Zermatt is frequently cited as one of the world’s must-ski resorts, making it into the top 10 lists of many publications. It is well known for its expansive glaciers, steep faces, and rocky terrain. Not, you might think, the ideal place for beginners or children.
While we think Zermatt deserves its spot on the bucket list of expert skiers, we also think its suitability for less experienced skiers shouldn’t be overlooked. And here are our reasons why:
1. Under 9’s ski for free
The Zermatt lift office provides many great concessions for families. Children aged 8 years and under ski for free, and children aged 9-15 have half price passes (and ski free in the local area on Saturdays).
Concessions are also available for youths (aged 16-19) who are also eligible for discounted lift tickets. These great savings considerably reduce the cost of ski passes for the whole family.
2. Incredible ski schools
Zermatt has 8 ski schools, most of which limit the number of students in group lessons to 6. As a result, the quality of tuition is outstanding. Whether it’s beginner lessons, free-style coaching, adaptive skiing, or serious off-piste that you’re looking for, there will be an instructor who is perfect for you.
Lessons are available for anyone aged 3yrs or over, so you can leave the little ones in capable hands and enjoy some slope time for yourself.
3. Great beginner slopes
For complete beginners, there are three zones (one in each of the main ski areas) that are designed specifically for those learning the sport. Each zone has a variety of obstacles deigned to help people get to grips with the basics before graduating onto the pistes. It’s beginner heaven.
4. It’s not as cold as you think
Because of the high altitude (the resort ranges from 1650m to 3883m) temperatures in Zermatt can get pretty chilly. During January and February wind chill can take temperatures down to a biting -28⁰C on the higher pistes.
However, outside the cold months the climate is not dissimilar to other European resorts. Zermatt is well known as the sunny corner of Switzerland, basking in sunshine for around 62% of the year.
5. No crowds
Geographically, car-free Zermatt is not the easiest place to access. While this may make getting there a little trickier, it does mean that the crowds generally don’t follow.
With a ski area of 360km you’ll find very little in the way of crowds and queues, even in peak weeks, and in the quiet weeks you can sometimes ski for kilometres without seeing a soul. Sounds like heaven? We think so!
6. Variety of ski terrain
Keeping the whole family happy can be tough. Especially when everyone wants to do something different. Zermatt has three main ski areas: Sunnegga, Gornergrat, and Klein Matterhorn.
All offer very different terrain, from tree-lined runs and mogul fields to the fast and straight glacial pistes and a snow park. If that’s not enough you can buy the international ski pass that covers the neighbouring Italian resort of Cervinia, adding another 160km of almost exclusively sunny south facing slopes to your playground.
7. Snow sure
Snow, snow, snow, snow. Zermatt’s high altitude and glacial terrain means that it is a snow-sure resort, with skiing available year round.
8. Perfect for non-skiers
We know that skiing isn’t necessarily for the whole family. And we love Zermatt for the variety of activities on offer for those who don’t want to ski but still wanting to enjoy time in the mountains.
Zermatt sells passes for pedestrian access to mountain lifts, opening up most of the ski area to walkers and ensuring that mountain lunches can be enjoyed by all. With nearly 100km of winter hiking and snow-shoe trails, three toboggan runs, two ice-rinks, a museum, and more spas than you need there is plenty to do.