Zermatt, Switzerland, is often associated with winter sports and skiing. However, the charming town at the base of the Matterhorn is equally as enchanting in the summer months. Here are six reasons why visiting Zermatt in the summer should be on your travel bucket list!
With an abundance of hiking and biking trails, breathtaking views of the surrounding Alps, and a variety of outdoor activities and events, Zermatt offers a unique and unforgettable summer experience. Whether you’re an avid adventurer or just looking for a peaceful getaway, Zermatt has something to offer everyone.
The last time I posted about Switzerland, my friend Christina and I had just left the Aletsch Arena and were traveling by train from Brig to Zermatt with our Swiss Rail Passes. We were excited to see the Matterhorn, but we discovered so much more to love about a Zermatt Switzerland summer!
Christina and I were hosted by Valais-Wallis Tourism, Alex Grill, and Hotel Alex in Zermatt, Switzerland. We were also provided with Swiss Passes for rail transportation, thanks to Switzerland Tourism.
Number 6: Getting to Zermatt is Easy
Zermatt is within easy distance of many Swiss towns and cities via the Glacier Express train or by car.
It is less than 3 ½ hours from Milan by car, and just under 4 hours from Brig via train. Traveling from Geneva to Zermatt will take 3 ½ to 4 hours by car or train.
The Swiss trains are immaculate, and of course, always on time. Connections from other major cities are generally every 30 minutes. They offer observation cars with large windows allowing for fabulous views of the countryside. The time passes quickly as there are stunning views of the area no matter which side of the train you’re sitting on.
Number 5: Comfortable, Inviting, Family-Owned Hotels
If you are spending your summer holidays in the Alps, you’ll find no shortage of boutique hotels in Zermatt. Many Zermatt hotels seem to be family owned, which gives the area a small-town feel.
We stayed at The Alex hotel, founded by Alex Perren in 1960 and still run by a second generation of Perrens. Fun fact: Alex is a descendant of the first person to climb the Matterhorn!
Christina Perren is a fixture at the front desk. It’s clear that the Perren family takes great pride in the history of The Alex and the comfort of their guests.
The lobby is large, but feels very intimate. It has several small sitting arrangements tucked into cozy corners with fireplaces and reading nooks. Everywhere you look, you’ll find unique treasures, carved wood, warm fabrics, and artifacts. In the bar, the stools are carved into mountain goats. There’s even a spot to play pool or a game of cards.
Our rooms had adjoining balconies and offered spectacular views of the Matterhorn. The rooms are uniquely Swiss, with comfy beds, deluxe linens, and intricate carved wood detail throughout.
The morning after we checked in, we went down to the light and airy breakfast room, and indulged in The Alex’s extensive breakfast buffet. In addition to traditional breakfast items you’d find in an American style hotel, you’ll find a large selection of cold meats, sausages and cheeses. We both started the day with cappuccinos and croissants.
Number 4: Summer in Zermatt is Ideal for the Adventure Seeker
The Swiss love to stay active. It seems as though they walk everywhere! Our guide, Amadé, was fit and trim, and could have out-hiked, out-biked and out-walked the both of us!
A Zermatt summer is an adventurer’s dream. The Valais region of Switzerland has over 45 peaks that reach over 4,000 meters (2 1/2 miles) high, including the Matterhorn.
The Alps are the perfect setting for hiking, mountaineering, biking and trekking. Walking is easy here, and Christina and I clocked more than a dozen miles every day.
Even if you aren’t into hiking, there are trams and gondolas that will take you up the mountain where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views.
On our second day in Zermatt, we were blessed to have Amadé Perrig as our guide to Zermatt and Gornergrat. Amadé met us in the lobby of the Hotel Alex right after our breakfast. He is well-known around the Valais region and Zermatt where he lives during the summer.
Amadé’s family was one of the founding families of Brig. He’s also the former president of the Swiss Tourism Board, so we could not have asked for a more knowledgeable and lovely guide! It just so happened to also be my birthday. It was easily one of the most memorable birthdays ever!
Number 3: Fabulous Food and Wine
The region cultivates 50 different grape varieties which grow in the varied terrain. The vineyards produce traditional wines like Syrah, and Pinot Noir, but also blends which are distinct to the region.
Unlike California or French wines, which are produced in vast quantities for export, the smaller crops mean that you’ll find wines in Switzerland that you might not find elsewhere. In fact, everywhere we went in Switzerland had fabulous wine.
Needless to say, the food in Zermatt is some of the best, with 17 restaurants listed in the Gault & Millau guide Switzerland, which showcases excellence in food and service.
If you’re looking for Michelin quality restaurants, Zermatt boasts two restaurants with Michelin stars, and several with Michelin “plates.” I just learned about Michelin “plates,” which are an indicator of “good, quality cuisine”. Considering how difficult it is to earn just ONE Michelin star, this is still quite an honor. One restaurant that has a Michelin plate is the Alex Grill, where Christina and I ate on our first night in Zermatt.
The Alex Grill is in the Hotel Alex, which is super convenient. The restaurant is located below the breakfast room and lobby, but that’s because it’s on the ground floor. So we were fortunate to be seated right next to a window where we could enjoy the Zermatt summer evening view.
We both started with the antipasto plate which had burrata, air-cured meat, and tomatoes.
For our entrees, Christina had pasta and I had duck with cherries. I always choose duck when it’s on a menu, because it’s something I never prepare at home.
For dessert, we both had the dessert trio, which was beautifully presented, and even had bits of gold leaf on one of the desserts.
On the day we visited the Matterhorn, we stopped for lunch at the Restaurant Alphitta, located in Riffelalp just below the Riffelalp Resort. Situated with a perfect view of the Matterhorn, we opted for the patio and the warm sun.
We started with antipasto, bread and Swiss wine (of course!), followed by wienerschnitzel with Swiss rosti and salad. If that weren’t enough, we had apple strudel (apfelstrudel) and boozy coffee, followed by a shot of limoncello, which I was told is a must for your birthday! I certainly wasn’t going to say no to a Swiss tradition!
We spent a leisurely lunch chatting with the charming Amadé. I love the European way of dining. Nothing is hurried. The meal and conversation is relaxed. We spent the better part of the afternoon enjoying the views of the Matterhorn and valley.
Number 2: Zermatt in the Summer Offers Incredible Flora and Fauna
The Valais region of Switzerland, where Zermatt is located, boasts more than 4,000 species of animals and thousands of varieties of plants. We were fortunate to be there in late June and it seemed as though every flower and bush was in bloom.
One of the best things to do in Zermatt in summer is to seek out the Valais Blacknose sheep and Herens cows that are part of the Swiss landscape. This was one of the highlights. These beautiful sheep roam the hillsides and are easy to spot.
Christina and I were thrilled when our guide, Amadé, took us on a hike to see these beautiful sheep. I think we would have both been happy to play in a sea of sheep for the entire afternoon.
And the Number 1 Reason to Visit Zermatt? The Matterhorn!
Seriously. The Matterhorn alone is reason enough to visit Zermatt in the summer! This famous mountain is on the border between Switzerland and Italy.
The Himalayas have Mr. Everest, Japan has Mt. Fuji, Tanzania has Kilimanjaro, and Switzerland has the Matterhorn. While I haven’t been to the other three, the Matterhorn is different because of how accessible it is for non-trekking tourists. You don’t have to be an experienced hiker or purchase special gear to get a pretty amazing view!
There are several ways to visit the Matterhorn:
- Hiking: The most popular way to visit the Matterhorn is by hiking. There are several hiking trails that lead to the base of the mountain, including the Matterhorn Trail and the Europaweg Trail.
- Cable car: Cable cars, such as the Matterhorn Express and the Klein Matterhorn Cable Car, will take you up the mountain. The observation points offer excellent views of the valley and the peak.
- Helicopter: If you want to see the Matterhorn from above, you can splurge for a helicopter tour of the mountain!
What is the weather in Zermatt in the summer? High temperatures are typically in the mid-50s (F), but when you visit the Matterhorn, it’s significantly colder.
We visited in late June and had been traveling all over Switzerland, including Lugano, which was warm. I couldn’t pack cold weather gear in my carry-on. We both had to make do with light sweaters and long sleeve t-shirts.
Was it cold at the top? Yes. Would I have liked an extra layer? Yes. But we managed just fine. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have brought an extra layer.
I was too busy soaking in the immense views to think about being cold. I just kept thinking to myself, “I’m at the Matterhorn!”
I hope you’ll consider Zermatt in the summer as an excellent vacation destination in Switzerland! If you need help booking your trip, the following sites not only sponsored this trip, but offer excellent information on all things Swiss!
- Switzerland Tourism Board (My Switzerland)
- Valais Tourism Board
- Hotel Alex, Zermatt
- Restaurant Alphitta