “Snooc”, a toboggan with a seat mounted above a single ski.
Despite being a magnet for experienced snow sports enthusiasts, classy Zermatt is very much a year-round Alpine holiday destination that appeals to and caters for a wide range of tourists. The pedestrianised resort contains plenty of shops, cafés, tea rooms, restaurants and bars, as well as a very good range of non-ski sports & ‘wellness’ facilities: including swimming pools, squash and indoor tennis courts, two ice rinks, bowling alleys, gyms and fitness suites, and a wealth of spas and beauty salons.
A local saying states that “In Zermatt, apres ski begins at noon”, and with over 100 venues ranging from first-rate mountain restaurants and slope-side terrace bars to downtown pubs, lounge bars and nightclubs, there’s certainly no shortage of watering holes. Live music and entertainment feature at many venues and the ambiance ranges from lively and informal to relaxed and sophisticated.
Prime apres-ski joints include the Hennustall and the Papperla Pub, whilst the Hotel Post complex covers all bases for many visitors with its choice of in-house pubs, live music lounge and basement nightclub – the infamous Broken Bar Disco with a dance podium atop an oversized wine barrel. Yes Zermatt should be firmly on your piste map as it ticks so many boxes and we are happy to help with your next winter ski holiday here be it in one of the numerous and excellent hotels, chalets or apartments.