Switzerland vs Canada Rockies

Apr 14th, 2013, 01:37 PM
  #1  
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Switzerland vs Canada Rockies

This was, by the way, a topic in a very old thread, and someone advised me to create a new thread, so here goes: Crucial question I did not see addressed (in the old thread): Price! How do costs compare? For the Canadian Rockies, I have no doubt you get around by rental car; in Switzerland, more likely by a railway pass; both forms of transportation are maybe similar in cost, but it's preferable to have the train conductor do the driving than myself. So folks, can someone please tell me what you think: food, budget accomodation, sightseeing costs (price of lifts, etc), and overall costs... how would you compare the two. (Let's not count airfare to get to Europe - depends where someone is flying in from).

Back to the main comparison (touring and sightseeing in either country), I'm arriving at the following summary based on previous posts I've seen: (1) If you love untouched nature, choose the Rockies, but if you want fairy-tale villages set against mountains and pastoral settings, choose Swiss Alps.(2)If you want user-friendly transportation system, and a backup plan in case of bad weather, choose Swiss Alps (there are ancient villages close at hand to explore in case of bad weather, whereas in the Rockies, you'd be stuck, outside of shopping in Banff). (3) For sheer drop-your-jaw stunning beauty, the Swiss Alps are ultimately the winner. (4) No nasty bears to worry about when hiking in the Swiss Alps, unlike the Rockies.

What do you think? You see, I myself am trying to choose between the two...
JohnLovesTravel is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 01:54 PM
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I love both places as they are both spectacular. On your question of price, Canada wins easily. Switzerland is VERY expensive. Of course, great hiking and scenery in both places, so hard to say one is "better," but a few items of note that may help you decide...

Rockies seemed to have more lakes and rivers. Of course, these exist in Switzerland too, but seemed there were more easily-reachable windex blue stunning bodies of water in CR.

Yes, rail in Switzerland, car in CR

Most people think of Banff in the CR, however we loved Jasper even more. The Icefields Parkway connects the two and is a spectacular drive. A highlight for us was doing a guided glacier hike wearing crampons

Switzerland is a big country, so lots of mountain possibilities, but most people on this board (myself included) find the area around the Lauterbrunnen Valley to be their preferred choice.

Switzerland offers more gondolas and other cool railway experiences, as well as more scenic villages

The mountains seemed bigger in Switzerland. Not sure if they actually are, but if felt that way.

If you are looking to visit a nearby city before or after your mountain experience, Switzerland has better choices. Luzern, Geneva, etc were much more interesting to me than Calgary.

The good news is that you can't go wrong with either choice. Have fun!
msteacher is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 02:18 PM
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I'll give my perspective of the Swiss alps vs. the U.S. Rockies, where I live. I think your opinions on both are generally accurate. We always drove in Switzerland and austria, so we could get to more outof-the-way towns and villages.

I would say that bad weather is equally annoying. While I think Swiss and Austrian towns very cute, I would't see them as a place to spend an entire rainy day. In the US Rockies, an entire rainy day is extremely rare; we tend to only get rain in the late afternoon; and it blows over.

For reasons having to do with the age of the mountains (Alps are young, Rockies are old), the Alps are more jagged and provide more striking views. Also, due to geography i guess, in Switzerland you have more areas with mountains jutting up from a very green valley floor, and still being lush and green quite high up. In the Rockies, it's drier, more rocks, more evergreen forests. Different kind of beauty.

I love where we live and hike most weekends in the summer, but I would so love to arrive at a beautiful lake high in the Rockies and find a lovely Swiss cafe waiting to serve me lunch.
Lexma90 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 02:54 PM
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Thanks for the replies. I'm getting a very clear picture - can't go wrong in either place if you're looking for extreme beauty, but it's starting to seem to me that price is becoming a real decider. I think an extensive rail pass plus accomodations in Switzerland would be much more expensive than renting a car to tour US Rockies/Yellowstone NP/Canadian Rockies/BC. In North America, I can sleep for maybe $30 a night or maybe even less, staying an hour or 2 outside the highest tourist areas, and waking up early to drive in, then drive back out again to sleep - again, away from the highest tourist spots. I'm guessing that in Switzerland, unless I find dorm beds, I'd have a hard time sleeping for as little as that. Also, I'm guessing the extensive rail pass would cost much more than rental car+gas. Also, with rental car, I can buy food easily from grocery stores, and cook in picnic areas, not easy perhaps in Switzerland, based on using rail transportation.

Based on my discussion, are we talking about a Swiss trip costing maybe DOUBLE the US/Canada trip???(2 weeks, either mid June or mid Sept). Unfortunately, that's gotta be a major deciding factor, as it would be for many people.

Thanks so much for your replies.
JohnLovesTravel is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 02:59 PM
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You can sleep for 30 bucks a night in Canada. WHERE????
Dukey1 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 03:40 PM
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I do have another question... if I go to the US Rockies/Yellowstone/Canadian Rockies, when would you recommend I go? I can go in mid-June or early September, to avoid the crowds, just after the kids are back at school. Any preference re best time to visit? I'm not into winter sports so it would be a summer visit.
JohnLovesTravel is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 03:42 PM
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I have to agree that costwise, you can do more with your money in the rockies. Switzerland is soooo expensive. My DH and I go there at least twice per year, during off season (very early spring... we were just there the last two weeks of March) and very late fall...we will return in late November to early December. We have seen favorite hotel prices rise at least 50-60% over the years. $30 a night, while you may or may not find it in the rockies, would not be an available option in Switzerland, IME. $130 would be hard to find as well.

Anyway, either location would be a spectacular and scenic choice! (Switzerland is my favorite European country)
simpsonc510 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 05:03 PM
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Switerland costs are probably going to be about double those in th US or Canada - for anything. (On the McDonalds meter a big mac meal there is about $18 - with other prices comparable.)

I would do Switz - since I 'm not very outdoorsy. Want to ascend mountains via cable car or tram - and do a 30 minute walk - but I'm not hiking or climbing anything. And Switz has much more history, charming villages and cute castles etc.

But for outdoors I would thing the US/Canada would be fine - and a real bargain.
nytraveler is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 12:25 AM
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I agree that Switzerland in general is more expensive. However, I have doubts about several things you said.

$30 for a bed in Canada? Where and what standard?

Public transportation and cost for gondola/cable cars - if you have a closer look at some Swiss regions you'll find out that this is sometimes included in the hotel prices, sometimes even if you stay in apartments/other accommodation. For example, lots of resorts in canton Grisons offer this: St. Moritz/Upper Engadine, Davos/Klosters, Arosa, Savognin. Or Appenzell. Other regions offer Regional Passes which are less expensive than the Swiss Pass. Examples: Grisons again (with options for the whole canton or just parts of it), Bernese Oberland, Lake Lucerne region, Saas valley. And many more.

Also, it is not true that you cannot do grocery shopping w/o a car. Groceries are right in the centre of villages/towns, not somewhere out in the middle of nowhere.

As for accommodation, look for rental apartments, youth hostels (which means not neccesarily dorms) and private accommodation. People, especially in farmhouses, let rooms with one or two beds, breakfast optional.
Ingo is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 05:37 AM
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Well I agree about the cost of Switzerland but you may not realise that the Alps are bigger than Switzerland and you can have great hiking and visits in the French, Italian, Austrian, Slovenian Alps at a far more reasonable prices.
bilboburgler is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 06:02 AM
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Been to both the CR and Switzerland.

What I like about Switzerland vs. Canada - uh oh I'm sure I'll insult someone - is the culture. I found Canada just boring outside of the the beautiful scenery. (People are very nice, though.) In Switzerland I loved the chocolates, the cafes even in the middle of a mountain and all the wonderful villages. It's so much more than just peaks.
kenav is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 01:59 PM
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Thanks again for all your comments, and I hope this thread also helps other travellers. Here is some feedback on some of your comments:

"$30 for a bed in Canada? Where and what standard?": OK, I admit, that's probably more likely as a campground price, but re motels, I'd be talking about staying maybe 1 hour outside the main tourist areas and commuting - not always easy to do, I admit, especially if it's gotten a bit late and you're in an area with towns few & far between. $30 may be a bit tough to find, though I found that in early Sept in the southwest US - no-name very simple family motels.

"What I like about Switzerland vs. Canada - uh oh I'm sure I'll insult someone - is the culture." I'm Canadian - no worries, it's not insulting - Europe is famous for culture - well-preseved roots of our modern civilizations, and very beautiful - Canada & USA can't really compete IMO, but that's just due to history - humans got their start in the old world and built it up long before the new world was developed. A plus I see with Switzerland is that it's not only about nature and scenery, you've got more variety - the gorgeous peaks a couple days, then a whole new country, quaint ancient villages and cities just a few hours away - hard to beat.

"Switzerland is soooo expensive." "On the McDonalds meter a big mac meal there is about $18 - with other prices comparable." If that's really the case, then sorry Europe, but I think I'll go with Canada/US. So people seem to be implying that...
-Everything, even groceries, would be more expensive than in Canada. Like a liter of milk and cold cuts $15 - $20 CAD instead of $8 - $10?
-A bed will be more expensive... hard to find for less than $130 per night? Even in a b&b-style place or a hostel?
-Getting around? I'm not sure. A pass for about 2 weeks allowing very liberal travel within Switzerland and all (or most) neighbouring countries would cost... about $1000 CAD??? (My guess). Car rental in US/Canada+gas would be maybe a few hundred less.
-Any entertainment, also more expensive? Someone said lifts may be included in hotel prices... having acknowledged that comment, I would say that, normally, in tourist places (and that includes Canadian Rockies, tourists always get soaked with high prices for entertainment that's mainly aimed at tourists. If a lift (ie Jungfraujoch) is 2 or 3 times higher than the lift at Lake Louise or Banff, then this is a serious concern.
-In summary, are people saying that the Canada/US 2-week car rental-based trip would be double or triple the cost to do Switzerland and neighbouring countries? Remember, I'm talking about getting around quite a bit here - some admissions to castles, museums, etc, as well as the lifts. Costs have a way of adding up fast when you really get around. I'd estimate the Canada-US car-based trip to come to not less than $4500 - $5000, even eating lots out of supermarkets, and looking for cheap no-name motels (and maybe campgrounds).

Does everyone agree, try to go (to either) just before or after the peak July-August season? (I'm thinking 1st choice mid-June, 2nd choice early Sept).
JohnLovesTravel is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 02:06 PM
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In terms of when if you do visit US Rockies/Yellowstone/Canadian Rockies, keep in mind that's a huge geographic area that you're talking about. But I know that in the U.S. Rockies, especially this year where we're still getting a lot of snow in the high country, and it's not melting, the higher areas (in terms of hiking, not driving) will still be snowed in in June. End of June, then, for the US Rockies.

Yellowstone will get very crowded all summer. The US and Canadian Rockies will never get so crowded as to be an issue. Yellowstone, early September would be great.
Lexma90 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 02:35 PM
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Been to both and I prefer Canada's Rockies.

You can rent a car and drive all the way from Calgary to Vancouver if you want.

I also liked Switzerland and used the train a lot.
Went up the the Matterhorn. Very nice and co-o-o-ol in June.
Percy is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 03:39 PM
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I live in the Canadian Rockies south of Calgary and would not advise a trip here in June. June is our rainiest season and many Campgrounds will be flooded and shut down. On the other hand September will either still be very warm or just slightly cooling at night, so you will either enjoy our famous "Indian Summer" or the beautiful fall colors. Either will be a win-win for you and all the kids will be back to school so you will have a large range of places to stay.
I highly advise you to see Waterton-Glacier as the views are stunning on both the Canadian and American sides. However, don't leave that one for too late in September as snow comes early in the higher passes. Happy trails!
black_snip is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 04:07 PM
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We were in CR in September. Beautiful time of year.
kenav is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 04:29 PM
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Back to the main comparison (touring and sightseeing in either country), I'm arriving at the following summary based on previous posts I've seen: (1) If you love untouched nature, choose the Rockies, but if you want fairy-tale villages set against mountains and pastoral settings, choose Swiss Alps.(2)If you want user-friendly transportation system, and a backup plan in case of bad weather, choose Swiss Alps (there are ancient villages close at hand to explore in case of bad weather, whereas in the Rockies, you'd be stuck, outside of shopping in Banff). (3) For sheer drop-your-jaw stunning beauty, the Swiss Alps are ultimately the winner. (4) No nasty bears to worry about when hiking in the Swiss Alps, unlike the Rockies.

All very true

Have been in both, Switzerland hands down, but will be more $$$$

Yes, no grizzly bears in Switzerland, disappointing if you want to see them, good if you are hiking. However if you really want to see wildlife I think Yellowstone better than CR.

No mosquitos in Switzerland (ate me alive one year in CR)

I think easier hiking and more diversity of things to do in Switzerland. Incredible mountain scenery not far from European culture

We have been to the Canadian Rockies 2x (different areas) have been to Switzerland 5 times, going back next year.

I want to go back to CR at some point, but I dream of, and am addicted to, Switzerland.

You don't say if you have been to Europe before?

We were in Zermatt and Engadine mid June, the wildflowers were unbelievable.

We were in other areas in mid September, still stunning.

I predict if you have never been to Switzerland, and you go once, you will go again.

And I'm not Swiss, live in Northern VA.
wrenwood is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 05:05 PM
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Have you posted this question on the Canada board too? You might get a different perspective.
msteacher is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 05:15 PM
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I have been to both. In July/August (not my choice but...).
Got around Switzerland by train with an 8 day pass. Magic. In Canada we based ourselves in Banff and got a car and drove every day to various places. Very nice but I would much rather have a vacation without a car. Not much option as there are very few trains. From Switzerland I ended by getting the train (same rail pass ) all the way to Italy (Como, Milano) at the end of my trip. In Canada I had to return the car to Calgary. Which is not an inspiring city. And just think of all that Italian food at the end of my trip. Neither Switzerland nor Canada tickled my tastebuds!
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