With around 360 km of prime ski slopes and year-round skiing, Zermatt is one of the best skiing destinations in the world. The majestic Matterhorn looms over the horizon and forms a part of a stunning panorama that encircles the town. No matter wherever you are in town, Matterhorn is always within view. More than a mountain, it is the identity of this small Swiss town. Zermatt is blessed with a spectacular Alpine beauty that lures adventure seekers and holiday goers all around the year.
But the snowy slopes of Zermatt offer more than just skiing. You can enjoy the thrill of snow trekking and experience the fun of snow shoe walking. Or just enjoy the views with a flavourful meal. Zermatt is one of the few places in the world that are completely closed to vehicular traffic. You have the choice between horse-drawn carts and electric buses to get around. Alternately you could walk to your destination, if it’s not too far. The crisp alpine air will spur you onwards and won’t let you tire.
While Zermatt preserves its heritage in its buildings, its cuisine and its way of life, you’ll find the region’s history, tied to that of Matterhorn’s, in the Zermatlantis Matterhorn Museum. The Glacier Palace is an icy marvel 15 metres below the ice field between Klein Matterhorn and Breithorn. Wander through the carved tunnels that house a collection of centuries-old ice formations and beautifully carved ice sculptures. This is one tour you should not miss while in Zermatt.
Out of the museums, Zermatt’s Old Village is a treasure chest of the town’s history. Some of the buildings here date back to the 16th century. The town itself is full of old hotels and lively cafes that serve excellent coffee with stories of the brave adventurers who first conquered the Matterhorn. You can watch the evenings turn into nights under a brilliant star-lit sky. Zermatt is also the place where you can walk across the world’s longest hanging suspension bridge. The 494-metres-long Europabrüke (Europe Bridge) hangs over the Grabengufer ravine. It offers amazing views of the Matterhorn, the Weisshorn and the Bernese Alps. Another way to catch the incredible views are from the cable cars and the lifts.
Zermatt has no less than 54 cable cars, lifts and funiculars! At 3,883 metres, the lift station at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the highest one in Europe. Zermatt also has Europe’s highest open-air rack railway which goes up 3,000 metres to Gornergrat’s observation platform. The views you get from these are some of the most beautiful in the world and will stay with you for a very long time.
If you’re ready to experience these views and more you need to decide the time of your holiday. Here’s a close look at Zermatt’s weather which will help you plan the best alpine holiday.
Peak Season : Summer (June to August) is definitely the peak season in Zermatt. The visitors start arriving with summer and the rush continues till the end of season. This is also the warmest season of the year, but the temperatures rarely climb out of their teens. As the valley blooms, it is the perfect weather for hiking and mountain-climbing. The skies are clear and the visibility extends for miles all around. Which means you’re in for a treat once you summit the peaks. Zermatt is crowded and the prices are high, so book your stay and travel in advance.
Shoulder Season : The shoulder months of spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are still busy in Zermatt. The spring skiing season begins in May and lasts until the end of April. The weather warms up after a chilly winter, but doesn’t affect the snow. After Easter the town pretty much empties out. Autumn is a quieter season as the town enjoys a few months of peace from the rush. Most mountain restaurants close towards the end to prepare for a cold winter. This is a good time to be in Zermatt for some peace and contemplation.
Low Season : Winter is a relatively low season in Zermatt. Relative because though most of the town is empty, the ski slopes around the town call out to the skiers and thrill seekers. Though you can ski in any season in Zermatt, winter is the epitome of ski season. With perfectly packed snow and the chilly mountain air, the slopes seem to challenge the adventurers to come forth and show their skills. December also brings Zermatt Fashion and Christmas, two of the most happening events in town. Apart from the skiers and snow boarders, there are few other visitors around. You can enjoy the town leisurely cocooned in a magical flurry of snow.
|Spring||-1 to 12°C||Cold, with rainfall|
|Summer||8 to 17°C||Pleasant, with rainfall|
|Autumn||-3 to 14°C||Cold, with rainfall|
|Winter||-10 to 2°C||Cold, with heavy snowfall|
Temperature - It is a cold spring in Zermatt. At the beginning the temperatures start out below freezing and going up as the season progresses. The average temperatures range between -1 to 12°C.
Weather - The winter snow lasts until April and the temperatures stay in single digits during this time. May sees warmer weather as the snow starts melting in the lower areas. But the mountains hold on to the snow for a bit longer and relinquish some of it as summer approaches.
Significance - With the onset of spring, Zermatt shrugs off the winter’s sleepiness and wakes up to the refreshing energy of spring. The slopes lose their snow but gain green carpets sprinkled with mesmerising colours from wildflowers. You can even enjoy your stay without prior booking. May sees a lull in the energy as the town prepares itself for the summer rush that’ll take over for the next three months.
Why you should visit now - Spring is one of those rare times when Zermatt enjoys a well-deserved rest from the tourists. It is the time for long treks and serene explorations. Head to the Lake of Riffelsee to enjoy the spectacle of Matterhorn reflected on the calm waters. The views here are unbelievable. The lake is 10-minute hike away from the Rotenboden station on the Gornergrat Bahn Cog Railway.
Apart from enjoying your climbs and treks, Zermatt will surprise you with some of the activities you can do. Zermatt hosts the ‘Zermatt Unplugged’ music festival at the Vernissage in spring. Take a helicopter ride for a different perspective of the beautiful town and the mountains that surround it. If a helicopter feels too confining, go paragliding to get the adrenaline rush of flying without mechanised contraption.
For more grounded activities, how about enjoying a round of tennis? Zermatt has a bunch of indoor and outdoor tennis courts that let you rent out the courts to play. Or you can indulge in a timeless activity which is a global favourite, shopping. Hunt the markets in and around Zermatt for souvenirs to take back home. The lack of crowds might net you some good deals in the form of unexpected discounts.
Things to know before the visit - You won’t find Zermatt too crowded in spring. Most hotels remain open till April and close for May. So, do check hotel availability well in advance. Tennis courts and clay shooting may need advance booking. Do check before making your plans. Skiing is available until the end of April.
Tips - Early spring sees near-freezing temperatures. So, carry a jacket along and wear sturdy boots. Pack your thermals for protection against chilly nights and keep moisturiser handy. Dress in layers so you can adapt better to the weather throughout the day.
Temperature - Zermatt warms up in summer but remains cool. Temperatures average between 8 to 17°C as the snow completely disappears in the low-lying areas.
Weather - Sunny days and clear skies are the main features of summer. This is the rainiest season of the lot. But rain doesn’t interfere with your plans. Higher up, in the mountains, it is noticeably cooler and windier than the town.
Significance - Summer is the season to be in Zermatt for an adventurous vacation. As the snow disappears, it opens up a whole lot of activities to do and places to explore. This is Zermatt at its touristy best. Ride up the lofty mountains on ski lifts and cable cars and enjoy the scenery.
Why you should visit now - Zermatt is a hiker’s paradise in summer. With well-maintained hiking trails criss-crossing the mountains, you can traverse a new trail every day without having to repeat any. The magnificent views just add to the pleasure of the physical exercise. Even the town encourages you to walk. No cars, except electric vehicles, are allowed inside Zermatt. But the pleasant summer weather doesn’t let you feel tired. On the contrary, these hikes refresh you for an evening of banter and music accompanied by a sumptuous dinner.
But the most surprising activity here in summer is skiing! Where else can you enjoy the exhilaration of flying down a snowy slope dresses in spring clothes? The summer Zermatt Snowpark is one of the best areas for summer skiing. You will often find international ski teams practising on these slopes, preparing for the winter season. Summer skiing is best enjoyed during the earlier part of the day, before the sun climbs too high in the sky and it gets too hot.
If you’re travelling with your family, you can spend an adventurous, fun-filled day at the Forest Fun Park. It encourages children and adults to step out of their comfort zone and test their limits, all under expert supervision of course.
Things to know before the visit - Zermatt is packed with visitors in summer. Book your accommodation in advance. Most cable cars and funiculars also allow you to book tickets online and you can avail of discounts offered. The trekking trails in Zermatt are well-maintained, do not litter.
Tips - Light clothes will suffice for a Zermatt summer. But keep a jacket handy as it may get cold in the mountains. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and always keep a water bottle with you on treks.
Temperature - After a warm summer, autumn begins to cool down Zermatt. The temperatures average between -3 to 14°C with a gradual decline as the season advances.
Weather - Autumn brings in a cooler weather to Zermatt. The rains continue but not as much as summer. The mountains are significantly cooler, and snow makes an appearance towards the end of November.
Significance - The tourists start bidding goodbye to Zermatt as Autumn progresses. The foliage sheds its verdant cover for Autumn’s golden blanket. The trails grow quieter and make this a perfect time for extended hikes.
Why you should visit now - After the summer rush Autumn heralds a welcome serenity to the resort town. The slopes and mountains are alight with the red, orange and golden fires of Autumn. The brief calm in between the peak seasons has a rare charm that affords its magic to Zermatt. Gorner Gorge is a place of mystical beauty and feels like a part of the Middle Earth. The Gornervispe has been working on this gorge since the ice age and has carved out a place of ethereal beauty.
Even hiking takes on a magical aura in autumn. Most trails will be deserted by this time and you can enjoy your trek in relative peace. Just remember to stay within the trail markings. For a unique experience with your friends and family, head to the Escape Rooms. Your objective here is to solve puzzles and help each other escape from confinement. A thrilling experience for the entire family.
The Gornergrat observation platform is a popular hangout during autumn. This sunny vantage gives you a stunning panorama of the views around. These include the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, Gorner Glacier and more than 20 other surrounding peaks. Here, you can also send a night at the Kulmhotel Gornergrat, which is the highest hotel in Europe. You can enjoy stargazing from the hotel’s observatory and sample local delights at their restaurant.
Things to know before the visit - Autumn is not a busy time in Zermatt and you will get discounts if you ask. If you want to enjoy autumn hiking, come here before November starts and you will find most trails open.
Tips - Dress for autumn but be ready for temperature drops. Nights will be especially cold, so carry a jacket if you’re out and about in the evenings.
Temperature - The winter temperatures in Zermatt range between -10 to 2°C, which may drop even further during the nights.
Weather - Zermatt has a freezing winter weather which is accompanied by lots of snow. The cold peaks in February before retreating and making way for spring.
Significance - Though winter may be a low season for regular tourists, the town is taken over by adrenaline junkies and adventure seekers who throng to the slopes. The skiing, while good throughout the year, is downright exceptional during winter.
Why you should visit now - If you want to gaze upon snow-covered panoramas and experience the magic of snow in an idyllic setting, Zermatt has a fine selection of viewpoints that will give you the perfect backdrops for your photographic mementos. For a low-down on Zermatt’s history, descend into the subterranean world of Zermatlantis Matterhorn Museum. It chronicles the town’s evolution from a mountain village into a famous alpine resort. Wander amidst life-sized models of old houses and gaze upon ancient relics that include a stone axe from the Neolithic Age and the broken rope from Matterhorn’s first ascent.
But the biggest attraction of Zermatt in winter is skiing. The town and the mountains around have a whopping 360 kilometres of well-maintained pistes which elevate the skiing experience to sublime levels. From beginners to professionals, everyone can enjoy their skiing at Zermatt. Most resorts and hotels offer skiing lessons for beginners and also give out equipment on hire, so you have no excuse to give skiing a miss.
Things to know before the visit - Most hotels are open until the end of January after which they remain closed during the coldest month of the year. So, hotel bookings may be hard to come by unless you book in advance.
Tips - Take your heaviest woollen clothes and shoes with a good grip to help maintain your footing in show and over ice. Wear your sunglasses to avoid the glare from the snow and protect your skin against the biting cold. Do not attempt a slope if you’re not sure of your own skills and always pay attention to your ski instructor during lessons.
At first Glance, Zermatt comes across as a sleepy alpine town that is blessed with an opulent alpine beauty. But it hides a wild spirit that unleashes itself on its skiing slopes and trekking trails. The looming mountains beckon you with a challenge that only a few can answer. But the excitement doesn’t just stop there. If you want to experience it all, pay us a visit at your nearest Thomas Cook branch or book your Zermatt holiday online.