Zermatt, Switzerland: A Real Life Storybook Village

I feel that the best way to start off my blog is to talk about the most exciting time of my life: studying and traveling in Europe! How could I not. Travel is easily the thing I am most passionate about at the moment. Beware: if you ask me about my time abroad I will literally not shut up about it. I’d have to say that of all the places I visited, Zermatt, Switzerland was easily the most unique and beautiful. I don’t really think many Americans know much about it which is why I want to share my experience because IT SHOULD BE ON EVERYONE’S BUCKET LIST!!!

Background: 

For those of you who don’t know, Zermatt is a small town located in the southern part of Switzerland. It’s best know as the village that sits at the base of the world famous mountain, The Matterhorn (aka the mountain on the Toblerone chocolate bars). The town itself looks like it’s from a storybook. I highly recommend visiting when there is snow on the ground because it makes the town look all the more charming. It’s filled with many ski shops, both expensive and more affordable, a few restaurants, a lot of hotels, and of course a McDonalds. One of the most unique features is that there are no cars allowed. The village is definitely too small to fit cars and Switzerland in general is a very eco-friendly country. Instead they have these cute taxi-golf cart hybrids that you can take around the town!

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The river running through the middle of Zermatt

Traveling to Zermatt:

Getting to Zermatt is no easy task. It involves either a plane and a few trains, a car and a train, or only trains. I chose to take the train route mostly because it was the cheapest option and I wasn’t too far from the town to begin with. I started my journey in Florence, Italy and took the Frecciarossa train from the Santa Maria Novella station to Milano Centrale. From there I traveled on another train to Domodossola from Milan. THEN I took the Basel SBB train to Brig, Switzerland. ***You can buy the tickets for the Italian trains on Trenitalia.com; however, buy the Swiss tickets on the SBB app on your phone!! AND MAKE SURE YOU PURCHASE THE FULL PRICE TICKET. I accidentally purchased the half-price tickets (only for certain people). The ticket lady made me purchase the full price one from my phone on the train. I was lucky because typically if you don’t have the right ticket they will give you a hefty fine! You can then buy your ticket to Zermatt at the ticket machines in the Brig Bahnhofplatz station. Now this is where the trip starts to feel like a storybook. The train ride from Brig to Zermatt is absolutely breathtaking. You wind around the sides of mountains and through tunnels, while making stops at the cutest little towns. In about an hour and half you will have reached the fairytale village that is Zermatt!

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A little village we passed on the train from Brig to Zermatt

The Do’s and Dont’s of Zermatt:

I’ll begin with the do’s!

  1. Stay at the Best Western Hotel Butterfly! This is where I stayed while I was there and it was so quaint and charming. There is also a complimentary breakfast buffet served in the morning. However, if you are able to spend more money I would definitely recommend staying at one of the more luxury hotels in Zermatt, such as the Firefly.
  2. Do the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise whether you ski or not! Travel to the chairlift, which is located in the opposite direction of the train station. Here you can get your tickets. They have options for both skiers and non-skiers. Once you have your ticket, you can then board the lift which takes you up to the ski lodge. It was a breath-taking experience to watch Zermatt shrink below you as you ascend higher and higher into the Swiss Alps!
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    The ski lift heading straight for the Matterhorn
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    The view of Zermatt from the top of the lift

    From the ski lodge you can take another larger lift called the Rothorn to a higher peak. I recommend going out onto the observatory deck, which is located 12,740ft above sea level! From here you have a beautiful view of the Matterhorn.

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    The observatory deck

    The entrance to the glacier paradise is up here as well. You take an elevator down to a tunnel that leads inside the glacier. At the end of the tunnel there are a few rooms with many different ice sculptures for you to take pictures with. Overall, this was my favorite experience in Zermatt!

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    The tunnel into the glacier!
  3. Do eat at Snowboat and the Wallisterstube! The food at both places was fantastic. Definitely try the cheese fondue at Wallisterstube, it’s incredible and a Swiss classic. The atmosphere in both places was very cozy and intimate. Be sure to make reservations well in advance because they are pretty popular and quite small!

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    Cheese fondue at Wallisterstube
  4. Do bring a lot of warm clothes especially if you are going in the fall or winter. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY FREEZING!
  5. Lastly, be prepared to spend a good amount of money. Obviously it’s up to every individual to decide how much they want to spend, but in general Switzerland is quite pricey!

I only have one don’t!

  1. Do not get a facial at the Mirabeau Hotel!! It was literally the worst facial I’ve ever had. The esthetician barely steamed my face before squeezing the crap out of it. After she asked if I wore foundation and I said yes. BIG MISTAKE. She then proceeded to slather my face in foundation. I was dumbfounded…..who puts foundation on immediately after getting a facial? I mean it could have been a cultural difference in the way facials are performed; however, it went against everything I have learned about how to properly take care of your skin.

In Conclusion: 

Zermatt was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that I will always remember. The town is nothing like I ever could have imagined. If you’re an avid skier, Zermatt is a must! If you’re not, find friends who are and tag along on their holiday!! If you have any more questions about Zermatt or my experience feel free to leave a comment.

Much love,

Jill

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