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Switzerland Vs Austria: Which Has The Better Alps?

TheTravel logo TheTravel 8/6/2022 Aaron Spray
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Switzerland and Austria are both stunning mostly German-speaking countries nestled in Europe's stunning Alps. Switzerland may be famous for its cheese, banks, and infamously high prices, while Austria is famous for its hills being alive with the sound of music and the old stunning city of Vienna. But both are famous for their picturesque Alps. The European Alps are divided between Switzerland, Austria, France, Southern Germany, Lichenstein, and Northern Italy - although we will leave Italy and other others for another day to compare.

So, that begs the question: who has better alps?


Choosing Between Switzerland And Austria

Both Switzerland and Austria have stunning alpine sceneries that make any nature lover and adventurer passionate about visiting these two iconic countries. This article was updated to explain which country is a better alpine destination to visit.


Switzerland arguably is more famous for its Alps than either Italy or Austria. It is often one of the highest countries to visit on people's budget lists of countries to visit. Indeed, its Alps and landscapes are utterly stunning. The country is both a natural ski resort and a natural fort (one of the reasons why Nazi Germany never invaded them).

  • Currency: Swiss France
  • Population: 8.5 Million

Today the Swiss Alps draws skiers, hikers, and sightseers from all around the world to its famously neutral mountains. Its valleys and mountainsides are full of touristic alpine villages, lodges, and luxury hotels. They are serviced by an impressive network of trains, alpine trains, and cable cars all working efficiently to the minute. Some of its alpine villages have also forbidden passenger cars. Transport to, from, and around here are by train or on foot.

The country is the ideal destination for skiing and paragliding for those who can afford it. Switzerland is also a diverse (if not segregated) country, primarily being divided between German, France, and Italian regions and the cultures of these regions can really feel different.

Related: This Is Why You Should Consider Visiting Switzerland In The Summer

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate and cheese and has been an independent country in Europe for hundreds of years now. The Switz are often proud of their culture and traditions - so much so that the canton (a sort of state) Appenzell Innerrhoden was the last place in Europe to give women the vote. And that was only because of the intervention of the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland that they did in the end.

  • Last: The Canton Of Appenzell Innerrhoden Was The Last To Give Women The Vote In 1991
  • Highest Mountain: Monte Rosa 4,634 meters or 15,203 feet

Switzerland also boasts some of the highest peaks of the Alps (though not the highest). It has 48 peaks rising above 4,000 meters or 13,000 feet.


Austria stands apart from this Swiss neighbor in many ways. Whereas Switzerland was a small alpine state for much of its history, Austria was the centerpiece of the large Austro-Hungarian Empire. Whereas Switzerland is linguistically and culturally diverse today, Austria is quite homogenous.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Population: 8.9 Million

One of the legacies of being from such a large and powerful central European Empire is that Vienna was once its capital. Accordingly, the architecture there today is stunning and one of Europe's finest and is one of the reasons why people love visiting Austria. Austria may be a small country today, but it inherits the capital city of a formerly large and prosperous empire.

The stunning Austrian city of Salzburg and the Austrian Alps were the filming locations for the famous "The Sound of Music" movie. Today it is a fantastic place for hiking and offers much of the same that its neighboring Switzerland does. Additionally, it is cheaper than Switzerland (or perhaps it would be better to say less ridiculously expensive as it certainly isn't cheap).

  • Fun Fact: The Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger Was Born In Austria

The skiing, hiking, and paragliding here are all comparable to that of Switzerland. Like Switzerland, the villages in Austria are stunning with their rustic wooden Alpine-style homes nestled cutely in lush meadows in the Alps to the sounds of the clanging of cow's bells as they wander and graze.

Related: Here's Why A Few Days Is All You Need To See The Best Of Salzburg, Austria

The country's mountains are, however, substantially shorter than those in Switzerland. The tallest mountain is GroƟglockner that reaches 3,767 meters or 12457 feet in altitude. That is much shorter than Monte Rosa with its height of 4,634 meters or 15,203 feet.

  • Highest Mountain: GroƟglockner 3,767 Meters or 12457 Feet

The highest of all the peaks is Mont Blanc which rises to 4,808 meters or 15,777 feet. However it is not a part of Switzerland or Austria, instead, it is on the border with France and Italy.

Which Alpine Destination To Visit: Switzerland Or Austria?

People looking for the ultimate Alpine European vacation and who are nature enthusiasts will end up choosing Switzerland as their next destination. The beauty of the numerous alpine lakes of Switzerland are difficult to beat even by the stunning mountainous landscape of Austria. There's something that makes Switzerland one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations, and that is the country's incredible natural landscape.

Austria is best chosen as a destination for those looking for a historical and cultural experience. As for those looking for a budget vacation, then they'd be better visiting Austria over Switzerland. However, travelers who want to have an epic Alpine experience are recommended to visit both Switzerland and Austria, and maybe add Bavaria to their itinerary if they have a couple weeks time on their hands. After all, the alpine scenery in each of these destinations has its own charming characteristics.

In Summary

Both of the alpine regions of these countries are stunning and are broadly comparable. Austria has the advantage of being a less ludicrously expensive destination, while Switzerland is culturally more diverse. Austria's architecture and cities are arguably more impressive once one is out of the mountains but Switzerland has taller mountains (although neither have the tallest).

Next: One Of The Most Beautiful Places In Switzerland Can Easily Be Reached From Milan, Italy


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