Matterhorn or Grossglockner? Swiss chalet or Austrian berghütte? Fondue or schnitzel? If you’re after the ultimate alpine experience you may find yourself with a tough decision: Switzerland or Austria? Both destinations have much to offer mountain-lovers — so which one will be more to your taste? Read on to find out.
Head to Switzerland to scale the famous Matterhorn.

If you want a true Alpine high…

…then head for Switzerland, where the peaks are just a little taller than in neighboring Austria. The Swiss Alps boast some of the tallest mountains in the world. Serious mountaineers won’t want to skip the famous Matterhorn. It’s one of the most recognizable peaks — and one of the most challenging climbs — in the world. For the rest of us, there’s a selection of picturesque train rides, like this one that takes in three fabled mountains: the Jungfrau, the Eiger, and the Monch.

If you want a cinematic scenery…

…then don’t miss Austria. Some of The Sound of Music’s most iconic mountain scenes were filmed in Obersalzberg, on the Austrian border. Take a delightfully kitsch Sound of Music singing tour through Salzburg to get you in the mood, then hike up into Obersalzberg itself for some movie-worthy panoramic views. Alternately, a cable car ride to Innsbruck’s highest viewing point is the perfect way to see the city from above (and get a look at some wildlife).

Discover the “City of Lights” on a 2-hour walking tour in Lucerne.

If you like the finer things…

…then you’re likely already aware that Swiss cheese and chocolate are among the finest in the world. The gourmet experience doesn’t stop there, though. If you’re feeling famished after a long day tramping in the mountains, or strolling the shores of Lake Lucerne, then you’re in luck! Switzerland has a whopping 128 Michelin-starred restaurants to choose from.

If you’re a wine lover…

…then you don’t need us to tell you that Austria produces some of the finest white wine in the world. If a glass of crisp riesling or grauburgunder sounds like your ideal apres-ski refreshment, head for one of Austria’s famous resorts, like chic Innsbruck. Here, you can spend your days in the Tyrolean Alps and your evenings sipping wine with the locals.

Mountain villages are picture-perfect getaways for travelers looking for some R&R.

If you’re after a rustic feel…

…Austria’s your best bet. Fine dining in Switzerland comes at a price. In the Austrian Alps, however, you can expect to find quaint villages where inns serve up hearty knödel and spätzle at wallet-friendly prices. The Salzkammergut mountains are filled with these medieval villages — and they’re a brilliant base for exploring Austria’s famous lakes and salt mines!

If you’re short on time…

…then touch down in Zurich. Switzerland is far more compact than Austria and many of the most stunning mountains are an easy distance from the country’s cities. From Zurich, it’s an easy cable-car ride to the peak of Mount Titlis. Alternately, set up camp in charming Interlaken and take a day trip up to the alpine resort of Grindelwald and explore the Aletsch Glacier. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can paraglide to Beatenberg, whitewater raft, or jet around Lake Brienz.

Take a break from the mountains and pop into one of Vienna’s many art museums.

If you’re in the mood for art…

…you can’t go wrong in Austria. Switzerland has a buzzing art scene, but Austria has the edge when it comes to 20th-century masterpieces. Head down from the mountains and into the capital, Vienna, where world-class museums house iconic paintings, like The Kiss by Gustav Klimt.

If you’re feeling diplomatic…

… then make for Geneva. Of course, there’s more to both Switzerland and Austria than stunning mountain scenery. Political buffs will find Geneva especially interesting — this Swiss city is where the United Nations is headquartered. Once you’ve ticked off a trip to Chamonix, stroll by Nations Square and the UN building on a city tour.

If you still can’t decide…

Then why not go to both? These beautiful countries are neighbors, after all: a scenic train ride from Innsbruck to Zurich is all that stands between them.

Plan your alpine adventure


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