Be awed by the mighty Matterhorn in this beautiful care-free Swiss resort
The compact town of Zermatt in the Valais region of southern Switzerland sits in the shadow of the country's most iconic mountain: the Matterhorn. In fact the town is almost entirely surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery, including Switzerland's highest peak; Monte Rosa. For this reason Zermatt is a haven for skiers, climbers, mountaineers and hikers but, thanks to a law prohibiting petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles the town is mercifully free of traffic noise - any vehicles are electrically powered - and air pollution.
A settlement beneath the Matterhorn has existed since at least the thirteenth-century, but it wasn't until the successful conquest of the mountain by British climbers in 1865 that Zermatt began to find international popularity as a tourist destination.
Today, the town is a vibrant and picturesque gateway to the mountains. Numerous walking and hiking trails lead from the town towards the Matterhorn, whilst a series of cable cars carries passengers to the summit of Klein Matterhorn which boasts the highest observation platform in Europe. At an elevation of almost four thousand metres, visitors gain unforgettably spectacular mountain views.
A lack of traffic makes Zermatt itself a pleasure to explore on foot and visitors are rewarded with a host of historic buildings, interesting attractions, souvenir shops and excellent bars and restaurants.