Zermatt, Switzerland

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Gateway Geneva - 4 hour train transfer.

It's the most southwesterly of the great Swiss ski resorts, occupying a high-altitude plateau at the foot of Switzerland's highest and most-photographed mountain, the Matterhorn. Much of the resort's charm derives from its strict building codes -- you'll rarely see a modern-looking building here -- and its almost complete lack of traffic.

Access from the valley below is via cog railway only. Known for over a century as the party town of the Alps, Zermatt has always been a place where the beer-drinking and hedonistic -- sometimes raunchy -- revelry last into the early-morning hours. The skiing, incidentally, is superb. A complicated network of chairlifts, cog railways, and gondolas carries skiers to such peaks as Stockhorn, Rothorn, Riffelberg, Trockner Steg, and Testa Grigia.

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