Swiss Alps or Italian Alps?

My husband and I are trying to narrow down our travel itinerary for travel to Italy and Switzerland. My husband is discouraged by the long trip from Rome to Murren and the surrounding area of Switzerland. He wonders if we would enjoy the Italian Alps just as much and save some travel time. Would love to hear opinions/suggestions. Thanks!

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
5486 posts

Same mountains, different people. Northern slope: Switzerland (more rain, more chocolate, more expensive) Southern slope: Italy (more sun, more spaghetti, cheaper) Swiss people also more organized, but more boring. HEAVEN is: Where the mechanics are German the policemen are English the cooks are French the lovers are Italian and everything is run by the Swiss. HELL is: Where the mechanics are French the policemen are German the cooks are English the lovers are Swiss
and everything is run by the Italians.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
1774 posts

Hi Dina, Tough to compare the Swiss Alps around Muerren/Berner Oberland and the "Italian Alps", if your referring to the Italian Dolomites. If so, it's like comparing apples and oranges in my opinion. We love the Berner Oberland and we also love the Dolomites. Everyone should spend a few days/nights in the berner Oberland. it's spectacular. That said, I can't imagine anyone not enjoying the Dolomites though. The Dolomites are unique and spectacular, like nothing else you'll see in the Alps. I have no idea how much time you'd save, but you would save money. Switzerland is very expensive in my opinion. The Dolomite area, not so much. We've done one trip to the Berner Oberland and 4 trips to the Dolomites. If interested, we have some of our Dolomite pic's at: Also, have a look at these two websites: Paul

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6163 posts

They are very different, but the Italian alps (including Dolomites) are just as beautiful, and offer great hiking, if that is your purpose. However, the Italian mountains are not nearly as accessible by train and lift as the Swiss Alps around Mürren. Although I have visited the Dolomites by public transport on two different occasions, I will say that it is not easy, especially if you want to be IN the mountains and not just go to Castelrotto. Best to have a car for the Italian alps. There is another solution: don't follow the RS crowd to the Berner Oberland. There are many places in the Swiss Alps that are just as beautiful, and accessible, and a lot closer to Rome than Mürren. One of my favorites is Bettmeralp, a car-free village (just like Mürren) perched high on a bench above the Rhone valley, facing south into Italy and with distant views west to the Matterhorn. You can also see the Aletschgletscher, Europ's longest glacier, from the ridge or peak behind town. You reach it by cablecar from the train line below; the entire journey from Rome would be 6 hours, instead of the 9.5 hours it takes to go to Mürren. You will find few if any Americans there. If you are hikers it is paradise. Another possibility is someplace along the Bernina Express route, like Pontresina in th eUpper Engadine. Again, beautiful scenery, but here I speak from photos not from personal experience, as we haven't made it there yet (keep getting stuck in Bettmeralp and other favorite places).

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2831 posts

I just love rambling through the mountains of Northern Italy and Tirol. My favorite trip is northwest of Udine on Hwy SS52bis to the end. Turn left and go into Lienz, Austria. The Grossglockner Alpine Highway (closeby) goes over the second highest mountain range in Western Europe, and it comes out east of Innsbruck @ Zell-am-Zee. The southern side of the Alps just north of Lienz is the most beautiful place I've ever experienced. And Lienz has some really fine hotels. This area is best traveled after April.

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
499 posts

Roberto, you made me laugh so hard! Loved it.

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
3113 posts

Rome to Bolzano via train is easy, about 4 hours on the Frecciargento as I remember it. Then hop a bus (1 hour) to the Val Gardenia. We stayed in Ortisei which has great access to the Alpi di Siusi. I can highly recommend Hotel Garni Walter. Bolzano is nice, but not really in the Dolomites, nor is Castelrotto. Ortisei puts you smack-dab in the mountains. Very sweet, lots of great Tyrolean and Italian food. You'll need to hike to wear off the calories, though. Much less expensive than Switzerland. Be sure to buy a Val Gardenia pass. It will save you €€€ on cablecars and buses.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
1774 posts

Laurel gave good recommendations above. Spot on about Castelrotto, Bolzano and ortise. In addition, since the 3 towns/villages of the Val Gardena (Ortisei, St. Christina and Selva) are just a few minutes from one another, any of them would make a good base. Paul

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10570 posts

I found the Val di Sole region north of Trento almost as breathtaking as any area of the Swiss Alps, but much, MUCH cheaper. I like the food better in Switzerland, but that's just my personal taste (wasn't a fan of polenta, which seemed to be served with almost every meal I ate!). And just one bit of terminology... the Alps in Italy form a large arc that extends along and out from most of Italy's northern border. The Dolomites consist of just one small area, but for some reason, they've become almost synonymous with "Italian Alps" in North American travel parlance. My point- depending on what else you have planned for this trip, the Dolomites may or may not provide the best fit, so don't think you need to exclusively focus on just that one region.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6163 posts

Just a small bit of contention on the " Switzerland is too expensive" theme. Yes, the cities are expensive, as are many popular places in the Berner Oberland, Zermatt, etc. but you can find reasonably priced hotel if you look around. Our double room with a view at our charming 3-star hotel in Bettmeralp costs less (160 CHF) than our double room with a view at our charming 3-star hotel in Val Gardena in the Dolomites (150 euro). Have a look at photos to help you make up your mind: Or Google " Aletsch Glacier" to see more.

Posted by Aly
90 posts

This is a GREAT question... I really thought about it as we went to both in the same trip. My conclusion- Italian Alps. I think your getting best of both worlds there for WAAAAYYYYYYYY cheaper. You feel like your in the swiss alps with all the charm it has yet you get to eat italian food, hear a mixture of italian and german and pay italian prices. We were in the Dolomites staying in Castelrotto. It was the most beautiful place we have ever been. While I loved the Swiss Alps, I loved the Italian more. Hope this helps.