On January 14-20, Dustin and I went on a snowboarding/ski trip to Zermatt Switzerland. This is a recap and summary of that trip; I love to share for my own journaling as well as to hopefully help anyone who might be planning a trip to Zermatt!
Both Dustin and I snowboard, but for brevity, I’m going to just say “ski” for most of this post.
Sunday, January 14: We flew from London to Zurich on Sunday, January 14th, arriving around 2 pm. We stayed just one night in the Hotel St. Josef, which was conveniently located near the train station, the canal/river, and the old town area.
It was a simple and small room, but it didn’t matter much since we were only there for one night. The hotel staff were very friendly- they stored our snowboards with them so they didn’t clog up the small room.
After arrival, we quickly changed and went for a 7 mile exploratory run through Zurich, mostly along the west side of Lake Zurich, and then a bit on the east side.
Post-run and shower, we bundled up and strolled through the charming town, stopping for a fun tiki cocktail at the Waiana Tiki bar in old town. Expensive drinks, but lots of vibes!
For dinner, we took the train out to a different part of Zurich to Restaurant Rosso for some really tasty pizza; it was a funky place, but worth the train ride.
Monday, January 15: In the morning, we went for another run around the lake, just 6 miles this time as the sun rose.
Our hotel stay included breakfast and had a nice spread, particularly Swiss muesli, which I really enjoyed. So much so, that we made a batch of our own when we got back to London! Great filling healthy breakfast. The Swiss do breakfast well!
Then it was off to the train station to begin our journey to Zermatt. We went from Zurich to Visp, switching trains there to head to Zermatt. It was a scenic train ride- definitely worthwhile!
Our friends from the U.S. who were joining us in Zermatt made the full journey, i.e. Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Zurich, then Zurich on the train to Zermatt all in one very long travel day.
We arrived in Zermatt around 2 pm, checked into our hotel, the Backstage Hotel right in the main area of Zermatt. Our hotel arranged pickup for us from the train station in a little electric buggy (no cars allowed in Zermatt!) However, we learned afterwards that the train station was actually quite walkable from the hotel, even with lots of luggage and snowboard bags.
We settled into our room and then grabbed a late lunch from the Brown Cow pub before exploring more of Zermatt.
Tuesday, January 16: Our first day on the mountain!
Since we are only skiing once a year here in Europe, I scheduled a 1/2 private snowboarding lesson to refresh and build back my confidence. Zermatt is an enormous mountain, so it was also helpful to have a bit of mountain guide to show me around for 3 hours! The rest of the skiers on the trip are advanced to expert, so I didn’t want to hold them up too much. I would consider myself an intermediate, at least in the Alps!
The lesson was booked through European Snowport, and it was expensive, but at my intermediate level, I think a private lesson is the way to go. A group lesson is just too divided on skill set.
My instructor, Isabelle, was actually an Australian who great up skiing in Italy. She was awesome!
After the lesson, I met up with the rest of the group for lunch, and we all skied together for the remainder of the day, ending with an apres-ski at Harry’s Bar in town.
That night we had a casual dinner at Grampi’s- great affordable (hard to find in Zermatt) place for a group.
Wednesday, January 17: Our second day on the mountain was, according to Strava, my longest snowboard activity recorded! Some runs were a full 5k long.
At the end of the day, we skied on a long catwalk to this Champagne Bar, which was so neat. Really enjoyed it.
That evening, we had dinner at Madre Nostre, an Italian restaurant in the CERVO Mountain Resort. It was lovely; we followed dinner with a drink or two at a few other bars in the village.
Thursday, January 18: Vicki and I met to try to run, but it had snowed a bit overnight and the roads were pretty slippery. We ran/walked about 2 miles before calling it.
This was our 3rd day in a row on the mountain and everyone was a bit tired and sore, so we all agreed to call in a day around 1:30 pm. We still did quite a few runs.
After calling it a day, Dustin and I stopped by the village creperie for a quick crepe:
Then we went for a run; the roads had been cleared, so we managed a quick 5k.
Then we explored and shopped in the village, had a street sausage- my friend Isabelle is Swiss and she said said its traditional for the sausage to be served on just a slice of bread. The sausage should be so good that the bread is just a side!
To be fair, it was delicious!
We did more browsing and wandering but stopping at the most charming wine bar, Ellie’s Wine Bar. Highly recommend.
That night, we had a full tasting menu at “After Seven,” a Michelin-starred restaurant in our hotel. It was great, though a very LONG meal. I was so full afterwards, but I’m glad we experienced some of the many fine dining options that Zermatt offers.
Friday, January 19: And here we were at the final day on the mountain. The previous three days had been too windy at the border, but on this day, the tram that would take you to where you could cross into Italy was finally open! So of course we had to do it.
What a fun novelty- snowboarding from Switzerland to Italy!
Here I am with a foot in each country!
Of course, everyone else had the same idea and was trying to ski the same routes into Italy and it was very crowded. And we were there during a very quiet period, post-Christmas holidays and before the school break in Europe. I can’t imagine how crowded it must be during the school break (i.e the equilavent of the U.S.’s spring break.) Honestly, going in January is fabulous as it really is not busy at all. The same was true last in at Val d’Isere in France, we went in mid-January and never had to wait until for a lift.
Speaking of lifts, the Zermatt infrastructure was incredible. There were SO many trams and gondolas, there were very few- if any- double chair lifts and the few chair lifts they did have were covered. And the exits from the chair lifts were all VERY gentle and controlled, which is awesome for an intermediate snowboarder like me. Many snowboarding injuries occur when one of your feet is unstrapped, like when getting off a chairlist so I appreciate when they are kind exits!
We didn’t stay in Italy very long, as the winds had picked up and we didn’t want to get stuck there!
We made our way back to Switzerland and did a few more runs there before stopping for a drink at the igloo bar.
For our last dinner in Zermatt, we had raclette. Very traditional!
Saturday, January 20: Dustin and I were up early to do another short run- one last photo of the Matterhorn!
Then we took the train back to Zurich, via a stop in Visp. We had some time to kill before our evening flight back to London, so we dropped off our bags at the airport and then took the train into town for a late lunch and a stroll. And then it was back to London.
What a fabulous trip!
Pros of skiing in Zermatt:
- Absolutely stunning. The prettiest place I have ever skied. I have not been to any other Europe mountains other than Val d’Isere last year so I’m sure there could be other places that are just as beautiful (maybe?) but the views of the Matterhorn were breathtaking and the way the resort was built into the mountain range made the views amazing every way you looked. I’ve skied quite a few of the US resorts but Zermatt was the most beautiful I’ve seen.
- The charm. The Swiss charm of the village was so lovely.
- Amazing restaurants- there are multiple Michelin-starred restaurants in Zermatt. There were cheaper options as well and casual places to eat.
- Shopping! Lots of cute stores in the village.
- Accessible for an intermediate skier or snowboarder. There are more advanced options, but I felt that most of the mountain was accessible, though it did mean that as a snowboarder, it might be a lot of catwalks
- The lovely infrastructure- the gondolas, trams, etc.
- The option to ski into another country! That was really cool.
Cons of Skiing Zermatt:
- It’s difficult to get to. Even for us coming from London, it was tricky. And for our American friends who met us there, it was quite a bit of travel. But I also think that’s part of the charm!
- The cost. CHF are strong right now so that made things a little more expensive, but I also believe Switzerland is expensive overall. Food, drink, acccomodations, etc. were all pricy. Lift tickets are still cheaper than the U.S. (I think 90 CHF/day, more if you wanted both Italy and Switzerland, and 5 CHF more if you want rescue insurance. But still pricier than other European mountains.
- No cars- I would consider this a pro, but if you want to drive to Zermatt, you have to park many miles away in a nearby town and still take a train.
- Even though its hard to get to, like any ski resort, it can get pretty busy during certain times I am sure.
- Some might say that Zermatt doesn’t have the party scene that other European resorts do, like Va d’Isere. But that was not a con for me, as I am over 40 and don’t need that. But if that’s important to you, Zermatt might not be the right place to go! The apres-ski that did exist was a bit classier than other places.
If you are planning a trip to Zermatt, please don’t hesitate to ask amny questions about our trip! It was a magical week in a beautiful part of the world that I am grateful to have visited.
(Visited 16 time, 2 visit today)
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