Head to Zermatt, Switzerland for spectacular powder runs, stunning trails and the romantic charm of an idyllic Alpine village.
Walt Disney was inspired by the majestic sharp mountain in southern Switzerland and copied it for the famous Disneyland ride. It’s easy to fall in love with the Swiss winter, especially in the shadow of the magic mountain.
The excitement begins on the train ride up the steep valley to the car-free, glitzy resort town of Zermatt. Couples, families and hikers coming for the day watch out the windows to catch the first glimpse of the magnificent mountain piercing the blue sky on the horizon.
The To-Do List
Doors are open at numerous deluxe hotels, such as the five-star Grand Hotel Zermatterhof (member of the Swiss Deluxe Hotels). We did not want to spend a fortune on accommodation (which can be easily done in Zermatt) so we booked a typically Swiss, family-owned wood chalet. The Hotel Matterhornblick is a favorite among repeat visitors year-round. Rooms have fluffy down comforters, some with views of the Matterhorn. The hotel is centrally located to all the towns restaurants and bars, and to the different modes of transport up the mountain for skiing (train, gondola, etc).
After a day of skiing or hiking indulge yourself in the complimentary hotel spa. Soak in the bubbling jacuzzi, or detox in the steam or dry sauna rooms.
Hike, Ski, Mountain Bike.
Winter Adventure on a Snowcat
Skiers wake up every morning to freshly groomed runs. The perfect slopes are the handiwork of trail groomers, who spend their night alone in the mountains with their 430 horsepower snowcats – far from the village, connected with civilization by radio only. Some (gutsy men and women) dream of rumbling across the ski slopes in a snowcat. In Zermatt, anybody who wants to make this dream come true can do so – for one night. Bundle up and check out a snowcat adventure.
Hiker’s Paradise Too.
In the summer months it is possible to photograph over 1,000 species of wildflowers. If you’re lucky, you might spot the fuzzy, white Edelweiss, celebrated in the song “Edelweiss ” in the movie The Sound of Music.
One of the best meals we had in Switzerland was at the rustically charming Restaurant Schaferstube. It was highly recommended by locals, and we had to wait a day to snag a reservation for one of the candle-lit tables in the cozy downstairs restaurant at the Hotel Julien. Culinary highlights include the local lamb. It is not just local – it is raised by your host.
The owner, Paul Julen, who greets and serves you, owns a herd of 300 long-haired black nose sheep, similar to those you saw grazing in steep green pastures on your train ride up the mountain to Zermatt.
Local specialties on the menu include creamy fondue or raclette, made from Zermatt mountain cheese, venison, wild boar, (in season) and homemade organic bread often made over an open fire. And don’t pass up the homemade dark and decadent chocolate mousse for dessert.
We bought a Swiss Pass for the train and traveled seamlessly from the Zurich International Airport to Zermatt. Zermatt is 2 hours from the Bern International Airport and 3 1/2 from Zurich.
For more information check out the Zermatt Tourism Site with an Activity Planner.
More ideas and tips are found in my book Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide, published by National Geographic.