There's just something about the Matterhorn, the most recognizable mountain on the planet. The Matterhorn seems to have a nearly mystical draw for people — it's the Stonehenge of Switzerland. Zermatt itself has pockets of traditional charm, but is a mostly ho-hum tourist town. From its center, however, it's an easy ride (or doable walk) up out of the valley to lost-in-time villages and scenic hikes that are made all the more magical with that iconic triangular mountain nodding its white head in the background.
At a Glance
▲▲ Matterhorn Museum Underground museum resembling archaeological dig covers history of Zermatt and its magic mountain.
▲ Town Wander Featuring the attractive old Hinterdorf quarter of Zermatt by the river, with antique chalets and traditional mazots (shacks on stone stilts).
Klein Matterhorn Mountainside
▲▲▲ Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Summit Europe's highest cable-car station (12,739 feet), with jaw-dropping Alps view, year-round snow, and a "palace" carved into ice (but no hikes).
▲ Schwarzsee Ridge Hillside midpoint (8,474 feet) directly under the Matterhorn, with a welcoming sunbathing terrace and alpine lake.
▲▲ Matterhorn Trail Hike Deservedly popular trail from the Schwarzsee gondola station back to Zermatt.
▲▲ Gornergrat Top Station Viewpoint (10,270 feet), reached by fun cogwheel train, that hovers above the Gorner Glacier with fantastic views of the Matterhorn and Switzerland's tallest mountain — Monte Rosa (15,200 feet).
▲▲▲ Riffelseeweg Hike Easy, mostly downhill walk with nonstop scenery between two mountain stations.
▲▲ Rothorn Summit Cable-car station at 10,180 feet with sweeping views of the Matterhorn and its valley.
▲▲▲ Blauherd–Fluhalp Hike Mostly level walk from the Blauherd lift station past a picturesque glacial lake (and great Matterhorn views).
▲▲▲ Sunnegga Viewpoint Best mountain destination for budget travelers, offering the ultimate Matterhorn views (7,506 feet).
▲▲ Hikes from Sunnegga Long, mostly gentle trail (Gourmetweg) back down to Zermatt, mixing hillside hamlets and lush forest, or a moderately strenuous walk (Naturweg) across to the Gornergrat's Riffelalp station.