Visited: April 2016
Zermatt is a quaint village nestled between the Swiss & Italian alps and is home to the famous Matterhorn, which draws in a lot of visitors throughout the year. It is a beautiful scenic resort, not only up in the mountains but the village as well has a lot to offer.
Zermatt has A LOT to offer and is a great resort for snowboarders of all levels. It is one of the tallest resorts in Europe, with the village starting at 1,620m. This is great as it means good snow all year round but can get beginners with a bit of altitude sickness.
So the first thing to note: to get to the bottom station, you have to do some form of walk or bus ride - there is no ski in/ski out from the village. This can be a bit of a pain depending on where you are staying, however we just considered it a nice warm up. There are two options on ascending the mountain - the gondola or the funicular. Both are great options & can get busy during peak times in the morning. The funicular (and gondola) can get you to the top of the Gornergrat with a stop at Riffelberg, which has some great mellow runs in that area and you can snowboard back down into the village on via a nice red run; definitely an advanced beginner - intermediate run. Riffelberg is a nice base if you are staying on the Zermatt side and has a restaurant where on a clear day has a great view of the Matterhorn.
In the middle of the runs off the Gornegrat there is a little badass igloo hotel & bar, which is definitely worth a visit.
Using the gondola, you can go all the way to Kleine Matterhorn & snowboard all the way into Cervinia, Italy. There are some challenging routes (for beginners) at the top but as you drop lower down, there is a gorgeous area of blues, which on a sunny day can keep you going until last lift. You can avoid the harder section by taking a T-bar up, however be warned that it is long!
If you are going to go over to Italy I advise that you start early & make it back for the last gondola, which is around 4pm otherwise you can get stuck and pay a hefty taxi fee trying to get back to Zermatt.
Compared to other resorts we've stayed in, Zermatt village is huge! It is dotted with hotels, bars, restaurants, shops, supermarkets & bakeries and is a really nice place visit even without the winter sports aspects. Disclaimer: it is an expensive. Zermatt is definitely on the side of luxury when it comes to taking a holiday & that is definitely something to bear in mind. There are affordable ways to visit i.e. a lot of locals live there so there are some options on AirBnB and cooking your own meals and shopping at the supermarket is a viable option! However if you are looking for something "cheap" and cheerful - Zermatt might not be the answer. Having never stayed there I can't say for sure but perhaps the Cervinia side offers a more affordable option to the same ski resort?
Travelling to Zermatt has complications but not impossible. The first complication comes with the fact that only electric cars are permitted into the Zermatt village. There is a train station which has frequently running trains that can get you up & down the mountain and from there, there are trains to all major airports. You just have to be comfortable with travelling with luggage on the busy trains. In town, everything really is in a walking distance, however there are lots of taxis to help with transporting luggage/food shops, a free shuttle bus & presumably hotel car services.
Being open throughout the summer, Zermatt is a popular tourist destination all year around. We visited in April and even though the resort was busy, we were never too blocked in on the pistes. To avoid the rushes, I would recommend travelling in December or end of April or just be prepared for a bit of a hustle.
So to sum up, we had a brilliant time in Zermatt & would definitely return. Especially if there is snow forecasted as it is so high up, it has great quality snow!
Hope you enjoyed this one & catch you in the next one.