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For many people, Zermatt means one thing … the Matterhorn. But although the town’s narrative is entwined with that of the Matterhorn, there are more things to do in Zermatt than gaze wistfully at the mountain. The appeal of the town itself and the relative ease with which you can explore its surroundings makes Zermatt a fantastic destination at any time of year. Although it is renowned as a world-class ski resort, there is plenty to occupy the non-skier. And the après-ski scene is open to all!

Towering over the town at a height of 4478 metres, the Matterhorn is the 12th highest peak in Western Europe. If ever there was a mountain to be swooned over, and photographed from every angle in every possible light, this is it. Piercing the sky above Zermatt like a harpoon tip, the Matterhorn has a hypnotic beauty.

The race between Italians and British to be the first to plant their flag on its summit ended in 1865 when the British climber Edward Whymper reached it on his eighth attempt. However, his achievement would not have received the same publicity had not four of his climbing team of seven plummeted to their deaths on the descent. The ensuing controversy attracted visitors from far and wide, including Thomas Hardy who wrote To The Matterhorn, a sonnet about Whymper, in 1897.

But there is more to Zermatt than the Matterhorn. Despite its long history of mass tourism, it has managed to retain the character of an alpine town, complete with unspoilt buildings. Its compact centre is car-free, which makes exploring its streets a pleasure. But beware … the small electric cars that ferry visitors and their luggage between the train station and hotels can creep up behind you like silent assassins!

Ultimately, it is Zermatt’s setting that is king. Nestled in the deepest valley in Switzerland, it is surrounded by some of the country’s highest peaks. But these are not just summits to gaze upon in wonder from afar. Thanks to a first-rate infrastructure, from aerial walkways to mountain railways and cable cars, you can get close and personal to these peaks.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best things to do in Zermatt