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There is nothing like the majestic beauty the Alps have to offer; they draw visitors from around the world looking to experience the stunning views and partake in the exhilarating activities. One commonly asked question among those planning their Alps vacation is, “who has the better Alps, Austria or Switzerland?” While it’s safe to say there aren’t any “bad” Alps, each country offers an experience that is uniquely its own, and knowing which one to choose depends on what you want to get out of your trip. We’ve taken four of the most popular categories used by vacationers to determine which country to visit and compared them for you, so you can choose whether you want to head to the Austrian or Swiss Alps on your next vacation.
When choosing whether to visit the Austrian or Swiss Alps, one of the main concerns is the cost of the trip. Switzerland is notoriously expensive, which is one of the main complaints about the country. Everything from lodging to food will cost you a pretty penny, so make sure you plan your budget accordingly. Ranked the second most expensive European country, a Switzerland vacation doesn’t come cheap, but the stunning scenery and tall mountain peaks are definitely worth the cost!
Austria is significantly less expensive to visit, with food and lodging more sensibly priced than its Swiss neighbor. Although not cheap by a long run, Austria does allow visitors to get more bang for their buck, which is nice if you want to try many different activities on your trip. Also of note, although it isn’t related to price directly, the people in Austria tend to be much friendlier than their Swiss counterparts, which is something to consider when planning your vacation.
Another variable to consider is lodging and which countries have the widest array of choices. Switzerland has accommodations available from $80 USD to $1,300 USD and higher. There are hundreds of hotels available in the popular resort towns of Lucerne, Interlaken, or Saint Moritz, or you can rent a room at one of the many Alpine villages. Often, the lower-cost rooms have only one communal bathroom for the entire floor, so if that is something that would bother you, make sure you research what amenities are included in the price. When planning your vacation, check out our Switzerland itinerary, so you don’t miss any of the amazing experiences this beautiful country has to offer.
Austrian accommodations are less expensive, and you can find a room for as low as $25 USD to over $300 USD per night. The lower cost may come from the need to share amenities, or you can choose to stay at one of the many quaint bed and breakfasts that give you an authentic Austrian experience without all the bells and whistles luxury hotels offer. If you prefer the luxury experience, Austria has many famous destinations like Vienna or Salzburg or the resort cities of Ferienparadies Natterer See or Feriendorf Oberreit. Each one gives you stunning views and the first-class experience you’d expect from a resort town nestled within the Alps.
Transportation is an integral part of choosing whether to visit the Austrian or Swiss Alps. Although both countries have a wide variety to choose from, their topography is where you’ll see the differences. Switzerland is a more compact country than Austria, so traveling to different resort towns within the Alps or heading out for hiking or skiing is generally easier. There are buses, trains, cable cars, and automobile rentals available for tourists. Although the length of the trip is often shorter, that doesn’t mean the cost is less. A typical train ride runs around $100 USD, and bus fare averages $75 USD, so make sure you consider this when budgeting for your vacation.
Traveling within Austrian cities is typically less expensive. Still, the country is significantly larger than Switzerland, so you may need to rent a car or take the train when traveling between towns. It’s not uncommon for a trip between two resort towns to take over two hours, which for some is an unwanted way to spend their vacation time. Although the travel time is longer, the views are fantastic, so it’s not an unenjoyable way to spend the day. Rental cars can range from $28 USD to $68 USD per day, train transportation typically begins at $9 USD, and bus rides start at $3.50 USD. If you’re planning an Austrian Alps vacation, it’s essential to map out your itinerary since the country is so large. We have a perfect guide on how to create a travel itinerary that will ensure you get the most out of your trip!
As with any vacation, knowing what entertainment is available helps you choose which destination is best for you. Although both choices offer many of the same activities like skiing, hiking, paragliding, restaurants, and shopping, there are some differences to note. Switzerland is home to some of the highest Alpine peaks in the world, making it an ideal spot for adventure seekers. The famous Matterhorn is located here and features stunning views and challenging climbs. There are over forty-eight peaks over 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) tall, so those seeking outdoor adventures will have endless options.
The Austrian Alps are smaller but still offer excellent outdoor adventures. Its highest peak is Grobglockner, which stands 3,767 meters (12,457 feet.) There are fantastic hiking trails; just make sure you pack lightly, so you don’t get tired. If you’re not sure what to take, check out this article on cool gadgets for minimalists that will help you get the most out of your limited packing space. There is also amazing shopping and food in the popular cities of Vienna or Salzburg or one of the quaint villages dotting the countryside.
The Austrian and Swiss Alps feature stunning views, exhilarating outdoor activities, and world-class shopping and dining. Switzerland is famous for the beauty its Alps offer, and although more expensive, it is worth experiencing. Austria has more of a small-town feel, with shorter mountain peaks that are equally breathtaking. Less expensive than its Swiss counterpart, your money can stretch farther here. There’s no wrong choice for your alpine vacation; it all depends on your personal preference and what you want to get out of your trip. Switzerland is an excellent option if you’re searching for high-adrenaline activities and don’t mind the higher cost. However, Austria is the perfect choice if you want a more authentic experience that is less expensive but equally as beautiful!
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