2019 in Europe – Our top tips
08/10/2018 · By Jack Stacey
Stay ahead and be in the know about the hottest holiday spots for 2019. We've done the research for you, so discover what's trending right here and book!Read more
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.
This state-of-the-art and interactive museum traces Zermatt's history from ancient farming village to modern-day snow-sports resort, giving an insight into various aspects of life in Zermatt through the ages and recounting the story of the various attempts - successful and otherwise - to conquer the Matterhorn.
This scenic cog railway snakes from Zermatt to the summit of nearby Gornergrat. At an elevation of just over three thousand metres, passengers obtain stunning panoramic views of the Matterhorn and its glaciers and the Monte-Rosa range.
Reached by cable-car, the Glacier Palace is actually built within a glacier and is accessed via a tunnel of ice. In this unique environment visitors can learn about the formation of glaciers and the construction of the Glacier Palace as well as admiring many intricate and detailed ice sculptures, statues and carvings.
In a tranquil and pretty setting, visiting the Mountaineers' Cemetery is both an interesting and moving experience. Every headstone recalls a mountaineer's life lost to the Matterhorn or one of its surrounding mountains; a poignant reminder that the peaks surrounding Zermatt can be as treacherous as they are beautiful.