Switzerland is the home of many of the world’s most recognizable destinations like the globally renowned resort of Zermatt and the infamous Interlaken. Both of these resorts are among Switzerland’s best, but which comes out on top?
Zermatt v. Interlaken – Which is best?
There are many similarities between these two alpine towns, but their actual names give us clues to their main differences:
‘Interlaken’ translates to ‘between lakes’
‘Zermatt’ translates to ‘on the meadow’
Zermatt is found in the very south of Switzerland sharing a ski area with Cervinia, its Italian neighbour. It is three hours’ drive from Geneva airport and just 90 minutes from Sion airport.
Interlaken is located in the center of Switzerland in the Bernese area of the Swiss Alps. It can be accessed from both Zurich and Geneva airports by car in a similar time to a Zermatt transfer, although public transport connections are not as convenient.
Interlaken isn’t a true Alpine resort in the way as Zermatt. Located at at 567m altitude, it’s more of a feeder town to the resorts in the Jungfrau area such as Wengen, Murren & Grindelwald. There is no skiing in the town, with the resorts accessed by rail (included on your lift pass) and taking 20 to 40 minutes.
Zermatt is a high resort by any standards, located at 1600m above sea level and with ski lifts and runs in and out of the resort.
Both towns have resident populations of about 5000 people, but their feel and architecture are very different. Zermatt has a traditional alpine charm compared the more municipal style of Interlaken.
The Ski Areas
The Matterhorn Ski Paradise ski region in Zermatt has 360 km of piste, accessed by 52 lifts up to the height of 3883m on the Monte Rosa Glacier.
The Jungfrau ski area – accessed by train from Interlaken – has a combined 206km of pistes with 62 lifts up to a height of 2970m.
Zermatt has 800 snow machines covering 65% of the ski area, however, is also has the best snow record in Switzerland with a peak average depth of 217cm.
Due to the high altitude and glacier, skiing in Zermatt is possible 365 days of the year with the main lifts opening for the winter season at the beginning of November.
The Jungfrau has an average peak snow depth of 120cm and opens for skiing in the middle of November.
After all the snow this week, we enjoyed some lovely powder #pow #powdersnow #zermatt #matterhornparadise #springskiing
Posted by Matterhorn Chalets on Sunday, 12 March 2017
For the ski lift geeks among us here are some stats to enjoy:
3 Cog railways
9 Cable cars
24 Chair lifts
20 Drag lifs
Day Pass – CHF 74
Week Pass – CHF 356
1 Cog railway
8 Cable cars
11 Drag lifts
Day Pass – CHF79
Week Pass – CHF338
The resort of Wengen within the Jungfrau ski area is home to the infamous Lauberhorn Downhill race on the FIS World Cup tour is staged each year.
In contrast, Zermatt is not know for its racing, but it does know how to throw a party. Each April the town hosts Zermatt Unplugged, a huge music festival that attracts big name acts such as Nelly Furtado, Emeli Sande & Alanis Morissette.
It is hard to believe that we have got this far without mentioning the incredible Matterhorn. The mountain is synonymous with the resort and is recognisable for its shape as well as its history.
Interlaken is in the shadow of another well known Swiss mountain, the Eiger. At 3967m it isn’t the highest in the area. The fame comes from the indomitable North Face that wasn’t tamed until 1938.
The Media stats
We can sometimes find it hard to give an unbiased opinion on Zermatt, so let’s let others have a say:
Over on Facebook Zermatt Matterhorn has 185,000 fans, dwarfing the 58,000 following Interlaken.
The most popular video on YouTube about Zermatt has nearly 2 million views (although that is beaten by a man cycling a modern-day monocycle in Interlaken!).
If you would like to experience Zermatt for yourself please take a look at our selection of catered chalets or give us a call on +41 79 247 15 88 for independent, specialist advice and to find out about our concierge service.