Zermatt is a small mountain village located in the Swiss Alps, known for its stunning scenery and world-class skiing opportunities. For Zermatt in Winter, the village transforms into a Winter wonderland, with snow-covered streets and alpine chalets. For Zermatt in Winter (November to March months), there are lots of things to do for non-skiers.
The ski resort of Zermatt is home to some of the highest and most challenging ski runs in the world, making it a popular destination for experienced skiers usually. However we want to highlight that there are also plenty of options for non-skiers, including snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding and sightseeing on the iconic Gornergrat Railway. In addition to the outdoor activities, Zermatt also offers a variety of dining and shopping options, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene.
Overall, Zermatt in the winter is a magical destination for those seeking a winter vacation filled with adventure and natural beauty. Curious of our full list of things to do for non-skiers? Read on!
Things To Do For Non-Skiers
Here our our top recommendations for things to do in Zermatt in Winter for non skiers:
1. Hike, Hike and Hike!
Even during winter there are some beautiful hikes that you can do based on your level of fitness. The surrounding mountains have lots of routes, but you can also hike through Zermatt and around the village too. A personal recommendation is to hike from Gornergrat to the Rotenboden station, which is one stop. Else to also continue to Riffelberg. This is a beautiful and fantastic route with the Matterhorn in front of you as you hike down. You can follow the pink ribbon flags for the route, but in winter you will actually easily see the route from the footprints of others who have done it.
2. Gornergrat train
Zermatt in winter has the perfect conditions to take the train up to Gornergrat for some beautiful snowy views. The train passes through the village, then some foresty area followed by the route to the top. For the best views of the Matterhorn (and village at the start), it is best to sit on the right side of the train carriages. However if you sit on the right side, it’s just as pretty with the views of the Zermatt houses below from a higher view and the snowy mountains on the other side.
Buy your Gornergrat Cogwheel Train Tickets in advance to save time at the entrance! You can then usually be one of the first on the train for a good seat.
3. Get A Hot Choc or Glühwein
Whether staying in the village of Zermatt or heading up to the surrounding mountains, it’s worth stopping at a local viewpoint restaurant or cosy cafe to enjoy either a hot chocolate or glühwein during Winter. From the end of November the season already starts, with nearly every location (at least in our experience) selling glühwein. A personal favourite was a warm glühwein at the top of the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
4. Matternhorn Glacier Paradise Ski lift
Even if you are not a skier, it’s a must to take the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cable car lift to the top. The ski lift starts at the village of Zermatt just a short distance from the village area. Each cabin can fit up to 6 people, but with most people wearing ski boots, gear and bags, we saw that most take 4-5 max so that you all have room. The lift takes you through many stations such as Furi, Schwarzsee and Trockener Steg. So make sure to stay on it until you reach the very top!
Buy your Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Cable Car Tickets in advance to save time, so you don’t need to queue up at the entrance! With the ticket you can discover the spectacular viewing platform, unique ice palace, and cinema lounge at the peak!
We also suggest on the way back down, make sure to get out at Schwarzsee and Trockener Steg. Because at Trockener Steg it’s a great place for a bite to eat, drink or to simply enjoy the views, and at Schwarzsee there is a perfect viewpoint with ‘Zermatt’ signage for a photo.
5. Museum time
Zermatt is home to 2 great museums that you may be interested in as a non skier:
- Matterhorn Museum Zermatlantis – This museum shares the triumph and tragedy surrounding the first ascent of the Matterhorn.It also highlights how people lived in Zermatt in the 19th century and how one hike turned bad with a broken rope, which was from the first ever ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865.
- Zooom The Matterhorn – Opened only in June 2021, this museum is a fun, new multimedia universe allows you to discover all the dimensions of the Matterhorn and the mountain. This is done through 3D sessions, virtual paragliding flights and videos on the its surrounding alpine mountains. Tip: the admission is included in your Gornergrat train ticket.
6. Zermatt Village Viewpoint
Just a short 15 minute walk from the main Zermatt train station to the viewpoint, you will have one of the best village views towards the Matterhorn. Here you can stand and see the village rooftops, centre and the ski lifts in the distance. It is also the perfect angle of the Matterhorn above the village too. When visiting the viewpoint, don’t forget to bring your camera.
Tips: Best moments to visit is during sunset hours, even though the sun sets behind the mountain, the sunset time entering into darkness is the best time when all the houses and streets turn on the lighting for the night. A pretty sight!
You can also consider taking this Alpine Village Tour which takes 2 hours to explore by foot.
7. Helicopter Ride Around The Matternhorn
For those looking for a bit more adventure, you can book a fun helicopter ride around the Matterhorn. Together with Air Zermatt, they offer the public a few trips based on time such as 20minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes and different routes. They mainly provide sightseeing flights around the Matterhorn, but also over the glaciers and can also include lunch!
8. Shop For Local handmade Souvenirs
When walking through the pretty Zermatt village, you will see many stores selling Swiss souvenirs and pretty gifts for you to buy and take home. As a tourist, these are of course great to have not only your photos and memories, but also a souvenir that you can take home.
The most popular souvenirs we spotted in Zermatt include; postcards, magnets, keychains, small cuddly toys and mugs. However there are also many stores selling local handmade products too, which is great to buy something a little more unique!
Looking for a pretty Zermatt-themed gift?Esty Shop: Zazoolka
Check our Etsy shop for our self designed 3D printed decoration!
9. Explore Zermatt in Winter Village Side Streets
It’s great to explore the main streets of Zermatt, where the shops and restaurants are, but as a non skier take a longer walk along the village side streets and alleyways. There are some beautiful wooden chalet houses and side streets that are very picturesque. It’s more unique to walk around these side streets and see Zermatt like a local.
10. Enjoy Views At Sunnegga and above
For more mountainous views, heading to Sunnegga is a great alternative to the others. You can get there with the ski lift once the mountain area is open during season. From here you can also head higher such as to Rothorn. Sunnegga is a great place to also start some hikes, grab some food at Buffet Bar Sunnegga and to enjoy some snow fun.
For our own visit, this was actually closed as we were one week too early for the opening of these ski lifts, but we saw it’s a great spot to recommend for non skiers!
Buy the Sunnegga Funicular Ticket in advance for your trip!
11. Glacier Paradise OBservation Viewpoint and Restaurant
At point 4 we already highlighted the ski lift to the top of the mountain, but now we also want to highlight the Glacier Paradise viewpoint and restaurant. Once at the top, you can take a lift a few levels higher to the open area. After the lift there are only stairs to the outside top area, so keep this in mind. It’s a small observation area so on weekends it can be busy, but we visited on a Friday and at one point had the area to ourselves!
The view is impressive on a clear day at the top of the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, where you can see at least 14 main mountains which are Swiss, French and Italian! The highlight of course is seeing the Matterhorn, but the views are so impressive to also see Mont Blanc at 4,807 elevation.
As for the restaurant, this is a buffet style place where you can easily help yourself to a treat and bite to eat. Here is where we also enjoyed a glühwein from what we mentioned at point 3. Pricy of course, but delicious!
12. Glacier Palace
When at the top of the Klein Matterhorn (with the Matterhorn Glacier Express ski list), take the lift down a few levels into the mountain. Here you can walk through the glacier inside, decorated beautifully with ice sculptures inside. The sculptures include beautiful designs of animals (we saw wolves, a dragon and birds), people and a local designs.
There is also ice tunnel that you can take a mat to sit on and slide down. It’s a small tunnel which was fun, but we found it was not so slippery for us, so we got a bit stuck and had to wiggle down!
13. Enjoy local restaurants in the Zermatt village
For a bite to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner, there are numerous restaurants to visit in Zermatt specifically. We tried quite a few and enjoyed all of them. Our recommendations include:
Zermatt restaurants for breakfast
- Fuchs Bakery & Bistro (the BEST place for fresh breads, pastries and omelette!)
- Petit Royal Bakery
Zermatt restaurants for lunch
- Zermatt Kitchen
- Ice Buffet (at Trockener Steg)
- Panorama Self (at Gornergrat)
Zermatt restaurants for dinner
- Golden India Zermatt (most delicious curry!!)
- Hornox Alpine Grill Zermatt
- Restaurant Pizzeria Klein Matterhorn
- Grampi’s Bar & Restaurant
- L‘ Atelier Grandsire
Top tip: If you wish to save money, you can also visit supermarkets Coop and Migros which has a section for fresh take away food and salads. It’s ideal if you wish to take food with you for a local hike or a picnic in the wintery sunshine, which can be of course cheaper than meal at a local restaurant.
Where To Stay In Zermatt In Winter
For a non-skier, you can stay in any of the stunning hotels and apartments in Zermatt directly. Everything is within walking distance from the train station, since Zermatt is car free, else your hotel may provide pick up service with one of the little shuttle buses used in Zermatt.
Our personal recommendation is to stay at House Mojo, which we booked via Booking. We picked our stay at House Mojo so that we could have a spacious apartment for ourselves, it was within 10 minutes from the village and the view from the balcony is one of the best uninterrupted views of the Matternhorn. To wake up with a view was absolutely amazing!
Want to know more, read our full post review about staying at House Mojo!
If you wish to see more recommended hotels in Zermatt? Check our specific post for this!
Travel Tips of Zermatt in Winter
Overall Zermatt is a great place to visit in the winter, even as a non-skier. We personally enjoyed 3 nights here during November 2022 and loved it. It was easy to get around Zermatt in our warm clothing and shoes, easy to explore at the top of the mountains as a non-skier and we definitely drank lots of wintery warm drinks at each peak and restaurant.
Our Main Travel Tips:
- Take the Gornergrat Express train for the best arrival and departure to and from Zermatt
- Enjoy at least 1 fresh glühwein or hot chocolate at the very top of the Klein Matterhorn
- Have fun! Throw a snowball, make snow angels and take a wintery hiking route for one of the days during your visit
- Dress warm, with appropriate winter shoes and clothing
- Enjoy eating out at a local restaurant, we had the best service in all of them!