I just got back from a trip through Switzland, including 3 days in Zermatt. Its a great town to visit, expecially if you are into outdoor activities and hiking. The town itself is quaint - a long main street with lots going on, lots of shops, restaurants, bars, etc. Definitely the heart of the town. You can take several excursions up the various mountains - Matterhorn, Gornergrat, and Rothorn. There are fantastic vistas, and an almost unlimited number of hiking options from easy to quite challenging. And while the town has lots of tourists, we found there to be many more swiss visiting here than foreigners (like us - I'm from the US). And depending on which hikes you take you will either run into lots of other hikers, or very few. But one of the great features about Zermatt is that it has grown up as a hikers region, so at various waypoints on your hike you'll come across a mountain house or restaurant offering food and drink (including the Eidelwiess which has been serving hikers for over 100 years!). My kids and I had a fantastic time capped off with the good fortune of being there for the Swiss National Day, which featured outdoor dining options by many of the restaurants along the main street with local music and entertainment (its been a long time since I saw a live performance on bells). The night ended with a terrific fireworks show from just above the town. Overall, Zermatt was a nice respid from the over-touristy places like Lucerne and Interlaken. Would highly recommend it as part of an overall Swizerland visit.
Thanks for sharing. Did you also get into the mountains for hiking above Interlaken or Lucerne, too? Any comparison to offer?
Did one hike down from Mt. Pilatus in Lucern which was quite nice. In Interlaken the whole day was taken up with getting up and down the Jungfrau so didn't have time to hike (took a boat trip to Thun the other day which I would highly recommend). My impression is that while there is good hiking in both these locations, they are larger cities and the hiking is more spread out. Zermatt is pretty small, and you can take hikes starting right from the main street. And once you are hiking, there are many choices for routes to take, depending on how long you want to go, degree of difficulty, etc. And you can just tell from the number of sports shops (some that will rent hiking sticks) and all the folks walking around in hiking gear that it really is an outdoors oriented town. Plus it has year-round skiing, with summer skiing on the Matterhorn Glacier.