How To Get To Zermatt, Switzerland’s Stunning Mountain Town

wooden chalets in Zermatt town with mountains behind, including the very steep peak of the Matterhorn

If this picturesque Swiss town nestled at the foot of the Matterhorn has captured your imagination, you might be wondering how to get to Zermatt.

The short answer is that you can get to Zermatt by train, taxi or helicopter. Notice I didn’t mention cars? It is a car-free town, so you can’t drive all the way there. However, you can drive to a nearby town and get a taxi pick-up or train from there.

Read on for more detailed info on how to get to Zermatt, Switzerland.

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How To Get To Zermatt

Closest Airport To Zermatt

Those travelling from outside of Switzerland may want to know what airport to fly into to get to Zermatt.

The closest airport to Zermatt is Sion, which is 81km (50 miles) away by road.

However, Sion is a small airport and is not that well connected. You might find it easier to get a flight into one of the following major airports, which are also within easy reach of Zermatt:

  • Bern: 131km / 81 miles by road
  • Milan Malpensa (in Italy): 175km / 109 miles by road
  • Geneva: 235km / 146 miles by road
  • Zurich:  259km / 160 miles by road
chalets in a town with the steep peak of the matterhorn mountain behind them
Zermatt, overlooked by the mighty Matterhorn!

How To Get To Zermatt By Car 

If you prefer to travel by car, you might be asking ‘can you drive to Zermatt?’. The answer is no; or at least, not all the way.

As I mentioned earlier, Zermatt is a car-free town. There are certain vehicles with a licence to be in Zermatt, such as maintenance vehicles and taxis. But as a tourist or a visitor, you won’t be able to take your car there.

If you want to drive to Zermatt, you’ll need to leave your car in the town of Täsch, where there are parking facilities. From here, you can get a taxi transfer into Zermatt itself, or you can take the train.

For more info on the parking options available in Täsch, check out the parking info on Zermatt.ch, or check with your hotel to see if they have a recommendation (many hotels can also arrange transfers from Täsch).

If you think driving to Zermatt is the best option for you, the estimated drive times to Täsch (without stopping) are:

  • From Sion airport: 1 hour & 5 minutes
  • From Bern airport: 2 hours & 20 minutes
  • From Geneva airport: 2 hrs & 35 minutes
  • From Milan Malpensa airport: 2 hours & 40 minutes
  • From Zurich airport: 3 hrs & 30 minutes
narrow pedestrian street in between chalets, with a view of mountains between them
Car-free streets in Zermatt

How To Get To Zermatt By Train

It’s pretty easy to get to Zermatt by train because there’s a narrow-gauge cog railway line from Visp, with trains approximately every half hour. NB. The train goes up into the mountains, so make sure your 4-wheel suitcase is stowed securely or it could roll down the carriage!

Unlike driving in a car, you can go all the way to Zermatt by train because the station is in the town itself.

As well as the normal local trains, if you feel like a more special train journey, the Glacier Express runs from Zermatt to St Moritz, so you can arrive or depart in style on that scenic train.

I’ll outline some of the key train routes to Zermatt below, but whatever your starting point, you can find train times and book tickets on the main rail site, SBB.ch.

On the SBB site, just enter your starting station (eg  ‘Zürich Flughafen’ is Zurich airport train station) and then ‘Zermatt’ as the destination, plus the date you want to travel. Then tap ‘Search for connection’ and it will show you the available trains, including connections along the way, and the price options. The site even shows what platform your train will depart from!

If you have a swiss rail pass, make sure you flag that so that it shows you the prices with your discount applied. But, make sure you have the pass and the ticket with you when you travel – you need to show both your ticket and your pass to train inspectors.

train tracks and a small hut with forest and mountains in the background
View from the train to Zermatt (sorry about the window reflections!)

Swiss Rail Passes

You might be able to save money on trains in Switzerland with a rail pass. Typically you have to pay something for the pass, and then you are entitled to money off certain fares, so the key thing is to know whether the money you save on fares is greater than the price you pay for the pass.  

In my experience, there’s no simple way to work out which is the best pass for you, unfortunately.

I found that I had to do a detailed comparison of the prices for the journeys I wanted to make with columns for the costs with each rail pass option, taking into account the specific conditions for each pass.

In the end, for me and the journeys I was planning to take in Switzerland, the best value combination of passes and tickets for my trip was the Swiss Half Fare Card. This cost CHF120 (approx. £110 or US$135), but gave me 50% off most train journeys for one month, including the train to Jungfraujoch in Lauterbrunnen and the Glacier Express from Zermatt.

To help you make your own decision, check the inclusions and exclusions on the various rail passes on the Swiss Travel Centre site.

Sion Airport To Zermatt Train

To go from Sion Airport to Zermatt, you’ll first need to get a bus from the airport to Sion train station. From there, you can take a train to Zermatt, changing at Visp. The end-to-end journey should take 2 hours & 20 minutes.

Interlaken To Zermatt Train

Interlaken doesn’t have an airport, but it’s a popular destination within Switzerland and many people travel from Interlaken To Zermatt after spending two or three days in Interlaken.

You can take a train to Zermatt from either Interlaken Ost or Interlaken West stations, but it won’t be direct. You’ll need to change trains twice: first at Spiez and then also at Visp.

The whole journey should take around 2 hours and 15 minutes – and there’s some lovely scenery along the way! In fact, if you have time during our interchange at Spiez, there’s a lovely view of the town and the lake from just outside the station on Seestrasse.

church tower and town overlooking a lake and mountains at Spiez in switzerland
Spiez

Bern Airport To Zermatt Train

From Bern Airport, the first leg is a bus to Belp train station. From there, you can get a train to Zermatt, which requires changes at Thun and Visp.

The journey should take just under 3 hours.

Geneva Airport To Zermatt Train

Geneva Airport has its own station and there’s only one change, at Visp. But the train takes a while as the route loops around Lake Geneva. The journey will take 3 hours & 50 minutes

Milan Malpensa Airport To Zermatt Train

Milan Malpensa might be close in terms of distance, but the train from there is one of the lengthier ones, with the best routes taking 4 hours.

This route involves taking a bus to Domodossola station, then a train, changing at Visp.

Zurich To Zermatt Train

From Zurich, you can get a train either from the Airport (Zurich Flughafen) or from Zurich’s main train station (Zurich HB). Either way, you’ll change trains at Visp and the end-to-end journey should be 3.5 hours from the airport and slightly less from Zurich HB.

How To Get To Zermatt By Helicopter

Zermatt is known for being an elite skiing resort, so I wasn’t that surprised when I discovered there’s a helipad so that uber-rich people can be choppered in!

If this is you, find out more about the Air Zermatt helicopter transfers.

Best Way To Get To Zermatt

So, what’s the best way to get to Zermatt?  In my opinion, the best way to get to Zermatt is by train.

A helicopter is clearly only an option for the super-rich.

They don’t want cars in Zermatt, so why try to get there by car? Unless your car is electric, it’s likely to be less environmentally friendly than taking the train, and you’ll only be paying for parking the whole time you’re there.

And trains are a great option for getting around Switzerland in general – there’s a really good rail network there, with regular connections to Zermatt. And the views from the trains are lovely!

turquoise river and green trees seen from a train window in switzerland
Stunning river views from a train near Interlaken

Zermatt FAQs

Is Zermatt Closer To Zurich Or Geneva?

Zermatt is closer to Geneva in terms of distance by road and quicker to get to by car from there. However, if you choose trains as your mode of transport, it’s slightly quicker to get from Zurich to Zermatt by train.  

Getting Around Zermatt

Seeing as Zermatt is car-free, you might be wondering how to get around the town once you’re there.

Whilst there are some electric cars/buggies around, the main mode of transport is walking or cycling. Oh, and you should take care to look out for the bikes and electric buggies when you’re there – they’re both quiet and can take you by surprise as you walk around the narrow streets of the town.

river with a path and chalets behind it and the steep peak of the matterhorn mountain behind it
Bachstrasse is a riverside pathway with views of the Matterhorn

How Many Days In Zermatt Is Enough?

There’s no magic number and of course, it depends on what you’re there to do. If you’re in Zermatt for skiing or snowboarding, I imagine you might want a week or so, although I’m sure some go for just a weekend.

I was there in the summer and I really just wanted to get into the mountains and to see the Matterhorn. I didn’t have the budget to take my time in Switzerland, because of how expensive it is, so I only spent two days there. I could have done with one more day, though, I think, so 3 days would have been my ideal.

What Is The Best Month To Visit Zermatt?

Again, it depends on what you’re there for.

Zermatt boasts of skiing 365 days a year, although I believe the high season remains the winter months.

I neither ski nor snowboard, so whilst I am sure the place looks gorgeous all white and snowy, I saw it in June, as part of a summer exploration in Switzerland and Norway. For what I wanted to do, the temperature was great and the town didn’t seem overly busy.

green hillside with the matterhorn mountain rising behind it
Zermatt in summer

What Is There To Do In Zermatt?

There are various winter sports available, including skiing, snowboarding and heliskiing. As I said, I haven’t experienced these activities, but there’s plenty of information available on the town website.

snow-capped mountain with a glacier flowing down and around the base of it
Gornergrat views

Things To Do In Zermatt In Summer

Other than skiing/snowboarding, here are some of the things to do in Zermatt in the summer:

  • Explore the quaint wooden chalets in the old part of the village
  • Walk along the Gornera, a glacial river that runs through the town
  • Enjoy the views of the Matterhorn. In my opinion, the best views are from the river; there’s a viewpoint in the town on the terrace just outside the Town Hall, too.
  • Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, which has views of the Matterhorn, as well as dozens of other mountains and glaciers in France, Italy and Switzerland, including the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau in the north, the north face of the Breithorn in the west, and Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, in the east.
  • Take the mountain train to Gornergrat, which has a spectacular view of the Matterhorn, but also 29 other 4,000m+ peaks, including Dufourspitze and Dom, Switzerland’s highest peaks and twin peaks, Castor and Pollux. You can look directly over the impressive Gorner glacier, which flows down through the valley below.
  • Hike to Riffelsee for lovely alpine scenery and a perfect reflection of the Matterhorn in the lake. It’s easy to do from Rotenboden station on the Gornergrat train line.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also paragliding with a Matterhorn view!
tall pointy mountain reflected in the still water of a lake
Riffelsee

Where Is The Best Place To Stay In Zermatt?

The best part of town for Matterhorn views is near the river. However, these are further from the train station, so if you want to avoid lugging your suitcase very far, that’s the place to be.

I stayed fairly near the station. I didn’t have a view of the Matterhorn, but I saw it often on my wanderings. My hotel was the Hotel Garni Testa, in which I had a compact but very comfortable room. The staff were really lovely – very friendly and helpful throughout my stay.

The Last Word

I hope this has clarified the best way to get to Zermatt and also given you some ideas about what to do there. If you are interested in other pretty towns or villages in Switzerland, have you considered Lauterbrunnen, which sits in a spectacular valley surrounded by mountains and waterfalls?

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4 thoughts on “How To Get To Zermatt, Switzerland’s Stunning Mountain Town”

  1. Michael Stuart Kolat

    Martha,

    Your experience is extensive and the manner you present your travel blog is invaluable. All the information on seeing the beauty of Zermatt and the surrounding area in the summer months was a treasure to read and so delicately put together with phenomenal photographs especially of the Matterhorn.
    Michael & Family

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