Vna is a tiny village that nestles high up on a terrace above the valley (sounds familiar? LOL) - the elevation is about 1600 m. The views from there are terrific. The houses are not as richly decorated as in Guarda, Ardez or Sent, but still nice and most of them are renovated. The parish church (built end of the 16th century) is cute - and also well restored. Always open. Wooden interior from 1727: pulpit, pews, balcony with beautiful carvings.
A couple of restaurants offer food at reasonable prices, accommodation available in rental apartments and a hotel. A small postal bus runs almost hourly down to Ramosch where you connect to the bus to/from Scuol.
Hiking paths lead to Hof Zuort, Val Sinestra, over passes to Samnaun and into Austria but also along the mountain slopes to Tschlin, another lovely village high up.
Vulpera is a fraction of the municipality Tarasp, thus located on the opposite side of the river from Scuol. It is where the spa tourism in the region started. Down by the Inn river (called Nairs) are several mineral springs. A "Trinkhalle" (hall where they served the mineral water in glasses) was built, also a "Kurhaus" (house for mineral water treatments) and a fancy hotel (Scuol Palace). All of those are beyond their peak time. The hotel is on the way downhill, the Kurhaus is closed, the Trinkhalle is closed also but some locals try to transform it into a place for art exhibits.
More interesting (at the moment) is the part of Vulpera that's located on the terrace above the river. Focal point is the Belle Epoque Hotel Schweizerhof, a Robinson Club with (public) outdoor pool. There are also a dozen houses with rental apartments (reasonable rates, see accommodation tip) and two more hotels (charming Villa Post and Villa Engiadina, see restaurant tip). The catholic chapel was built 1826. It is not particularly exciting, though. Modern, tasteful interior. The bell is from 1738, probably from castle Tarasp, and rings daily at 8 pm *way* too long :-) There is also a 9-holes golf course which is very popular.
Unfortunately one of the most upscale hotels in the Alps, the Grand Hotel Waldhaus, burned down 20 years ago. You can still see the beautifully designed garden with pond, manicured lawns, flowers, pavillon, fountains etc.
S-charl is a hamlet south of Scuol, located in a remote valley. It seems this place is not from this world - VERY quiet, unspoilt, surrounded by huge mountains, beautiful landscape. One reason might be the very narrow, wild, rough gorge of the Clemgia river that is the only connection between Scuol and S-charl. A postal bus runs a couple of times daily in summer but in winter transportation is limited to horse-drawn carriages. In summer you can drive to S-charl, but be warned: the road is very narrow, windy and in large parts only a gravel road.
The settlement was first mentioned in 1095. Over centuries mining was important in the area - silver, lead, iron (museum). While the settlement counted 70 houses in the 16th century it is down to 13 or so now. Among them are two very good inns (see restaurant tip), the so called "Knappenhaus" (a large house built for the miners in 1824) and the protestant church.
The small church was built in Romanesque style in the 11th or 12th century, renovated in 1515. It is a cute, quite simple church that fits perfectly into the landscape and the hamlet. Always open.
S-charl is a great place for hiking. Very scenic hikes take you to the Müstair valley, Pass dal Fuorn (Ofenpass), Tarasp/Scuol. Much longer and quite challenging hikes - lead over passes to Italy (Schlinig) and Sur En/Sent. But S-charl is also fine for just a short walk, easy hike for one or two hours - the Swiss Pine woods above the hamlet are famous.
Although I consider the entire Lower Engadine somewhat off the beaten path, here is an "off off" the beaten path tip :-)
Hof Zuort is an old inn, located in a side valley on the northern (Silvretta) side of the Engadine. It was founded hundreds of years ago as a resting place on a pass route from the Engadine to the (now Austrian) Paznaun valley (Ischgl).
Beside food the inn (see restaurant tip) also offers basic accommodation. It is an absolutely charming place with wooden interior, stained glass windows, sgraffito-decorated facade etc. It is accessible by (mule-drawn) carriage or in an hour walking from either the small village Vna above Ramosch or Sent/Kurhaus Val Sinestra. Relatively frequent bus service to Vna.
I visited this wonderful place in winter and summer and LOVED it. Just have a look at the pictures and you'll understand ...
This summer, two good friends of mine and myself wanted to do a 2-day tour to the well known "Piz Lischana" (Region Scuol).
We tried to do that tuor 2 or 3 times before, but the weather was always bad. To be on the safe side (which is always the best decision in the mountains), we said to ourselves: "Let's try next year, guys!"
Finally this summer (august 2005), we managed it to have 2 days off of work and the weather was perfect!!!
We took the train from Zurich to Scuol and then the "Postauto" (a bus connection) to San Jon. From San Jon it took us about 3 hours to get to the Lischana cottage. We slept in the cottage and headed to the peak of Piz Lischana the following morning (which took us approx. 2.5-3 hours). After a glass of wine on the summit, we took the other side to get down to Sur En. The descent to Sur En took us another 4,5 hours and contained a wonderful way past the lakes of Rim and through the "Val d'uina" (gorge of uina).
! The tour does not require high hiking skills, but one should be fit and able to walk a couple of hours with a small backpack. Furthermore, you should not be scared of height! To make it a little easier, you can leave out the summit of Piz Lischana. The tour will still be wonderful...
If you want to go to some mountain areas, which are not as popular as Davos, St Moritz and Zermatt, I'd recommend you to go to Scuol for a couple of days.
In the surrounding area of Scuol, you can do wonderful hiking tours. Whatever your abilities are, you can do easy half-day tours or quite heavy tours, which take 2 days to get from A to B.
I would recommend everyone, to start hiking. The earlier one starts, the easier it gets with the years. You learn a lot about nature, yourself and the capabilities of your body. The pictures you see, if you get over 2000 meters above sea level, will stay in your mind and heart the rest of your life!