Last Updated: November 3, 2022

12 Things To Do In Zermatt For Non-Skiers (Fun & Adventure)

Skiing is the national sport of Switzerland and a huge part of the culture. It stands to good reason with the towering Alps at the heart of the nation. You’ll find a host of ski resorts in Switzerland with classic chalets and dazzling views, some with a lively apres ski life and others more family-friendly with rustic lodgings.

But lo, not every travel bug in Switzerland skis or has the desire to. If this is you, your best bet is to book a trip to Zermatt, a top-rated resort with lots of awesome things, like the following, for non-skiers to do.

Enjoy the Adventures at Matterhorn Glacial Park

Matterhorn express

Matterhorn express

An Alpine Adventureland, the Matterhorn Glacial Park is home to Europe’s highest cable car station at 3,883 meters (12,739 feet). Located right by the Italian border, you’ll see the very different south face of the iconic Matterhorn. You’ll get an amazing 360-degree view of the Alps from the platform, and on a clear day, you can see all the way to Gran Paradiso, Italy’s highest peak, and Mont Blanc, the highest peak in France.

The summit is the gateway to the largest summer ski area, and you may spot international ski stars passing through the summit station to train at the summer pistes. Here you’ll have a chance to snag the autograph of a famous athlete.

Besides the viewing platform, you’ll find lots of other exciting things to do at the park. Don’t miss the Glacial Palace where you’ll walk through an ice cave below the ice field. The cave has a maze of ice tunnels, sculptures carved of ice, an ice slide, and an ice bar. There’s also a restaurant and a cinema lounge.

Journey Through Time at the Matterhorn Museum

Spend a couple of hours inside the Matterhorn Museum to learn the history of Zermatt and how it grew into a tourist destination. The story begins with the first ascent of Switzerland’s Matterhorn in 1865.

Zermatt’s history is closely tied to early mountaineering and is shown through photos, artifacts, and a relief map of the Matterhorn featuring the different routes leading to the summit. Displays include climbing gear from the pioneering days to today’s modern technology. The well-designed museum also features dramatic excerpts from the film Der Berg Ruft (The Mountain Calls.) The movie was filmed in 1937 and 1938.

The contemporary museum shows more about Zermatt than mountain climbing. You’ll see artifacts from the Neolithic Age and aspects of mountain life shown through home furnishings, interiors, and more.

One of the museum’s most popular highlights is the Marmot Fountain from 1906 where a family of shiny bronze ground-dwelling marmots frolics among the cascades. A life-sized bronze ibex stands behind the fountain.

Ride the Gornergrat Railway

Gornergrat railway

For the most breathtaking panoramas anywhere in the world, take a ride aboard the Gornergrat, the world’s first electric cog railway and the highest open-air cog in Europe. Today, the cog railway is modern and eco-friendly with a regenerative braking system that generates its own electricity to save energy on the descent.

The airy observation platform is accessible year-round for viewing the Alpine region at an altitude of 3,089 meters (135 feet.)The panorama is spectacular with mountains and glaciers are far as you can see.

The ride is 33 minutes long and makes a vertical climb at a dizzying height. It covers 9.4 kilometers and passes over impressive bridges, through tunnels and galleries, past mountain lakes and craggy ravines, and across forests of Swiss stone pine and larch conifers.

The railway takes a wide curve up to the slopes of Riffelberg where there’s a hotel with a restaurant and terrace used by skiers as a sundeck.

Skate on a Natural Ice Rink

Ice Skating is the perfect winter sport for non-skiers, especially in the Village of Täsch where, in the middle of town, you’ll find a natural ice rink nestled among breathtaking mountain scenery. It attracts people of all ages and is used for easy, relaxed skating and spirited hockey games.

Open in the proper weather conditions, the attraction is open to the public and free of charge. Skates are available to rent in the next-door sports shop.

If you’d rather participate as a spectator, several ice rinks across the village offer ice sports events. Watch the EHC Zermatt, the local ice hockey club, as they train.

Explore Zermatt Village

Simply strolling through the streets of Zermatt Village is an attraction in itself as you wander among Swiss-style chalets, quaint shops, and restaurants with sunny terraces with a background of Alpine scenery.

The Bahnhofstrasse is the village’s main street and is lined with souvenir shops, bars, boutiques, and bakeries selling delightful cakes and chocolates. The buildings are an eclectic mix of old and modern but no flat roofs or giant hotel blocks. Three hotels—the Monte Rosa, and the Mont Cervin Palace have bars open to the public where you can experience their charm and hospitality.

In the old village past the Grand Hotel, you’ll see buildings in the traditional style of the original Walser residents. Learn about the lifestyle of the old mountain farmers as you explore 500-year-old barns and grain stores.

Relax at a Zermatt Spa

Ruheliegen im Spa des Matthiol

Ruheliegen im Spa des Matthiol – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Most visitors come to Zermatt to be near the slopes, and since skiers love recuperation time at a spa, the village has many of them most of which are newly designed. The spas are wellness facilities in the hotels and most are open to everyone including non-guests and non-skiers. Almost all hotels have them on the premises.

After a demanding day exploring Zermatt and the mountains hit one of the spas and enjoy the sauna, fitness centers, swimming pools, and massages.

Looking for the best ones? The Omnia Hotel, a 5-star hotel in Zermatt has a Finnish Sauna, a Turkish bath, a petal steam room, a caldarium, a relaxation room, and indoor and outdoor pools. Or find peace, relaxation, and mindfulness at Mountain Ashram Spa By CERVO. Inspired by Japanese onsen, the spa features Bhutanese hot stone baths. Old traditions are brought to life using fresh spring water and exotic local herbs.

For the best masseuse in town, try the Zermatt Massage Centre.

Go Winter Hiking & Snowshoeing

You don’t need skiing skills to enjoy winter hiking and snowshoeing in Zermatt. The area has over 70 kilometers of prepped winter hiking and snowshoe trails. They have breathtaking views of the unspoiled countryside with the Matterhorn and other peaks visible in the distance. You’ll find yourself stopping often to take in the views of mountains and glaciers.

There are four trails for winter hiking that run from Zermatt to Furi. The one that begins at Winkelmatten is the easiest, and three medium to difficult trails go via Zmutt, Zum See, and Bietli/Furi. Another easy hike is the one out to Höhbalmen where there’s a popular viewpoint and a bench for resting.

Findeln, a group of hamlets above Zermatt, has winter hiking trails with restaurants for hikers to take a break.

Snowshoeing is a great winter sport for non-skiers. If you want to go with a guide, take the snowshoe tour along the Matterhorn Glacier Trail. It takes place every Friday and is for a minimum of three participants. If you want to take the virgin snowshoe trails, you do so at your own risk. The sports stores around Zermatt have snowshoes for rent.

Pay Homage at the Mountaineer’s Cemetery

As beautiful as Zermatt’s dramatic landscape is, it poses a danger for accidents. Tucked behind St. Mauritius Church, the Mountaineer’s Cemetery honor those who died while climbing the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, and other peaks in the area.

The cemetery contains about 50 gravestones of climbers dating from the 19th century to the early 20th century. Most of the accidents happened before technology made the climbs safer. As an exception, one of the gravestones honors a father and son duo who served as guides for Edward Whymper, the first person to climb the Matterhorn. Only three of a party of seven made it back to Zermatt alive. The 1865 accent was successful, but four climbers fell to their deaths on the way back down.

Flowers and candles have been left at the gravestones by relatives and fellow climbers. Some stones reveal the cause of the accidents such as a rockfall, avalanche, or crevasse while one simply says “I chose to climb.”

The Mountaineer’s Cemetery is a somber place and worth a visit while in Zermatt.

Take a Jaw-Dropping Helicopter Tour

Helicopter tour in Zermatt

Helicopter tour in Zermatt – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

It’s difficult to understand the sheer scale of the Alps around Zermatt from the ground. Get a completely different perspective of it all with a private helicopter tour. You’ll see the sweeping panoramas of all the tall peaks in the region led by a professional pilot. You’ll receive personalized attention and learn about the region’s history and culture along the way.

Some of the sights you can expect to see include the Jungfraujoch, a building called “Top of Europe,” and the huge Aletsch Glacier behind it. You’ll pass over the Schilthorn, a historic mountain where lots of internal films including James Bond movies have been produced. You’ll see the Eiger north face covered with a glacier to the left and right and the Grindelwald valley below.

The helicopter tours pass over Interlaken where from above you’ll have views of the lakes and the villages around them. You’ll be astounded by the turquoise glacial waters that fill the lakes.

Visit St. Mauritius Church

The majestic Alps and Alpine countryside sometimes overshadow the amazing architecture one can find in Zermatt. Appreciate the art and architecture of bygone days with a visit to St. Mauritius Church. Conveniently located near the Matterhorn Museum, it serves the area’s catholic community and is often visited by tourists. Locals and people from around the world attend Sunday Mass here. It’s also popular for weddings and choir performances.

St Mauritius is listed in the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property for its artifacts such as its baptismal font and altars. In addition to the amazing architecture, you’ll have an excellent southwest view of the Matterhorn from the steps of the church.

Go Shopping in Zermatt


Bahnhofstrasse – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Shopping in Zermatt is much more than the little souvenir shops, although you’ll want to do that as well. Bahnhofstrasse is the village’s main shopping thoroughfare, and you’ll want to browse the stores even if only to ogle at the high-end luxury goods, admire jewelry that rivals the sparkle of the snow and ice, and smell the fragrances wafting from the bakeries.

Even non-skiers will appreciate the state-of-the-art skiing and mountaineering equipment at Slalom Sport. And if you are interested in a watch with a price tag of thousands of dollars, you’ll be in luck at Bijouterie Schindle which offers Swiss watches and gemstones.

Dine in Zermatt Restaurants

Zermatt is known as the gourmet capital of the Alps with Gault Millau and Michelin restaurants on every corner. Enjoy both traditional Swiss dishes and the latest gourmet creations. The choices range from fine dining to outdoor cafes and mountain huts with a view.

Many of the eating establishments have award-winning cuisine and all of the chefs use high-quality fresh ingredients in their creations.

Schweizerhof Kitchen comes highly recommended and serves international foods with an outstanding list of cocktails. You can also experience some unique dining experiences such as breakfast on a gondola, a sunset dinner from high in the Alps, or a gastronomy tour with the village’s best chefs.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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