Switzerland and Austria are both amazing countries to ski in, but which is the best place to go? In this article, I’ll be directly comparing Switzerland and Austrian ski resorts in terms of their slopes, snow quality, après ski, accommodation, accessibility and value for money.
Switzerland vs Austria for Skiing
Austria typically has a longer ski season compared to Switzerland and slightly better snow quality at the start and end of the season. Switzerland has the largest ski resort and the biggest vertical drop, however, Austria is much cheaper and most resorts are closer to the airport compared to Switzerland.
There are 439 ski resorts in Austria and 354 resorts to choose from in Switzerland giving skiers plenty of options. Both countries have resorts which cater to all ability levels so beginners, intermediates and experts will have no trouble finding a suitable place to do.
The largest ski resort in Austria is St. Anton which has just over 300 km of slopes. The largest ski resort in Switzerland is Nendaz which has 412 km of slopes. Switzerland also has the resort with the largest vertical drop which is Verbier which has an impressive vertical drop of 8133ft (2479m).
Popular Ski Resorts in Austria:
- St. Anton
Popular Ski Resorts in Switzerland:
- St. Moritz
- Davos Klosters
Here’s a table summarising the slope stats of some of the most popular ski resorts in Austria and Switzerland.
|Location||Slopes||Ski Lifts||Blue Runs||Red Runs||Black Runs|
|Grindelwald, Switzerland||102 km||30||16||24||15|
|Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, Austria||110 km||25||21||11||7|
|Crans-Montana, Switzerland||140 km||19||17||29||4|
|Mayrhofen, Austria||142 km||44||24||33||8|
|St. Moritz, Switzerland||155 km||24||18||16||9|
|Kitzbühel, Austria||188 km||57||29||27||12|
|Verbier, Switzerland||202 km||22||35||39||14|
|Davos-Klosters, Switzerland||270 km||55||20||37||20|
|Soll, Austria||279 km||91||76||83||9|
|St. Anton, Austria||302 km||88||34||70||30|
|Zermatt, Switzerland||360 km||53||75||220||63|
Ski Season Length
The ski season in Austria usually lasts slightly longer compared to the ski season in Switzerland. The Austrian ski season typically starts in early-mid November and ends in late April/ early May. The ski season in Switzerland usually starts in mid-late November and ends in mid-late April.
Keep in mind that there is variation between the ski season lengths in different resorts. Resorts with mountains which are at higher altitudes and more slopes facing away from the sun tend to have longer ski seasons.
|Ski Resort||Ski Season Length (2021/22)||Ski Season Start Date 2021/22||Ski Season Start Date 2021/22|
|Grindelwald,Switzerland||100 days||18th Dec||27th Mar|
|St. Moritz, Switzerland||128 days||27th Nov||3rd Apr|
|Mayrhofen, Austria||136 days||4th Dec||18th Apr|
|Verbier, Switzerland||137 days||3rd Dec||18th Apr|
|Zermatt, Switzerland||148 days||4th Dec||30th Apr|
|St. Anton, Austria||149 days||27th Nov||24th Apr|
|Davos Klosters, Switzerland||157 days||19th Nov||24th Apr|
|Obergurgl, Austria||158 days||17th Nov||23rd Apr|
|Ischgl, Austria||158 days||25th Nov||1st May|
|Crans-Montana, Switzerland||163 days||13th Nov||24th Apr|
|Solden, Austria||163 days||20th Nov||1st May|
|Kitzbühel, Austria||177 days||30th Oct||24th Apr|
Weather and Snow Quality
The snow quality in Austria and Switzerland is excellent for most of the ski season. However, towards the start of the season and the end of the season, Austria is typically a bit more reliable.
The seasons are usually longer in Austria so the snow tends to be a bit better in November/ December and March/ April compared to in Switzerland. In January and February the snow quality is very comparable, but there will be variation between resorts.
|Average Temperature||St. Anton, |
|Zermatt, Switzerland||St. Moritz, Switzerland|
|Nov||-4.5°C (24°F)||-0.5°C (31°F)||-8°C (18°F)||-5.5°C (22°F)|
|Dec||-9.5°C (14.5°F)||-5°C (23°F)||-12.5°C (9.5°F)||-11°C (12°F)|
|Jan||-10.5°C (13°F)||-6.5°C (20.5°F)||-13.5°C (7°F)||-12°C (10°F)|
|Feb||-9°C (16°F)||-5°C (23°F)||-13°C (9°F)||-11°C (12°F)|
|Mar||4.5°C (23.5°F)||-1°C (30°F)||-9°C (15.5°F)||-6.5°C (20°F)|
|Apr||-1°C (30°F)||2.5°C (37°F)||-5.3°C (22.5°F)||-2.5°C (27°F)|
Food and Dining
The food in both Austria and Switzerland is top notch. Here are some popular dishes you’ll find on the menus in each country:
- Austria: brettljause, goulash, apfelstrüdel and wiener schnitzel
- Switzerland: cheese fondue, rosti, pastries, Älplermagronen (Alpine Macaroni)
The main difference here is that food and drink is much more expensive in Switzerland compared to Austria. You can expect to pay up to double for basic items and meals out in Switzerland so make sure you consider this when budgeting for your trip.
Here is a table comparing the average prices of food and drink in each country.
|Food/ Drink||Average Cost Austria||Average Cost Switzerland|
|3 Course Meal for One||30€||50€|
|Coca Cola/ Pepsi||2.65€||4.20€|
|Bottle of Water||2.20€||3.90€|
There are hotels and chalets available in Switzerland and Austria to suit different budgets, however comparable accommodation is much more expensive in Switzerland. You can expect to pay anywhere from 1.5-2 times more to stay in Switzerland which makes it a much more expensive place to stay.
The villages and accommodation in both countries is stunning and has that rustic, cosy feel. I think this really gives the resorts in these two countries the edge over France which doesn’t feel as authentic.
Après Ski and Villages
Both Austria and Switzerland have beautiful ski resort villages with plenty of activities, restaurants, nightlife and shops to keep you entertained when you’re taking a break from the slopes.
St. Anton, Ischgl, and Mayrhofen stand out for the après ski lifestyle in Austria. In Switzerland, Verbier, Zermatt, and St. Moritz are all excellent options too.
I can’t really give the point to either country here as it is very resort dependent. However, it’s very likely that you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for off the slopes in either country.
Location and Travelling
One big advantage in my opinion of Austria compared to Switzerland, is that the resorts are more accessible so the transfer times from the airport is typically much shorter.
The Swiss alps are expansive so there are a few different airports to choose from depending on which resort you go to. If you’re going to a resort towards the west side then Geneva is usually the closest airport. If you are skiing more towards the east then Milan and Zurich airports may be closer.
Either way, most ski resorts in Switzerland are 2-3 hours away in the car from the closest international airport. You do have the option to take the train as well as most resorts are quite well connected, but again this will usually take at least 2 hours.
Most Austrian ski resorts are less than 1.5 hours away form the closest airport by car. Innsbruck and Salzburg are the most popular international airports to travel to.
|Ski Resort||Nearest Major Airport||Drive Time|
|St. Moritz, Switzerland||Zurich/ Milan||3 hours 30 minutes/ 4 hours|
|Zermatt, Switzerland||Geneva/ Milan||2 hours 45 minutes/ 3 hours|
|Verbier, Swizterland||Geneva/ Milan||2 hours/ 3 hours|
|St. Anton, Austria||Innsbruck||1 hour|
|Kitzbühel, Austria||Salzburg||1 hour 20 minutes|
|Mayrhofen, Austria||Innsbruck||1 hour|
Austria is a cheaper place to ski compared to Switzerland as the lift tickets are often 10-15€ cheaper per day for adults.
Check out the table below for the most recent (at the time of writing) ski season day lift ticket prices in popular Swiss and Austrian resorts.
Keep in mind that these prices are subject to change. Please check the resorts individually to confirm current prices. The rates below are for online bookings, prices are higher if tickets are purchased at the desk.
|Resort||Peak Season Day Lift Ticket Price (Adult)|
|St. Anton, Austria||53€|
|St. Moritz, Switzerland||77€|
Which is the Best Country for Skiing?
Let’s start by saying that both countries are amazing for skiing and you’re unlikely to be disappointed whichever one you visit.
However, in my opinion Austria is the better option. It offers better value for money and the resorts are more accessible compared to Switzerland where you typically need to travel for longer.
With that said, Switzerland does probably offer a slightly better skiing experience if you’re an advanced/ expert skier going mid-season. This is because it has the largest resort and the biggest vertical drop. So if being on the slopes is your #1 priority and you aren’t as concerned about the price then it’s definitely worth considering Switzerland.