If you were to close your eyes and picture what Switzerland looks like – what would you picture? Snow covered mountains, rolling hills, Heidi perhaps; wooden structures perched high on picturesque landscapes, the Matterhorn, cheese, chocolate, skiing, cows, touristy towns, and epic outdoor adventure. That about sums it up and Zermatt seems to have all of those treats wrapped up into one delightful package. But many people might just skip over Zermatt for the influx of tourists – fair enough – there are loads of tourists, but to bypass this area, is to miss one of the main wonders that is Switzerland.
With incredible high alpine trails, virtually untouched lakes, the Matterhorn, remarkable outdoor opportunities, a quaint, yet bustling downtown, delicious food and great hotels, why neglect this incredible region?
Consider staying just outside of the downtown area or at the incredible 3100 Kulmhotel (see Weekend Retreat) where the amount of people seems to be lighter and you can soak in the views.
The trails are abundant and while on a recent trip this summer, we noticed most were virtually absent of people. In fact, while hiking on the Marmot theme trail, we might have counted roughly five others while hiking for over two hours. See, the trick is, tourists often want the easy route accessible by gondola or train with little to no real effort required. They want to see the sights, take the photos and check the high traffic areas off of their “Bucket List,” but if you know this going into it, then the joy is found in the trails the tourists would never touch.
And if you are wondering whether or not Zermatt is a destination for the entire family, we can easily say “yes!” With a four–year–old and a one-year-old at our sides, they were rather happy during our trip. The Sunnegga playground and lake (Leisee) is a great place to play, picnic, swim, and take plenty of photos of the Matterhorn. With the underground funicular, you can easily be at the location in three minutes. Despite this, the location seemed mostly populated by families and not your typical tourist. This location is the deal starting point for some of the areas theme trails such as, the Flower Trail, or the Five Lakes Path.
The lakes in the area provided natural playgrounds for our son and daughter, who spent countless hours throwing stones, dipping their feet into the water and snacking in the most scenic of locations. The downtown restaurants catered to children and made child – sized portions available to our little ones.
Having all of that said, the trails in Zermatt are not stroller friendly at all. We didn’t even bring our sturdy BOB with us on this trip. Appropriate outdoor gear is a must as the higher you climb, the colder the weather gets. Some of the trails were a bit sketchy in areas (steep drop offs, rocky climbs, etc.) We had our youngest firmly strapped to our back on most trails and our son securely fastened with a harness. But if hiking with little ones isn’t your thing, there is plenty to do at lower elevations.
Zermatt is the quintessential Switzerland you have heard about. With incredible views, charm to boot and food to leave you anxious to hike miles, just to indulge once again. Don’t skip over this incredible location – we are almost certain you will be happy you paid the area a visit!
Time of Year: July
Duration: 3 Days
Where We Stayed: Hotel Phoenix – Great hotel – clean, quiet, nice size room for our family of four. No services available for children, but we didn’t mind, as the area provided plenty of opportunity to play in nature.
Child Friendly? The area has playgrounds and lakes that are fun for children.
How we got there: Basel to Zermatt via train
Favorite Hike: Hmmm…that is hard. They were all incredible!
Would We Return? Yes – this is a beautiful area!