We are headed to Zermatt, one of Switzerland’s most magical ski resorts, in just a few short weeks and have pretty much been drooling over any and all email correspondence regarding our trip signed “with kind regards from the sunny Matterhorn!” In other words, we can’t wait. Here are 5 things we learned through our pre-trip research that you might not have known.
THERE IS SNOW 365 DAYS A YEAR
Zermatt has the longest winter season in the Alps, running from the end of November until the beginning of May. You can still ski the majority of the mountain as late as April (sometimes even until 6pm this time of year) and its huge glacier offers over 15 miles of pistes and eight ski lifts that remain open all summer. Due to its extreme altitude and extensive summer snow area, Zermatt often hosts international ski and snowboard teams practicing their craft – so in the warmer months, you may very well find yourself carving alongside a future Olympian or two.
NO CARS ARE ALLOWED
The entire town is pedestrian only, which means if you have a car you’ll need to leave it in nearby Täsch and take a train the rest of the way. This only adds to Zermatt’s charm, a pretty alpine village with old-fashioned Swiss chalets, winding alleys and horse-drawn cabs. Not to worry if you’re traveling with a lot of ski gear — many of the hotels will pick you up from the train station in their electric vehicles if you arrange this in advance.
YOU CAN SKI OVER TO ITALY FOR LUNCH
It’s not every day you have the opportunity to cross a border on skis — but in Zermatt, this is a viable option. Getting there is as simple as taking the Klein Matterhorn cable car up to the Theodul glacier, then skiing over the Plateau Rosa into Cervinia. On the Italian side you’ll find long, wide and magnificently groomed runs — and your slopemates may suddenly turn a little more boisterous and exuberant. There’s no border post but remember to take your passport just in case, and keep one eye on the clock so you dont miss the last lift back to the Swiss side. It’s a long and expensive cab ride (read: 4-5 hours) back to Zermatt.
THEY HOST AN ANNUAL ACOUSTIC MUSIC FESTIVAL
Zermatt Unplugged is an acoustic music festival that was first launched in 2007 and has since become an annual event. Past performers have included some big names such as Alanis Morissette, Billy Idol and Lionel Richie. This year, over 45 artists including Aloe Blacc, Katie Melua, Jamie Cullum and Band of Horses will appear on 13 stages (including a few outdoor venues with a stunning Matterhorn backdrop) over the course of the week, beginning on April 8th. Sadly, we will miss it by just a few days but hey, there’s always next year.
YOU CAN STAY OVERNIGHT IN AN IGLOO
If you’ve always dreamed of sleeping overnight in an igloo, this may be your chance. Iglu-Dorf Zermatt is the village’s very own igloo hotel, made completely out of snow and ice and rebuilt from scratch each year. Guests are pampered with homemade mulled wine and traditional cheese fondue and romantic igloos, each one designed by a different international artist, are laid out with warm lambskins. Kids are also welcome — their youngest guest was allegedly just 19 months (and their oldest, 82 years.)
all photos courtesy of Zermatt Tourism