Welcome to Zermatt – the classic, charming, car free and picture-perfect alpine skiing village. Hailed as one of the most renowned world class resort and best places to ski in Europe, Zermatt offers Winter skiing from November to May (although the best time to ski is December to March) and Spring / Summer skiing from May to November. Yes, this is the only place in the world where you can ski 365 days a year!
How to get to Zermatt
Zermatt is easily accessible by train or car. From Zurich, it takes 3hr 35mins by train and 4hr 25mins by car. Alternatively, a connection from Geneva or Milan (Malpensa) will take 3hr 45mins by train and 2hr 45mins by car. As mentioned, Zermatt only allows battery operated vehicles, therefore those driving will need to park in Täsch (there is a multi-storey car park at the station), and then hop onto the Zermatt shuttle which is a 10mins scenic ride that runs between the two village every 20mins. In your decision making, do take into consideration that the Swiss rails are extremely efficient, spacious and immaculately clean, and that Täsch is quite a dead town.
There are three main ski areas at Zermatt – the Sunnegga, the Gornergrat, and the Klein Matterhorn. All three ski areas soar to at least 3,100m and there is a a total of 250km of varied terrain runs to explore! Plus, the highest and longest run is 2,200m and a good 13km from Klein Matterhorn to the village. Blast it is! Make sure to pace yourself.
Top Elevation: 3,820m / 12,500 ft
Base (Village) Elevation:1,620m / 5,250 ft
Vertical drop: 2,200m / 7,250ft
Marked Pistes: 245km
Beginner 23% / Intermediate 44% / Expert 33%
Longest Piste: 13km
Snowboard facilities: 2 parks and 2 halfpipes
The ski mountains are well built up and offers an extensive range of 73 Mountain Railways and Ski-lifts including 34 surface ski lifts, 17 aerial cable cars/trams,14 chair lifts, 6 gondola ski lifts, 1 rack railway with 18 railcars and 1 high speed underground cable railway. Guess that probably explains for the pricier ski pass here. As a gauge, the winter ski pass for 5 days in 7 for All Zermatt is CHF344 and CHF387 for All Zermatt and Cervinia Italy.
Top of the World
One of the best gifts is the abundant of snowfall at Zermatt which guarantees impeccable ski conditions, particularly during the winter season. The 360 panorama on a clear and sunny day is spectacular and
akin to the 10 times better than the Jungfraujoch experience.
Do check out the weather conditions before you set off. You will not miss the board at the gondola station at Klein Matterhorn and the Sunnegga Railway that highlights all the open lifts to help plan your route of advancement.
For the advanced skiers, there are virtually endless off piste options, high cliffs, deep powder, the expert terrain in the Sunnegga and Gornergrat areas and the moguls on Stockhorn and Rote Nasse. Plus, there is also heli skiing!
Up Close and Personal
Meeting Klein Matterhorn is very much subjected to weather conditions. A friendly local told us that he had been skiing in Zermatt for 6 years, and this was the first time he finally saw the iconic Matterhorn!
Spoilt for Choice
Zermatt boasts an amazing collection of more than 50 bars and restaurants on the mountains. You can enjoy anything and everything here. However, as the saying goes, cheap is not good, and good doesn’t come cheap. Do prepare resources as you and your partner stop over for some hot coffee and donuts (~CHF20), enjoy uberlicious pasta on the open terrace (~CHF 50 incl. drinks), or perhaps indulge in a romantic fine dinning bon appétit as you overlook the Matterhorn (ka ching ching ching). Remember to also keep cash handy as some of the smaller rustic bars may not accept cards.
Know your Limits
We witnessed 2 helicopter rescues within one afternoon. Some of the intermediate runs from the top can be narrower, bendy and of course, a gradient that will not disappoint its coded standards. While there are safety ropes along more dangerous pistes, I do not recommend you test the E = MC2 theory, and instead be very careful to select the appropriate level of route(s).
As a guide,
Green run – beginner
Blue run – intermediate
Red run – advanced
Black run – expert (equivalent of a double black diamond run)
Ski into Cervinia Italy
It is truly surreal to ski across the international borders into Italy. Crazy insane!! Here’s how you can ski across from Zermatt into Italy.
Step 1: Make your way to Testa Grigia.
Option a: Take the Klein Matterhorn Gondola, walk through a tunnel, and then ski to Testa Grigia
Option b: Ride two two long t-bars from Trockener Steg to Testa Grigia
Step 2: Connect from Testa Grigia into Cervinia
Option a: Take the Gondola to Cervinia
Option b: From Testa Grigia, either ski left to Cervinia via the Ventina Route 7, or right via the Plan Maison Route 6 (which is the easier route)
Route 6 will also lead you to Chalet Etoile (the #1 restaurant in Breuil-Cervinia on tripadvisor). Do note that most cafes in Italy only accept EUR.
The Italian mountains are not as sophisticated as the Swiss Alps, however snow conditions remain fabulous. Cervinia is less crowded and offers magnificently groomed long beginners and intermediate runs which makes it a relaxing switch from the Swiss Alps.
Take in the stunning landscape as you cruise along the wide and perfect practice grounds of Highway Run 7 which stretches on for 11km. White on white has never looked so good.
Zermatt is probably not ideal for the faint hearted novice, but is definitely a wonderland paradise for intermediate and advanced skiers. Zermatt is also a lifestyle, and not the most suitable for those on a budget. For those on the right permutation, I recommend a stay of 5-7 days to fully cover and enjoy the spectacular mountains. Alternatively, take a luxurious 2 week vacation to truly explore the extensive terrains, at your own pace and choice of weather. The beauty of Zermatt, is that even though it is one of the more expensive ski destinations, as much as the price tag stings, I reckon that once you have tasted its sweetness, you will plan to re-visit at one point or another.
Zermatt Tourism Board http://www.zermatt.ch/en
Ski Zermatt http://www.ski-zermatt.com
Swiss Rail http://fahrplan.sbb.ch/bin/query.exe/en
Book your hotel now – low rates @ booking.com
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