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Switzerland’s top tourist destinations include Grindelwald and St. Moritz. Those two places are popular for a reason; they’re both scenic and filled with interesting activities. Grindelwald vs. St. Moritz will be discussed in this article. Where should you stay when you visit Switzerland? Do we recommend staying in Grindelwald or in St. Moritz?
This guide will help you figure out where is best for you based on your preferences. I have visited both Grindelwald and St. Moritz, and both are beautiful. Both Grindelwald and St. Moritz have plenty to do, shops, and restaurants to choose from. While St. Moritz has a picturesque lake surrounded by mountains, Grindelwald also has a stunning view of the Eiger North Face and Wetterhorn.
An idyllic mountain resort, St. Moritz offers a waterfront, fancy shops, and charming villages nearby. As for Grindelwald, it is a lively mountain resort village that offers hiking and skiing opportunities. It is better to visit St. Moritz if you want to explore the Engadine region. On the other hand, the Jungfrau region is best accessed from Grindelwald.
Grindelwald and St. Moritz offer a variety of hotel options. Still, St. Moritz offers luxury hotels and a more sophisticated experience. Meanwhile, Grindelwald offers a range of hotels as well as apartments for all budgets.
From a geographical perspective, they are also quite similar. They are both high alpine towns with easy access to many mountains and good skiing possibilities, though St. Moritz is much higher. Grindelwald and St. Moritz are also both easy to reach by train from Zurich.
Here we look at the differences between Grindelwald and St. Moritz, so you can decide which one you’d like to visit during your next visit to Switzerland if you have time for just one.
Key Differences: Grindelwald vs. St. Moritz
The key differences between Grindelwald and St. Moritz are as follows:
|Population: approx. 3,800||Population: approx. 5,200|
|Canton: Bern||Canton: Graubünden|
|Total Area: 171.28 km2 (66.13 sq mi)||Total Area: 28.69 km²|
|Elevation: 1,034 m (3,392 ft)||Elevation: 1,822 meters (1,427 ft)|
|Large municipality in the Bernese Alps||Luxury alpine resort town in Engadine Valley|
|Highlights: Grindelwald First, Bachalpsee Lake,|
Grindelwald Glaciers, Grosse Scheidegg, First Cliff Walk,
Pfingstegg, Männlichen, Eiger Glacier, Jungfraujoch
|Highlights: Diavolezza, Morteratsch Glacier, Piz Corvatsch, Bobsled Run, Segantini Museum|
|Lake: Bachalpsee Lake (First)||Lake: Lake St. Moritz, Lake Staz|
|River: Black Lütschine||River: Inn|
Grindelwald is a famous mountain village in the Bernese Oberland, located at the foot of the Eiger (3,970 meters) and Wetterhorn (3,701 meters). Grindelwald is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Bernese Oberland.
The seven areas of Grindelwald are Bach, Grindel, Scheidegg, Wärgistal, Itramen, Bussalp, and Holzmatten. Each local person belongs to one of the seven areas (called Bergschaften in German), which are represented separately in the municipality.
Grindelwald valley is characterized by soft green meadows and mountain forests on one side, and rocky walls and icy peaks of the Eiger, Schreckhorn, and Wetterhorn on the other. The alpine summer here is short, and as with many other alpine villages, they mow the grass and dry it for use as hay in winter. Due to rainfall, the north-facing slopes have abundant grass.
As recently as 1860, the Grindelwald Glacier reached the outskirts of the village. Between 1860 and 1914, glacier ice was mined and exported commercially. In this way, Grindelwald gained its second name “Glacier village”. Unfortunately, millions of cubic meters of glacier ice have melted away in Grindelwald.
Grindelwald allows the same amount of livestock in winter and summer. A system like this is ecologically sound and prevents pastures from being overused. During the summer, a farmer can drive up the number of cows determined by the surface area. Cow rights are equal to one cow, four pigs, or eight goats. In Grindelwald, there are 2,174 cow rights and this number has remained constant for centuries.
There are many places to visit in and around Grindelwald. Some of the highlights of the Grindelwald region include Grindelwald First, Bachalpsee Lake, Schynige Platte, Grindelwald Glaciers, Grosse Scheidegg, First Cliff Walk, Männlichen, Eiger Glacier, and Jungfraujoch.
St. Moritz has always stood for beauty and luxury. The town has five grand hotels and big buildings instead of the small wooden chalets. It is also renowned for its skiing resorts. St. Moritz is a more upscale vacation destination. It offers modern amenities and architecture. St. Moritz is world-famous and among the first winter sports resorts in the world. It sits above Lake St. Moritz (St. Moritzersee in German) which turns frozen during winter.
In the village, there are many things you can do. You can visit the following:
- Leaning Tower – was part of the St. Mauritius Church
- Via Serlas – for shopping
- Kulm Park Eispavillon – used during the Olympic Winter Games in 1928 and 1948
- Chesa Veglia – a farmhouse from back in 1658
- Segantini Museum – houses the largest and most important collection of artist Giovanni Segantini
- Badrutt’s Palace – an iconic grand hotel in St. Moritz
- Olympia Bob Run – also still used regularly for Bobsleigh, Skeleton Championships, and other events
St. Moritz has 25 crystal clear mountain lakes adding to the beautiful Alpine scenery. Some of the nearest ones are Lake Staz, Lake St. Moritz, Lake Champfèr, and Lake Silvaplana. There are forests and glaciers to enjoy. Hiking, climbing, sailing, windsurfing, horseback riding, golf, tennis, and skiing are also possible here.
Nearby pretty villages are Celerina/Schlarigna, Pontresina, Sils, Maloja, Silvaplana, and Zuoz. There is also a beautiful peninsula nearby called Chastè.
Places to Visit: Grindelwald vs. St. Moritz
Places to Visit near Grindelwald
- Männlichen – Männlichen is a 2,343-metre mountain easily accessible from Grindelwald by cable car. From Männlichen, you get a fantastic view of Mönch, Eiger, and Jungfrau.
- Eiger Glacier – The Eiger Glacier lies on the northwest side of the Eiger mountain. You can get to Eiger Glacier from Grindelwald with the Eiger Express.
- Jungfraujoch – The saddle between Jungfrau (at 4,158 m above sea level) and Mönch (at 4,110 m above sea level). It is also the location of the highest mountain railway in Europe at 3,454 meters above sea level.
- Grindelwald First – First is a minor summit on the slopes of the Schwarzhorn in the Bernese Oberland. Most people know it as a cable car station above Grindelwald. Aside from hikes, two activities that stand out in this area are the Grindelwald First Flyer and the Grindelwald First Glider. Both are available from July to October. For the safety of visitors, it is subject to weather conditions.
- Grindelwald First Flyer – The Grindelwald Flyer is an 800-meter zip line moving at 80 kilometers per hour. It starts in Scheckfeld and ends in Grindelwald.
- Grindelwald First Glider – This is another thrilling experience you should try. The strap is in the form of an eagle and is attached to a pulley. It also moves at a speed of 80 kph while offering spectacular views.
- Grindelwald First Cliff Walk – High walkway suspended from the side of the mountain offering fantastic valley views.
- Bachalpsee Lake – Walking there takes around 50 minutes from First. It’s so picturesque as you can see Schreckhorn reflecting in the lake.
- Upper Grindelwald Glacier – Between Schreckhorn and Wetterhorn, a vast snow field forms Upper Grindelwald Glacier (Oberer Grindelwaldgletscher in German). Its glacier tongue is at 1,400 meters, and is one of the lowest glaciers in the Alps.
- Lower Grindelwald Glacier – Below Agassizhorn and Strahlegghörner lies the Lower Grindelwald Glacier (Unterer Grindelwaldgletscher in German). It is connected to the Finsteraar Glacier through the Finsteraarjoch.
- Grosse Scheidegg – At an altitude of 1,962 m, the Grosse Scheidegg passes across the col between Switzerland’s Schwarzhorn and Wetterhorn mountains. You can reach Grosse Scheidegg with the Grindelwald Bus in 25 minutes from Grindelwald.
- Pfingstegg – The starting point for hikes going to both glaciers in Grindelwald. You can reach Pfingstegg with a cable car from Grindelwald. Additionally, there is a toboggan run and a fly line.
- Staubbach Waterfall – The Staubbach Waterfall is a waterfall in Switzerland located just west of Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Highlands. It falls 297 meters from a valley overhanging the Weisse Lütschine, before the end of the overhanging cliff.
- Trümmelbach Waterfalls – There are ten glacier-fed waterfalls in Switzerland’s Trümmelbach Falls. It is accessible by a tunnel-funicular built back in 1913.
- Wengen – Wengen is 1,274 meters above sea level. On a terrace with a spectacular panorama, Wengen offers views of both Lauterbrunnen village below and the surrounding high mountains above. You can reach Wengen from Grindelwald via Männlichen or Zweilütschinen-Lauterbrunnen.
- Mürren – Mürren is positioned a bit higher than Wengen, at 1,645 meters above sea level. There are also spectacular views of the bottom of the valley, and the town is quiet and car-free. It is smaller than Wengen.
- Schilthorn – Is the summit above the village of Mürren and the highest mountain north of Sefinenfurgge Pass. It is around 2,970 meters above sea level.
- Stechelberg – Stechelberg is a small village located at the base of the Schwarzmönch mountain in the Bernese Alps.
- Mürrenbach Waterfall – In five cascades, Mürrenbach Waterfall drops 417 meters to the ground, making it Switzerland’s highest waterfall.
- Gimmelwald – A small car-free village, Gimmelwald is located between Stechelberg and Mürren. It is 1,363 meters above sea level.
- Kleine Scheidegg – Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass at an elevation of 2,061 meters. It is located between the Eiger and Lauberhorn. Kleine Scheidegg makes a great starting point for excursions to Jungfraujoch and Lauberhorn. It is also the meeting point of two rack railways.
Places to Visit near St. Moritz
There are many places to visit near St. Moritz. There are many beautiful tourist attractions in the Engadine Valley. Some places to visit near St. Moritz are the following:
- Pontresina – beautiful alpine village with Engadine houses and Belle Epoque hotels
- Guarda – fairytale village famous for Schellen-Ursli, a children’s book by Selina Chönz
- Celerina – sunny village next to St. Moritz with excellent tourist infrastructure.
- Chastè Peninsula – a wooded peninsula surrounded by mountains, nature, and a lake
- Alp Grüm – offers a fantastic view of the Palü Glacier, the Lagh da Palü lake, and the Bernina mountains surrounding it. From Alp Grüm, you will see Piz Varuna east of Piz Palü, a 3,453-meter-high mountain located on the border between Val Malenco, Italy, and Val Poschiavo, Switzerland.
- Fuorcla Surlej – amazing views of the following mountain peaks: Piz Boval, Piz Morteratsch, Bernina Massif, Piz Roseg, Dschimels, Piz la Sella, Piz Scerscen, and more.
- Muottas Muragl – a panoramic mountain in Pontresina with fantastic views of the lakes of Engadin valley
- Corvatsch – the highest mountain station in the region at 3,303 meters provides an impressive Alpine panorama
- Diavolezza – fantastic views of the highest peaks of Eastern Alps – Piz Bernina, Piz Palü, and Piz Morteratsch
- Val Roseg – a beautiful side valley accessible by foot or carriage from Pontresina
- Val Fex – a protected side valley accessible by foot or carriage from Sils
- Val Trupchun – the most protected park in the country – Swiss National Park
- Morteratsch – place to see the third longest glacier in the Eastern Alps – Morteratsch Glacier
Skiing: Davos vs. St. Moritz
The ski resort of St. Moritz has three locations – Corviglia, Corvatsch – Furtschellas, and Diavolezza – Lagalb. Corvatsch is the highest in Graubünden. Whereas Diavolezza – Lagalb has the most freestyle slopes and is ideal for night skiing. Männlichen and Grindelwald First ski slopes are within easy reach of Grindelwald.
Below we have two tables comparing the slopes of ski resorts in Grindelwald and St. Moritz.
|Pistes (in km)||Grindelwald – Wengen||St. Moritz|
Corvatsch – Furtschellas
|St. Moritz |
Diavolezza – Lagalb
|Ski season||mid December to mid April||end of November to|
|end of November to|
In both regions, there are cross-country ski tracks, so cross-country skiers will not be disappointed. In spite of this, there is a huge discrepancy between the tracks available. Grindelwald only has ten kilometers of skating and nine kilometers of classics, compared to St. Moritz’s 240 kilometers.
Advantages: Grindelwald vs. St. Moritz
Advantages of Staying in Grindelwald
- Grindelwald is closer to the mountains in the Jungfrau Region. Choose it if you want to visit the mountains near and around Jungfraujoch.
- Grindelwald evokes the feel of a traditional mountain village, while St. Moritz is more glitzy. For a more authentic experience of a typical Swiss mountain resort, head to Grindelwald.
- In comparison with St. Moritz, Grindelwald offers a broader selection of reasonably priced apartments. Since apartments get snapped up quickly, it’s best to book early. You can find one easily on booking.com.
- The mountains around Grindelwald offer some more adventurous activities – First Flyer, First Glider, Tobogganing on Pfingstegg, and Fly Line of Pfingstegg.
- There are other tourist areas in close proximity to Grindelwald, such as Interlaken (35 minutes away), Thun (75 minutes), and Bern (90 minutes). Compared to Grindelwald, St. Moritz is pretty isolated; it takes 2 hours to get to Chur from St. Moritz.
Advantages of Staying in St. Moritz
- St. Moritz is closer to the Albula Range and Bernina Range of the Rhaetian Alps. Choose it if you want to visit the mountains around the Rhaetian Alps.
- St. Moritz is generally more polished when it comes to architecture and the town itself.
- St. Moritz has more five-star hotels available. You can also find an array of 3- and 4- star hotels. You will likely have to go to another part of Engadine if you are looking for an apartment.
- St. Moritz has a lot of high-end shops such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler, Cartier, Gucci, and Dior. Choose it over Grindelwald if you prefer high-end shops. Aside from taking home souvenirs, there aren’t many shops in Grindelwald.
- The higher elevation and ski resorts of St. Moritz make it more snow-sure than Grindelwald. The St. Moritz Ski Area has more slopes in total than the Grindelwald Wengen Ski Area.
- You’ll find a longer winter ski season at Diavolezza near St. Moritz than anywhere else in Grindelwald.
- The cross-country ski track area around St. Moritz is much bigger than Grindelwald.
- St. Moritz is surrounded by many lakes. In addition to St. Moritz’s lake, there are plenty of other bathing lakes nearby. Lake Silvaplana is popular for water sports and Lake Sils is the largest and most scenic in the valley.
Hotels: Grindelwald vs. St. Moritz
While Grindelwald offers a broader range of hotel and apartment accommodations, St. Moritz certainly has a greater selection of luxurious hotels. Listed below are some recommended hotels in both regions:
Hotels in Grindelwald
- Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof Grindelwald (5-star) – A 100-meter walk from the train station, Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof Grindelwald boasts panoramic views of the Eiger, an indoor pool, and gourmet cuisine. The hotel also has a lounge bar and nicely furnished rooms.
- Belvedere Swiss Quality Hotel (4-star-superior) – A beautiful 4-star superior hotel located just a few minutes from the center of Grindelwald, Belvedere Swiss Quality Hotel is a great place to stay. Among its amenities are a gourmet restaurant, a piano bar, an indoor pool, and a spa. During the winter season, there is a private ski bus.
- Bergwelt Grindelwald – Alpine Design Resort (4-star) – Within a 2-minute walk of First Grindelwald, Bergwelt Grindelwald – Alpine Design Resort has a 24-hour front desk and room service. This 4-star hotel also offers concierge services, allergy-friendly rooms, a bar, and free WiFi throughout the hotel. Guests can enjoy its outdoor pool, indoor pool, fitness center, garden, and restaurant year-round.
- Derby Swiss Quality Hotel (3-star-superior) – Right by the train station, this 3-star superior hotel offers alpine-style rooms and a rich breakfast. For half-board guests, the hotel offers a four-course meal served in the dining room. The hotel also has an à la carte restaurant serving local Bernese cuisine.
- Hotel PINTE (3-star) – Hotel PINTE is a modern chalet-style hotel located 2 minutes from Grindelwald First. Grindelwald’s train station is also nearby. In addition to an indoor pool and a spa, the hotel offers a 24-hour front desk as well as a continental breakfast.
- Hotel Caprice – Grindelwald (3-star) – This hotel is very conveniently located near the train station, making it a wonderful choice. It is only a few steps away from cable cars and buses. The hotel offers modern, clean, and comfortable rooms with fantastic views of the Eiger. Additionally, the hotel offers a spa. You can get breakfast and snacks here. You will need to go somewhere else for lunch and dinner, but they can offer you a discount on a 5-course meal at a nearby hotel (Hotel Alpina).
Hotels in St. Moritz
- Kulm Hotel St. Moritz (5-star) – Due to the pioneering efforts of hotel founder Johannes Badrutt, St. Moritz became a winter sports mecca. This makes the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz a special part of the city’s history. There are 5 restaurants, a spa with a pool, a whirlpool, a children’s pool, an open-air pool, and more at this elegant hotel. Also nearby, the hotel has its own 9-hole golf course with pitching, chipping, and putting areas. During the winter months, guests can skate and curl at the hotel.
- Suvretta House (5-star) – Skiers will love this exclusive ski-in/ski-out hotel in Suvretta-Corviglia. There’s a regular shuttle service that takes you to other ski resorts and St. Moritz. They have a huge indoor pool, a fully-equipped gym, a sauna, gourmet specialties, and a kids’ restaurant.
- Badrutt’s Palace (5-star) – There are six restaurants, an indoor pool, a spa, and fitness center, valet parking, a tennis court or ice skating rink (depending on the season), and a free shuttle service to the train station at this elegant 5-star hotel in St.Moritz. Badrutt’s Palace is a member of Leading Hotels of the World, Swiss Deluxe Hotels, and Swiss Historic Hotels.
- Hotel Steffani (4-star) – This well-priced hotel has 3 restaurants, 3 bars, a nightclub, and a spa area with an indoor pool. Just 300 meters from Corviglia ski area, it’s in the heart of St. Moritz.
- Hotel Waldhaus am See (3-star) – The Waldhaus am See is one of the leading 3-star hotels in Switzerland. A few steps from the train station, it features a breathtaking view of the Engadin Valley and is situated on the banks of St. Moritz Lake. With over 2500 different kinds of whiskey, the hotel has the largest whiskey bar in the world.
- St. Moritz Youth Hostel (Hostel) – An affordable option is to stay at a hostel in St. Moritz where you’ll get everything you need – free breakfast, linen, security lockers, hot showers, microwave, a play area, and free wifi.
Final Thoughts: Grindelwald vs. St. Moritz
I would consider the following as a starting point: what kind of traveler are you? Does your style tend to be more relaxed and chill? Do you prioritize staying in fancy hotels and shopping in high-end stores? Then St. Moritz is the place for you. Besides this charming town, you can explore nearby mountains, lakes, museums, charming villages,
On the other hand, would you prefer hiking in the Swiss Alps and discovering the mountains? If you answered yes, then go for Grindelwald. By enjoying the natural wonders of the Grindelwald region, you will be able to forget the stresses of life and be one with nature.
In my opinion, if you’re thinking of skiing in the mountains, then you can choose either of those and be happy. There are excellent ski resorts in both regions. However, the ones around St. Moritz will be more snow-sure compared to the ones in Grindelwald. For cross-country skiers, St. Moritz and the Engadine region will be the better choice.
Whichever choice you make, you won’t regret it. The two locations are equally picturesque and well worth a visit.
- Stiftung UNESCO Welterbe Schweizer Alpen Jungfrau-Aletsch. Gentle and wild – the valley of Grindelwald, 1. Ausgabe 2011.
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