If you’re into old towns with wooden houses, beautiful nature, tall mountains or leisurely hikes (or maybe all of them), then Zermatt in the summer-time is definitely a place for you.
Imagine swirling around on mountain tops like someone straight out of The Sound of Music, perhaps having a picnic with Swiss cheese, chocolate and soda (Rivella is a must-try) next to natural and swimmable lakes – it’s the outdoorsy person’s dream come true and makes for some killer photographs! And as the town is free of cars, the air is fresh and crisp all-year-round.
I went for a couple of days in the summer of 2017, and while you could easily spend more than that (Zermatt has 400km of hiking trails), there are a few activities that I highly recommend.
Depending on your fitness-level, there are several hikes to complete. Be sure to investigate the ones that take you past lakes that reflect the Matterhorn – I missed out on this and have been kicking myself ever since!
A beautiful, non-exhausting walk you can do is from Zermatt city center and clockwise through a little town called Zmutt. It’s really charming with its wooden houses and has the smallest chapel I’ve ever seen! The name is Katharina von Alexandrien and has room for about 10 people only. There are little restaurants in Zmutt as well, so you could stop for lunch there (kind of pricey, though). On this route, which will take you about 2 hours, you’ll cross a large bridge overlooking some water and see some ridiculously beautiful scenery.
A more exhaustive hike is one that takes you to Edelweiss; a little restaurant on a mountainside with a great viewpoint overlooking Zermatt. The path is rather steep, consists mostly of gravel and takes around 40 minutes to complete, but also has some beautiful nature. Stop at Edelweiss for a piece of their delicious carrot-cake or famous rösti – and of course, Rivella.
If you’re up for more walking, there is a path that will take you from Edelweiss to another stop called Trift. It’s another hour’s hike from Edelweiss, but well worth the trip! This leg of the trip isn’t as steep and the scenery is amazing – you’ll walk past waterfalls and flowers crowded with butterflies, and there are benches to rest on every now and then.
At Trift, there is another cute-looking restaurant, if you’re in need of more refreshments. Also, don’t forget to take a picture by the Swiss flag! From here, you can continue to the next stop or go back to Zermatt (I did the latter).
If you’re sick of hiking, visit the Gornerschlucht (Gorner Gorge), where you walk along a wooden walkway attached to cliffsides with rushing water underneath (don’t worry, the wood is very sturdy). It doesn’t take much more than 15 minutes and offers a great look into the forces of nature. It costs 6 Swiss franc per person (cash only) and is a nice break from the hiking, sun and heat.
Switzerland is generally expensive, and Zermatt even more so, because the city center is unreachable by car. The only vehicles allowed are electric cabs, shuttle buses and maintenance cars. If you do decide to drive to Zermatt, you have to park your car outside of the city center, which probably isn’t cheap. Otherwise, you can catch a train that takes you all the way to the center and fly into either Zürich or Basel.
Regarding accommodation, you’re probably better off renting a place with a kitchen, so you can prepare your own food instead of eating out three times a day. The average price for a hotel room is $200 per night.