South Western Switzerland is a sublime corner of the country, crowned by the Italy-bordering Matterhorn whose iconic peak towers above the town of Zermatt.
Its emblematic, triangular shape is composed of four sheer sides facing north, south, east and west. The mountain is solitary in its great size, dominating the distant skyline long before the first summit in 1865. For those who are not experts at scaling these great heights, there are a couple of railway and cable car facilities that travel part way up the 4,478m (14,692 foot) ascent.
Zermatt below is a fairy tale village in every sense. Traditional alpine architecture abounds with wooden shutters adorning windows and pine lodges stretching up the valley side. With a ban of combustion engines in town, horse-drawn carriages can be seen trotting along the avenues while others choose to hop on bicycles to make their way around.
Adventure abounds in this region. The Five Lakes Walk sees trails that explore the lakes of Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee and Leisee. Rare flowers bloom on the shores of some while others see the emblematic Matterhorn reflected in their gentle waters. Elsewhere in the Valais Canton you can find the exclusive ski resort of Verbier, incredible glaciers, historic towns such as Sion, its capital, and the sun basked vineyards of the upper Rhone Valley.
When to go
Visit in winter to make the most of the snowy peaks and ski season. Alternatively, July and August are great for summer hiking.
What to do
- Explore the pretty town of Zermatt