Top 8 Ski Areas In & Around Zermatt
Setting foot in a ski resort like Zermatt feels similar to entering an alpine wonderland, removed from the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day, and alive with the beauty of mountain life. One of the best things about staying in and around Zermatt is that the region is so densely packed with areas in which to ski - staying in one resort doesn’t exclude you from visiting several over the duration of your stay, as they are all interconnected.
Our list of ski areas in Zermatt will help to narrow down places to visit on your next trip.
Why is Zermatt famous for its ski resorts?
Zermatt’s outstanding natural beauty doesn’t only supply a feast for the eyes and soul - it effortlessly lends itself to skiing and snowboarding. Diverse terrain both attracts and challenges winter sports enthusiasts of all abilities, and the fact that there’s a reliable blanket of snow for 12 months of the year eliminates the need for an off-season, allowing people to indulge their skiing whims whenever they please.
What are the top ski areas in Zermatt?
A ski resort is a village or town built in close proximity to a ski area - but the word ‘resort’ can often be used to describe both. There are usually multiple ski areas in and around one resort.
1. Matterhorn Ski Paradise
The highest winter sports area in the Alps, and home to the longest prepared downhill run, Matterhorn Ski Paradise is at the top of our list for a reason. 25 km long and with a thrilling altitude drop, this famous descent would be reason enough to ski here - but the list of reasons to visit this resort is just as long.
It’s accommodating to families, with under 16s able to ski and snowboard for free on Saturdays, on top of the standard policy of not having to pay for any children under 9. It also has enough red and black runs to challenge even the most seasoned visitors. Plus, for something a bit different, their snow park gives freestylers a place to practice their skills, and is often frequented by professionals.
Access this beautiful ski area via the Gornergrat Railway, which has been in operation since 1898. The runs here are wide and gentle, so perfect for taking in the panoramic views - there is also a viewing platform which provides the chance to take breathtaking shots of the Matterhorn. Gornergrat is a great place to take the kids and beginners a little further up the mountain, with a designated ‘slow slope’ - aimed not just at learners, but those looking to take it easy and enjoy the ride.
If you head towards Riffelalp, which can be reached from Gornergrat on foot or by cable car, there is a good selection of high-altitude restaurants to provide fuel for your expedition.
You can hop a cable car from Zermatt to Schwarzsee in about 20 minutes. The slope you’ll find here is perfect for those looking to do some serious carving. Guided night skiing is also available here - as it is quite a small ski area, there’s less chance of getting lost on the mountain under the cover of darkness. A night ski here is traditionally followed by fondue, which sounds like the perfect way to end an evening.
There is also a seasonal exhibition of ice sculptures to be found in Schwarzsee - every year incredible ice palaces are built and put on display, looking as if they’ve been carved straight from a fairytale.
This area is made up of 15 slopes and is connected by a unique funicular railway system. Many claim that the best views of the Matterhorn can be found from Rothorn Mountain, where the majority of this resort’s slopes lie.
This resort is particularly popular in summer, with a great range of beautiful hiking trails that take you through alpine woodland and meadows. Marmots can be spotted here, as can chamois (a variety of mountain antelope), as well as a variety of rare mountain flowers. Lovers of the great outdoors will find plenty to do at Rothorn-Sunnegga.
While technically located in Cervinia, Italy, this ski station is linked to Zermatt through the mountains. It takes about three hours to ski from Zermatt to Cervinia, and if you make the journey to Valtournenche you will be rewarded with high, peaceful slopes and a beautiful view of the valley below. It’s described as being less exposed and less expensive than its neighbouring resorts, and yet somehow not too crowded. The beginners section here is very good, despite what you may assume from looking at the steep surroundings.
A bus operates between the village and the main ski station, but this can be infrequent, and many hotels in the area operate their own shuttle services to make up for this.
6. Klein Matterhorn
Klein Matterhorn, sometimes translated as Little Matterhorn, is one of the Pennine Alps peaks - the mountain peak that Matterhorn Ski Paradise is located on. It’s the highest ski area in Zermatt, sitting at 3883 m above sea level. It cannot be hiked, due to the constant snow cover, making the highest cable car in Europe the only way to ascend to its peak.
This area is for the experts only - if you do decide to ascend it, you’ll see multiple warnings about giving yourself time to acclimatise to the thinning air on your way up. Allocate at least half a day, if not more, to truly appreciate this area if journeying up from Zermatt.
7. Trockener Steg
In summer, Trockener Steg sector marks a boundary of the available ski area. It’s at this mountain station that Zermatt’s snowmaker machine is based, turning water into snow through a vacuum-based process.
The Snowmaker was something of a happy accident, found through the creation of a system engineered to cool diamond mines. The by-product was snow, which has since been put to good use improving the quality of Zermatt’s pistes. Skiing at Trockener Steg puts you in prime position to be the first to enjoy freshly laid snow and expertly groomed pistes.
As well as skiing, Trockener Steg is a great starting point for some higher-altitude hikes, including visiting the Gandegg hut and camping ground.
A resort found on the Italian side of the mountain, Breuil-Cervinia is an integral part of Zermatt’s ski system. This is the perfect ski resort if you love cruising along at high altitudes and taking in the sights, and is one of the more modern resorts in the area. Breuil-Cervinia has some of the most reliable snow in Italy, and is able to accommodate skiing all year round - but November is when the snow is at its best.
The apres-ski scene is fairly quiet, especially in comparison to Zermatt, which makes the cobbled, car-free streets of this resort popular with families who aren’t interested in the nightlife. With a Breuil-Cervinia lift pass you can also ski the slopes of Valtourneche and Zermatt. This is also a great resort to stay in if you’re fond of heliskiing, which is available all across the region.
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