Planning a visit to the Swiss city of Zermatt? Here are some recommendations*. To view all the photographs (with the captions in full) of the city, click on any image and navigate using the left and right keys.
1. Zermatt is a mountaineering and ski resort, a village where tourists flock to for views of the Alpine “four-thousanders”. Every location in the village is within walking distance, and because cars are not allowed individuals get around in battery or electric vehicles, or on horse-drawn carriages (though they are mainly managed by the hotels).
2. Since a few train trips and transfers are necessary, not many may choose to visit Zermatt, and instead opt for other locations – such as the town of Interlaken – for views of the Swiss Alps. Yet the tourism facilities and services in Zermatt are well-developed, and with the Swiss Travel Pass the trips up the mountains are slightly more affordable. With a hectic itinerary in Germany we made a daylong trip down, to spend three relaxing days here.
3. An alphorn performance right outside the railway station. This musical instrument is traditionally used by mountain dwellers or residents in Switzerland.
4. Via the Gornergrat Bahn (Gornergrat railway) – the highest open-air railway in Europe – we made our way up to the summit. The summit offers views of 29 four”-thousanders”, where there are viewing platforms, shopping outlets, and two dining establishments. There are beautiful views from the train, on the way to the top. Since this was summer many also chose to do a hike up and down the rocky ridge, but we were not as adventurous.
5. We were brought to the summit in this train, and the entire ride took about half an hour. Trains arrive at fairly regular intervals. For the best experience, one should be on the right side of the carriage during the ascent (with views of the Alpine range), and on the left during the descent (with further views of the village, and maybe even waterfalls).
6. Enjoy a panoramic view of the mountains at the summit of the Gornergrat.
7. The Matterhorn – the mountain of mountains, especially with its pyramidal peak – in the distance. It is one of the highest peaks in the Alps and in Europe, and is an iconic landscape in Switzerland. We spied the Matterhorn during our train ride into Zermatt, and during the journey on the Gornergrat Bahn one gets closer to the mountain. There are plenty of opportunities for photo-taking at the summit, even with the many visitors around.
8. We visited the Matterhorn Museum right after the railway ride to the Gornergrat, which features mock-ups of a mountain village and its houses. The many photographs and artefacts complement the easy-to-access, historical information of the Zermatt area, and there is also an exhibition documenting the ill-fated first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 which left four of seven dead. Coincidentally, 2015 marks 150 years since the Alpine peak was climbed.
9. Stuff in Zermatt is not cheap. We had a lunch of chicken, pork and fries, as well as salad at the summit of the Gornergrat, and for dinner we shared a lamb kofta taco, chicken satay, as well as an Asian duck salad at a fusion pub which had a promotion going on.
10. The church of Saint Mauritius in Zermatt, and this place of worship is right in the centre of the city, next to the Matterhorn Museum. We did not take a closer look at the historical artefacts and the ceiling painting because we were short on time, but the church is visited by both locals and tourists. There is also an English Church in the vicinity.
11. While the summit of the Gornergrat stands at 3,090 metres, the summit at the Matterhorn glacier paradise is 3,883 metres. It takes approximately an hour to get to the top, and the journey involves an initial ride in a small cable car (high frequency) and a subsequent one in a gondola (waiting times can be longer for this segment). The sights are incredible.
12. The small cable car for the first segment of the journey. Visitors are rewarded with views of the Alpine range, the Matterhorn, as well as the village of Zermatt (in the background).
13. At the Matterhorn glacier paradise there is a cinema lounge, restaurants, and the glacier palace of ice sculptures, yet we spent the most time on the viewing platform, which provides a panoramic view of 38 “four-thousanders”, and therefore multiple photograph opportunities. It is freezing cold up there, so warm clothing and protection against the sun are necessary.
14. Another view of the majestic Matterhorn.
15. For a short while, visitors can also slide down the snow slopes in small snow tubes for free. It is a short distance down and up – with a conveyor belt of sorts for the latter – and the family had a great time just frolicking in the ice and snow (even though the sun was blazing hot).
16. Colourful assortment of Lindt chocolates and confectionary at the store in the village.
17. Additional views from the summits (Gornergrat).
18. Additional views from the summits (glacier paradise).
19. Additional views from the summits (glacier paradise).
* Not an advertisement, and also not sponsored (unfortunately).