Just ask at your hotel desk and they will show you the various trails on a map and how to reach the trailhead. There are fantastic trails, some that do not require strenuous activity, but a nice, pleasant walk in some of the most fantastic scenery in the world. We spent a day, including lunch along the trail, and had a great time. You can take a bus to the Punt Muragl cable car (funicular) station, take the cable car up, walk across on the Muottas Muragl Trail, stopping at the restaurant for lunch, and take a ski lift down at the Alp Langard ski lift station. You arrive in Pontresina and must get transportation back to either where the bus dropped you off at the cable car lift or back to your hotel. You can take a bus..I found this a little difficult to figure out on my own, but just ask a local business and they will tell you where to catch the bus. I highly recommend it. Moderate trail and easy to do. With lunch it does take most of the day.
Enjoy the views travelling by funicular between the summit Corviglia (2486m) and St. Moritz-Dorf (1856m).
A funicular, also known as a funicular railway, is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other.
VIDEO of my visit:
Piz Nair (3057m) is the highest skiable mountain in the region. It is located above St. Moritz in the Albula Range, accessible by aerial cable car from Corviglia.
The Piz Nair Wall was the start of the men's downhill in the 2003 World Championship with a 100% drop results in an acceleration from 0 to 130km/h in 7 seconds.
VIDEO of my visit:
Enjoy the mountain views, going by aerial cable car to Signal (2130m) and then by foot to Corviglia (2486m).
Corviglia is a minor summit situated above St. Moritz. It is also the name of the ski area directly above the town of St. Moritz.
This area, together with the fully integrated Marguns area which is centered above the neighboring town of Celerina, is the largest skiing area in the Engadine.
It has been the scene of several large tournaments, including the Olympic games twice, and the FIS alpine ski world championships several times.
From here you can go by aerial cable car to the Piz Nair (3057m), the highest skiable mountain in the region.
VIDEO of my visit:
Lake St. Moritz measures approx. 1.6 km long and 0.6 km wide and depending on how fast a walker you are, it may take 1 to 1-1/2 hours to walk around it.
Lake St. Moritz = Lej da San Murezzan, in Romansh.
VIDEO of my walk around the lake:
Also known as "Top of the World", St. Moritz is considered the oldest and one of the most famous winter resorts in the world.
Due to its favorable location residents enjoy over 300 days of sunshine a year.
In summer on can enjoy horse riding golf, walking, climbing and biking.
St. Moritz is extremely popular in the summer months as an altitude training base for distance athletes, particularly cyclists, runners, and race walkers.
St. Moritz basically consists of two villages, St. Moritz-Bad and St. Moritz-Dorf, respectively on the lake and on the hillside.
It has been the host city for the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics. It also hosted the 1934, 1974 and 2003 Alpine Skiing World Championships. It is one of three cities that have hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice.
St. Moritz was mentioned in the 1964 James Bond film "Goldfinger" and in the 1981 James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only".
VIDEO of my visit:
Sils' main attraction is the surrounding landscape. That won't ever change (hopefully). But it has to offer some more things to do and see, some of them often overlooked. The Nietzsche house is probably the best known of them. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche spent the summers 1881-87 in this house. He was sick with headache (probably light allergy), retired from the University Basel and had discovered that he felt better in the cool and dry climate in the Upper Engadine. He praised Sils as "loveliest place of the world", did long walks in the sun along the lakes and wrote - e.g. the famous "Thus spoke Zarathustra", "East of Good and Evil", "Ecce Homo". At the end of the beautiful peninsula Chaste is a monument for him, a stone with a poem engraved:
Hier saß ich, wartend, - doch auf Nichts,
Jenseits von Gut und Böse, bald des Lichts
Genießend, bald des Schattens, ganz nur Spiel,
Ganz See, ganz Mittag, ganz Zeit ohne Ziel.
Da, plötzlich, Freundin! wurde Eins zu Zwei -
- und Zarathustra ging an mir vorbei ...
The interior of the Nietzsche house is well preserved. You can see the basic room where he lived e.g. It is also home for the Nietzsche Association which researches his works and hosts conferences/seminars. Check the website for opening hours and admission fee.
Each part of Sils has a Parish church - Sils-Baselgia's is very picturesque from outside, in the most beautiful setting, a late-Romanesque church without any works of art worth to see, though. The Parish church of Sils-Maria was built in the early 17th century and renovated 1009/10. Again, the interior is nothing special but at least the woodcarved pulpit (Swiss pine) is beautiful and there is a decoration around the apse with an interesting pattern.
Another place to see is the small Robbi museum next to the Parish church in Sils-Maria. Andrea Robbi (1864-1945) grew up in Italy as son of a family from the Engadine. He studied in Munich (together with Giovanni Giacometti), Milan, Rome, Paris and Dresden before returning to the Engadine. His paintings were only recently discovered as excellent art. Now many of them are on display in this small museum which also shows temporary exhibits on contemporary local art.
Open Tue-Sun 4-6 pm.
Last but not least I'd like to recommend the botanical garden in Sils, right in the centre of the village on the small hill Muot Marias. Open always and free. You can see about 150 species of Alpine flowers plus enjoy the panoramic views of the landscape.
Sils is my favourite village in the Upper Engadine. It has the most beautiful location between two lakes, right on the entrance of the marvellous Fex valley. Sils is probably the "cultural centre" of the Engadine. Famous writers, musicians, artists etc. used to stay there (Nietzsche, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Marcel Proust to name a few). Every year many cultural events take place in Sils to keep this spirit alive.
While the main road runs along the northern edge of the Engadine Sils stretches to the southern side - no traffic passing through, which makes it fun to stroll along the 'main' street marvelling at some houses in typical local style with sgraffito decoration, but also at some grand old hotels.
Sils is actually split into two different parts - the smaller Sils-Baselgia, which is located close to the main road, more of an authentic farmers village, and the larger (whatever that means here!) Sils-Maria at the entrance to the Fex valley, where the most hotels, shops and restaurants are located. Inbetween is the so called Sils plain, good for leisure walks toward the lakes (benches) offering the best panoramic views.
The tourist office is located in the small town hall right on the main square. The post office and bus stop are a three minutes walk down the main street (all in Sils-Maria, another bus stop in Sils-Baselgia).
Sils is also an excellent base for both cross-country skiing and downhill skiing (Furtschellas-Corvatsch) in winter and hiking through all seasons. Buses frequently connect Sils with St. Moritz and hourly with the Bregaglia valley.
Please see my next tips on special attractions.
Only about one hour by bus away from St. Moritz is one of the most romantic places in the Alps: the Bregaglia valley with picturesque villages, Italian ambience and unspoilt landscape.
My advice is to take the bus from St. Moritz to Stampa (994 m) and hike to Soglio. The path leads you though the nice hamlet Coltura. A steep part follows (I call it "staircase to heaven":-)) and then at once the gorgeous mountains on the other side of the valley appear - and the quaint village Soglio (1097 m) is in front of you (pic 5).
Stroll along the narrow cobbled streets, feel the atmosphere of past times and don't miss the cemetery. Have lunch or at least a coffee in the beautiful garden of Palazzo Salis (Hotel and restaurant).
While everyone concentrates on Soglio - which has of course the most spectacular location - don't miss the other villages in the valley. Vicosoprano, Promontogno and Bondo are all worth a stroll and offer interesting architecture, not to mention the views of the mountains! Stampa has a museum on the Giacometti family (they are from this village), the Palazzo Castelmur is worth to see from inside, too, the churches are interesting as well. More on this valley in a separate page that I plan to build at some time.
Fex valley is a side valley of the Upper Engadine, stretching from Sils-Maria south to the Swiss-Italian border. The valley is car-free, only the very few inhabitants plus hand full of hotels have permission to drive their cars in the valley. Visitors take horse-drawn carriages (starting at the main square and bus stop in Sils-Maria), walk or bike into the valley.
From Sils take either the small street (as mentioned, almost no traffic) passing Hotel Waldhaus or the trail through the gorge of the Fex creek. Both take you up to the first of the hamlets in the Fex valley - Platta, spread over a wide plain with beautiful views. The views get even better after you reach the next hamlet, Crasta, which is located about 100 m higher. Attractions here are the Hotel Sonne and B&B Crasta with their excellent food, but even more so the cute Romanesque chapel with stunning frescos from 1511 (always open).
The valley floor becomes quite flat from here on, the walk via the hamlet Curtins to Hotel Fex is easy. The location of Hotel Fex is spectacular - at the end of the valley, view of the mountains and glaciers. P. Tremoggia is the highest with 3441 m. There's nothing better than lounging on their terrace on a sunny day and enjoying a meal, believe me!
The valley is famous for the vegetation - rare Alpine flowers bloom on the south facing hillsides. I personally love to hike to the Fex valley starting at the top station of the Furtschellas cable car: The hike via Marmore offers gorgeous views and leads down to Hotel Fex, crossing through these areas with the blooming flowers, sometimes you even get to see marmots.
Zuoz, the old 'capital' of the Upper Engadine, is the best preserved and most beautiful village in the Upper Engadine. It is set on a hillside, slightly above the valley floor. Noble families like the Plantas built their family houses in Zuoz - in typical local style but larger than usual and with some more decoration as usual. See picture 5 e.g. Stroll along the narrow streets, enjoy the typical sgraffiti decorated houses. See the small market square with the Planta house, the fountain, the inn "Crusch Alva" with the coat-of-arms decoration.
Zuoz is famous for its boarding school. Quite a number of famous people attended this "Lyzeum Alpinum". The complex is located on the upper end of the village, not accessible.
Quite interesting are the churches. San Luzi, the protestant parish church was built in Gothic style. Outstanding are the stained glass windows - two in the choir are works of Augusto Giacometti, two others are by local artists.
The tiny post-Romanesque chapel San Bastiaun has stunning frescos (pic 3). Keys for the churches available at the tourist information.
The small church Sta. Maria, located in the woods above Pontresina, is a real gem. Tower and western wall are all what is left of the Romanesque church from the 12th century. The other structures are from about 1450. Remarkable are the frescos inside. The late Romanesque frescos (1230) on the western wall show the Epiphany, Jesus's baptism and Last Supper. The style is post-Byzantine, the quality excellent.
Absolutely stunning are the other frescos inside from 1495, fantastic works of the so called "Master of Pontresina", probably from an upper Italian workshop. Scenes depict the Last Judgement, the legends of Mary Magdalene and Lazarus and Vita Christi e.g. The quality is fantastic, preservation is also very good.
The church is open in the afternoons Mon-Fri (Summer) and Mon, Wed, Fri (winter).
The Bernina Express train ride is in my opinion one of the most scenic in the Alps, if not *the* most scenic one. You will see more glaciers than with the Glacier Express! In July and August you should take a seat in one of the open cars (no top).
Start the ride in St. Moritz or Pontresina. After passing Hotel Morteratsch, in the Montebello curve, enjoy the gorgeous views of P. Bernina and the Morteratsch glacier. The Bernina Pass region with its three (little, black and white) lakes and glaciers above them follows.
At the Bernina Pass (2253 m) the descent to Poschiavo valley begins. Soon the train stops at Alp Grüm (2091 m) with stunning views of P. Palü (3905 m) and its glacier and a magical blueish/turquoise lake below. The Bernina Express then winds down through woods to the valley floor, offering memorable views of the green valley and the lake, stopping in Poschiavo, a nice Italian style little town, worth a break.
You could finish your train ride here and go back after a visit of Poschiavo to St. Moritz. Or you could continue via Lake Poschiavo and the circular viaduct near Brusio to Tirano/Italy where the Bernina Express ends. This last leg of the route is by far not as scenic as the first part, but also enjoyable. So - the choice is yours!
A cable car (2 sections) takes you up to P. Corvatsch, preferably on a sunny day. It is an excellent ski area while in summer excellent hiking trails start from the middle station.
The views from the top station (3303 m) are breathtaking. Depending on the weather you can see the Upper Engadin with the lakes and villages below you, the Monte Rosa massif above Zermatt, the Mischabel mountains above Saas Fee, the Bernese Alps and many other mountains in the distance. Just for fun do some steps on the glacier! The summit (3451 m) is accessible with a guided tour only.
As mentioned above hiking trails start at the middle station Murtel (2701 m). My favourite trail is up to Fuorcla Surlej (45 min.), a pass to the Roseg valley. The views of P. Bernina (4049 m), P. Roseg (3963 m) and other peaks with their glaciers are stunning. There are three hiking trails which lead you from Fuorcla Surlej down to Hotel Roseggletscher (1999 m). The shortest one will take you about 2:30 hours, the longest one (via Coaz hut) about 5 hours. All of them are quite steep in parts and challenging to the knees.
From Hotel Roseggletscher to Pontresina railway station take the scheduled horse drawn carriage, rent a bike or hike (1:30 hours).
Muottas Muragl (2453 m) is an easily accessible (funicular from Punt Muragl) viewing points in the Engadine. It provides fantastic panoramic views of the whole Upper Engadine valley, the lakes and the Bernina massif with the glaciers. The funicular ride is fun. In winter you can sled down - but be careful, quite challenging (steep, curves!) The mountain hotel was recently thoroughly renovated and the standard was upped quite a bit. The public restaurant is open till late night, the funicular runs till 11 pm. Dinner with sunset is quite an experience here!
In summer you should do an easy hike via mountain restaurant "Unterer Schafberg" or a more challenging hike via the Segantini hut (2731 m) to Alp Languard (2323 m). From there take the chair-lift down to Pontresina. Other hiking options are via Fuorcla Muragl to Chamues-ch or down to Samedan. In winter they groom a nice 7 km long trail (easy) for walkers on the plateau.