Apres Ski in Zermatt

Zermatt is a stunningly pretty alpine village and among the most historic and scenic ski resorts worldwide. Fur-coated holiday makers, mountain men fresh from epic trips and tourists from all over the world happily mingle here in the shadow of the Matterhorn all year round.


The Village of Zermatt 

Zermatt is Switzerland’s most prestigious skiing and mountaineering resort and offers a perfect mix of tradition, carefully nurtured progress and superb snowsure skiing amid spectacular mountain scenery along with a huge range of accommodation, excellent hospitality and probably the best mountain restaurants in the world.

The village at 1,620m stretches alongside the river and has extended over the years up each side of the valley. The main street reaches from the station to the church and beyond. Restaurants, bars, and shops – a mix of luxury (watches and jewellery) and more practical but still high-quality ski and book shops and even supermarkets – are concentrated along here with some of the major hotels. A separate area of apartments and chalets at Winkelmatten, up a steep hill on the far side of the river, south east of town, is good for access to the Klein Matterhorn lifts and stirring views of the Matterhorn. On the east bank of the river, more hotels, bars and restaurants are to be found, less densely packed than in the centre.

Dating back to early mediaeval times at least, Zermatt was a collection of meadows – high alpine pasture land used principally for sheep farming. The name is a variation of the German ‘zur Matte’ – literally ‘on the meadow’, itself a translation from the ealier Romantsch name ‘Prato Borno’.  In the mid -nineteenth century the British discovered Zermatt as a mountaineering destination and Alexander Seiler built the Monte Rosa hotel, thereby founding Zermatt’s premier hotel dynasty.

And following Edward Whymper’s first successful ascent of the Matterhorn in July 1865 (but more particularly because of the notoriety which followed the tragedy of his disastrously led descent) Zermatt took off, as it were. This story is part of Zermatt legend and of the experience in visiting it. Everyone knows the story, you can read about it in Whymper’s famous book, Scrambles in the Alps, you can see it in the Matterhorn Museum and the bodies are buried in the churchyards , apart from Lord Francis Douglas, who was never found and remains somewhere up in the Matterhorn Glacier.  His family- the Queensbury’s – provided a founding donation for the English Church in Zermatt, because of it. No wonder Edward Whymper is so fondly remembered in Zermatt still.

In the centre of Zermatt there remains a tiny cluster of ancient chalets where livestock huddles in stalls beneath ramshackle, twisted living quarters. The rest of the village – now more of a town – is a mix of modern and restored buildings that, thanks to the lack of motor vehicles, retains a charming, relaxed feel, where people happily stroll despite the electric taxis hurtling past with a moaning whine and the occasional horsedrawn sled or carriage clattering by. There’s a mix of non-skiing, fur-coated holiday makers, mountain men fresh from epic trips, tourists from all over the world and ski instructors cycling the snowy cobbled streets with ski boots on.

Zermatt village photo by Leander Wenger www.zermattfoto.ch

Apres Ski Bars & Nightlife in Zermatt

Zermatt is as strong on apres-ski and nightlife as it is on skiing and dining with no shortage of apres ski bars and over 100 restaurants in Zermatt cooking anything and everything from Italian to Asian, and from raclette to hamburger, and there’s good nightlife to suit most tastes.


Zermatt is as strong on apres ski and nightlife as it is on skiing and dining. Starting on the mountain, with relaxed drinks, some music and that scenery: Rothorn/Sunnegga – Tuftern for sunset views, followed by Othmar’s Hutte and the Olympic Bar (yellow canvas roof) and now as well the front terrace bar of the chic Hotel Cervo , all on the paths down to the village – live music and barely any more to ski; the Klein Matterhorn (aka “Matterhorn Glacier Paradise”) bars and restaurants at Furi and Zum See and, for partying below there – Hennu Stall, do brisk end-of-day business.  At the other end of the village, close to the Sunnega lift station, the Zermatt Yacht Club and Snowboat are worth visiting for apres ski.

In the centre of Zermatt, the Papperla with good live music fills up early and stays busy til late. Lower key but sophisticated is the legendary Elsie’s bar, a small wooden chalet near the church, the Little Bar, maximum capacity of about a dozen and the Hexenbar.  Seasonaires and instructors hang out in the Cable Car and the North Wall. Refuel along the main street with a pancake from the tiny Creperie or a grilled sausage with bread, mustard and ketchup and a cup of gluhwein from outside the butcher’s shop. Alternatively there are plenty of tearooms with patisserie alongside that can meet most needs.

The nightlife is vibrant with bars and clubs with discos or live music until late: the T-bar, the Schneewittchen, the North Wall, Grampi’s and the Hotel Post, which has everything on every level including the Brown Cow, the Loft Club Lounge, the Broken Bar and the famous Pink for live jazz and soul music. Papperla also keeps rocking late with live music. The prize for most unlikely nightspot goes to the very hip Vernissage Bar and Kino (cinema), designed by a prominent local artist, Heinz Julen.

Restaurants in Zermatt

After the on-mountain restaurant offerings, the village has a tough act to follow. But it does pretty well, with a huge choice of over 100 restaurants covering most bases and more Gault Millau points than you can count, with good Chinese and Japanese food, a strong Italian showing (the motherland is just at the end of a lift) and excellent Swiss restaurants.

The exceptional and upmarket Le Mazot by the river specializes in lamb and fine wines; a different take on a similar menu with open barbecue cooking is Chez Heini where your evening ends with the owner singing his tribute to the Matterhorn against a projected backdrop of mountain views.  Hotel restaurants, particularly the multi-starred variety like the Cervin Grill, Le Corbeau d’Or (at the Mirabeau) and the Monte Rosa dining room are also excellent but tend to be pricey. Finally, there’s even a McDonald’s, if you must but showing that Zermatt does cater for different tastes and budgets.

With so many good restaurants to choose from producing a short list is not easy, but here is a selection of six from cross section of some of Zermatt’s best village restaurants (excluding hotel restaurants) in terms of cuisine, ambiance and fun.

Le Mazot

Somewhat of a Zermatt original, Le Mazot offers traditional fine dining, with grill specialities (lamb, beef etc) from their open fire. This is accompanied by a serious wine list including a big selection of Valais and Italian wines. What really makes Le Mazot special though is the warm welcome from hosts, Roger Muther and Antoinette Moser, and the cosy ambiance of this old house.

Tel: +41 27 966 06 06, Email: [email protected],Web: www.lemazotzermatt.ch.

Chez Heini

Totally worth the slight treck or cab ride to get to Wiestistrasse, Chez Heini is a complete one-off and another Zermatt legend. As much for the personality of its host, Dan Daniell, as for the open fire grilled lamb dishes, which are sourced form sheep still bred locally by his father. Not lacking confidence, Danielle describes himself, in this order, as ‘singer, chef, host, entertainer and lateral thinker’.  And that’s about right, as he closes the evening’s entertainment and the lights do go down) personally singing to his guests from his own repertoire; pretty amazing and great fun.

Tel: +41 27 967 16 30, Email: [email protected], Web: www.dandaniell.ch.

China Garden

A necessary change to the traditional Swiss mountain fare on offer in Zermatt with this most competent Chinese menu composed and expertly delivered by head chef Chen Lijun. A varied offering includes some mouthwatering crispy duck and seafood specials and all accompanied by an interesting wine list, featuring a white selection mainly from Valais, although a Trimbach Guwurztraminer from Alsace is a welcome inclusion. Traditional Chinese fit out and décor completes the illusion of a night out from Switzerland.

Tel: +41 27 967 53 23, Email: [email protected], Web: www.chinagarden-zermatt.ch.


In similar vein to China Garden, Zermatt’s Myoko Japanese restaurant provides appetising alternatives to the Swiss/Italian cuisine and delivers big time with fresh sushi and sashimi dishes as well as Teppan Yaki cooking. An expensive wine list is accompanied by a good selection of quality sakis.

Tel: +41 27 966 87 39, Email: [email protected], Web: www.seilerhotels.ch.


This lovely old alpine stube below the Hotel Julen is as snug as it gets in winter. Quintessential mountain Walliser cooking from locally sourced lamb to soups and fondues and raclettes is accompanied by a competent principally Valais winelist.

Tel: +41 27 966 76 00, Email: [email protected], Web: www.julen.com.


Just about where it all started in Zermatt here on the corner of the Monte Rosa, Edward Whymper is rightly honoured. The big dining room is panelled in basic old Alpine timber and offers great raclettes, fondues and a superb Wiener schnitzel; a really nice place for a convivial evening with friends over good food.

Tel: +41 27 967 22 96, Email: [email protected], Web: www.whymper-stube.ch.

Spaghetti & Pizza Factory

Part of the excellent Unique Hotel Post set-up, the Spaghetti & Pizza Factory is a deservedly popular pizza and pasta restaurant with a wood oven and all set in modern alpine design. Some grills and fish, but mainly a great selection of pizzas, pasta and risotto dishes and salads with an Italian dominated winelist.

Tel: +41 27 967 19 31, Email: [email protected], Web: www.hotelpost.ch.

Other Activities in Zermatt

One of Zermatt’s highlights is the 30km of cleared winter-walking trails, many with wonderful restaurants en route, and all with spectacular views. There’s also a very full complement of other activities including the excellent Matterhorn Museum and helicopter trips round the Matterhorn.


Air Zermatt Helicopter Trips Around the Matterhorn

Sightseeing flights are available all year round from Air Zermatt, who also offer a helicopter taxi service, heli-skiing and provide Zermatt’s helicopter rescue and air ambulance service. Headphones pre-programmed with commentary in English and foreign languages are available at the Matterhorn Express lift station in Zermatt on payment of a deposit.

Tel:  +41 (0) 27 966 86 86; Email: [email protected]; Web: www.air-zermatt.ch.

Matterhorn Museum

Firstly, don’t ignore the history: the Matterhorn Museum, now located under a glass dome next to the village church, is excellent and well worth visiting, particularly the room dedicated to the tragic events of 14 July 1865, when half of Edward Whymper’s party, which had set off from the Monte Rosa hotel, fell off the Matterhorn after the first successful ascent. There are various macabre items as well as a transcript from the ensuing enquiry. One of the climbers, the Rev. Charles Hudson, is buried under the altar of the little English Church, St Peter’s. This church was donated after the incident by subscriptions from Zermatt families including the Seilers (who own some of Zermatt’s premier hotels, including the Monte Rosa and the Mont Cervin) and Queensbury family, who lost a young family member – Lord Francis Douglas – in the tragedy. Whymper’s favourite guide, Michel Croz from Chamonix, also perished and is buried in the main churchyard. Matterhorn Museum,

Tel: +41 (0) 27 967 41 00; Email: [email protected].

Winter Walking in Zermatt

Though it may be hard to imagine visiting Zermatt and not skiing, there is more to do without skis or snowboard than in most mountain resorts. A highlight is the scenic winter-walking trails; many have wonderful restaurants en route and the walk up-valley to Zmutt should not be missed.  The winter trail map, available from the tourist office, features 70 km of trails for winter walking in Zermatt, Tasch and Randa open between December and April and fully maintained between Christmas and Easter.  Winter walking tickets for Gornergrat and Rottenboden, Riffelberg available from the Gornergrat Bahn booking office,

Tel: +41 (0) 27 927 70 00; Email: [email protected].

Cross-Country Skiing in Zermatt

Zermatt has 25km of cross-country skiing lower down the valley on the Tasch-Randa cross-country trails (15km skating and 10km classic). Trail passes for one day, one week or longer periods can be purchased at the Tourist Offices in Zermatt, Tasch or Randa or at the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn offices in Zermatt or Tasch. Zermatt Tourism, office Tasch,

Tel: +41 (0) 27 967 16 89, Email: [email protected].

Snowshoeing in Zermatt

Zermatt offers a choice of four marked snowshoe trails between December and April, which can be traversed without a guide, but they are not cleared nor protected from avalanche risk so you use them at your own risk. Hiking guides available from the Alpin Center Zermatt (Tel: +41 (0) 27 966 24 60) and snow shoe rental for full day or half a day at Riffelalp, Riffelberg or Rotenboden stations on Gornergrat. Contact Zermatt Tourism for more information.

Tel: +41 (0) 27 966 81 00; Email: [email protected].

Tobogganing in Zermatt

Zermatt’s Rotenboden (2,815 m) to Riffelberg (2,582 m) toboggan run – the highest in Switzerland -takes about 10 minutes from top to bottom and is accessed by riding the Gornergrat Bahn railway. Trains run approximately every 10 minutes and toboggans can be hired (full day or half day) at the Rotenboden station. Open from December to April, subject to snow and weather conditions. Fun-Ride Furi – a thrilling toboggan ride from Furi down to Zermatt – is available on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from mid-December until March; departure 7:30pm from the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise valley station. All-inclusive offers including toboggan hire and fondue dinner can be pre-booked with the following mountain restaurants:

Bergrestaurant Blatten Tel: +41 (0) 27 967 20 96
Les Marmottes Tel: +41 (0) 27 967 82 82
Gitz-Gadi Hotel Silvana Tel: +41 (0) 27 966 28 00
Restaurant Simi Tel: +41 (0) 27 967 26 95
Restaurant Zum See Tel: +41 (0) 27 967 20 45

Moonlight Adventures in Zermatt

Enjoy a delicious fondue and cosy atmosphere at the Restaurant Rothorn (Tel: +41 (0) 27 967 26 75) followed by a romantic moonlit ski descent with the piste patrol or experience moonlight on Gornergrat surrounded by 29 moonlit peaks above 4,000 m followed by a cheese fondue in the 3,100 m Kulmhotel Gornergrat (Tel: +41 (0) 27 966 64 00) then ski down or take the train back to Zermatt.  Available once a month, full moon only, from December to March. Starlight dinner at the 3,100 m Kulmhotel Gornergrat also every Thursday night December – March including return journey via Gornergrat Bahn; departing 6:00pm and arriving back in Zermatt 11:15pm.

Tel: +41 (0) 27 966 64 00; Email: [email protected].

Indoor Climbing & Ice Climbing in Zermatt

In winter, indoor climbing is available on a 7 metre high and 140 sq m wall space at the Triftbachhalle; open on Monday, Thursday and Friday evenings. Booking not necessary, but bring your own equipment. The waterfalls by Furi and Blatten offer good ice climbing opportunities for experts and beginners with tuition and equipment available through the Alpin Center Zermatt, Tel: +41 (0) 27 966 24 60.

Sports Arena in Zermatt

Though mainly for the benefit of Zermattens, the Obere Matten Sports & Leisure Arena in the centre of Zermatt features a tennis hall as well volleyball, basketball and, in winter, there’s also ice skating and curling.

Tel: +41 (0) 27 967 62 64; Email: spo[email protected].

Paragliding in Zermatt

Tandem-paragliding flights (amd lessons) must be be pre-booked:

Alpine Adventures Zermatt
Office in Bahnhofplatz
Tel: +41 (0) 27 967 21 00; Mobile: +41 (0) 79 643 68 08
Email: [email protected]; Web: www.alpine-adventures-zermatt.com

Paragliding School AIR-BORN
Located next to House Montana in Bachstrasse
Tel: +41 (0) 27 967 67 44; Mobile: +41 (0) 79 628 97 87;
Email: i[email protected]; Web: www.paragliding-zermatt.ch.

Zermatt Tourist Information

Zermatt Tourism
Bahnhofplatz 5
CH-3920 Zermatt, Switzerland
Tel: +41 27 966 81 00
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.zermatt.ch


Back To Top