In terms of Swiss mountain villages, Zermatt is probably the ultimate destination. And its representative landmark is Matterhorn, which can also be found on the packaging of Toblerone chocolate. There is something quite unique and notable about Matterhorn.
However, going to Zermatt comes at a price and the price can be quite high. For anyone looking for other alternatives beyond Zermatt, we provide a list below. Whatever your reason may be for looking for another village similar to Zermatt, whether it’s due to the budget or to see something new, we hope you will find this list quite useful.
In no particular order, here are the top alternatives to Zermatt:
St. Niklaus – Grächen
The first alternative to Zermatt would be the St. Niklaus and Grächen region. St. Niklaus is only 13 kilometers from Zermatt. Grächen is about 21 kilometers from Zermatt. Both places are close to Zermatt but are more affordable and enjoy a more relaxed pace.
Grächen, a family-friendly destination in Canton Valais, is home to the Fairytale Cable Cars. Furthermore, it has one of the largest and most beautiful family parks in Switzerland. For children, they also have themed trails such as Princess Route, Dwarf Route, King Route, Prince Route, and so on.
Why is St. Niklaus – Grächen a good alternative to Zermatt?
Five reasons make it an excellent alternative to Zermatt:
- When you are searching for something smaller and a bit cheaper than Zermatt, but with the same high alpine surroundings, St. Niklaus – Grächen is a good choice.
- Grächen is still close to Zermatt, and from St. Niklaus, you can take a direct train there if you wish.
- A mountain resort like this is especially family-friendly, appealing to families with small children and even grandparents out with their grandchildren.
- St. Niklaus – Grächen’s location makes it easy to see other parts of the Saas valley, including Saas-Fee, Saas Grund, and Saas Almagell.
- There are 250 kilometers of summer hiking trails and 44 kilometers of groomed ski slopes in this region.
The “Swiss Greenland”, inhabited for over 4,000 years, Saas-Fee is surrounded by tall mountains and glaciers. As beautiful high alpine mountain villages, both Saas-Fee and Zermatt ski resorts boast excellent skiing. Also car-free, Saas-Fee is on a smaller scale. And like Zermatt, it is also expensive.
As in Zermatt, Saas-Fee opens its ski season quite early in November because the ski runs are located at a high altitude. Other ski resorts in Switzerland usually open sometime during the first two weeks of December. The Saas-Fee ski area has 13 mountains that are at least 4,000 meters high, 140 kilometers of prepared slopes, 1 snow park, 6 kilometers of slopes, 1 sledding, and 52 kilometers of winter trails.
Why is Saas-Fee a good alternative to Zermatt?
As opposed to Zermatt, which draws in a large international crowd, there will be more locals in Saas-Fee. It also gets fewer tourists on the whole compared to Zermatt.
Saas-Fee, like Zermatt, is as mentioned above car-free. However, you can park closer to the village. For Zermatt, you must park in Täsch and then take the train the remainder of the way.
One of four resorts in Saas Valley, Saas-Fee has 140 kilometers of slopes. Skiers who want more challenges can also take on the steeper slopes.
Grimentz – Zinal
Near Zermatt, there’s another valley called Val d’Anniviers. Val d’Anniviers is a Swiss valley in Canton Valais. It lies south of the Rhône Valley. It is home to six municipalities, Ayer, Chandolin, Grimentz, Saint-Jean, Saint-Luc, Vissoie, Vercorin, and Zinal.
The villages are remote and reachable via winding roads. But the area is so peaceful and gorgeous.
Particularly charming is the village of Grimentz. Grimentz is known for its traditional wooden houses that are built in a similar architectural style, giving the village its individuality. The drive from Zinal to Grimentz takes only ten minutes.
Why is Grimentz-Zinal a good alternative to Zermatt?
The Val d’Anniviers Ski Resort is really quite reasonable in terms of price. A full day in any Val’d Anniviers ski resort (Grimentz-Zinal, St-Luc/Chandolin, and Vercorin) costs almost the same as a half-day in Zermatt. I find it to be a reasonable alternative, from the point of view of your wallet.
Furthermore, Bosson’s Becs de Bosson has 115 kilometers of slopes, which go up to almost 3,000 meters high, so the ski area is also nothing to sneeze at.
There is no significant difference in hotel prices between here and Zermatt. On the other hand, you can already save a lot just on ski tickets alone, especially for a family of four or five. And since there is a free shuttle bus that travels between the different villages in the valley of Anniviers, you can choose to stay outside of Zinal and travel for free.
Grimentz isn’t the only place to see; Vercorin and St-Luc deserve a visit as well.
Verbier (Val de Bagnes)
Verbier used to be a farming village in the municipality of Bagnes, Valais. After the connecting road to Verbier was built, it started to change dramatically. In 1949, the first ski lift was added. Afterward, around 90 more followed.
Why is Verbier a good alternative to Zermatt?
Associated with the 4 Vallées ski area, Verbier is in Switzerland’s largest ski area. In terms of size, it exceeds Zermatt. 410 km of runs ensure that everyone – from the expert to the beginner – can find a slope to suit his or her skill level.
Besides on-piste skiing, there are also many off-piste opportunities. Verbier is a premier backcountry ski resort, known worldwide. Verbier is known for steep slopes, varied conditions, and resort culture.
The place also has welcomed prominent visitors. The British, Swedish, and Belgian Royal families have already holidayed in this place.
One of the most beautiful and well-preserved villages in canton Valais – Evolène. The town is located in the Val d’Hérens. Val d’Hérens is a valley formed by the Hérens glacier. This valley is home to a couple of high mountains – Dent Blanche (4,358 meters), Dent d’Herens (4,174 meters), Mont Collon (3,637 meters), and Mont Blanc de Cheilon (3,870 meters).
Evolène has typical narrow wooden or terracotta houses with stone framed doors and frescoed facades. It has less than a thousand residents. This village is included in the Swiss Inventory of Heritage Sites.
Why is Evolène a good alternative to Zermatt?
While Zermatt is more commercially developed, the Evolène region retains more authenticity. That means there aren’t as many hotels and restaurants in the area. Yet, it remains a great option for those seeking something authentic, off-the-beaten-track, and away from the commercialized tourist masses of other Swiss resorts.
Nevertheless, they still have a lot to offer. In fact, they have more than 500 kilometers of hiking trails in the valley. Additionally, the ski area offers 100 kilometers of slopes with spectacular views of up to 3,000 meters.
If you would like to read more about Evolène village, check out Discover Evolène: A Beautiful, Hidden Gem in Switzerland.
Zermatt has the Matterhorn, but Aletsch Arena includes a spectacular view of the Great Aletsch Glacier.
At 23 kilometers, Aletsch Glacier is the largest in the Swiss Alps. Since 2001, it has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage. It is located in the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn region.
Why is Aletsch Arena a good alternative to Zermatt?
Riederalp, Bettmeralp, and Fiescheralp combine traditional Valais chalets and hotels with outstanding natural landscapes – Switzerland’s largest glacier, as well as some of the region’s most magnificent four-thousand-meter peaks. Riederalp and Bettmeralp lie on a sunny terrace 2,000 meters above sea level.
In winter, four ski resorts lie in the Aletsch region: Fiescheralp, Bettmeralp, Riederalp, and Belalp. They are all accessible with cable cars.
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- Swiss Alps – The Ultimate Guide
- 12 Charming Car-Free Villages in Switzerland
- The Picturesque Village of Grimentz, Switzerland
- Discover Evolène: A Beautiful, Hidden Gem in Switzerland