Ever dreamed of skiing or snowboarding the iconic Matterhorn?! Zermatt Ski Resort is home to up to 200 kilometers of slopes on the Swiss side, and over 360 Kilometers of slopes if you include the Italian side. That’s right. One mountain, two countries!
Online ski tickets are available for purchase; however, we didn’t see any benefit to purchasing them this way. Online tickets are not any cheaper, and they are not sent to you digitally; but rather, they must be mailed to you in advance, or picked up at the ticket office. Not very convenient... might as well get them there. We each got a 2-day “Ski Pass Zermatt”, which came out to 146 CHF per person. Luckily we weren’t set on skiing the Italian side because it happened to be closed most of the time we were there due to high winds (and let’s be honest, the Matterhorn looks best from the Swiss side anyway). Weather is another reason you might want to wait until you arrive to purchase your tickets. If you happen to be staying outside Zermatt, we recommend the “Ski Pass Zermatt Incl. Shuttle Train” ticket. You don’t save any money this way for a single day, but if you are skiing multiple days, you will save a little bit in the end. With this scenario it may make sense to book online ahead of time as we do not recall if the ticketing kiosks at the Matterhorn Terminal allow you to buy combination train/ski passes.
Even if you own gear, it may be more convenient to rent in town depending on how much luggage you are already bringing on the train, or if you’re interested in checking out the latest and greatest skis. We went halfsies. One of us brought gear, and the other rented from Bayard Sports Fashion. They have three different locations throughout Zermatt and were very easy to work with. We were able to go in the night before we would be skiing and take the gear with us so we were ready to go in the morning. The Economy Ski package (skis, poles, boots, helmet) came out to 140 CHF for two days, but they threw in a 10% discount on top of that for making an online rental reservation.
We tend to travel light, so despite the extra gear, it wasn’t a problem to bring the other equipment on the train with us. Also, depending on where you stay, you may be able to arrange a pick up form hotel shuttle ahead of time. We wish we’d known this when we arrived in town, but it was a welcome amenity on our way out.
There are a few access points to the mountain from the city of Zermatt: 1. Sunnegga Funicular, 2. Gornergrat Bahn and 3. Furi Ski Lift. Ski passes can be purchased at any of these locations. The “Ski Pass Zermatt” is valid for all lifts on the Swiss side (including Gornergrat and Sunnegga). Alternatively, you can buy single ride lift tickets, or passes which include the Italian side. If you’ve purchased a lift ticket, transportation around Zermatt and to the lift stations is free on the Le Gruyère busses
A roundtrip train ticket from Zermatt to the Gornergrat station from November to April is only 4 CHF less than the “Ski Pass Zermatt”. Even if you aren’t skiing, you’ll be better off buying the ski pass so you can check out the Matterhorn from the other lifts like the Sunnegga and Furi as well. Also, a roundtrip ticket on the Gornergrat from May-October varies between 98 CHF and 114 CHF, so going in the winter will get you the most bang for your buck!
Weather on the mountain can be nearly impossible to plan for. If seeing the Matterhorn in all its Glory is a priority for you, it’s best to give yourself some buffer time in the event of poor weather. For instance, the weather was descent when we arrived in Zermatt on Sunday afternoon, but come Monday morning, the mountain was a total white-out. Luckily the storm passed quickly and we had nothing but bright blue skies on Tuesday. In addition, Zermatt occasionally has avalanches which are known to wipe out all transportation in and out of the city - even the train shuttle. This happened twice right before we came to visit, and we could still see the remnants of the avalanches while we were there. For the latest weather, we recommend cross-checking multiple weather sources, but especially consult the resort’s weather page. Here you have the ability to access forecasts for various points in the resort, hours of projected sunshine, current wind and weather conditions, etc.
Our top tip of the day: book accommodations with breakfast and spa and/or wellness center. A great day starts with a great breakfast. And, after a long day on the mountain, nothing can beat time in the steam room, sauna, or a nice soak in the hot tub. You won’t regret it.
*Information current as of February 2018