Overwhelming and mystical, the Matterhorn provides nature’s most romantic stage in the world. Towering majestically over the ancient fairytale Swiss village of Zermatt (5’310 ft), the Matterhorn is omnipresent in this isolated valley and will lovingly accompany you throughout your romantic winter escape here.
Matterhorn above Zermatt Switzerland — Photo courtesy of Dominique Schreckling
The Matterhorn rises to 14,692 feet, and is also known as Mont Cervin in French and Monte Cervino in Italian), pro. Its gateway is Zermatt, located on the Italian border of the Canton of Valais in the southeast of Switzerland. There is something magical and eternally romantic about the soft snow and the silence it creates in winter. Furthermore, there is the fascinating natural beauty of the fresh snow that constantly changes the heart-stirring landscape all around you which inspires love…and snuggling after an exciting day on the ski slopes.
Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB) Sunday Brunch — Photo courtesy of Zermatt Matterhorn Tourismus
This Alpine paradise for lovers is easily accessible and the voyage to Zermatt is part of the romance. If you are traveling in the St. Moritz and Davos areas, you can take the famous panoramic Glacier Express train that seems to simply float around alpine curves and up the steep slopes using cogwheels to arrive in Zermatt.
In the winter, the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB) is offering Sunday brunch in a panoramic Glacier Express coach on a shorter trip from Brig or Visp to Zermatt which operates until the beginning of April. Regional products from the cantons of Valais, Uri and Graubünden will be available in a self-service buffet for the brunch. If you are on a Sunday evening return trip from Zermatt there will be cheeses and a large variety of Swiss desserts.
Many other trains in and out of Zermatt are available with convenient connections to major cities in Switzerland and other European cities.
Old Village of Zermatt — Photo courtesy of Dominque Schreckling
Welcome to Zermatt
Arriving at the train station in the center of Zermatt you will encounter old-fashioned horse-drawn carriages or electro-taxis and electro-buses if you need transportation. These circulate in idyllic car-free Zermatt (pop. 5’775). Chances are that your accommodations are not far and you will be able to walk from the station.
As well as keeping pollution out of the air in Zermatt, the residents are intent on preserving their culture, heritage, and quaint ancient wooden chalets and farm buildings. Moreover, due to the isolated location there is no “city light” and the skies provide you with some very romantic starry and sometimes moonlit nights.
In addition to the always awe-inspiring presence of the Matterhorn, there are also other majestic Alps above Zermatt such as the Monte Rosa (15’203 ft) also called Dufourspitze which is the highest mountain in Switzerland. In fact, almost one third of the Swiss Alps which are higher than 13,124 feet, are located around Zermatt. This altitude equals 4’000 meters. Therefore, the Alps about this high are nicknamed “the 4’000s”.
Unusual but Appealing Lodging
In the old village area of Zermatt there are still many old wooden barns, storehouses and other sun weathered buildings some of which are over 300 years. In some of these structures the livestock was kept on the ground floor and the hay was on the next floor. These are called Gädini (Gädi in singular). A few of these sturdy larch-wood structures with slate roofs have been preserved and converted into apartments and chalets for residents and visitors.
Chalet Pico from pigsty to contemporary luxury — Photo courtesy of Marc Kronig
One such quaint 300-year old-Gädi is a cozy yet elegantly romantic 4-story five star chalet called Chalet Pico located near the Kirchplatz on a side street without a name. It was converted by local family owner Marc Kronig. The structure of the original façade was preserved with only necessary renovations. The interior is mostly contemporary minimalist but with larch-wood character created from materials from the place.
Chalet Pico Spa — Photo courtesy of Marc Kronig
All of the most modern and luxurious of conveniences have been installed such as Internet, cable TV, full kitchen necessities, washing machine (for the snow clothes), bed linens, etc. But the amorous guests may be most attracted to the spa with its sauna, whirlpool and lounge chairs and then have a good cuddle and glasses of champagne in front of a romantic open fireplace.
Chalet Schatzchischta — Photo courtesy of Zermatt Matterhorn Tourismus
Other Romantic Lodging Options
Other romantic Gädinis and chalets are available in the historical section of Zermatt. The four-star Chalet Schatzchischta is an example where luxurious interior modernity of recent renovations blends with traditional touches such as the soapstone wood burning stove. There is a romantic ambience of rustic yet elegant charm for you and your beloved. These most unique chalet accommodations and other chalet types and sizes including newly constructed and luxurious vacation homes as well as hotels can be reserved via the Zermatt Tourist Office online.
Dining Room Chalet Hotel Schoenegg — Photo courtesy of Chalet Hotel Schoenegg
Dining Memorable in Zermatt
There is no shortage of memorable romantic dining experiences in Zermatt with 95 restaurants in the village and 48 mountain restaurants on the nearby slopes. Local specialties as well as international award winning gastronomic cuisine are readily available.
For an unforgettable tête-à-tête dining indulgence with your beloved, the dining room of the Chalet Hotel Schönegg is a must for romance and exquisite cuisine. You will be looking out over charming Zermatt village crowned by the iconic Matterhorn and surrounding magnificent peaks. The restaurant ranks 15 Gault Millau toques out of 19 and is a local favorite.
Managers Sebastian Metry or his sister Anna will recommend elegant dishes à l a carte or from their extensive 4-6 course dinner menus, along with the perfect wine from their collection of Bordeaux, Grand Crus classés, and the very best wines from the region.
Leisurely savor, for example, a 6 course dinner starting with 6 different varieties of fois gras, then cauliflower coconut cream soup, “Mojito” salmon, sorbet du jour, bison and beef variation served with smoked potatoes and seasonal vegetables. For the dinner wine they recommend a regional Grain Noir from Marie-Thèrése. Dessert varies and may be a mango delight or the chef’s pastry surprise accompanied with a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne.
Also from the world of haute cuisine and included in the Gault Millau “club” is the excellent Le Capri Restaurant (also a Michelin) in the Mont Cervin Palace. Other “club” award winning restaurants are After Seven in the eclectic Backstage Hotel and the Heimberg (also Michelin rated). The understated but elegant restaurant at the five star Omnia Hotel, a Design Hotels member overlooking the village, makes you feel like personal friends and invites you to relax by the atmospheric fireplace after dinner. Other fine dining with romantic ambiance and superb cuisine are the Restaurant Dolce Vita as well as the restaurant of the intimate and chic Hotel Matthiol.
Romance in Zermatt can be found in many other types of dining spots from a village café with raclette to hillside restaurants with traditional dishes and large sunny terraces: Findelhof or Zum See. There is the Gitz-Gädi for rustic atmosphere, The Time Out Sportsbar & Grill for sporting events and The Schwarzsee Restaurant with live music daily.
Gitz Gaedi Restaurant — Photo courtesy of Hotel Silvana Zermatt
Nightlife in Zermatt
Furthermore, there is food and drink at 50 bars and nightclubs. For more casual experiences for the enamored, there is Elsie’s Bar with snacks and beer as well as Sparky and the Broken Bar disco which is in the oldest wine cellar in the village. Caffè Snowboat offers live music and gourmet snacks as well as hot food and lots of ambience.
The Sunnegga funicular will take you up for a short ride to the timber-framed Cervo Mountain Boutique Resort for Alpine Tapas, Swiss sausages, dried meats and other local specialties.
Blauherd ski station, just below the Rothorn, is now offering Moonlight ski runs after dinner at their restaurant Blue Lounge with 3 course menus.
Kulmhotel Gornergrat — Photo courtesy of Dominique Schreckling
With 365 days of snow and 300 days of sunshine, Zermatt is definitely a snow sports resort par excellence. The slopes are varied but the resort is best known for the steep challenges (optional). The high altitudes guarantee skiing all year around.
There are 194 miles of prepared ski trails in winter which extend into Italy as well as 27 miles of winter hiking paths and 5 different snowshoe itineraries. For cross-country there are 7 miles of ski runs in the next village of Täsch. If that’s not enough, there’s always sledding, curling, ice skating, paragliding, swimming, heli-skiing or even playing squash.
Romance on the Rails
A romantic excursion that will add to the passion is snuggling up during a 33 minute ride in the Gornergrat train, Switzerland’s first electric rack railway (built in 1898) and Europe’s highest open air railway to the Kulmhotel Gornergrat situated at over 10’000 ft altitude.
Here you will escape to another century for a leisurely meal at the Kulmhotel Gornergrat which was built between 1897 and 1907 with the best panoramic view of the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa, the highest mountain in the Swiss Alps. It is from this point that you can see 29 Swiss Alps each over 13’000 ft. If you can take your eyes away from the view (or from each other) for a while you can enjoy some of their kitchen specialties such as various choices of "Rösti" and garlic soup in rye bread.
Two observatory domes were built on either side of the hotel towers in 1996 and astronomers from all over the world used it due to the pure air and light conditions for looking into the universe. They are now being reconstructed but there are some romantic starlight dinner possibilities with a local scientist to assist everyone explore the constellations together. Gornergrat area — Photo courtesy of Dominique Schreckling
Love in the Air
For some guaranteed adrenaline excitement to inflame your winter passions you could take an Air Zermatt helicopter sightseeing flight over the Swiss Alps, their rugged terrain and their glaciers. This could be the flight of a lifetime that will leave you speechless but holding very tightly to your beloved. This flight will ensure that the memories of your romantic getaway at the foot of the Matterhorn will remain forever.