Mr LL and I just returned from Europe where we spent 2 weeks in Zermatt - returning in summer after a great ski trip there in February. Here is an extract from my blog:-
The train ride was smooth except when the controller advised us that our Eurail pass was not valid on the Visp - Zermatt leg and we had to cough up an additional 80 CHF.
It was still pretty cool in Zermatt - first few days had highs around 15-17℃ so of course it was much colder at higher altitudes. Later in the week and the second week of our stay it warmed up - even reaching 30℃ on day. Otherwise it was generally sunny in the morning with cloud cover (and often a short storm) moving in late in the afternoon (5pm). Good to keep in mind when planning a day's hiking.
We did lots of hiking over the two weeks pretty much covering all areas. Hikes ranged from 2 - 5 hours per day with varying levels of difficulty - but no serious stuff requiring crampons, ice picks, and ropes, etc. Over the 2 weeks we spent 650 CHF on various lift tickets - and this was without overdoing it - something to keep in mind when budgeting a trip. You absolutely must have a good hiking map (25€ from the tourist office) - the free one is only good for the most popular trails. Signposting is pretty good but sometimes inconsistent particularly where hiking times are often not posted.
Because it had been such a great ski season there was sill lots of snow about at higher altitudes - some hiking trails were still closed (well impassible).
Also, some of the mountain restaurants were still closed - only opening in early July - good to double check before hiking a couple of hours only to be disappointed. The info from the tourist office was not always totally accurate in this regard but there were often signs posted and the attendants on the various lifts/trains had a good handle on this situation.
On our last night we stayed at the Kulm Hotel on the Gornergrat - what a great experience - highly recommended. We also got to see the finish of the Zermatt marathon at Riffelalp - won by a Kiwi (Jonathon Wyatt) in record time (2h 57m) - what an effort.
We tried many of the mountain restaurants and here's a quick summary in no particular order;-
- Zum See - unique location, atmosphere and food
- Blatten - great views, location, food - easy 30 minute walk from the village.
- Chez Vrony - wonderful - one hour or more hike up from the village or 20 minutes down from Sunnegga - well worth it.
- Franz & Heidi - close to Chez Vrony - also totally excellent
- Stafelalp - wonderful also, 1+ hour hike down from Schwarzsee or 2+ hours up from village - again well worth the effort
- Gitz Gady (at Hotel Silvana near Furi) - really good but probably better in winter
- Simi (near Furi) - somewhat spoiled by the constant buzz of helicopters picking up building material at a cement factory only 200 m away
- Terrace at Kulm Hotel - wonderful view - very good food particularly considering it is very full of tourists at lunch
- Jaegerstuebli at Zmutt - quite simple food but OK value for money. There is another restaurant in Zmutt which looked "better" (can't remember the name) but we did not get around to trying it. Zmutt is a good 1+ hour hike up from the village - but is a great location - or you can walk from Furi in about 45 minutes - easy walk.
We trying some of the village restaurants for dinner but ate at our apartment at least 50% of the evenings. Nothing too remarkable to report on any of these.
All in all Zermatt seemed busy but there certainly was never any issue getting into restaurants without a reservation. On departing we took the Glacier Express to St Moritz for a few days - the economic crisis seems to have impacted tourist numbers there - e.g. all shops had sales on, all lifts and local busses were free if you stayed at least 2 nights in any participating hotel (which seemed to be all hotels).