We traveled to Zermatt, Switzerland, in December 2018 for a long weekend.
Zermatt is a beautiful mountaineering and ski resort area in the Swiss Alps, famously surrounded by some of the highest Swiss peaks. The most notable one is the Matterhorn, recognizable by its sharp tip, which appears on the wrapper of Toblerone chocolates, too.
We decided to visit Zermatt while meeting my brother, who was traveling back to Europe from Hong Kong. “Why Zermatt in Switzerland?” you might ask.
Because, both couples could meet at the Zurich International Airport with good and easy travel connections from both Germany and Hong Kong.
Zermatt is then easily reachable from the airport by public transportation. In fact, you do not need a car to reach the destination and the journey across the Alps by train can show you the beauty of this region. Also, Zermatt is a village where no cars are allowed, so arriving by train makes perfect sense.
We all planned to meet in Zermatt to enjoy a long weekend off while skiing, eating good food, and relaxing at the hotel wellness area.
With this opportunity arising, my husband and I also decided that it was the right time to improve our skiing skills by taking some lessons with a ski teacher in Zermatt.
We booked our plane tickets and our stay at the hotel in October, while instead we rented our ski equipment and ski passes once we arrived at our destination.
This is what we did on a long weekend in Zermatt. If you are considering Zermatt for your next vacation, continue reading to find out whether it is a place that suits your desires.
We left Germany early on a Friday morning. There are very inexpensive connections from Germany to Switzerland, and in our case we were able to book a direct flight to Zurich for less than $100.
We only packed our ski clothes and we planned to rent the ski equipment once we would arrive in Zermatt. This way, we were able to travel with only our hand-luggage, giving us the comfort to travel light and at a cheaper cost.
The flight took an hour and we met my brother and his wife at the Zurich Airport. Since Zurich is an international airport with many travel connections, we were able to book flights from Germany and Hong Kong that could land at the same time in Zurich. What luck!
After having breakfast together at the airport, it was time to head to Zermatt. Our choice was to take a train: this is an economical way to reach the destination within a few hours. For this reason, we bought the tickets for the trains at the airport and it took approximately 3 hours to reach Zermatt. The first train we took at Zurich Airport arrived in the city of Visp, where we changed into another train that led us to the center of Zermatt.
All trains were very comfortable, on time, and super clean. While we were on the train, we had the time to rest after waking up so early (on top of that, the team from Hong Kong traveled overnight to reach Europe!), and we caught up after a long time of not seeing each other.
The train ride was really a pleasure. From the big windows, we were able to stare at the beauty of Swiss nature around us.
We were very lucky to land in Switzerland and be welcomed by cold, but very sunny weather. When we arrived in Zermatt, it was just a short walk before we reached our accommodation, the Alpen Resort Hotel.
We took the time to check-in and relax a bit before getting ready to explore the city center. The whole area is friendly to pedestrians and we immediately noticed how quiet it was compared to the cities that we live in. There is a main street right off the train station that leads to the center, called the Bahnhofstrasse that offers many restaurants and shops.
The atmosphere is so different from everything we are used to in big cities, and the air felt so fresh and light. The sun was shining, and although there was no snow on the streets, the glow everywhere was very remarkable and typical of small mountain villages.
We decided to spend the very first day just relaxing after the trip and getting everything ready for our ski adventures.
We had lunch at a restaurant on the main street that offered us a very relaxed atmosphere. We were tired and hungry, so it was a joy to eat pizza for lunch!
Afterwards, we went to rent our ski equipment and the skipass for the next few days. We all rented boots, ski ratchets, skis, and helmets at a local rental shop.
The staff was very friendly. My husband and I are not expert skiers, but the staff at the shop helped us to ensure that the boots and skis were the correct size.
We bought the skipasses at the Zermatt center that is located on the main road. Additionally, my husband and I decided to hire a ski instructor for 2 days. We were able to do so at the same center and we were going to meet our instructor directly on the snow the day after. How exciting!
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel spa area before getting ready for dinner.
On our first night, since we were all quite tired and we had a late lunch, we decided to have just a quick bite at a restaurant.
We were just too excited for the days to come, therefore we decided to go to bed early to feel fully rested for the day after.
On the second day in Zermatt, the alarm rang at 6:30 AM. After an abundant and yummy breakfast in the hotel, it was time to hit the slopes.
Basically, we walked from our hotel to the ski rental while wearing our ski equipment there. We left our shoes at the shop, which could then be taken again at the end of the day.
From the rental shop, we walked our way to the Sunnegga-Rothorn valley station, where we took the funicular up to Sunnegga.
We spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon in Sunnegga. My husband and I went with the ski teacher, while my brother and his wife skied around.
Sunnegga is the area where people of all ski levels arrive to either access local ski pistes or to connect to other ski pistes on the Gornergrat. At Sunnegga, first time skiers can practice at the Wolli’s Park, while instead more experienced ones can take other lines to different ski routes. Sunnegga is located at 2,288 meters and it is the starting point for many hikers, too, during the summer time. In our case, Sunnegga was our meeting point, since we were at different ski levels. The terrace of Sunnegga was the place where we met for lunch and relaxed before starting in the afternoon again.
We had our first ski class with the teacher on this day. We felt a bit scared in the beginning, but her professionalism allowed us to feel comfortable quite quickly. During our first half a day, my husband and I already learned how to ski down some slopes and how to stop. We also started to follow our teacher down some more steep slopes and we felt so proud of ourselves! We started really enjoying skiing after a few hours of practice.
The second part of the day on the slopes, my husband and I were left alone to practice and this gave us the possibility to try and improve. We were feeling more comfortable by the end of the afternoon.
We arrived at the hotel around 4 PM and, after a shower, it was time for a good dinner.
It also started to snow that evening. Zermatt started to take the shape of a really beautiful small village up the mountains.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Elsie Bar.
We were lucky to find a table with no reservation, but otherwise I would recommend booking in advance. The quality of the oysters and the meat was high while the taste was something we never experienced before. We were very happy with the choice on our first night out in Zermatt.
By the end of the dinner, the city was fully covered in white, as it never stopped snowing while we were having dinner. When we left Elsie Bar, the village of Zermatt in front of us was not the same as when we left before dinner. The streets were covered in white with no cars around and complete quietness, giving us a sense of peace and tranquillity. We walked around to take the whole experience in!
When we arrived at the hotel, we were tired but happy with everything Zermatt allowed us to experience in just a few hours.
We woke up at 6:30 AM and still it kept snowing! It never stopped while we slept and in the morning, the snow was piling up high and soft everywhere!
We had our breakfast at the hotel and started to get excited to hop on the slopes again. We walked to the ski rental shop and then to Sunnegga-Rothorn valley station.
There, we came to understand that the amount of snow falling down was so significant that it was actually impairing the visibility on the slopes. We had to wait at the Sunnegga-Rothorn valley station for further advice on whether it was possible to reach Sunnegga or not that day. Everyone was waiting there and nobody was allowed to get on the funicular before the restrictions were lifted.
After approximately 1 hour, we were able to reach Sunnegga. Indeed, visibility was quite limited and the wind was blowing strong.
Nevertheless, our ski teacher trained us with a few more skills and led us down some more advanced level slopes. We found this quite challenging because the weather conditions were not good at all. But, on the other hand, we realized we improved a lot from practicing in these adverse conditions. Also, our instructor did a great job supporting us and putting us in the safest conditions to learn.
Half a day of practicing in the snowy and windy weather conditions at Sunnegga made us more experienced skiers!
After lunch at the Sunnegga terrace, the visibility did not improve and the wind was very strong, so we decided to head back to the hotel. We had time to relax and warm up in the afternoon at the hotel and enjoyed the wellness area once again.
After a shower, we walked to the town for another great dinner.
On the second night, we opted for a cozy restaurant called Schaeferstube that offers traditional specialties from the Zermatt region. The dinner was above our expectations. Again, the quality of the meat was the highest we have ever tried. The restaurant has a typical mountain lodge feeling, yet the service and the quality of the meals makes it a high end location.
When we finished dinner, it was still snowing. We walked around Zermatt to take in the feelings that this village was giving us: a sense of calmness, coziness, and peacefulness, all within a beautiful natural surrounding.
On this day, we were ready to travel back to Zurich to take a flight home to Germany.
Our flight was planned for the evening, therefore we had plenty of time to leave Zermatt in the late morning.
The ride back on the train to Zurich Airport offered us views that were totally new and very different from just a few days before. The snow was changing the way we were appreciating the nature around us.
As always, our train ride back to Zurich went smoothly and efficiently. We had no delays and our flight to Germany was on time, too. Overall, we enjoyed this trip to Zermatt even more than we could have expected.
Here are the reasons why we loved spending 4 days in Zermatt:
- Ease to reach Zermatt from the Zurich Airport with public transportation – no stress!
- Efficiency of the Swiss public transportation system
- Quietness of the pedestrian friendly village of Zermatt
- Quality of slopes in Sunnegga for first time skiers and advanced ones
- Professionalism of Zermatt ski instructors
- Improvement of our ski-skills
- Quality of the food
- Beauty of the city and the nature around, with and without snow
Would we recommend Zermatt? Definitely. Even if you are not interested in skiing, Zermatt offers many other opportunities, from hiking paths, to Matterhorn glacier rides, lake walks, and bike rides. We had the opportunity to just experience a bit of what this area can offer and we definitely agreed to come back to try much more.