If you found our blog about the best things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland, then you’re probably planning a bucket list trip to Switzerland! Zermatt is definitely somewhere you need to visit in Switzerland, no matter what time of year you visit!
Zermatt is a mountain village in the canton of Valais in southern Switzerland. It’s only about 6.5 miles (10 km) from the Italian border! Zermatt is most known for its iconic mountain, the Matterhorn. After the Matterhorn was first summited in July 1865 by Edward Whymper, it became a world-famous destination. There’s even a candy with the Matterhorn on it, the Toblerone chocolate!
The scenic town of Zermatt offers year-round outdoor activities! During the summer, there are endless hiking trails, bike routes, and places to explore. In the winter, it’s a popular ski and snowboarding destination. In this blog, we cover the top 10 things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland, in the summer!
If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland, then you should also check out our blog about the Must-See Villages in Switzerland. It’s filled with other picturesque Swiss villages you need to add to your Switzerland bucket list!
How to get to Zermatt
Zermatt is a car-free village, so the best way to get to there is by train.
There are two main train routes to get to Zermatt. One way is through Visp, then take the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn to Zermatt. Most major cities in Switzerland, like Interlaken, Zürich, and Lucerne, will take you this route. The other route is the Glacier Express. It’s a scenic train ride from St. Mortiz. Since we were coming from Interlaken, we took the first route.
If you have a car, you can park at a garage in Täsch and then take a taxi or train to get into Zermatt. Täsch is the closest town to Zermatt. The road from Täsch to Zermatt is closed to the public; you cannot drive or park inside Zermatt.
Swiss Travel Pass
We HIGHLY recommend purchasing the Swiss Travel Pass if you plan to travel anywhere else in Switzerland. For a set rate for a set number of days, you get unlimited public transportation. Not only is it a great deal for transportation, but you also get free or discounted entry into over 500 museums and other sites throughout Switzerland.
During our 9-day trip across Switzerland, we purchased the Swiss Travel Pass, which was the best decision. It made traveling between cities and even within the cities so easy since we didn’t constantly have to buy separate tickets. From trains and buses to gondolas and funiculars, it made getting to all the different Swiss villages simple. But just be aware that some of the popular sites, like Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe, require an additional fee (the Swiss Travel Pass gives you a discount on the ticket to get there).
Best time of year to visit Zermatt
If you want to enjoy all the outdoor activities Zermatt has to offer without snow, then we recommend visiting in the summer months, June to September.
We visited at the end of September, and the weather was perfect! It was chilly in the mornings and evenings but warm during the day. We were told within two weeks of our visit, all the leaves would change to beautiful fall colors. But be aware that they can get snow starting in October!
Things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland
#1. Hike to Riffelsee Lake
Riffelsee Lake is a small lake that has one of the best views of the Matterhorn. On a clear day, it has an incredible mirror reflection of the Matterhorn. The hike to Riffelsee Lake is a great hike for people of almost all skill levels and ages!
To get to the start of the trailhead, you need to take the Gornegat Railway to the second-highest station, “Rotenboden.“ From there, you follow the signs to “Riffelseeweg.” It’s about a 10-minute walk from the station.
We took a slightly longer route to get to Riffelsee Lake (more details on that next). That’s what all these photos below are from!
If you’d rather have a little longer hike to enjoy other mountain views along the way, you can take the Gornegat Railway to the highest and last stop, “Gornegat.” There’s a trail that also leads to Riffelsee Lake, and it is mostly downhill. So, after exploring Gornegat, you can hike the trail down to Riffelsee Lake. It’s about 1.2 miles and took us around 35 minutes. But trust us, you’ll want to stop many times to take photos!
Once you finish the hike, you don’t have to hike back up to Gornegat. Just take the Gornegat Railway back down to Zermatt!
Just be aware that this area can get VERY busy! We recommend going early in the morning to avoid the crowds and enjoy the lake in a more peaceful setting.
#2. Take the scenic Gornergrat Railway to Gornergrat Station
The Gornergrat Railway is Europe’s highest open-air cog railway. It’s an incredibly scenic train ride with views of the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains. Not only is the journey itself beautiful, but once you arrive at Gornergrat it offers stunning 360 views.
The ride up to Gornergrat Station takes around 33 minutes, with trains running every 35 minutes. You can learn more about the train schedule and tickets here.
Gornergrat is a mountain ridge with iconic views of the Matterhorn. Once on top, there is a lot to do and many different scenic viewpoints to enjoy, including one of Gorner Glacier. There’s even a chapel and hotel (3100 Klumhotel Gornegot) on top! Not only are there a few touristy activities, but it’s the start of many different hiking and biking trails. Including, Rifflessee Lake, which we mentioned above!
Riding the Gornergrat Railway is definitely a MUST-DO when visiting Zermatt! It’s open and operating 365 days per year so no matter when you visit you can experience this iconic railway.
This train can get very crowded during popular summer months, so we’d recommend going early in the day. We got on the first train of the day and had no issues getting a spot by the window with views of the Matterhorn!
Pro Tip: Sit on the right side of the train when going up (the right side facing the direction the train will be going) to get the best views of the Matterhorn!
#3. Walk around Zermatt
If you’re visiting Zermatt, of course, you need to walk around the village! Bahnhofstrasse is the main road in town and is very picturesque. There are lots of delicious restaurants and luxury shops to wander around looking at. We loved seeing all the window boxes with fresh flowers all over every building!
Keep reading to learn more specific things you should do in the village of Zermatt!
Watch our adventures in Zermatt in our Youtube video below!
#4. Visit the Matterhorn Museum – Zermatlantis
The Matterhorn Museum is a museum that shares the history of climbing the Matterhorn and the village of Zermatt. It’s super interesting to learn more about during your visit. Over the last 100 years, tourism to visit the Matterhorn has completely transformed what was once the rural agricultural village of Zermatt!
It looks tiny from ground level, but it’s actually a multi-level underground museum. While it’s open every day, it’s not open for very long so be sure to plan accordingly.
Opening Hours: Daily from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, view seasonal hours here
Entry Fee: Free if you have the Swiss Travel Pass otherwise it’s CHF 12.00 for adults and CHF 7.00 for children 10 – 16 years old
The Matterhorn Museum – Zermatlantis shares lots of insight into the climbers over the years and the first-ever climb of the Matterhorn, including the rope that tragically broke on the tragic first ascent (see photos above).
#5. Grab a delicious pastry at Fuchs Bakery
Fuchs Bakery is a locally owned, family-run bakery that has been in business since 1965 and is located in the heart of Zermatt. It’s so popular that there are actually multiple locations in town! The bakery’s stores are filled with freshly baked pastries, breads, chocolates, coffee, and desserts.
Everything looked absolutely delicious, so it was hard to choose what to get! You could easily stop by this place every day of your trip.
Opening Hours: daily from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
#6. Wander through Hinterdorf (old village of Zermatt)
Hinterdorf is Zermatt’s old village, built between the 16th and 18th centuries. As you wander through these old houses, barns, and stores, you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time.
It’s a small area that’s left standing, so it won’t take you long to pass through this historic area of Zermatt.
#7. Eat fondue at Restaurant Schäferstube
Restaurant Schäferstube is a traditional Swiss restaurant known for its cheese fondue and lamb. It’s owned and operated by a local family, The Julen’s, who owns a few other restaurants in town. They are also black nose sheep breeders, so you’ll notice lots of sheep fur throughout the restaurant details.
Located in the heart of Zermatt, this cozy wood-covered restaurant is a lovely place to enjoy a Swiss meal. This restaurant can book up quickly, so be sure to book a table in advance!
Opening Hours: daily from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
#8. Hike to Lake Stellisee at sunrise
Lake Stellisee is another one of Zermatt’s famous alpine lakes! Similar to Lake Riffelsee, it’s a mirror lake that has a beautiful view and reflection of the Matterhorn. Sunrise and sunset are the best time of day to visit this stunning lake!
To get to Lake Stellisee from Zermatt, you will take the funicular from Zermatt to Sunnegga and then the cable car to Blauherd. Once you get off the cable car, it’s about a 20-minute walk to the lake. It’s pretty easy for people of all physical skill levels and ages!
While we fully planned on doing this “hike,” it wasn’t until we got to Zermatt that we learned the cable cars weren’t operating early enough to get us there for sunrise (we just missed the end of the summer season schedule). Sadly, we didn’t have time to do it later in the day before leaving.
Also, Lake Stellisee is the first lake on the famous Five Lakes Trail (5-Seenweg). It’s another great hike to do near Zermatt if you have time. But maybe do your own research because we have mixed reviews about whether or not doing the full Five Lakes Trail is worth it.
If you enjoy hiking to alpine lakes, then check out this list with many other beautiful lakes to explore near Zermatt!
#9. Take photos of the Matterhorn
The Matterhorn is one of the most famous mountains in the world. Whether you are an avid climber or not, it’s an incredible mountain to soak in the views and take photos of! Every time we saw the Matterhorn during our visit, we would just stare in awe.
Here are some of our favorite viewpoints of the Matterhorn:
- Kirchbrücke (bridge in Zermatt)
- Riffelsee Lake
- Hiking trail from Gornergrat to Riffelsee Lake
- Riding the Gornergrat railway
- Adler Hitta in Findeln (or any of the other resturants)
- Lake Stellisee
That being said, some of the best views are the ones you stumble upon! You can see the Matterhorn from so many different places in and around Zermatt.
#10. Visit the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, also known as Klein Matterhorn, is the highest cable car station in Europe. When standing on Klein Matterhorn, you are surrounded by 38 four-thousanders (a mountain 4000 meters above sea level), 14 glaciers, and mountain views of three countries – Italy, France, and Switzerland.
The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise experience is open 365 days a year and always has lots of snow! During your visit, there are plenty of unique activities to choose from. Below are some of the best things to do on Klein Matterhorn:
- Soak up the views from one of many viewing platforms
- Visit the Glacier Palace
- Dine at the Restaurant Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
- Take a ride on the Crystal Ride (a decorated gondola with a glass floor)
- Go skiing at Zermatt Snow Park (yes, even in the summer!)
- Watch a film at the Cinema House
- Submit the Breithorn Peak (only if you’re a skilled climber/mountaineer)
In all honesty, we decided not to visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise because we felt it was similar to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe (which we had just visited). But if you don’t have time to visit Top of Europe, we think this would be an incredibly unique activity!