While some may regard, “a season where everything dies a little,” as a direct nod to winter, this metaphor is untrue in many snowy villages. Europe is famous for its amazing ski resorts. As an intermediate skier, I like to seek out mountains that offer a variety of slopes, charming ambiance, and top-notch dining scene. Zermatt, Switzerland is my top choice for a family-friendly winter vacation. I hope to convince you to visit with these 5 reasons:
FAIRYTALE IN ZERMATT
Without a doubt Zermatt is one of the most beautiful resorts in the Alps. It’s fame as Switzerland’s highest ski resort and iconic Matterhorn mountain allure tourists from around the world. I’ll never forget my first impression when I arrived this time of year exactly eight years ago. I was greeted at the train station by a horse drawn carriage to whisk my luggage to the hotel. What a special welcome.
The village is laid-back and enchanting. It is also car-free (only permitting small electric/battery vehicles for local businesses) and boasts many restaurants and shops that are easily accessible by foot. This allows pedestrians to stroll the streets more enjoyably. You don’t have to worry about driving on snowy roads, traffic jams, or parking issues.
ZERMATT: MARVELOUS SKI CONDITIONS
Zermatt itself has 200 km of pistes and an impressive ski season from late November to late April. Experienced skiers will be overjoyed with the international ski pass, which provides an additional 160 km of trails. Imagine crossing the border to Cervinia, Italy for tiramisu and skiing back to Switzerland in time for après-ski cocktails and live music. Hire a mountain guide for motivational tips and/or off-piste adventures. The trails in Zermatt are endless — you won’t get bored on this mountain!
Chez Vrony is my favorite spot for lunch on a sunny day. It’s easily accessible, even for beginner level skiers. The magnificent view facing the Matterhorn, combined with the locally sourced, organic cuisine, will warm your heart on the coldest of days. If you fancy a unique starter opt for the Bloody Mary soup which is served with a shot of vodka! Restaurant Zum See is another fantastic alpine dining option. It’s no longer a hidden gem but the setting remains incredibly cozy.
PHOTOGRAPHY LOVER’S DREAM
This is a completely different side of Zermatt that I discovered on my most recent trip. When you want a break from skiing, go to the grocery store to buy a Toblerone chocolate bar (view my photo below to understand why) and take a trip on the Gornergrat Railway. This mountain train links the village of Zermatt to the summit of Gornergrat in roughly 30 minutes. Get your camera ready for breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers from the Matterhorn viewing deck. Enjoy the moment at your leisure. On the train ride back towards Zermatt get off at Riffelalp and take a short walk along a pine tree lined path to Riffelalp Resort. The secluded setting of this upscale hotel makes you feel a world away from buzzing Zermatt. Sit by the bar lounge fireplace and sip on hot cocoa before continuing on your way.
EASE OF TRAVEL WITHIN SWITZERLAND
If you are looking to combine a trip to Zermatt with another incredible ski resort, consider spending at least 4 nights in Zermatt and 3 nights in Saint Moritz. The two famous towns are connected via The Glacier Express. Don’t expect a high-speed train (hence the name express) because this is the world’s slowest express train! Take in the panoramic views during the 8 hour journey. Fun facts — You will pass over 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels, & frequently stop in villages along the way. Be sure to keep your camera handy to capture the scenery!