Unable to decide if you should visit Pontresina or St. Moritz in Switzerland? The Upper Engadine Valley of Switzerland is home to Pontresina and St. Moritz, both beautiful spots for skiing, hiking, and sightseeing. They’re both beautiful and impressive, so picking only one might be hard.
Here we look at the differences between Pontresina 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.
Overview: Pontresina vs. St. Moritz
The key differences are as follows:
|Population: approx. 2,100||Population: approx. 5,000|
|Location: Maloja, Upper Engadine||Location: Maloja, Upper Engadine|
|Elevation: 1,805 m||Elevation: 1,822 m|
|Area: 118.19 km²||Area: 28.69 km²|
|Highlights: Morteratsch Glacier, Roseg Valley, Alpine Ibex||Highlights: Bob run, Segantini Museum, Via Serlas|
|Nearest Ski Area: Diavolezza||Nearest Ski Areas: Corviglia, Corvatsch|
|Bodies of Water: Lej da Staz (lake), Ova da Roseg (torrent)||Bodies of Water: St. Moritz (lake), Lej da Staz (lake), Champfèr (lake), Silvaplana (lake)|
Located in the Engadine Valley, Pontresina is surrounded by fragrant pine forests, glacial valleys, and high mountains. Located at 1,805 meters above sea level, it’s a beautiful sunny place at the mouth of Bernina Valley, the highest valley in Upper Engadine. One of the most popular winter and summer resorts in Switzerland, Pontresina is a picturesque mountain village you have to see.
Pontresina has gorgeous 17th and 18th-century houses and chic Belle Epoque hotels. Pontresina boasts glaciers, snowcapped peaks, and thick forest, as well as spas, wellness centers, and plenty of activities and adventures for young and old.
The first winter sports resort in the world, St. Moritz is world-famous. St. Moritz has always been about beauty and luxury. In addition to its grand hotels, the town is known for its ski resorts. St. Moritz is a high-end vacation spot that offers modern amenities and architecture.
You can find St. Moritz above the St. Moritz Lake (St. Moritzersee in German), which gets frozen in winter. In the village, there are many things you can do. You can visit the following the town, go shopping, visit museums, swim, or go to the bob run.
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.
Places to Visit: Pontresina vs. St. Moritz
Places to Visit around Pontresina
- Steinbock Paradies Promenade – Mountain goats called Alpine Ibex live in the area around Piz Albris, a mountain southeast of Pontresina. You’ll see these animals grazing on the grass in Pontresina during spring. You might see these animals at the Ibex Paradise (Steinbock Paradies Promenade).
- Diavolezza – Diavolezza is a great base camp for alpine adventures. The Diavolezza-Lagalb Ski Resort, although not as big as others, stays open longer. It also has a lot of red and black slopes.
- Muottas Muragl – Muottas Muragl offers views of the five lakes of the Upper Engadine Valley as well as Piz Languard, Piz Vadred, and the Roseg Valley. It’s one of the most spectacular views in the Engadine Valley. From Punt Muragl, you can take the red funicular to the top of the mountain. Hiking trails lead to Alp Languard and Segantini Hut near the summit.
- Bernina Express – One of the most enjoyable attractions in Switzerland, the Bernina Express train takes you from Cur all the way to Tirano, Italy. This train line goes through 13 tunnels and galleries, 52 viaducts, and 52 bridges and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Alp Languard – Accessible via a chair lift, you can visit Alp Languard near Pontresina and enjoy the fantastic views of the Bernina Massif.
- Morteratsch Glacier – Morteratsch Glacier is the largest glacier by volume in the Eastern Alps and the largest by area in the Bernina Range. The glacier is currently 5.85 kilometers long. However, it’s been receding lately.
- Val Roseg – A beautiful and quiet valley near Pontresina, Val Roseg gets its name from the mountain above it: Piz Roseg. It is a car-free valley that can only be accessed by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. You can access it from Pontresina or via Fuorcla Surlej.
Places to Visit near St. Moritz
- St. Moritz – In St. Moritz itself, you can visit the town’s sights such as the luxury hotels, Chesa Veglia, the Leaning Tower of St. Moritz, the Segantini Museum, Mauritius Fountain, and the Olympic Stone.
- Corvatsch – the highest mountain station in the region at 3,303 meters provides an impressive Alpine panorama. It is a great place to visit year-round and offers many activities for children and adults alike.
- Fuorcla Surlej – A beautiful viewpoint that can be accessed easily from Murtèl. Some of the mountains that you can view here include Piz Boval, Piz Morteratsch, Bernina Massif, Piz Roseg, and more.
- Via Serlas and Via Maistra – A fantastic shopping address, you can find world-known brands such as Bvlgari, Cartier, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Rossignol, Miu Miu, Bally, Prada, and Moncler in St. Moritz.
- Celerina – The village next to St. Moritz, Celerina is an easy walk from St. Moritz. It has a lot of pretty and traditional Engadine houses characteristic of this region. Celerina also has excellent tourist infrastructure, including restaurants, hotels, playgrounds, and mountain cableways. In Celerina, you can visit the San Gian church, and walk along the rivers Inn and Flaz.
- Lej da Staz – Lej da Staz is a small bathing lake that is perfect to visit during summer. As it is smaller than St. Moritz lake and the other larger lakes in the valley, it warms up faster. If it’s too cold still, you can go to the indoor pool Ovaverva.
Overview: Ski Resorts around Pontresina and St. Moritz
The three ski resorts are all close to each other. Diavolezza-Lagalb will be easier to get to from Pontresina though. Corviglia and Corvatsch will also be a lot easier to get to from St. Moritz.
Corvatsch is the highest in Graubünden. Whereas Diavolezza – Lagalb has the most freestyle slopes and is ideal for night skiing.
|Pistes (in km)||Corviglia||Corvatsch –|
|Ski season||end-November –|
Summary: Pontresina vs. St. Moritz
In Switzerland, Pontresina is a well-known alpine village often overshadowed by its more luxurious neighbor, St. Moritz. However, Pontresina is charming too, with its Engadine houses, and Belle Epoque hotels. If you really cannot decide between Pontresina and St. Moritz, it is understandable. They are both beautiful.
For those who are into sightseeing and hiking, then both have their pros and cons. So it will be a matter of preference which venue to choose. I love both places, so it will be definitely tough to choose from them.
- St. Moritz is closer to the lakes such as St. Moritz Lake, Champfèr Lake, Silvaplana Lake, and Sils Lake. It is also closer to the Corviglia Ski Area and Corvatsch Ski Areas.
- Pontresina is closer to the Diavolezza Ski Area, Morteratsch Glacier and Roseg Valley.
If you were to choose between Pontresina and St. Moritz, which one would it be?
My personal suggestion: You should go to Pontresina if you love high-altitude experiences, glaciers, mountains, skiing, and hiking. Pontresina is better for those looking for something understated yet still beautiful. If you want a mix of alpine experiences with water sports, easy walks, shopping, culture, and music, St. Moritz is the place to visit. Also, If you want something more luxurious and bigger, then choose St. Moritz.
Whichever town you end up with, you will surely marvel at its beauty. Furthermore, these places are close to each other. So whichever you choose, it shouldn’t be a problem.
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