Zermatt is one of the world’s best known ski resorts and for good reason.
The Zermatt-Matterhorn ski area is now part of the IKON Pass. Learn the tips and tricks to making the most out of your time in Zermatt, the village at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn before you book.
1. Know your ability
The skiing in Europe can be very different to America. Many clients either under- or over-estimate their abilities, so start on the easy runs to get a feel for the terrain, the snow and the grading of the pistes. The Zermatt IKON Pass covers all the ski lifts we have available here, so you have the chance to make the most out of it all!
Make sure you start from one side of the ski area where you see (from the map) slopes that are at your level. Then progress with ease across the rest of the areas. Remember on chairlifts it is obligatory to lower the foot rest bar!
2. The lifts are long, but so are the runs
Be patient if the lift rides are longer than you are used too, because the piste is going to be as well. It will be worth it. The views are so scenic that an extra few minutes on a chairlift gives you time to get the perfect shot to send to friends and family back home.
Runs are marked, in order: blue, red and black. Yellow is used to marked itineraries, which are runs safe from avalanches but un-groomed. With 365 km of slopes distributed over 5 mountains, having a guide for a couple of days can be of great aid navigating the area!
3. The restaurants are amazing!
Of the World’s Top 10 Mountain Restaurants, Zermatt generally features 3 or 4 times. It’s THAT good.
Reservations are best done in advance, especially if you are travelling in school holidays. We highly recommend popping over to Italy for lunch one day as well.
In town in the evenings you will be spoilt for choice. From easy-going Italians run by actual Italians right up to 2 Michelin stars, you will find something for everyone.
If you come in the high season make sure you book some places in advance or ask your ski guide to do it for you. As guides we always prefer to help with this, as it allows us to ensure the best options for the ski experience as well.
4. It’s not a ski-in, ski-out town
It’s just not. A handful of chalets will advertise that they are, but are accesses-able by fairly difficult runs and so require you to be a competent skier to use them.
It’s a part of the village’s charm; spend the days at high altitude, ski all the way down back into a proper village, which you can then walk around and enjoy the beautiful old buildings, some of which date back to the 16th century.
take your time to explore the town and visit the Matterhorn Museum, were the old village has been recreated and great climbing stories are shared. This is not included in the Zermatt IKON Pass.
5. Try not to visit in mid-February
The middle weeks of February are the busiest time of the whole season as they coincide with European school holidays. As a result, the lift queues in the morning can be long, all the best restaurants are booked weeks in advance, and the best snow pros are already booked up.
Travel outside of these dates to enjoy the best of what Zermatt has to offer and make the most out of your IKON Pass.
January and March are generally great times to come visit. January is colder, with great snow conditions. March has longer days and usually higher temperatures. Because the ski area is vast and at high altitude on-piste snow is always good.
6. There is no such thing as in-bound off piste
Europe is very different to America in that the areas between groomed runs are not necessarily avalanche controlled. As soon as you leave the piste, or ‘trail’ here you are doing so at your own risk. If you are going to leave the run, make sure you have the skills, knowledge and equipment to do so.
make sure you know your way round. Once you leave the groomers make sure you have your AVI gear and know how to use it. If you have never used it before, make sure you hire an expert to show you how to handle it and, why not, show you where the best powder spots are!
7. Expect to walk
Zermatt is not just a ski town but a village in its own right and approximately 2km in length. Ski-in, ski-out is only available at a tiny amount of chalets, so the norm is to take a bus, taxi or walk a short distance to the base stations.
Helpfully, there are lockers you can leave your skis and boots overnight if you don’t feel like carrying them back to the hotel.
Check where the bus stops are, so you can make the most out of the free public transport. Taxis are also an option, all electric!
8. Apres is done on & off the mountain
The majority of Zermatt’s apres bars are at the bottom of the runs back to the village, or in town itself. Better to enjoy the last of your skiing, then undo the boots a little knowing you are out for the day. The views are still spectacular, and if you are lucky the sunset will be too.
Don’t forget that the village is at an altitude of 1650m (5,413 ft) so be aware when enjoying the gluhwein that it will have a stronger affect than at home.
Hennu Stall bar is located on the last stretch of the ski run leading back to town from the Klein Matterhorn side. Live music and some wild parties!
Cervo Bar is just at the bottom of the ski run coming down from Sunnegga Mountain. Great view over town and the Matterhorn with cocktails and dj set.
9. Ski Instructors/ Ski Guides/ Mountain Guides
In Switzerland ski instructors are all able to offer ski guiding services. It is recommendable to use ski instructors for guiding, as they are more experienced in understanding how you ski and where you can get the most fun out of the mountain. As well, they have the correct insurance to ski and assist you, while unofficial guides do not.
Only ski instructors with the highest Swiss qualification can legally take guests off piste. They are also able to teach you how to use the AVI gear and all the safety equipment you need.
For long tours skinning away from the slopes and on glaciers areas (Zermatt has many) you need a Mountain Guide. This is a professional figure with a different education pathway than an instructor. The guide has the lincese to access remote areas, climbing as well, but won’t teach you technical skiing (that is the instructor’s job).
Talk to pros and share with them your needs and ideas for your holidays. We are always happy to help, one way or another.
10. It is not possible to take too many pictures of the Matterhorn!
With a cloud. Without a cloud. Sunlight hitting just the top. Perfect bluebird sky behind it. Take as many photos as you like! There is something very captivating about the Matterhorn.
We recommend heading up Europe’s highest ski lift to Klein Matterhorn where there is a viewing platform, for some truly breath-taking views across Switzerland, Italy and France.
Zermatt IKON Pass & Subzero Coaching
We are a coaching company based in Zermatt, specialized in professional development for ski instructors. Our team is available across the winter for guided tours around the Matterhorn Ski Area, as well as traditional ski lessons.
We have been skiing with American guests for years and are very excited to make sure you get the most out of your IKON Pass. Of course, all team members are fluent in English! Find out more about the team visiting the dedicated page here.
For any questions please get in touch with us directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Subzero Team
Zermatt Ikon Pass Matterhorn – Visit Zermatt Tips & Ideas – Ikon Pass Destinations