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The Matterhorn in Switzerland

March 22, 2011

Here’s a reprint of an article I recently wrote for Mamizeit online newsletter, a publication for international moms in Switzerland.

When we moved to Switzerland almost two years ago, my husband and I agreed our family’s first Swiss vacation could only be one to one place: the Matterhorn. Like those visiting our hometown of San Francisco must see the Golden Gate Bridge, we longed to set eyes on this Toblerone peaked mountain, to feel that we had indeed made it to Switzerland. This iconic emblem of the Alps is the most photographed mountain in the world, and Zermatt, the village at its base, is a tourist magnet attracting travelers from across the globe. While Zermatt is certainly not off the beaten track, it is a charmed spot in Switzerland, defined by the imposing presence of the Matterhorn.

Situated on the Italian border of the Valais canton, Zermatt is a car-free town which must be reached by train, or by an electric taxi for those who want to drive to the nearby town of Täsch, just 7 kilometers away. Zermatt is a picturesque village consisting of cobblestoned alleyways shooting off three main streets which house the majority of the shops and restaurants in town. Between the hotels and apartments, there are more than 13,500 visitor beds in town, but they do fill up quickly, so book early, unless you are planning to travel to Zermatt offseason.

Zermatt is perched high in the mountains at 1,620 meters and boasts 300 days of sunshine a year. Though be warned that the Matterhorn often plays coy, hiding behind the clouds, out of sight from its admirers. On our first visit, we had to wait a day before the mountain peak graced us with its presence. The wait built up our anticipation and when we finally saw the Matterhorn as we climbed the nearby mountain on the Gornergrat cog railway, we literally jumped out of our seats in admiration.

Zermatt is best known for its snow sports, offering the highest altitude skiing in the Alps, open year round. The village is surrounded by three major ski areas, offering great options for the beginner to the expert skier with over 390 kilometers of downhill skiing and links to Italy. Zermatt is a great destination for spring season, as it is guaranteed snow with ample ski terrain above 2200 meters, and on the longer spring days, it’s possible to ski until early evening. Apres-ski opportunities are plenty in Zermatt which offers bars, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and discos for all those looking for evening activities.

Non-skiers are not without entertainment in Zermatt. They can climb the surrounding mountains via cable cars or cob railway to get closer views of the Matterhorn. And in the summer, there’s hiking, biking, golfing and even zip lining at the Forest Fun Park. There are many, some might argue too many, tourists shops on Bahnhofstrasse in the main part of town. For those wanting to learn a little history, there’s the Alpine Museum which highlights the nail-biting journey of the first climber to successful ascend the Matterhorn, Edward Whymper.

The Matterhorn is one of our favorite places to take our visitors coming from overseas and it has never disappointed. The quaint village graced by the beauty of one of the most stunning mountains in the world promises a rejuvenating and fun-filled trip. And for those still looking for a vacation destination for this April, Zermatt is a top choice for spring skiing. There’s no wonder the Matterhorn remains one of the most popular spots in Switzerland!

For a Grin Travel photo album of Zermatt:
www.grintravel.com/GrinTravelPhotoAlbumMatterhorn.html

For more information on Zermatt or to book your family vacation to Switzerland, contact me at Grin Travel at: jennifer@grintravel.com

Jennifer Grinold
Travel Agent, Grin Travel
www.grintravel.com
www.facebook.com/grintravel

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 22, 2011 8:15 am

    Ah Zermatt, one of my favorite places in Switzerland! I agree that everyone should visit here and they won’t be disappointed even if the mountain never shows itself. I like being in the alpine region and enjoy just sitting outside soaking it all in.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. March 24, 2011 10:32 am

    The Matterhorn is definitely on my list! Good to know that it feels up so quickly. I was in Switzerland for the first time this past weekend in Schaffhausen and loved its charm and the small Swiss village charm we saw everywhere we went.

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