Weekend Snowboarding At Zermatt

Weekend Snowboarding At Zermatt

In December, I was sent on a business trip to Luxembourg for a month. On the weekends while I was there, I took advantage of Luxembourg’s great central location in Europe and went travelling. As a snowboarder, I am aware of the famous Swiss alps - the great white expanse of powder and breath taking mountain ranges. Research was conducted and I decided that I must go to Zermatt, where the Matterhorn is located. Leaving on Friday night after work from Luxembourg, and getting back to Luxembourg on Monday morning, while fitting in two days of snowboarding at Zermatt, was no easy task.

I planned a month in advance to the most minute detail, in order to waste as little time as possible searching for information on my phone while I was there. Plane and train tickets were bought, hotel and equipment rentals were reserved. I poured over maps of the Zermatt village, scoped out restaurants to eat at, and made sure I knew the routes around the slopes.

Itinerary

Friday 19:00 - 21:30: Flight from Luxembourg City to Geneva with a transfer at Zurich.

  • It’s possible to get to Zermatt from Geneva or Zurich, but the flight to Geneva was cheaper by about 50%, despite transferring at Zurich.
  • There are direct flights, but they are much more expensive.

Friday 21:30 - 22:00: Take the IR SBB train at the airport to Gare de Cornavin, the main train station in Geneva, and walk to City Hostel Geneva.

  • I would have preferred to take a train straight from the airport to Zermatt upon landing in Geneva, instead of staying the night at a hostel. However the last train going to Zermatt was at 19:50. I couldn’t leave work early enough to take an early enough flight to get to Geneva before 19:50.
  • You can get a free 80 minute transfer for Geneva’s public transit and SBB trains right before you exit the baggage area at the airport.
  • There is no security to get onto the train, but after the train is moving, there will be a ticket officer who will walk down the train cabins and check everyone’s ticket with a scanner.
  • At Gare de Cornavin, there is a Migros grocery store where you can purchase food for meals or the lengthy train ride to Zermatt. Items of note include a variety of Swiss cheeses, baked goods, sandwiches, and famous Swiss chocolates like Lindt, Frey, and Minor. You can’t go wrong with the the store bought chocolates - they are as delicious as artisanal chocolates in North America.

Friday 22:00 - Saturday 04:30: Stay overnight at City Hostel Geneva.

  • The TripAdvisor review is 4/5 and it’s ranked 2 out of 10 in specialty lodging in Geneva.
  • The check in times are from 14:00 on the arrival day to midnight.
  • Check in was smooth, remember to bring your passport! Rooms are pretty small, but clean. There are lockers in the rooms that you can use, if you bring your own lock. The lockers fit a 45L backpack.

Saturday 04:30 - 09:30: Take the earliest possible train to Zermatt, with a transfer at Visp.

  • Buy a train ticket here ahead of time. Buying early online is about 50 CHF, whereas if you buy at the train station, it’s about 100 CHF. If you buy online, the train ticket is non-refundable.
  • There is no security to get onto the train, but after the train is moving, there will be a ticket officer who will walk down the train cabins and check everyone’s ticket with a scanner.
  • You will have about 20 minutes to transfer to another train at Visp. That gives you enough time to run to the Migros right outside the train station to pick up some more snacks and coffee.
  • Finding the right platform is extremely easy at all the train stations. The platform numbers are everywhere on signs at the station and the station is generally a straight path with platforms on the left and right.

Saturday 09:30 - 10:00: Walk to the hotel and check in.

  • The train station is at the northern edge of the village.
  • I stayed at Hotel Simi, which was a 10 minute walk from the train station. It has a TripAdvisor rating of 4/5.
  • My rate was about $90 a night, which I got via my Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • The hotel room is modern and spacious with great views of the Matterhorn. The free breakfast buffet is delicious - it comes with a variety of cold cuts, cheeses, bread, fruits, yogurts, cereal, oatmeal, and juices.
  • The hotel also has free luggage and ski/snowboard equipment storage.

Saturday 10:00 - 11:00: Rent equipment at Dorsaz Sport and purchase lift tickets.

  • I chose Dorsaz Sport because it’s right next to the Matterhorn Express lift (which takes you up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise), and it also rents jackets and pants. I was travelling light for work and didn’t think it was worth it to pack my bulky snowboarding jacket and pants, so I had to rent.
  • Dorsaz Sport also provides free storage space, overnight included, that comes with the rental.
  • Because I am only snowboarding for 2 days, I didn’t find any special deals for lift tickets online.
  • I chose to purchase a Zermatt only lift ticket for Saturday and a Zermatt-Cervinia lift ticket for Sunday.

Saturday 11:00 - 16:00: Snowboard!

  • There are 3 main lifts at Zermatt: Matterhorn Glacier Paradise - Schwarzsee, Sunnegga - Rothorn, and Gornergrat.
  • I chose to only go on the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise because:
    • I only had 2 days, and the first day is a shorter because I couldn’t get to Zermatt early enough via the train.
    • The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise takes you to the highest point in Zermatt, the Klein Matterhorn, at 3883 meters.
    • The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise lets you board down to the Italian alpine resort of Breuil-Cervinia in Italy.
    • Dorsaz Sport was located conveniently next to the Matterhorn Express, which is the gondola that takes you up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
  • I spent Saturday familiarizing myself with the pistes, and spent Sunday making my over to the Breuil-Cervinia and then back to Zermatt. I wanted to make sure I had a whole day for this so that I don’t accidentally get stuck in Italy after the lifts are closed.

Saturday 16:00 - end of day: Explore the village.

  • I stored my equipment at Dorsaz Sport and walked back to the hotel to freshen up.
  • I had dinner at Elsie’s Bar. I had a plate of 3 oysters, a steak, and a Swiss bear, for 75 CHF. The steak was served with a raclette instead of the mashed potatoes that we get in North America. The food is pricey but delicious.
  • After dinner, Zermatt has a lot of interesting stores to offer. There is a Coop in front of the train station, high end Swiss chocolate at Laderach, and several clothing stores.

Sunday 08:30 - 16:00: Cervinia.

  • I got into the lift at 08:30 right when it opens, with the goal of making my way to Cervinia in Italy.
  • How to get to Cervinia (use the free map they provide - it’s immensely useful):
    • Take the Matterhorn Express up to Trockener Steg. The gondola makes stops at Furi, Schwarzsee, and Furgg, but you can just stay on.
    • At Trockener Steg, walk towards the tunnel to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cable car.
    • Take the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cable car to the Klein Matterhorn, the highest point you can reach at Zermatt.
    • Follow the signs and ski/board to Testa Grigia (Plateau Rosa).
    • From Testa Grigia, there are two ways to get to the Italian village:
      • Go down the Ventina route #7 for a challenge.
      • Or go down the Plan Maison route #6 and stop for lunch at Chalet Etoile.
        • It’s the #1 restaurant on TripAdvisor in Cervinia.
        • The view on the terrace is absolutely unreal.
        • The restaurant section with service has long wait times, reservations are recommended, and the food is more expensive.
        • Alternatively, you can also order your food at the cashier for much cheaper, and then take your food outside to the terrace and enjoy the grandiose view of the alps while you eat.
        • The pasta is amazing - no matter what you order, you can’t go wrong.
  • At Cervinia village, walk over to the Plan Maison gondola and take that up to Testa Grigia.
  • From Testa Grigia, you can make your way back to Zermatt on the other side.

Sunday 06:00 - Monday Back to Geneva and Luxembourg City.

  • I went back to the hotel to pick up my luggage, went to Migros to pick up dinner, and caught the 18:30 train back to Geneva, and back to City Hostel Geneva.
  • On Monday morning at 06:00, I took the train to the Geneva airport and grabbed the 08:30 flight back to Luxembourg city with a transfer at Munich, just in time for work!
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