St. Moritz or Zermatt: Which One Is More Impressive?

Unable to decide if you should visit Zermatt or St. Moritz in Switzerland? Zermatt and St. Moritz are both known throughout the world as locations in Switzerland ideal for skiing, hiking, and sightseeing. They are both impressive and beautiful and choosing only one might be difficult.

So if you were to choose between Zermatt and St. Moritz, which one would it be? For those who purely want skiing or snowboarding, then Zermatt is hands down the better alternative on any given day of the year.

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.

  • Zermatt is in itself quite beautiful and definitely worth seeing. It is also surrounded by larch forests, 38 4,000-meter mountains, and the most beautiful mountain in the world – Matterhorn.
  • Engadin Valley, where St. Moritz is located, is made up of one charming village after another and will make for interesting walks or hikes outside of St. Moritz.

My personal suggestion: You should go to Zermatt if you love high-altitude experiences, mountains, skiing, and hiking. If you want a mix of alpine experiences with water sports, easy walks, shopping, culture, and music, St. Moritz is the place to visit. 

Zermatt Village and the world-famous Matterhorn

Image of Matterhorn by Photos from Pixabay

If there is a quintessential word, picture, or definition of Switzerland, it would be Zermatt and Matterhorn. Zermatt is a mountain village in Valais – beautiful and charming with its typical chalet-style houses and homes. It is in the southernmost German-speaking area of the country. There is homogeneity in its look with brown houses and hotels scattered in this car-free village. It has been world-famous for a long time now. 

Zermatt offers a postcard view of the southwest Matterhorn from the steps of the Church of Saint Mauritius or the Kirchbrücke Bridge. Around the village are larch forests, 38 4,000-meter mountain peaks, and the most beautiful mountain in the world – Matterhorn. To name two of the most important mountains, we have the Monte Rosa at 4,634 meters (the highest mountain in Switzerland) and Dom in the Mischabel group at 4,545 meters.

The 600-meter long main street, Bahnhofstrasse, is perfect for strolling. Here you can begin exploring the village’s bars, restaurants, bakeries, cake, and chocolate shops. It also has boutiques, sports, and souvenir stores.

You can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride in its streets. Zermatt has been closed to car traffic since 1961.

Inside the Alpin Center, you can retrieve important information regarding the mountain cable cars, mountain guides, and more. Alpin Center provides tours to Breithorn, Castor, Pollux, and Matterhorn.

St. Moritz Village – Top of the World

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


Zermatt vs. St. Moritz: Which one has the better mountains?

Image of Matterhorn by AnemosParapente from Pixabay

The mountains in and around Zermatt are definitely higher. This is because the Pennine Alps (or Valais Alps), the mountain range in the western Alps, contains many 4,000-meter high peaks. On the other hand, St. Moritz, which is located in the Eastern Alps, only has one 4,000-meter mountain – Piz Bernina.

The Eastern Alps in Austria, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, and Eastern Switzerland are lower than the Western Alps in Italy, France, and Western Switzerland.

So, between Zermatt and St. Moritz, Zermatt and its surroundings have more impressive mountains if we simply go with the assumption that the taller mountains are more impressive.

Mountains around Zermatt

Image of Klein Matterhorn by gavia26210 from Pixabay

Klein Matterhorn has the highest mountain railway station in the Alps. The journey to Klein Matterhorn begins in the rear part of the village of Zermatt. From Zermatt, the journey to Trockener Steg takes under half an hour. The hamlet at 1867 meters is a mountain pasture, where cows and sheep still graze today. A footpath leads to the glacier garden, as well as the hanging bridge over the Gorner Gorge  (Gornerschlucht).

From Schwarzsee, visitors can see the entire valley and the village of Zermatt below. In this area, they can also see the Chapel “Maria zum Schnee”. Afterward, the Matterhorn-Express gondola descends into the Furgg valley. This is the foot of Matterhorn. A 125-seat large gondola lift ascends then to the Trockener Steg station. From there, it is possible to change to the 100-seat aerial cable cars going to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, a.k.a. the Klein Matterhorn.

No other cable car brings visitors to a higher point – the highest viewing platform in Europe at 3,883 meters – Klein Matterhorn. You can stand in the middle of the snow and glacier world. 38 four-thousand-meter-high peaks, 14 glaciers in France, Italy, and Switzerland surround you there.

Image of Riffelsee and Matterhorn by Jachen Dorta from Pixabay

Riffelalp is also a gorgeous place to visit. There is a lake called Riffelsee which mirrors the Matterhorn in its waters and makes for a beautiful picture.

Mountains around St. Moritz

Image of Eastern Alps by Simon Steinberger from Pixabay

St. Moritz also has beautiful mountains around it which are not as high but no less beautiful than Zermatt’s. An interesting place to visit is the Free Fall, a 45-degree gradient steep slope used as the vertical start of the Alpine Skiing Men’s Downhill slope.

Some other mountains to visit in and around St. Moritz are the following:

  • Muottas Muragl – a panoramic mountain in Pontresina with fantastic views of the lakes of Engadin valley
  • Corvatsch – 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
Image of Morteratsch glacier by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

Furthermore, there are other beautiful valleys and glaciers around St. Moritz. These are the following:

  • 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 on the Eastern Alps – Morteratsch Glacier

Zermatt or St Moritz: Which is the better ski resort?

Matterhorn Ski Paradise in Zermatt at almost 4,000 m altitude is the highest winter sports area in the Alps. It has one of the best-developed and extensive ski resorts in the world. Here you can enjoy skiing or snowboarding all year-round. Yes, it is open 365 days a year.

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.

Below we have a table comparing the slopes available in Zermatt and St. Moritz.

Pistes (in km)ZermattSt. Moritz
Corviglia
St. Moritz
Corvatsch

Furtschellas
St. Moritz
Diavolezza

Lagalb
Easy744213
Medium227798920
Difficult20341815
Freeride38810
Total36016312045
Ski seasonAll-year-roundend-November –
early April
end-November –
mid-April
mid-October –
May
Pistes Comparison between Zermatt and St. Moritz

Between the two ski resorts, I would recommend Zermatt hands down as it has better snow, glacier skiing than St. Moritz. It is also open all-year-round whereas St. Moritz is not.

Summary

  • Zermatt ski region is bigger and open all-year-round. St. Moritz has 3 ski areas – Corviglia, Corvatsch – Furtschellas, and Diavolezza. These three ski regions open from late autumn until spring but have different opening dates.
  • Zermatt is located in the Western Alps where the peaks are higher (4,000 meters and higher). St. Moritz is located in the Eastern Alps where the peaks are less high (3,000 meters and higher).
  • Zermatt has rustic, alpine chalets and a car-free village. St. Moritz has big grand hotels, expensive shopping boutiques, and bigger buildings. It is also not car-free.
  • Zermatt is more about mountain experiences outside the village. St. Moritz has more points of interest in the village (museum, beautiful Engadin houses, grand hotels).

If you really cannot decide which of the two places to visit, you can allot 8 hours for a panoramic train journey from St. Moritz to Zermatt with the Glacier Express. Whichever town you end up with, you will surely marvel at its beauty.

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