Information & Facts
Although Zermatt is a holiday resort dedicated to skiing, there
are plenty of other winter sports and indoor pursuits to keep
everyone busy. Hiking paths can be tackled even in winter, or those
who can't balance on skis can hire a sled from their hotel and
toboggan down the trails. A great way to get some exercise and
explore the area is to take one of the walking tours arranged by
the local tourist office. Sleigh rides and dog sledding are also
popular diversions. Indoors there are seven swimming pools and 17
saunas distributed through the various hotels, and indoor sports
like tennis, squash and even golf can be enjoyed. The village also
sports two ice rinks and a fascinating museum devoted to
The three official languages are Swiss German, French and
Italian. A few people speak Romansch, but this is confined to the
southeastern corner of the country. Most people know at least three
languages, including English.
The official currency is the Swiss franc (CHF) divided into 100
rappen (German) or centimes (French). Although not part of the EU
many prices are nonetheless indicated in Euros and some merchants
may accept Euros. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely
accepted and ATMs are widespread; many are equipped with the Cirrus
or Maestro system. Banks offer the best exchange rates for
travellers cheques and foreign currency, but it is also possible to
exchange money at major hotels, main train stations and airports.
Banks are open Monday to Friday.
Zermatt is not a resort for beginners and the ski school has a
poor reputation. Getting up the mountain and around the different
ski areas can be slow, and the waiting time for lifts during the
peak holiday season can be long. Some of the expert slopes only
open in January or early February.
On a Zermatt holiday, the evening fun begins when skiers are
wending their way down the slopes heading home, stopping off to
warm up with schnapps or a mug of hot spiced wine in one of the
stubli. In Zermatt itself, restaurants tend not to open
too early, so before dinner drinks are called for at one of the
multitude of bars hidden away in the village alleys, or the firelit
pubs in the hotels. To dance off the effects of dinner later there
are discos aplenty. The hottest spot in town is the Post Hotel,
which has a disco and a jazz bar. Moby Dick, in the Schweizerhof,
and Pollux are also happening spots.
The holiday hub of Zermatt excels particularly in the area of
fine dining, with a multitude of options, but those who prefer
something a little more basic can also find McDonalds in the Main
Street. The most charming dining experiences are offered at the
mountain restaurants in little villages (like Sunnegga, Rothorn and
Findeln) surrounding the town, where quaint chalets have been
turned into gourmet kingdoms and view sites topped with terraces
offer hearty snacks and warming drinks. The mountain restaurants
specialise in luncheons, and reservations are advisable.
In Zermatt itself there are plenty of restaurants throughout the
town. Regarded as one of the best is the Rôtisserie La Broche in
the Zermatterhof, with prices to match its elegant and flawless
reputation. Part of the Zermatt experience is to enjoy a
traditional Swiss fondue (either meat or cheese). The Stockhorn
Grill Room is highly recommended for fondue, as is the Café Du Pont
set at the south end of the main street. Homegrown lamb is another
local speciality, prepared in a variety of delicious ways.
For an excellent budget meal while on holiday in Zermatt, the
station buffet (Bahnhofbuffet-Panorama) is a good bet, offering a
buffet 'menu of the day'.
Switzerland is renowned for high quality products, and most of
them are on offer in the dozens of classy shops that line the main
street of Zermatt. Price tags are heavy. Favourite holiday buys are
of course souvenirs, from fine Swiss watches to the classic Swiss
army knife, or perhaps a T-Shirt bearing an image of the mighty
Matterhorn. Cuckoo clocks and fluffy toy animals abound, too, and
there is enough jewellery to stock a treasury. Being a ski and
climbing resort, Zermatt also boasts several stores offering the
latest in equipment and outfits, and there are also numerous
designer clothing boutiques.
Local time in Switzerland is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between March and