Can’t decide between Zermatt and Verbier? Zermatt and Verbier are ideal locations in Switzerland for enjoying the Swiss Alps. The two options are excellent, but one may be more suitable for you.
You can’t go wrong with Zermatt or Verbier. These two towns are surrounded by beautiful mountains and gorgeous scenery. Hotels and restaurants abound in both towns as well. While you can get to Verbier by car, Zermatt is car-free and can only be reached by train.
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. Here’s how Zermatt and Verbier compare.
Overview: Zermatt or Verbier
You can’t go wrong with Zermatt or Verbier. There’s plenty to do, shops, and restaurants in both places. 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.
Key Differences: Zermatt vs. Verbier
The key differences between Zermatt and Verbier are as follows:
|Population: approx. 5,755||Population: approx. 2,900|
|Language: German||Language: French|
|Elevation: 1,608 m (5,276 ft)||Elevation: 1,490 meters (4,888 ft)|
|Accessible by train,|
|Accessible by car and train|
|Highlights: Matterhorn, Sunnegga, Gornergrat, Klein Matterhorn, Several alpine lakes (Leisee, Riffelsee, and more)||Highlights: Grand Combin, Mont Fort, Verbier Bike Park, Mauvoisin Dam, Mont 4 Zipline|
Which is better: Zermatt or Verbier?
Featuring pretty villages and breathtaking alpine landscapes, Zermatt and Verbier are both extremely scenic mountain resorts. The resorts are among the largest and best in the Swiss Alps. And despite being without the iconic Matterhorn, Verbier has so many activities to offer such as biking, hiking, trail running, climbing, paragliding, and skydiving.
My personal preference: I actually find Verbier to be a prettier village compared to Zermatt. Verbier’s picturesque village has charming chalets, elegant boutiques, and cozy cafes. However, as a Zermatt and Matterhorn fan, I would probably still choose Zermatt over Verbier. Of course, this is just my personal preference. I’m sure there are those who would prefer it the other way around. It’s hard to go wrong with either choice.
Let’s take a closer look at these two places.
Zermatt and Matterhorn could be considered the quintessential word, image, or definition of Switzerland.
The mountain village of Zermatt in Valais is gorgeous and charming with its typical chalet-style houses. The wooden houses and hotels scattered throughout the car-free village give it a consistent look. Zermatt is in the southernmost German-speaking area of the country.
Car traffic in Zermatt has been prohibited since 1961. Its streets are perfect for horse-drawn carriage rides. Walking along Bahnhofstrasse (the main street of Zermatt) is a pleasure. From here, you can explore the village’s bars, restaurants, bakeries, cake shops, and chocolate shops. There are also boutiques, sports shops, and souvenir shops. Zermatt has been a popular tourist destination for many years.
Mountains Around Zermatt
Zermatt offers postcard views of the southwest Matterhorn from the steps of the Church of Saint Mauritius and the Kirchbrücke Bridge. The village of Zermatt is surrounded by larch forests and 38 4,000-meter mountain peaks. Among the most noteworthy mountains is Monte Rosa with a height of 4,634 meters (the highest mountain in Switzerland) and the Dom with a height of 4,545 meters. Of all these mountains, the Matterhorn is probably the most well-known.
Inside the Alpin Center, you can retrieve important information regarding mountain cable cars, mountain guides, and more. Alpin Center provides tours to Breithorn, Castor, Pollux, and Matterhorn.
The Pennine Alps (or Valais Alps), the mountain range in the western Alps, contains many 4,000-meter-high peaks. Nine of the ten highest mountain peaks in Switzerland are located in the canton of Valais, where Zermatt is.
There is no doubt that Verbier is one of the largest and best ski resorts in the world. Following wins in 2018, 2019, and 2021, Verbier was named the world’s best ski resort for the fourth time by the World Ski Awards1.
4 Vallées is Switzerland’s biggest ski resort, covering Verbier, Bruson, La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, and Thyon. It’s a winter wonderland with 410 kilometers of slopes and 92 lifts, so there’s something for everyone. It is a large, high-altitude ski resort with a lively après-ski scene.
Mont-Fort, which towers at 3,330 meters, is the highest with breathtaking panoramic views of the Swiss and French Alps. From Mont-Fort, you can take in the breathtaking views of the ski resort, including Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. A visit to Mauvoisin, one of Switzerland’s largest dams, is also recommended.
It is impossible to run out of activities here in summer since you can bike, hike, climb, and many more. Together, Verbier, Val de Bagnes, and La Tzoumaz offer 800 km of cross-country, enduro, and downhill mountain biking trails. A total of 9 trails are available in Verbier Bike Park, including 19 kilometers of downhill trails. There is a BMX freestyle park in Le Châble that you can use for free. Those who enjoy road biking can try the Grand Saint-Bernard, La Forclaz, or Croix-de-Coeur passes.
Verbier is also a popular destination for hikers. The Tour de Bec de Sery, which includes a 190-meter-long bridge, allows you to enjoy the Corbassière Glacier and the Grand Combin. Alternatively, you can walk along the 3D Sculpture Park in La Chaux for a short and easy hike. In the village, there are treasure hunts available for the children; we did this and the kids received a Verbier goodie bag.
Additionally, there are 415 km of cross-country trails in the region. Climbers of all levels can find 560 climbing routes at 30 climbing sites. La Barme alone has 71 climbing routes. If you want to play a bit of golf, Les Esserts has a course that is open to players who have a handicap or course permit. There is also an 18-hole golf course in Les Moulins that is open to golfers with or without permits.
There are more sports to enjoy in Verbier, including paragliding from Les Ruinettes, Savoleyres, and Croix-de-Coeur. You can also go skydiving, take a mountain tour, enjoy the rope park, play tennis, go swimming, ride horses, or hurtle down the slopes with a push scooter. Additionally, Verbier and La Tzoumaz offer recreation parks and an indoor sports center (Centre Sportif de Verbier) with indoor climbing, squash courts, tennis courts, an indoor pool, and a fitness center.
In August 2020, a 1,400-meter zip line with a vertical drop of 383 meters opened. Mont Fort’s Mont 4 Zipline is located at a height of 3,300 meters.
Places to Visit near Zermatt and Verbier
Places to Visit Near Zermatt
- Matterhorn Museum – Featuring interactive exhibits and historical photographs of Matterhorn, Zermatt, and the surrounding area, the Matterhorn Museum is one of the attractions located in the village.
- Matterhorn Glacier Paradise – With fantastic views of the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps, the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise can be reached from Zermatt in forty minutes. This mountain station is Europe’s highest – towering at 3,883 meters above sea level. As it can be chilly and windy here, it is advisable to bring appropriate clothing.
- Gornergrat – At 3,089 meters above sea level, Gornergrat provides awesome views of the Matterhorn mountain.
- Trockener Steg – At 2,939 meters above sea level, Trockener Steg provides fantastic views of the surrounding mountain peaks.
- Gorner Gorge – Gorner Gorge is open from June to October and features crystalline rocks and beautiful rock formations that have formed over millions of years. It is located in the immediate vicinity of the Blatten hamlet.
- Täschalp – With a height of about 2,200 meters, Täschalp is located along the forest edge and is home to wild animals such as chamois, stone deer, and marmots. The dairy here is also open to the public, so you can watch how cheese is made there for a small fee.
- Forest Fun Park – Kids over the age of four to adults can enjoy zip wire courses at Forest Fun Park, featuring the Saferoller safety system.
- Julen Sheep Barn – Valais Blacknoses are adorable sheep and definitely worth visiting.
- Breithorn Ascent – At 4,164 meters above sea level, ascending Breithorn is reserved for experienced and fit mountain hikers. You will need to get used to the high altitude.
- Sunnegga – With its huge playground, barbecue areas, and beach on the Leisee lake and numerous bike trails, Sunnegga is the perfect place for families with children and bike lovers.
- Randa Suspension Bridge – Known as the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the Alps, the bridge above Randa is 500 meters long and free to cross. It is also called the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge.
- Furi – Furi is a hamlet above Zermatt, around 1,867 meters above sea level. It is a high Walser settlement where farmers lived during summer. From here, you can check out the Furi Suspension Bridge, the Dossen Glacier Garden, the Gorner Gorge, and the Ricola Herb Garden.
- Schalisee – Schalisee Lake in Täsch is a tiny and clean glacier lake directly located on the hiking trail between Täsch and Randa. Although it is relatively cool, you can still bathe in it. Wakeboarding is also possible on this lake.
Places to Visit near Verbier
There are many places to visit near Verbier. Some places to visit near Verbier are the following:
- 4 Vallées – The highlight of Verbier is its world-class skiing resort – the Four Valleys. It offers 400 kilometers of interconnected slopes.
- Mont Fort – The highest peak in the region where you can find breathtaking views of the Pennine Alps.
- Musée de Bagnes – With changing exhibitions on various themes, the Bagnes Museum is located in a historic building in Le Châble that has been refurbished over the centuries.
- Verbier Festival – In summer, the Verbier Festival brings together classical music performers from around the world.
- Mauvoisin Dam – One of the largest dams in Switzerland, Mauvoisin Dam is a concrete arch dam located around 40 minutes away from Verbier. It is known for its stunning alpine scenery and the turquoise color of the reservoir water.
- Bruson – A peaceful mountain village perfect for hiking in summer.
- Champex-Lac – A picturesque mountain village along the lake Lac de Champex.
- Great Saint Bernard Pass – A high mountain pass that connects Martigny in Switzerland with Aosta Valley in Italy. It is the third-highest road pass in Switzerland, at an elevation of 2,469 meters above sea level.
Accessibility: Zermatt or Verbier
Depending on where you are coming from, you can get to Zermatt or Verbier faster. While Verbier is closer to Geneva, Zermatt is closer to Zurich and Bern.
In contrast, if you’re traveling by car, Verbier may be more convenient for you. Cars are not allowed in Zermatt. To get to Zermatt, you will have to leave your car at Matterhorn Terminal Täsch.
The comparison table below shows how long it would take you to reach Zermatt and Verbier from Zurich, Geneva, and Bern.
|Travel time from Zurich (fastest)||3 hours and 10 minutes||3 hours and 52 minutes|
|Travel time from Geneva (fastest)||3 hours and 40 minutes||2 hours and 20 minutes|
|Travel time from Bern (fastest)||2 hours and 7 minutes||2 hours and 47 minutes|
Skiing: Zermatt or Verbier
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 most extensive ski resorts in the world. Here you can enjoy skiing or snowboarding all year round. Yes, it is open 365 days a year.
4 Vallées is Switzerland’s biggest ski resort, covering Verbier, Bruson, La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, and Thyon. It’s a winter wonderland with 410 kilometers of slopes and 92 lifts, so there’s something for everyone. It is a large, high-altitude ski resort with a lively après-ski scene. The World Ski Awards named Verbier the world’s best ski resort for a fourth consecutive year after winning in 2018, 2019, and 20211.
Below we have two tables comparing the slopes of ski resorts in Zermatt and Verbier.
|Pistes (in km)||Zermatt||Verbier 4 Vallées|
|Ski season||All-year-round||December to third-week of April|
Verbier is known as one of the world’s best ski resorts, but Zermatt is also fantastic. If you wish to ski during a different season than winter, Zermatt is your best option, as its ski area is open all year.
Advantages: Zermatt or Verbier
Advantages of Staying in Zermatt
- Zermatt is closer to Zurich and Bern. In case you are flying into Zurich or Bern from abroad, this might be the more convenient option for you.
- Zermatt is car-free. Stay here if you prefer to stay in a traditional Swiss mountain village that is car-free.
- Zermatt is German-speaking. Choose it if you prefer a German-speaking region.
- Zermatt is a better choice than Verbier if you like Matterhorn and all its beautiful views.
- Zermatt is better if you plan to ski in spring, summer, or autumn. Zermatt ski area is one of the largest in Switzerland and borders the Breuil-Cervinia Ski area of Italy. The ski season in Zermatt is also one of the longest in the world, with the possibility to ski even in summer.
Advantages of Staying in Verbier
- Verbier is closer to Geneva and Geneva Airport. In case you are flying into Geneva from abroad, this might be the more convenient option for you.
- Unlike Zermatt, Verbier is not car-free. Stay here if you prefer to come in your car.
- Verbier is French-speaking. Choose it if you prefer a French-speaking region.
- Verbier also caters to many English-speaking guests. Around Verbier, it’s common to hear people speaking English.
- During the winter, Verbier is the best resort for skiing. It is also part of Switzerland’s largest ski resort. As opposed to Zermatt, where it is open year-round, it closes during the off-season.
- Verbier prides itself on being an infinite playground, and I agree with that claim. There are many sports activities to choose from here; hiking, skiing, mountain biking, cycling, cross-country trails, paragliding, skydiving, swimming, tennis, squash, golf, and many more. For bicycle enthusiasts, there are 800 km of mountain biking trails in Verbier, Val de Bagnes, and La Tzoumaz.
Hotels: Zermatt or Verbier
Zermatt and Verbier offer a variety of hotel options. Wooden upscale chalets are common in Verbier. On the other hand, Zermatt has a mixture of bigger hotels and wooden chalets. They both provide luxury and mid-range accommodations.
Zermatt and Verbier offer a variety of hotel and apartment accommodations. Listed below are some recommended hotels in both regions:
Hotels in Zermatt
- Mont Cervin Palace (5-star) – The 5-star Mont Cervin Palace was opened in 1851 and belongs to the “Leading Hotels of the World.” Almost all of the guest rooms have a balcony or patio with a view of the Matterhorn. There is also an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, a spa and wellness area of 18,300 square feet, an indoor play area, a game room, and a bar at the hotel.
- Naco Aparthotel Arca (4-star) – A 5-minute walk from Zermatt’s train station, Naco Aparthotel offers spacious rooms with a fully equipped kitchen, a microwave, a dining area, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom with a shower and bathrobes. Guests can enjoy a continental or buffet breakfast, as well as a swimming pool.
- Schlosshotel Zermatt Active & CBD Spa Hotel (4-star) – Just a few steps away from the Zermatt and Gornergrat train stations is this elegant hotel with an indoor pool and spa area. You can reach the Sunnega Cable Car easily and the bus to the Klein Matterhorn Ski Area is right outside the hotel.
- Hotel Arca Solebad & Spa (3-star) – ARCA Solebad Wellness & Spa in Zermatt offers modern wellness facilities including an indoor swimming pool. It is located close to Zermatt Train Station, as well as the Gornergrat and the Sunnegga-Rothorn trains.
- Zermatt Youth Hostel (Hostel) – It is possible to stay in Zermatt for less at a hostel. This hostel has everything you need, including internet access, laundry, board games, free breakfast, a microwave, and a security locker.
Hotels in Verbier
Final Thoughts: Zermatt or Verbier
Without a doubt, Switzerland is a country with many beautiful places. And because the time and budget to tour it might be limited, it would be wise to choose a place that suits your wishes and preferences.
It might be helpful to ask yourself, would you prefer to stay in a village without cars or not? If you have a clear preference about taking a car or not, then you have your answer.
The two places both appeal to me and I think they’re both worth checking out. However, I prefer Zermatt a bit more. My favorite mountain in Switzerland is the Matterhorn. And I always find the car-free village of Zermatt amazing. The place is always nice to come back to; I’ve been there several times. For those who enjoy sports, especially biking, hiking, and skiing, Verbier is a better option.
No matter what you choose, you won’t regret it. They’re both gorgeous, with majestic mountains and natural landscapes. Whether you decide to stay in Zermatt or Verbier, I’m sure that you will have a good time.
- Verbier Tourisme. VERBIER VOTED « WORLD’S BEST SKI RESORT 2022 », Verbier 4 Vallées. Accessed on 21 March 2023. https://verbier4vallees.ch/en/useful-information/news/verbier-voted-world-s-best-ski-resort-2022_news_432351
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