How do you decide between Zermatt and Grindelwald – two of Switzerland’s most stunning destinations?
While both are breathtaking, Zermatt has a unique charm and several advantages that make it the superior choice for an unforgettable winter getaway.
Let’s take a look at seven reasons that makes Zermatt a better choice than Grindelwald for your Swiss holiday:
Ski Area: Zermatt’s Extensive Terrain
When it comes to skiing, the size of the ski area is a critical factor. Zermatt boasts an extensive ski terrain that spans two countries as it links with Cervinia in Italy.
With 360km of pistes, Zermatt puts its Swiss neighbour Grindelwald’s 210km of slopes into the shade. With access to the iconic Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Zermatt offers a wide variety of slopes catering to all skill levels.
Grindelwald, on the other hand, while impressive, doesn’t quite match the sheer scale and diversity that Zermatt provides.
Lift System: Zermatt’s Efficiency
Having a good ski area is one thing, but you need to be able to get around it efficiently. Zermatt has invested more than CHF200 million into the lift system, which is renowned for its modernity and speed.
The Matterhorn Alpine Crossing is unique in connecting two countries in a single span and it’s possible to travel from Cervinia to Zermatt without even needing to ski. Recent investments include the new Kumme lift and the upgrades to the Furi cable car.
The lifts seamlessly connect the various ski areas, ensuring minimal waiting time and more time enjoying the pristine snow. Grindelwald, though efficient (and even with the new Eiger Express lift), can’t quite match the swift and sophisticated lift infrastructure that Zermatt offers.
Snow Record: Zermatt’s Reliability
Snow reliability can make or break a ski holiday. Zermatt has consistently excellent snow conditions throughout the season, thanks to its high-altitude location.
You can ski in Zermatt 365 days a year on the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. The rest of the ski lifts are open from the beginning of December until the end of April, with an excellent snow record to rely on.
At just 1034m at the village, Grindelwald is always more likely to be challenged than Zermatt’s town at 1620m.
Car-Free Village: Zermatt’s Tranquility
A renown feature of Zermatt’s charm is its car-free village. The absence of cars contributes to the peaceful atmosphere, which means that visitors can focus on the beauty of the surroundings instead of being distracted by noisy and smelly vehicles.
Grindelwald is not car free and the roads can be busy. In fact, as nearby Wengen is car free, many people drive to Grindelwald (or Lauterbrunnen) and leave their cars there.
Family Ski Holidays: Zermatt’s Family-Friendly Atmosphere
For families, Zermatt takes the lead in creating a welcoming and family-friendly atmosphere. The ski schools and childcare facilities are top-notch, ensuring that even the youngest members of the family can enjoy the slopes under expert supervision.
As well as the superb Wolli play areas on Sunegga, make sure you compare the lift pass prices if you are travelling as a family.
Unusually for many ski resorts, not only are lift passes free for children up to the age of 8 years old, but there’s a 50% discount for 9-15 year olds. There’s even a 15% discount for older teens aged between 16 and 19 years old.
Grindelwald only offers free passes up to the age of 6 years old, although there are still discounts available for older children.
Non-Ski Activities: Zermatt’s Diverse Options
Zermatt has so much to offer to skiers, but it stands out for all the activities available to non-skiers as well.
From winter hikes to the Zermatt museum; from the breathtaking Gornergrat railway to the dramatic Matterhorn Alpine Crossing, Zermatt is miles ahead for options off the slopes.
Even a day spent simply wandering the ancient streets of the old village and admiring the historic stadels of Zermatt is a wonderful day out.
To be fair to Grindelwald, non-skiers can visit the Jungfraujoch, but the town can’t match the diversity and uniqueness of Zermatt’s non-skiing experiences.
Mountain Restaurants: Zermatt’s Culinary Delights
Zermatt’s mountain restaurants are not only known for their stunning panoramic views but also for their superb Swiss and international dishes.
Take a look at our recommendations of the best mountain restaurants in Zermatt. Our favourites vary depending on the day and the weather, but make sure you try the views and food from the Alphitta.
Of course, the joys of a Swiss fondue can be found in Grindelwald as well, but Zermatt’s range of superb mountain restaurants, plus the incomparable views of the iconic Matterhorn, create an unparalleled dining experience.
Conclusion: Zermatt is the Ultimate Alpine Destination
While Grindelwald undoubtedly offers a pleasant alpine experience, Zermatt stands out as the ultimate destination for those seeking a perfect blend of extensive skiing, efficient infrastructure, reliable snow conditions, and a unique, car-free village atmosphere.
Zermatt truly encapsulates the essence of a winter wonderland, making it the superior choice for an unforgettable ski vacation in the Swiss Alps.
Book Accommodation in Zermatt
If you’d like to visit Zermatt and would like to find the right accommodation for you, then please contact Ed and Suzanne at Matterhorn Chalets.
We can specalise in fully serviced chalets and self-catered apartments, as well as hotels. And through our concierge service, we can arrange your ski lessons, ski hire and book restaurants for you during your stay.
Simply contact us via our website or on +41 79 247 15 88