The Heart of the Matterhorn: THE DETAILS

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Fly to Geneva, Switzerland (direct from JFK on Swiss International and American), or Milan-Malpensa, Italy (direct from Chicago or JFK on Alitalia or Delta), then take the train to Zermatt. Check for train schedules and to book tickets. Don't bother renting a car; you can't bring it nearer than four miles to town.


There are 116 hotels in Zermatt. The Grand Hotel Zermatterhof ($364-$1,582; 011-41-27-966-6600; ) is one of the town's finest, but many visitors prefer the intimate friendliness and comparative affordability of family-run hotels such as the Alpenhof ($186-$346; 011-41-27-966-5555;, the Perren ($144-$398; 011-41-27-966-5200; ) or the Coeur des Alpes ($144-$558; 011-41-27-966-4080; ). Hotels in Zermatt include breakfast; many offer half-board, which also includes dinner.


You couldn't cover it all in a month. Try traditional Swiss fare at the Schà¤ferstübli and nouvelle Swiss at Le Mazot. Lunch is Zermatt's signature dining experience. Don't miss Chez Vrony, the Findlerhof or Zum Zee. Reservations are necessary at all of these; have your hotelier or guide make them in advance.


Kick back at Blatten, rock to live bands at the Hennu Stall (a.k.a. the Chicken Coop), get rowdy at Hexenbar or relax in a civilized fashion at Elsie's.

NIGHTLIFE For cocktails and conversation head to Mood's or Vernissage. For dancing, check out the Brown Cow, the Broken Disco or the T-Bar.

CUTTING LOOSE Zermatt's heliskiing is the plume in its Alpine hat. Book through the Alpin Center Zermatt (011-41-27-966-2460;

KICKING BACK Get wrapped in hot Swiss hay or try a "Cleopatra" mud bath at the Alpenhof (011-41-27-966-5555;

DON'T MISS The view from the top of the Klein Matterhorn and a walk through its adjacent crevasse.

WHEN TO GO December and January are very cold. February and March are milder, with plenty of good snow. Avoid European school vacations, which fall within the first three weeks of February.