Zermatt: Gateway to the Alps
Zermatt is an alpine village in the south-west Vallais region of Switzerland, full of chocolate-box charm and surrounded by a stunning mountain backdrop. A favorite amongst the walking community for over a century, the area boasts sparkling lakes, pine-strewn hillsides, and the Matterhorn’s impressive silhouette.
There are over 250 miles of marked trails to choose from, and Zermatt center is entirely car-free, making Zermatt holidays an ideal starting point for walkers of all abilities.
Two mountaineers climb the ridge of Breithorn, in Monte Rosa Massif.
For those who wish to enjoy the scenery without suffering the arduous climbs, there are various rail and cable services from the village which ascend heights of up to 12,533 feet.
The truly unique Gornergorge is only a twenty-minute stroll from the village; the railed bridges and viewing platforms also make this a great option for families. Here, visitors can take in breathtaking waterfalls and amazing rock formations left in the wake of the river Gornera over thousands of years.
A popular choice for those wanting more of a challenge is to take the underground railway to Sunnegga and walk back to Zermatt via a looping route that takes in native marmots, a host of butterflies, and idyllic alpine lakes.
From the village, the moderate circular hike to the hamlet of Zmutt is possible in under three hours, trekking through pine forest trails and across expansive pastures.
The more adventurous traveler would be well-advised to look in at the Alpin Center, where you can take a guided climb up the glaciers of Breithorn and around the gorges of Riffelhorn.
Or if going it alone, the day-long trek from Schwarzsee (accessible by cable car) is certainly a challenge but worthwhile for the incomparable views of the Matterhorn, seemingly only inches away.
Of course, the famous peak of the Matterhorn is a must for hardcore mountaineers, although it is advisable to acclimatize for a week first.
So whatever your fitness level or experience, Zermatt is ideally placed for a walking holiday, providing the perfect gateway to the Alps.