Summer in Zermatt, Switzerland is absolutely dreamy. The luxury alpine village – population 6000 – is the gateway to the Matterhorn, one of the most famous and distinctive peaks in the world.
In winter, the region offers unbeatable skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. With its high elevation and ample snowfall, ski area lifts run 365 days a year with even summer skiing available.
But what if you’re not interested in snow sports? Or even venturing into the surrounding mountains? Not surprisingly, the stunning mountain scenery draws just as many visitors during the summer months, and many of them never leave town.
Whether your goal is luxury shopping, learning about the area’s climbing history, or relaxing in a true paradise on earth, the town offers something for everyone. Don’t miss these memorable and unique things to do in Zermatt in summer.
Travel Tip: We spent three days in Zermatt in June: one day exploring town and two days hiking and camping in the Alps. We definitely recommend staying at least a few days, but if your time is short, here are some highlights for sightseeing in Zermatt.
How do you get to Zermatt?
Before we launch into all the fun activities in Zermatt, first you have to know how to even get there.
Take the train to Zermatt.
Taking the train is a popular form of transportation in Switzerland. Trains run regularly from all major cities. From Zurich, a one-way journey typically takes from 3-4 hours and will cost about 220 CHF per person. You can buy train tickets from SBB, the Swiss national rail company.
Budget Travel Tip: If you opt to travel by train, definitely consider buying the Swiss Half Fare Card. With it, your roundtrip fare will cost about 115 CHF.
Drive to Zermatt.
Since Zermatt is a car-free town, it takes a bit more planning than if you could just drive right to it, but it’s still quite easy.
Most folks who travel by car to Zermatt drive as far as Täsch, a tiny village about a kilometer to the north. It seems to exist solely to provide parking and overnight accommodations for visitors to Zermatt. You’ll have no shortage of options for parking garages in Täsch.
Since we have our own car and usually prefer the cheapest mode of transportation, we drove to Zermatt.
Arriving in Täsch, we opted to leave our car at Parkhaus Zermatt, a huge parking structure with a 2000+ car capacity. From Täsch, you have to take a train the rest of the way to Zermatt, so we parked and headed downstairs to buy train tickets in the same building. Though other parking garages in town are cheaper, we were willing to pay for the convenience of parking right at the train station.
When we returned to our car 3 days later, I was so tired I didn’t even care that we paid 31 CHF for parking. I was just glad we could get off the train and not walk any further.
From the platform, trains run frequently to Zermatt, so you won’t have long to wait.
The ride itself from Täsch to Zermatt only takes about 20 minutes.
After just a few minutes on the platform, a train rolled up, we climbed aboard, and Travis and Touille immediately settled in for a nap. While they slept, I admired the stunning mountain slopes rising steeply on both sides of the train tracks.
Budget Travel Tip: The regular price for an adult ticket from Täsch to Zermatt is 24 CHF per adult. With the Swiss Half Fare Card, the ticket cost is just 12 CHF.
Map of Zermatt Tourist Attractions
Click the upper right icon on the map to enlarge. Click the upper left icon for a detailed key.
Language Tip: Zermatt is in the German-speaking canton of the Valais. English is commonly spoken by those working in tourism.
1. Admire the Matterhorn right from town.
The best views of the Matterhorn are undoubtedly from any number of hiking trails outside town. But if you want to see the peak from town, especially with classic Zermatt chalets in the foreground, a popular spot is from Kirchbrücke, or Church Bridge.
The bridge crosses Gorner Creek, which flows all the way through Zermatt and is fed from Gorner Glacier in the Swiss Alps. The color of the water varies with the light, but it’s typically a milky shade of gray, brown, or even blue from the silt suspended in the creek.
You can stroll along either side of the canal, with peep-show views of the Matterhorn drawing closer as you walk south.
2. Go on a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Zermatt in summer is pretty much unbeatable. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and horsing around is completely acceptable.
While it might be a car-free town, that actually doesn’t mean they don’t have any cars in town. They actually do – and vans, heavy work trucks, and public buses which are electric. Car-free really just means that visitors aren’t allowed to drive their personal vehicles into town.
But why would you even want to when you can tour town in a charming horse-drawn carriage?
The last remaining horse-drawn carriage for hire in Zermatt is operated by Werner Imboden, who has been doing it for over 40 years.
Prices range from about 80 Swiss francs for a 30-minute ride to 140 francs for a 1-hour ride.
Travel Tip: Make sure you have local currency – Swiss francs, or CHF. Major credit cards are widely accepted, but euros are not.
3. Enjoy a sweet, cold glass of panaché in Zermatt.
The first item on our agenda when we arrived in Zermatt was to meet up with Christine, a Swiss gal we’d met while Exploring the Best of Avenches a few weeks back.
She messaged us directions to a cute little place called Grizzly’s Bar & Bistro, and we met her there.
Though we’d only met Christine one time, we immediately fell back into comfortable conversation like old friends. She introduced us to Scott, a fellow American she’d known only as an Instagram friend until meeting him that very day in person. Liking him immediately, we chatted about photography, Switzerland, and travel over a round of drinks.
Since I’m not a big fan of beer, I ordered a glass of panaché – a light beer mixed with 7-Up. Despite the unlikely pairing, it’s surprisingly refreshing when served in a chilled glass on a hot summer day.
If you spend much time in Switzerland, you’ll quickly realize how popular the drink is.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful place to enjoy one!
4. Keep your peepers peeled for Saint Bernard sightings.
The only downside to having such a good time is that you tend to lose track of time. We ended up having so much fun over drinks that Trav and I missed the last train of the day from Zermatt to Sunnegga, where we’d planned to start hiking.
Oh well, change of plans.
The night was still young – it was only 6 pm – so we meandered through town toward the trail entrance that would take us to Sunnegga. We had our tent and camping gear and no idea where we’d sleep that night. We figured we’d just pitch our tent somewhere up in the mountains if we found a good place to camp or when we got tired.
With no schedule, we ended up exploring more of Zermatt.
Lo and behold, what did we see?
An adorable, furry Saint Bernard strolling through the streets. You can’t get much more Swiss than that!
5. Go shopping on the Bahnofstrasse shopping street.
Zermatt is definitely a mecca for the rich and famous, and nowhere is it more obvious than along the Bahnofstrasse. The pedestrian-only street is the heart of the luxury shopping district in town. Every manner of fashion apparel and high-end brand is available for those who can afford it.
Have a cool $50k burning a hole in your pocket and need a new Patek Philippe watch?
You’ve come to the right place. They have a shop at Bahnhofstrasse 15 in Zermatt.
As one of the most prestigious – and expensive – watch brands in the world, the Swiss manufacturer supplied watches to Queen Victoria. One of their watches sold for $24 million in 2014.
Bring your checkbook, people!
You’ll need deep pockets if you want to shop along the Bahnoffstrasse, Zermatt’s luxury district.
For those who don’t know us well, I have to tell you we really are not much into shopping. We tend to dislike shopping in general, but luxury shopping in particular is offensive. So what did we think of the Bahnofstrasse?
We didn’t set foot in a single boutique or shop, nor did we buy so much as a postcard.
But we still liked it! It’s impossible not to appreciate a pedestrian-only street humming with energy, a mixture of languages, and beautiful store fronts. The people watching alone makes it worth visiting.
6. Stay at the best hotel in Zermatt.
Those looking for “only the best” lodging in Zermatt have several options for 5* hotels.
One of the highest rated – and most expensive – is the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof. Offering superb Matterhorn mountain views, the luxury hotel has three restaurants, a spa, and dispatches guests to and from the train station by private horse-drawn carriage.
The cost for just one night?
It can set you back a cool $1000. But for those accustomed to life in the lap of luxury or those looking to splurge on lodging for a special occasion, this is the place to stay.
One of the more fun summer activities in Zermatt is to rent a fat scooter, or dirt scooter. It’s perfect for those looking for a zip of extra adrenaline.
The scooters are basically what a dirt bike is to a 10-speed. It’s a scooter with wheels so beefy they look like they’re pumped up on steroids. The wheels are ideal for the rough alpine trails in and around Zermatt.
Helmets are provided with your scooter rental, and you can pick them up from the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise valley station.
Costs for rentals run from about 60 CHF for a 2-hour rental to about 112 CHF for five hours. Rentals for kids are a bit cheaper, and you can get a small discount if you have a Swiss Half-Fare Card.
As you’re strolling through town, its mountaineering history is readily apparent in the seemingly endless expensive shops peddling name-brand hiking and climbing gear.
Sadly, another Zermatt must-see attraction is actually one we missed – the Matterhorn Museum. Usually I only recommend things we’ve personally done, but this is a popular attraction on most Zermatt sightseeing lists, and I think it’s worth recommending.
The museum is the pinnacle of a long and storied history of the entire area, not just the Matterhorn.
Visitors can see inside a historic alpine home, learn about the transition from subsistence farming to climbing and tourism, and read about the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. The broken rope from that ill-fated ascent – one in which only three of seven climbers survived – is on display at the museum.
I’m actually still bummed we missed it. We had our dog with us, and unfortunately – but understandably – dogs aren’t allowed in the museum.
Travel Tip: Tickets to the Matterhorn Museum cost 10 CHF and can be purchased online from the official Zermatt Tourism website.
9. Wander through the Mountaineer’s Cemetery.
Another one of the more popular things to do during the summer in Zermatt is to visit the Mountaineer’s Cemetery. It’s right next door to the Matterhorn Museum.
Though we’re not particularly into rock climbing, I wanted to visit it because alpine climbing has such a long and prestigious history in Switzerland, especially around Zermatt. The Mountaineer’s Cemetery commemorates this history.
The quiet little cemetery is nestled in the shadow of the Parish Church of St. Mauritius. Both the church and cemetery are on the way to the trail-head to Sunnegga, an alpine station that provides access to hiking trails above Zermatt.
Despite the bustle of tourism throughout the rest of town, I was surprised that we were the only visitors to the cemetery. We walked up and down the aisles of gravestones, personalized plaques, and potted flowers, pausing frequently to reflect on how many of the engravings bear messages affirming an adventurous life well lived rather than one cut short by tragedy.
Roughly 500 climbers have died attempting to summit not just the Matterhorn, but the surrounding peaks: Breithorn, Täschhorn, Monte Rosa, Weisshorn, and more. Of these climbers, about 50 are buried in the Mountaineer’s Cemetery.
Three climbers from the first ascent of the Matterhorn are buried here.
On July 14th in 1865, English climber Edward Whymper successfully led a team of seven to the peak’s summit. Tragedy struck during the descent when one of the climbers, Douglas Hadow, slipped. Since the climbers were all tethered together, Hadow pulled three others – Michel-Auguste Croz, Lord Francis Douglas, and Charles Hudson – to their deaths.
The three surviving climbers were spared the same fate only because the rope between them snapped. Afterwards, the survivors were accused of cutting the rope to save themselves, though they were later cleared of wrongdoing.
The rope that snapped on the expedition is the same rope on display at the Matterhorn Museum next door.
Of the four who died that day, Michel-Auguste Croz is buried in the Mountaineer’s Cemetery. Two others, Hadow and Hudson, are buried nearby at the St. Peter’s “English Church” – Hadow outside and Hudson beneath the church altar. The body of Douglas has never been found.
Only two people who didn’t die climbing are buried in the cemetery. Peter Taugwalder and his son, alpine guides from Zermatt, survived the 1865 expedition and were much later interred in the cemetery with honor.
For me, the most poignant of all the memorials is the one belonging to Donald Stephen Williams, a climber from New York.
He was only 17 years old, just a kid, when he died climbing Breithorn.
Adorned with a small American flag and his own red climbing ax, his headstone reads, “I Chose To Climb.”
Long after we left the Mountaineer’s Cemetery, I found myself thinking about all the young men and women who’ve died pursuing a brief moment of triumph atop one of Switzerland’s most unforgiving mountain peaks.
Though I may never understand what prompts some to try to conquer nature’s most challenging obstacles at risk of death, I admire and even envy their single-minded drive, self-discipline, and unwavering conviction that the risks they take are worth it to live a live without regret.
10. Feast on local homemade apfelstrudel.
One last thing you absolutely should not miss while visiting Zermatt in summer is trying some of the local apple strudel. It’s one of those melt-in-your-mouth, I-can-feel-this-go-straight-to-my-hips kind of desserts.
Who doesn’t love cinnamon-apple filling surrounded by acres of fluffy pastry dough, baked and topped with apple wedges and warm vanilla cream?
Apple strudel originated in Vienna, Austria in the late 17th century. The earliest known recipe is a handwritten copy, which is protected in the Vienna Town Hall. The dessert has long since spread to the four corners, but it is still most known and beloved across regions that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This means Austria, Bavaria, northern Italy, etc.
It’s certainly popular in Switzerland, where you can order it from Michelin-star restaurants to family-run chalets high in the Alps.
How much do things cost in Zermatt?
Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world for travel, and Zermatt is one of the most expensive places in Switzerland.
Like with any place though, your travel style, priorities, and planned itinerary have a lot to do with how much you’ll need to budget for a trip to Zermatt. For those truly wanting to travel on the cheap, it’s possible. Most folks will drop a small chunk of change in Zermatt though.
Budget: Zermatt is quite small, so walking just about anywhere is easy – and it’s free!
Moderate: Public transportation in town is good. You can buy a one-week ticket to ride public E-buses for only 22 CHF.
Luxury: Expect to pay about 18-20 CHF for a cab and a 10-minute ride.
Meals / Food
Dining out in Zermatt can add up fast. The cost of a meal in a mid-range restaurant for two adults is about 75 CHF. Even McDonald’s will set you back at least 15 CHF for a single combo meal.
So how can you save money?
Bring food with you if you can, or rent lodging with a kitchen and shop at the local grocery stores. The prices will still make you cringe, but it’s cheaper than dining out.
The following are typical supermarket prices for common items.
Milk (1 liter) – 4 CHF
Loaf of white bread – 3.75 CHF
Local cheese (1 kg) – 25 CHF
Beef (1 kg) – 28 CHF
Apples (1 kg) – 7 CHF
Bottle of water (1.5 liter) – 2.50 CHF
Domestic beer (0.5 liter) – 2.80 CHF
If you prefer to experience the local cuisine to the fullest, the Du Pont is a great option. As one of the oldest restaurants in Zermatt, they offer authentic Swiss food like fondue and raclette, as well as the aforementioned apple strudel. Yum!
The cheapest option for lodging in Zermatt is either staying with someone you know, finding a Couchsurfing host who will let you stay for free, or traveling with friends and splitting the cost of a hotel, Airbnb, or FeWo (Ferienwohnung is German for holiday home, which is common in Switzerland).
Outdoor lovers or those who like roughin’ it should check out Camping Zermatt. It’s actually really your only option for camping in town. The campground is basically a big field with lots of tent campers. Because Zermatt is car-free, you won’t see car campers or RVs here.
The campground is just a few minutes on foot from the train station. A supermarket is next door. It’s typically open June 1 to September 30th, and costs are about 14 CHF per adult, 11 CHF for kids 9-15, and free for kids under age 9. If you don’t have your own tent, you can rent a two-person tent for 10 CHF per night or a three-person tent for 15 CHF.
We didn’t camp at Camping Zermatt and aren’t endorsing it. It’s just an option for budget lodging in Zermatt in summer.
If you’re looking for a mid-range option for lodging, you’ll have lots of choices as long as you’re not booking last minute. As mentioned above, luxury travelers should consider the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, but The Omnia is also highly rated.
Our Total Cost for 2 Adults (+1 Dog) for 3 Days in Zermatt
Fuel: 390 km roundtrip to Tasch for our VW = 35 CHF
Parking: 31 CHF
Roundtrip train from Taesch to Zermatt: 24 CHF
Lodging / wild camping: 0 CHF
Food: We packed several Mountain House backpacking meals we bought in the US; they’re amazing and cost about $6 each per 2-person meal. We supplemented them with groceries from our local Swiss supermarket, plus we bought coffee and pastries in Zermatt. 50 CHF for two adults
Sunnegga to Zermatt underground train: 16 CHF (one way only since we hiked up)
Matterhorn Express cable car: 50 CHF (roundtrip, 2 adults with Swiss Half Fare Cards)
Total cost: 206 CHF
Bucket List Hiking Trails Near Zermatt
If you’re outdoor lovers like us and typically avoid really touristy places, you might be asking yourself how to avoid Zermatt in order to just get straight to the mountains. We totally understand.
Unfortunately, it’s actually really difficult not to visit Zermatt when visiting the Matterhorn. The town is the main departure point with multiple cable cars giving easy access to incredible hiking and mountain biking trails, climbing routes, and the ever-present chalets in the Swiss Alps.
But trust us when we say you should give Zermatt a chance. It’s incredibly charming and definitely worth a day of exploration.