Interlaken vs. St. Moritz: Which is Better?

Interlaken and St. Moritz are two of the most popular tourist spots in Switzerland. Each place has its advantages and characteristics, so it’d be good to know which one’s right for you. If you’re not sure which one to get between the two, then this guide is for you. 

Overview: Interlaken and St. Moritz

You can’t go wrong with Interlaken or St. Moritz.  The hotels in both Interlaken and St. Moritz will fit a range of budgets, from simple accommodations to big hotels. Whereas St. Moritz has five grand hotels, Interlaken has two. Both have shops and boutiques, whether you’d rather buy Swiss souvenirs or a fancy Swiss watch. 


Therein lies the similarity. The difference is in geography.

  • Interlaken, located between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, is a great base for exploring the Bernese Oberland. A 568-meter elevation makes it comparable to the altitude of the federal city of Bern.
  • St. Moritz is an alpine resort town nestled in the middle of the Engadine Valley, surrounded by mountains and lakes. At 1,822 meters above sea level, St. Moritz is one of Switzerland’s highest mountain resorts. 

At 1,822 meters above sea level, St. Moritz is one of Switzerland’s highest mountain resorts. 


Key Differences: Interlaken vs. St. Moritz

The key differences between Interlaken and St. Moritz are as follows:

InterlakenSt. Moritz
Population: approx.  5,600Population: approx. 5,200 
Total Area: 4.4 km²Total Area: 28.69 km²
Elevation: 568 meters Elevation: 1,822 meters
Main transport gateway to the Bernese Oberland RegionLuxury alpine resort town in Engadine Valley
Highlights: Harder Kulm Mountain,
Thun and Brienz Lakes
Highlights: Diavolezza, Morteratsch Glacier, Piz Corvatsch, Bobsled Run, Segantini Museum
Lakes: Brienz (East) and Thun (West)
River: Aare
Lake: Lake St. Moritz, Lake Staz

Which is better: Interlaken or St. Moritz?

If you want a mix of alpine experiences with water sports, easy walks, shopping, culture, and charming Engadine villages, St. Moritz is the place to visit. Interlaken is a better choice for those who want to see waterfalls, big beautiful lakes, museums, and beautiful towns in addition to mountains.

So it’s just a matter of preference. Both of them are awesome, so it won’t be easy to pick one. In this article, you’ll learn about all the places we can visit nearby as well as the advantages of staying at each of them.

My personal suggestion: You should go to St. Moritz if you love high-altitude experiences, mountains, skiing, and hiking. Visit Interlaken if you want a mix of mountains, water sports, easy walks, shopping, and culture. 

Interlaken

Image of Interlaken by TouringSwitzerland.com

Located in the Bernese Oberland, Interlaken is a beautiful city that is an ideal base for exploring this region.

Interlaken is full of hotels, cafes, souvenir shops, and watch shops. Along the main street are the Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and the Casino Kursaal. You can cross the bridge leading to Harder Kulm after passing through Höhematte and the Japanese Garden. The Japanese Garden is another pretty spot in Interlaken. It’s close to the old monastery and the church. You can follow this path all the way to Unterseen

Interlaken is surrounded by the Aare river and offers views of nearby mountains like the Grosse Rugen. In a way, Interlaken is more of a base than anything else. It doesn’t have the same kind of views as St. Moritz. But it’s surrounded by two lakes – Lake Brienz and Lake Thun.

Around these lakes, there are many pretty towns and villages like ThunSpiezBrienz, and Iseltwald. Also nearby are multiple castles, St. Beatus Caves, and more. You can also go on the Aare River

Interlaken is also well connected to the Jungfrau Region, so you can visit LauterbrunnenWengenGrindelwald, and Mürren within a day. 

St. Moritz

Image of St. Moritz by Pitsch from Pixabay

St. Moritz has always stood for beauty and luxury. The town has five grand hotels and big buildings instead of these small wooden chalets present in Zermatt. 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 the 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:

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/SchlarignaPontresina, Sils, Maloja, Silvaplana, and Zuoz. There is also a beautiful peninsula nearby called Chastè.


Places to Visit: Interlaken vs. St. Moritz

Places to Visit near Interlaken

There are many places to visit near Interlaken. There are many tourist attractions nearby, such as those around Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Those in the Jungfrau Region, such as GrindelwaldWengen, and Mürren are a bit more distant.

  • Harder Kulm – Harder Kulm can be reached from Interlaken by walking through the English Garden and crossing the bridge to the Interlaken Harderbahn. It is located 1,321 meters above sea level and provides fantastic views of Interlaken. Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Lake Thun, and Lake Brienz can be seen from Harder Kulm, too.
  • Thun – Thun is a breathtaking lakeside town on the banks of Lake Thun. In Thun, you will find two castles (Thun and Schadau), a picturesque old town, museums, and places to bathe in during summer.
  • Spiez – A gorgeous lakeside town near Interlaken with several beaches and a castle.
  • Iseltwald – Iseltwald with its peninsula, the Seeburg castle, and its lakeside promenade is a peaceful little village to visit near Interlaken. Boats stop here in summer.
  • Lake Thun – The bigger of the two lakes beside Interlaken, you can cruise around Lake Thun, swim, or try one of the water sports.
  • Lake Brienz – Lake Brienz is great for sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, wakeboarding and more. Take a ride on the Brienzer Rothorn to get some great photos of Lake Brienz.
  • Giessbach Waterfalls – Giessbach Waterfalls get their water from the high Faulhorn-Sagis Valley. From there, it flows into Lake Brienz
  • Rosenlaui Valley, Glacier, and Gorge – An absolutely beautiful and peaceful pocket of land in the Reichenbach Valley. The gorge has thundering waterfalls and bizarre cliff formations. It is definitely worth visiting.
  • St. Beatus Caves – The caves and the museum are located inside the Niederhorn Massif. Outside, you can walk around a garden with beautiful waterfalls. Take good walking shoes and bring a jacket since the cave can get chilly.
  • Bönigen – Bönigen is a traditional village with wooden houses and chalets from the 16th century. You can find the village of Bönigen on the lower shore of Lake Brienz.
  • Axalp – Axalp, right above Lake Brienz at 1,535 meters above sea level, is the starting point for a lot of hiking trails from spring until autumn. In winter, it is transformed into a small ski resort with 15 kilometers of slopes for young and old alike.
  • Ballenberg Open Air Museum – This open-air museum features various centuries-old buildings from the different cantons of Switzerland. They have typical farm animals such as donkeys, cows, chickens, rabbits, and cats. In some houses, you will learn about specific trades or you will be able to interact with musical instruments or handicrafts.

Jungfrau Region

  • 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.
  • 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 cliffs.
  • 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

Bernina Express

Bernina Express and Ospizio Bernina

The Bernina Express Route is one of the most spectacular ways to discover the Swiss Alps comfortably by train. A major tourist route in Switzerland, the Bernina Express route was built to provide its passengers with the best views of the canton Graubünden’s mountains, gorges, and natural landscapes. 

Located along the Bernina Express train route, Ospizio Bernina (Bernina Hospice in English) is known as both a Rhaetian Railway stop and a hotel. Ospizio Bernina is the highest point of the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) and is considered one of the highlights of the Bernina Express Train Route. Together with the Albula section, it is one of the most beautiful Alpine crossings and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

Summary: Interlaken vs. St. Moritz

  • You’ll find enough restaurants, hotels, and shops in Interlaken and St. Moritz. You’ll also find a lot of picturesque towns and villages nearby. 
  • For skiing, St. Moritz is better than Interlaken.
    • St. Moritz has 3 ski areas – Corviglia, Corvatsch-Furtschellas, and Diavolezza. Corviglia and Corvatsch have 163 kilometers and 120 kilometers of ski slopes respectively.
    • Around Interlaken, you do have smaller ski areas like Axalp / Brienz and Beatenberg – Niederhorn – Hohwald.
    • You will need to travel further to get to the bigger ski resorts in the Jungfrau Region (Grindelwald – Wengen, Mürren Schilthorn) from Interlaken.
  • For those who want to have alpine experiences, St. Moritz is better than Interlaken. It is nearer glaciers and high mountains. From Interlaken, you will have to head over to Wengen or Grindelwald first.
  • For those who love water, Interlaken is better than St. Moritz. Although there is a lake in St. Moritz and there are smaller bathing lakes such as Lake Staz, the bathing lakes around Lake Thun and Lake Brienz are just more beautiful.
  • For those who like shopping, St. Moritz is better than Interlaken. Although Interlaken also has its share of stores, the shopping options in St. Moritz are better.

It’s difficult to choose between both, and even I would have a hard time. St. Moritz has it all: alpine experiences, water sports, shopping, culture, and charming Engadine villages. If you’re looking for waterfalls, beautiful lakes, museums, and beautiful towns along with mountains, Interlaken is the place to go.

In any case, both places are incredibly beautiful and worth visiting.

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