Wed, June 27th, 2012 - By

Spotlight on Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt in the Visp district of Switzerland’s canton of Valais, is a premier Swiss Alps ski and mountaineering resort. Zermatt’s location at a height of 1,620m by the feet of Switzerland’s highest mountain peaks, at the end of the Matter Valley (south of the Rhone valley) and near the mighty Theodul Pass at the border with Italy, make it a natural centre for high altitude sports enthusiasts.

Zermatt’s tourist boom, after it had been an agricultural community for centuries, begun after the initial (1865) ascent of the Matterhorn by British Edward Whymper. Zermatt is now a permanent mountain resort.

Täsch - Train to Zermatt

Probably one of Zermatt’s best features is the combustion engine-free policy (except for emergency vehicles), which prevents air pollution and permits clear views of the mountains. Few, commercial vehicles are battery powered and the local police can issue a special permit for residents to drive in some of the outskirts of Zermatt. Everyone else arrives mostly by train from Täsch, about 10 km away. You can then catch a train from Zermatt to Visp and Brig. Tiny electric shuttles, ‘electro’ taxis and buses provide the inter-town traffic. A rack railway line with spectacular views leading to the Gornergratbahn summit and the Glacier Express rail service to St. Moritz are also available.

The chair lifts and cable cars serve skiers and hikers, depending on season. You can cross into Italy using the Cervinia cable car, or ride to the 3,883m Klein Matterhorn peak/ridge for some amazing views. Zermatt’s location also makes it an ideal starting point for many amazing mountain hikes, like the Patrouille des Glaciers and the Haute Route to French Chamonix.

Zermatt has four main skiing areas, Klein Matterhorn, Sunnegga, Schwarzsee and Gornergrat, and skiing can usually carry on in at least one of them throughout most of the year.

Image credits: Paul & Jill, Gerry Labrijn, Roger Wollstadt, Doc Searls, Philip Larson

Karen Bryan

As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save

Posted : Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 at 10:00
Category : Spotlight
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