A New Yorker Abroad: The Definitive Guide to Zermatt, Switzerland

Welcome to the A New Yorker Abroad series where each month our writer Lauren Breedlove will be jet-setting somewhere different, all around the world in the hope that her adventures will transport, inspire, and give you at least a hearty handful of boss planning ideas, from a wild wanderer who’s been there, done that.

Summer in New York City can mean many things. 

Sweltering drinks on crowded rooftops, elevated subway sweat stench, and the ever comforting falling-asleep-to-the-lulling-sounds-of air-conditioning-dripping-on-the-apartment’s-air-conditioning-unit-directly-below-yours. Delightful, isn't it?

But, if that’s just not your thing, and you need a summer escape that’s just not quite so summery-- consider the Swiss. 

Smell sheep poo instead of roasting city garbage. Fill your nostrils with bits of refreshing alpine air in lieu of bits of hefty humidity. Feast your eyes on a smorgasbord of snow-capped mountains rather than men wearing tank tops.

Home of the Matterhorn, Zermatt is the essential Swiss town for New Yorkers. Basically, if us big city dwellers could create our ideal Alp dwelling, it would be Zermatt. 

It’s a neat little package of an authentic Swiss experience, year round après ski, alpine wildlife friends, and cheese, all nestled in the Swiss Alps; no air conditioning necessary. And, much unlike our city, this is a car free environment, which is the definition of lovely. 

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I know you're convinced already, but just in case, here's the deets on your summer vacay; sans summer.


Transit

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The train ride into Zermatt is reason enough to go. You’ll hop a cog train outside of the regular train station in Visp. When the train departs the station, your fairy tale begins. 

Just be prepared to wipe your own drool. You won’t blink for the entire trip as you’ll be absorbing scene after scene swishing by your window perch to keep in your back pocket. They'll come in handy when you’ve returned to the city and have your face in someone’s armpit on the 6 train weeks later and need to summon that Swiss serenity.

Once in the postcard perfect alpine village, your transportation is something you're very much accustomed to employing on the regular...your feet. No cars allowed in the village limits of Zermatt makes this already impossibly charming place just downright unbelievable. 


Action

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Hike, bike, herd sheep; all normal swiss things. 

- Take the cogtrain (an experience in and of itself) up to Gornergrat and hike at least part of the way down. But first, stop at the top to absorb the gasp inducing view. Be prepared to halt every other minute to admire the unreasonably gorgeous scenery in front of you. Yes, it’s real. And all those wildflowers? Go ahead, stop and smell them.

- Interact with the Valais black-nosed sheep. I helped herd sheep for the ultimate quintessential Swiss experience. 

- Marvel at the Matterhorn. Zermatt's shining star of a mountain, famous resident, and for good reason.  The majestic peak has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated, and not just on the Toblerone wrapper (although the chocolate is delicious and should be sampled). 

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 - Summer skiing. Step up your ski game by doing it summer style, in Switzerland, no less.

- Bop up high above Zermatt on one of the lifts and watch as somehow this place becomes yet even more magical. 

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- Get your hike on. This is a hiker's haven, after all. There's something for every level, and the inspiring scenery will keep you truckin' on. Not to mention the myriad of mountain restaurants. The promise of delicious, authentic food will keep those boots moving. 


Feast

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The Brown Cow- Get your burger on, because...meat. Then, bop across the street to Gees for some of the liveliest live music I’ve ever experienced. The tagline is "every occasion at Gees is special" and truer words have never been spoken.

Fondue, of course. Because everything tastes better dipped in melty cheese. Oh, and it's the national food of Switzerland; that too. There are abundant fondue options, but check out Restaurant Whymper-Stube for a dip in tradition. 

You'll have your pick of other bars, just like in our hometown city. Toast your drinks outdoors with Swiss flair at the Snowboat, hang with the locals at Papperla Pub, cheers to the every popular Harry's Ski bar, and hit up the Champagner Bar, perfectly positioned for wetting your whistle directly off the slopes.


Rest