Beyond the slopes: three must-do activities in Zermatt, Switzerland

The pretty Swiss resort is well-known for its skiing, but offers a wealth of year-round activities, from discovering flora and fauna to culinary celebrations.

By The Omnia
Published 5 Mar 2020, 15:00 GMT
The Matterhorn with The Omnia in the foreground
The picture-perfect Swiss resort of Zermatt offers a wealth of experiences in both summer and winter — all best enjoyed during a stay at The Omnia.
Photograph by The Omnia

The Swiss village of Zermatt, located in the southernmost canton of Valais, is known for its crisp alpine air, spectacular skiing and breathtaking views of the Matterhorn. The picture-perfect resort also offers plenty of opportunities for summer sports, such as hiking and climbing. Here are three to inspire a getaway of your own.

1. Discover the Matterhorn
Whether you climb it or simply admire it from a distance, it would be remiss to visit Zermatt without taking in Switzerland’s most impressive mountain. At a huge 14,692ft high, only the most experienced rock climbers should consider tackling it, and the best season for the challenge is from late June to mid-September. But for those who aren’t quite mountaineers, a series of cable-cars can be taken up to the Matterhorn glacier paradise. And if you’d rather keep your feet firmly on the ground, the Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt offers excellent insight into the intrepid explorers who attempted its very first climb in 1865. 

2. Take a wildlife hike
There are countless hiking trails around Zermatt for a range of abilities and terrains, taking in glaciers and mountains, the hamlet of Wildi or snowshoeing trails through Swiss stone pine forest. But travellers wanting a glimpse of the local wildlife should try the chamois trail (trail Number 5), offering the chance to spot the chamois itself: a stocky-looking member of the goat-antelope species. Those who prefer flora over fauna should try the botanical trail, Number 31. This walk through high alpine pastures offers endless varieties of colourful flowers, including bright blue gentians in spring, then anemone and pasqueflower, and later edelweiss. Keep a look out for butterflies, that also abound in this picturesque landscape.

3. Immerse yourself in local cuisine
Best known for its excellent apres ski, Zermatt is a year-round hub of haute cuisine, with a range of Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as more casual dining experiences. For a true flavour of the region, try the Gondola Fondue — take a cable-car at sunset past the Matterhorn while feasting on oozing cheese fondue complemented by fine Valais wines. There’s also the ultimate foodie celebration, the Kitchen Party, where top chefs from the region come together to showcase their skills in front of a live audience. Finally, for those who like their food hard-won, there’s the Horugüet, a culinary hike through six mountain restaurants to sample different regional specialities. 

Double room at The Omnia — the hotel is a modern interpretation of a mountain lodge, with materials and craftsmanship reflecting Valais tradition and furnishings.
Photograph by The Omnia

Where to stay
Perched on a rock near the foot of the Matterhorn, The Omnia stands higher than all the other buildings in Zermatt, making it a unique base from which to take in the surrounding scenery. A modern interpretation of a mountain lodge, the hotel was designed by New York-based architect Ali Tayar with materials and craftsmanship reflecting Valais tradition and furnishings, all inspired by a dash of American modernism. Each room is a true home away from home, kitted out with Aesop skincare products and Tempur mattress.

Facilities at The Omnia are designed with comfort in mind, whether visitors spend their days skiing, hiking or simply enjoying Zermatt’s charms. With Michelin-star cuisine prepared by executive chef Hauke Pohl, guests can enjoy first-rate service and creative dishes such as mountain potato with mussels and salicornia or beef with beetroot, mustard and onion. Extensive wellness facilities are also on offer, including a Finnish sauna, outdoor whirlpool, spa treatments such as hot stone massage, sound and aromatherapy, as well as an indoor-to-open-air swimming pool to make the most of the alpine air.

This content is created for our partner. It does not necessarily reflect the views of National Geographic, National Geographic Traveller (UK) or its editorial staff.

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