Zermatt is a stylish, charming, car free ski resort which is rather expensive but otherwise totally deserves its reputation. Matterhorn view alone is a killer feature. However, there are some other tips you might need to know before getting ready for your Zermatt trip.
Zermatt a unique experience in many ways. First of all the scenery of Matterhorn itself is really impressive. In addition, Zermatt is an emission-controlled area that is car-free, which means no regular cars, or trucks are allowed in the town. So every vehicle in this cute town works with electricity. Yes, even the trucks and the buses are like that. This is really interesting because you feel like you are in a fun park where each car is like a cute small model of the regular ones. The whole village is like a giant cinema set in that regards.
The village is charming, not like some villages that spread to a vast area where you can find no real town centre. There are lots of shops and restaurants throughout the main street.
For foodies like me Zermatt also offers many alternatives. Especially the more local tastes like fondues and lamb varieties were my top picks. Remember, many of the restaurants in Zermatt are operated by hotels which almost all of them attracts customers other than their own guests.
The ski area of Zermatt is vast. There are 3 sections of the mountain that are connected to each other with the impressive lift system. The slopes were always free from queues in almost all stations thanks to the modern infrastructure.
With Matterhorn Paradise you can also reach to Cervino in Italy and ski there if you get the Italy option with the pass. The base station for the Matterhorn experience takes you first Furi and then the Schwarsee Paradise where you can ski down to Furi station. This area is a very suitable option for foodies. There are very nice chalet style restaurants here that offer excellent food.
For the Zermatt-Riffelberg-Gornegrat route, the Gornergrat train is a proper train that that you with a very romantic journey to up mountain from city center. It was the first time I see a train taking me to the top of the mountain to ski. Another uniqueness I associate with Zermatt.
The Sunnegga is a more convenient section of the mountain for more relaxed skiing if you ask me. By the time we were there, the weather was so cold and windy that this part gave us a more comfortable and warmer skiing chance. The après-ski at the bar of the hotel Cervo down at Zermatt is worth trying. One other quality of Zermatt is you can find some gourmet style mountain restaurants while skiing. The Findeln area while skiing down from Sunnegga offers many valuable options.
One final word about the ski area is that the Sunnegga-Rothorn part is well connected with many slopes to the Riffelalp-Riffelberg-Gornegrat section whereas the Furi-Schwarzsee-Matterhorn Paradise section is only linked from Furi to the Riffelberg area but from the Matterhorn Paradise this provides an option to ski at the slopes of Cervino Italy. I recommend you to plan your route of the day before going out to ski taking into account the weather conditions at the peaks at that day.
Entertainment & Nightlife:
Zermatt is a lively village but perhaps not overly in comparison to the vivid and vibrant scenes of St Anton, or Kitzbuhel nightlife. It has some very impressive après-ski options where you can enjoy a more upscale treatment whereas you can also have more informal feel at the crowded Papperla Pub for instance. At nights there are also plenty of options. Papperla Pub, the pub under hotel post and the bars and clubs within the hotel post complex are some examples.
Travel to Zermatt is vey convenient by train. Thanks to the impressive Swiss rail system you can take a train to Zermatt at the airports stations of Zurich or Geneva. From both destinations the journey lasts about 4 hours with one change. What I like most is the train station is at the centre of Zermatt and when your journey finishes you are right there in the village. No hassles.
In Town Transport:
There is a bus network that works like a ring in between 10 minutes of intervals inside the village which is very convenient if your hotel is a bit far from base lift station.
I always look for the distance of the base lifts to the hotel I am staying. In Zermatt this can be tricky because there are three main base stations. Each of them takes you to a separate section of the mountain and they are distributed like the corners of the triangle so it is hard to be close to everyone. Riffelbahn is located at the village centre; Sonnegga station is also closer to centre and the one takes you up the way to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is a bit more distant from the centre.
Value for Money:
Although Zermatt is a very good skiing resort I have to warn you before travelling to Zermatt that it is expensive. From lodging to restaurants, everything in Zermatt is more expensive than many popular resorts. This I am telling judging my previous trips to other popular alpine destinations in Europe.