Zermatt is the municipality in the canton of Valais in the southwestern part of the country, famed as a mountaineering and ski resort of the Swiss Alps.
It lies on the border between the Pennine and Bernese Alps, spreading around the valley of the Rhone River from its headwaters to Lac Leman.
Having large amounts of rain and snow, the canton of Valais is among the wettest regions in Switzerland. Simultaneously, in its central Rhone valley, it is one of the driest regions in the country.
Therefore, it provides the utmost nature experience with many opportunities to explore its mountains, forests, glaciers, lakes, and wildlife.
Zermatt was once predominantly an agricultural community until the mid-19th century when it developed into a mountain center and then into an international winter resort.
Zermatt is almost completely surrounded by the high mountains of the Pennine Alps. Most of them are higher than 4,000 m, including Monte Rosa, Dom, Liskamm, Weisshorn, and the famous Matterhorn.
The town of Zermatt is geographically small but dense. There are three main streets running along the banks of the Matter Vispa, and numerous cross-streets. Perfect for exploring the town during a leisure walk at any time of the year.
Zermatt’s population of 5,700 is supplemented by a steady stream of domestic and international visitors all year round. It is highly popular among skiers and hikers across Europe.
Although famous for its magnificent long ski runs, with terrain for all skill levels, this little Swiss town also offers outdoor sports and high-profile events throughout the year.
As it is close to the border with Italy, and not so far from France, you can access Zermatt either from all big cities in Switzerland or from these two neighboring countries.
The airports nearest to Zermatt are Geneva (244 kilometers) and Zurich (248 kilometers). Most major international airlines operate flights arriving into these two airports. Both of them are well connected with all-mountain resorts in the country, while Swiss roads are among the best in the world.
From Zurich, the fastest route is along the highway via Zug, Andermatt, and Brig. But only in summer. In winter, the Furka Pass is closed, so the road to Zermatt goes past Lucerne and Interlaken.
If you are landing at Geneva airport, then your journey takes you along the north side of Lake Geneva straight into the mountains. Alternative ways are via Bern, Thun, Visp, and the Gopenstein/Kandersteg car train tunnel.
To protect the incredible nature of the world’s visually most iconic mountain – the Matterhorn, Zermatt decided to be car-free.
The closest your airport transfer can take you is Tasch, a large car park some five kilometers away from the village. There, everybody steps onboard the fast trains or electric buses which take just 10 minutes to the center of the resort.
No matter which road you’ll take, you’ll enjoy some unforgettable panoramic views along the way.
You will have a glimpse of dramatic peaks, beautiful rivers, fertile fields, isolated villages, glistening lakes, and impressive glaciers.
The scenery will lure you to take breaks often to breathe in the fresh mountain air, admire the stunning views of nature and enjoy the sound of birds and cowbells in the distance.
What to see and do in Zermatt?
Skiing in Zermatt
Thanks to the surrounding glaciers, Zermatt is open for skiers all year round. It offers ski terrain at altitudes between 2,500 and 3,900 meters, together with Switzerland’s highest vertical drop of more than 2,133 meters.
During summer, Breithorn plateau is available for skiing. Take the cableway to the Kleines Matterhorn, and on the 3,500-meter Plateau Rosa near the Theodul Pass.
Skiing over the Theodul Pass and down into the Italian ski resort of Cervina is actually one of the greatest ski experiences in the Alps.
In Zermatt, you can test your skills on heli-skiing, high-altitude ski-tours, night skiing, or Nordic trails. Also, you can enjoy its natural ice skating rinks, curling rink, or snowshoe trails.
Thanks to Zermatt being away from major cities, it’s not crowded on weekends, which leaves you the access to three separate ski areas on one pass.
Festivals in Zermatt
Since 2007, every spring Zermatt Unplugged has been attracting world-class musicians to Zermatt. Large and small stages, gigs organized in bars and hotels around town, the “Taste Village”, as well as the main event marquee on the tennis courts, transform Zermatt into a unique acoustic sound experience.
Every August, the main ‘Bahnhofstrasse’ street of Zermatt transforms into a street food paradise with huts and stalls selling all sorts of food and drinks.
At the Swiss Food Festival, one Michelin star awarded and 16 top GaultMillau celebrity chefs of Zermatt prepare and present the best culinary creations with regional and Swiss produce.
In September, Zermatt hosts the unique Chamber Music Academy. The aim of the festival is to encourage rising classical talents, with a full program of concerts in hotels, bars, and churches all around the resort.
Concerts take place in different locations, like the English Church, Riffelalp Chapel, the Mauritius Church, and the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, giving Zermatt Festival a magical atmosphere.
To learn about the thrilling and turbulent history of Mount Matterhorn, you only need to visit the Matterhorn Museum, which is located just below Zermatt’s village square. Its entrance is made entirely of glass in the form of a mountain, so it’s difficult to miss it.
Inside the Museum, there are subterranean rooms and authentic mountain huts which give life to untold stories of the Matterhorn.
In Matterhorn Museum, you will learn about its early climbers, you will see furnishings and home interiors depicting mountain life, and time-travel all the way back to the Neolithic Age.
It gives you the opportunity to see dramatic excerpts from Der Berg Ruft (The Mountain Calls), filmed in Zermatt in 1937 to 1938, along with artifacts, photos, and a relief of the Matterhorn showing the different routes to the summit.
The most popular Zermatt’s highlight, the charming 1906 Marmot Fountain, is outside the Matterhorn Museum. On the cascade in front of the Museum, you’ll come across a family of shiny, polished bronze marmots. Behind the fountain is a beautiful life-sized bronze ibex.
Now let’s get back to our topic. Should you pick up a car hire or let a limo pick you up to take you to Zermatt?
Let’s see what kind of treatment you would get with each.
Car hire or limo hire – what are the differences?
You probably think that these two refer to the same thing, but they don’t. Although both serve the same purpose, there are some differences between them reflecting in:
The type and quality of service they provide,
The difference in vehicles that they use,
The person sitting behind the wheel.
The type and quality of service car hire and limo hire provide
To make it clear, car hire refers to regular car transportation from point A to point B.
For example, a taxi would fall into this type. These vehicles are operated by a driver whose mere goal is to transfer as many people in a day.
They usually pick up strangers heading to the same destination and transport them in one go. Some people don’t find this a pleasant situation, especially for longer trips.
On the other side, the limousine hire provides a comfortable and pleasant ride in complete privacy. A professional chauffeur operates the vehicle and is there to serve you.
From their appearance to their attitude, it is clear that limo chauffeurs take their profession seriously. Therefore, you have the right to expect the highest quality of treatment.
What falls under this royal treatment? First of all, at the moment of your arrival, your private chauffeur will already be waiting for you at the airport.
When you book your limo, you schedule the exact time and place of your pick up. With limo services, you are never to worry about being late. Precision is their second name.
Then, you will be given a hand with your luggage, as well as with on- and off-boarding. If you need so, as a surprise for your loved one, for instance, you can ask the company to arrange some special decorations for the vehicle or to include some special drinks and snacks.
Limo hire is there to serve you and to fulfill your wishes.
Limousines have two cabins, one for the chauffeur and the other for the passengers. They are separated by a partition, providing complete privacy and minimizing the interaction with the operator of the vehicle.
This is quite suitable for having private conversations, even business meetings, or simply for having some alone time while on the road.
The difference in vehicles car hire and limo hire use
Car hire companies use mass-production vehicles. They transport people in various vehicles, all in different conditions. And since the drivers are not obliged to maintain them, nobody can guarantee you the correctness of the vehicle. Unfortunately, delays and car break-downs are not so rare.
Limo-hire companies, on the other hand, provide both standard and luxury vehicles. The client has the possibility to choose from a wide range of elegant, classy and high-quality vehicles.
The range goes from sporty upper-class vehicles to business sedans, to comfortable family vans, to huge limo party buses.
Therefore, the number of passengers that can fit in one limo depends on its size. There are limos that can accommodate from 2 up to 20+ passengers at once.
Depending on the number of people you are traveling with, you can arrange with the limo company the vehicle most suitable for your trip.
Unlike cars in regular transfer companies, limousines come with different amenities that provide comfortable ride and entertainment on the way. Extra leg-room and comfortable seats are the norms.
As a part of a limo service, standard amenities you can find in a limo are:
Leather and impeccable upholstery,
Flat TV screen(s),
Free Wi-Fi connection,
Interchangeable lights for a special atmosphere.
Some vehicles might be equipped with game consoles, microphones for karaoke, and a dance floor.
Chauffeurs are directly in charge of the external and internal maintenance of the vehicles. They regularly take the vehicles to the mechanic, and also to car-wash after each client.
With limo hire, you can relax because you are getting a good value for the money – a safe and comfortable ride in a relaxed and entertaining environment.
The person sitting behind the wheel
The obvious difference between the driver of regular car hire and the chauffeur of a limousine is in their appearance.
Don’t expect car hire drivers to be and act formal, because they more likely won’t. You are probably going to find them wearing jeans and a T-shirt or a jacket with a logo of their company.
In summer, it is also possible for them to be wearing shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and sandals. Formal and impeccable appearance is not a requirement, so be prepared for any outfit.
Unlike them, limo hire chauffeurs are professionals who pay a lot of attention to their appearance. There is a strict dress code in this industry. Chauffeurs must always look flawless and well-groomed.
They usually wear a sort of a uniform: clean and pressed black suit or a tuxedo, dress shirt, and matching tie and shoes.
Some limo companies provide their chauffeurs with a chauffeur’s hat, black or white gloves, and an overcoat that matches their suit to keep them warm during the winter season.
Besides in their looks, there is a difference in their background and education. While that usually is not the case with the drivers of regular car hire, limo chauffeurs go through some background check and training.
Before they get hired, limo companies check the driving history of each candidate and those who are clear pass the training to get a special chauffeur’s license.
Paying for the service
You usually get a regular car hire right on the spot, that is on the street. You probably have to drag your suitcases across the street, or even a couple of streets, to get to the car. And you have to have your paper money with yourself since most of such transporters don’t accept bank cards.
As far as the limo hire is concerned, you must book your vehicle in advance. This is because the vehicle that you desire might not be available if you ask for it just before your trip.
It is a little work, but it gives you the opportunity to do the research and find the best vehicle available on your dates.
When you contact the limo company, you can ask them about anything you want to make clear. Make sure to also talk about the payment of the service.
Some questions you should ask on this occasion are:
If you need to pay a certain sum in advance,
Whether the price is related to the hourly rate or a distance,
Who pays for the fuel,
Do you pay extra for pets, if you are traveling with them,
All the services that fall under the price, you don’t want to have any hidden costs,
Always ask for the bill so that you can have it on e-mail or paper and can avoid any problem with (over)charging.
Car hire or limo hire to Zermatt – Conclusion
Zermatt is a luxurious mountain resort in Switzerland. Since the nearest airports are not that close to Zermatt, nobody wants to crack their back on an uncomfortable bus or a car seat. Especially after a long flight and when going uphill.
Hopefully, we made the difference between the car hire and limo hire services clear and that we made it easy for you to make a decision.
Zermatt itself is a unique experience and it would be a shame to begin your vacation or a business trip with running after a taxi or nervous when something goes wrong.
To avoid any kind of trouble, our advice is to hire a limousine for your trip to Zermatt and enjoy its benefits.
EdelSwiss is always at your service to fulfill your expectations, please your needs and desires, and round up your experience of the Swiss mountain.