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What's the Matterhorn: A trip to Zermatt, Switzerland

03.03.2015
Topic Adventure Travel

What's the Matterhorn: A trip to Zermatt, Switzerland - Image

Have you dreamed of a romantic getaway in the Swiss Alps? Do you crave the fresh powder of mountainside ski slopes? Are you an experienced climber with a taste for adventure? The Matterhorn in Zermatt has all of this to offer - and more.

Instead of heading to a major city or following a cookie-cutter itinerary for Europe travel, consider spending a week surrounded by majestic mountains in Zermatt.

The town
The Matterhorn looks down on the Swiss town of Zermatt, a car-free municipality that's dedicated to mountain culture. According to the Zermatt Tourism Board, private cars have always been forbidden in the town. To get to Zermatt, you must take a train or specific taxi from Täsch, a town 5 kilometres outside of the destination where you can leave your car. Once you're in Zermatt, you can get around on foot, buses, horse-drawn carriages, bikes or taxis.

Many of Zermatt's attractions involve taking in the views available on the various surrounding mountains. The second most-recommended spot on TripAdvisor is Gornergrat Bahn, a tram that offers travellers an amazing panorama of the Swiss Alps.

Beyond hiking, skiing and riding along the steep and snowy mountains, you can check out St. Peter's Church, the mountaineers' cemetery and the Matterhorn Museum. Fodor's Travel explained that St. Peter's Church was built for English climbers who journeyed to Zermatt to take on the Matterhorn. The cemetery is nearby, where you're met by rows of graves from climbers who didn't make it. Visitors on TripAdvisor said a trip to the cemetery is a sobering experience, but it's great for history buffs. You can even see the gravestone for the oldest person to climb the massive mountain.

If you're interested in learning more about the history and evolution of Zermatt, stop by the Matterhorn Museum. According to Fodor's, this is where you can learn about the town through the ages, including firsthand accounts from past residents.

The mountain
Rising more than 4,000 metres above sea level on the border of Switzerland and Italy, the Matterhorn is one of the tallest mountains in the region. It's an excellent place for adventure travel, whether you're interested in hiking or skiing the behemoth.

The Switzerland Tourism Board explained that the Matterhorn is the highest skiing peak in Europe for summer skiing. With 21 kilometres of runs, six different chair lifts and the Gravity Park full of half-pipes and ramps, what else could you want? The season falls between June and November, when average high temperatures range from 5 to 16 degrees.

Hiking trails are available for all skill sets, from relatively flat woodsy walks near the base of the mountain to expert climbs to the summit. Make sure you have emergency medical travel insurance before you embark on any difficult hikes or climbs. Many people follow the Europe Route, with the Matterhorn as their ultimate destination. This trip takes about five days to complete and will lead you to altitudes of 3,700 metres. The Europe Route is available from June to October, when the weather is as temperate as it gets. With about 80 kilometres of hiking, there will be plenty of breathtaking views to feast your eyes on.

If neither skiing nor hiking is your thing, you can take a cable car up the mountain to a viewing platform, according to TripAdvisor. While it's much colder at the summit than on the ground, you can stop at various points along the mountainside as well. Check the weather before you make the trek though, because sometimes the sight-seeing deck is shrouded in clouds.