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Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

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Sydney, Australia
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Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

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:-

We arrived on June 20 from Garmisch-Partenkirchen by a combination of car/plane/train from Munich at 17:30 and stayed at an apartment called "Cloud9" - see holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/zermatt/35528

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).

London
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1. Re: Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

Thanks for your detailed report. It's good to get feedback, and I'm sure your report will be useful for others visiting in the future.

Yorkshire
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2. Re: Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

Thanks for the report. I was there for a weekend at the beginning of July when two of my friends were running in the marathon. Yes, I saw the Kiwi finish in a new record time, around 15 mins ahead of the second runner. Awesome.

I go along with you choice of mountain restaurants. I also like the small hotel up at Trift. Hugo produces some great food after the long trek up.

Zermatt was busy with the usual groups of tourists, but I got the impression that they were not spending much in the shops and as you say, getting into restaurants was easy.

We were on a budget, and for the first time I stayed at the Weisshorn right in the middle of the village near the church. Outstanding value, one star I think, though we did share a bathroom which would not appeal to everyone. Fabulous breakfasts. We also ate three evenings at the Matterhorn Hostel - a short walk but very good value for hungry hikers/runners.

On the subject of weather, we were lucky with warm sunny days, but with rain in the evening. I noticed this morning on the webcams that there is a cover of new snow up at Rothorn. The first time the marathon was held, the runners came in covered in snow.

Brisbane
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3. Re: Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

Thanks for the info! Farmer Mike, how is the Matterhorn Hostel? Did you think it was clean enough? We are staying there two nights, it's the only budget place we could find and we can't use Priceline or hotel reward points in Zermatt. Do they have fondue?

Germany
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4. Re: Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

What you observed in St. Moritz has nothing to do with the financial crisis. I've been on vacation there almost every year through the past ten years and they have always had sales in summer. The "lifts and buses/trains included" has been going on for two years now, I think, and more and more hotels participate. It's pretty common in many tourist destinations in the Alps, e.g. Arosa, Davos, Serfaus, Fiss. It is an excellent deal for tourists and a reason for me to go there and avoid places like Zermatt where prices for cable cars etc. are ridiculously expensive.

Yorkshire
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5. Re: Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

Tikibird, I haven't stayed at the Matterhorn Hostel. I think the accommodation is pretty basic, but then perhaps that's what you might expect for the price. You will have seen the mixed reviews. Remember this is one of the top resorts in Switzerland. I have spoken to quite a lot of people in the bar and some think the accommodation is great value, others moan a bit.

I do eat in the hostel restaurant quite a bit, when looking for good value meals with friends. Mark Wainwright (Sparky) who ran the North Wall Bar for many years, took over the bar/restaurant last year, and has made a good job of it. In winter it is very busy with quite a young crowd. More relaxed in summer.

When you get there, have a word with him, (you can mention my name!), and he will give you good advice on what to do/where to go, and where to find good value fondue. I think he starts work about 4.00p.m.

I have been going to Zermatt since I was 19 and a uni student (I got hooked, it's that sort of place). Until recently I had the chance of a pretty basic single room in a hotel at almost zero cost whenever I wanted it, but all good things come to an end.

I hope you have a great time and that the weather is kind. You don't say when you are going.

The big supermarkets - Migros and the Coop (opposite the station) are good value for both food and drink. Anything else you need to know, give me a shout. Apart from the cost of cable cars, it is possible to live Zermatt on a budget.

Brisbane
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6. Re: Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

We aren't really fussy and as long as we can get a decent night's sleep we'll be fine. I expect we will be a lot older than everyone else there. The GFC has hampered our budget so we will try to enjoy as many local specialities as possible like fondue and eat cheap at other meals. Is the hostel far from the train station? If we can make a 5:39 train to Visp, we will get a better connection to Vienna. Thanks for the extra tips!

Brisbane
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7. Re: Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

Ooops forgot to say we are going Sept 9-11.

Yorkshire
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8. Re: Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

Sorry to give you the bad news, but the Matterhorn Hostel is at the other end of the village from the train station, so it will be an early start home! I would say 10 mins if you have your luggage on your back. Nothing steep though.

From the station, head up the village towards the Matterhorn until you come to the Church Square. Turn left just before the Church and cross the bridge near the graveyard. After crossing the river take the first turn right and you will see the sign SPARKY's outside the hostel.

September should be a good time for weather, but you never know in the mountains.

I agree with the comment about very expensive cable cars etc.. Fortunately at my age I find it easier to walk uphill than down, so I usually use lifts only for the latter, which are much cheaper.

Yorkshire
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9. Re: Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

Tikibird, Sparky's at the Matterhorn Hostel will do Fondue on request.

Brisbane
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10. Re: Summer in Zermatt - mini trip report

Sounds good, Farmer Mike (fondue at Sparky's). I guess we will have to drag our lazy butts out of bed at 5am and be pre-packed and ready to go. Will they check you out at 5am? One night is pre-paid via Bookng.com, we have to pay the second night there. I don't think we would be out late at night anyway and we have a private room booked, not dorm beds.

I think we will do the afternoon trip where you get the RT cable car, admission to Glacier Palace and coffee and cakes at the restaurant for 81 CHF, it's cheaper than a normal RT and you get more! We can just look around the village or find something to do in the morning.