Bus free of charge
The Swiss part of the valley is served by a rather frequent bus which can be used free of charge - this hopefully can serve a little to bring the heavy car traffic a bit down although most of the cars come to Samnaun to fill up with the cheaper fuel. It seems a bit crazy first to transport the fuel up to a level of 1800 m and then the cars come from below almost exclusively to fill up here and drive down again. Not really environmentally friendly indeed......
It would be better to build a duty free petrol station for the cheap fuel right at the beginning of the valley but this would kill the duty free business in Samnaun....
Most people come by car
There are two roads to reach Samnaun. The easier one comes from Austria. When coming from Landeck a few km after the village Pfunds the road begins - only a few meters before the road to St. Moritz - Engadin. After about 10 hairpin turns the road runs at the Austrian side of the Samnaun valley high above the ground and turns before reaching the village Spiss down to the ground of the valley and meets after passing the Austrian customs checkpoint the road coming up from Switzerland.
The Swiss road - starting from the Engadin road a few km downstream of the Swiss customs checkpoint at Martina - is more difficult, a bit adventurous but far more romantic and picturesque. Other than at the Austrian road you can not meet the other vehicles coming across all along the road, in particular some of the tunnels in the middle part do not allow the meeting of cars but you have at all these tunnels a free view to the traffic coming across to the other end of the tunnel. The car which is further from "its" end of the tunnel is expected to stop and wait until the car(s) from the other side have passed the tunnel. The biggest possible car coming across here is the Swiss postbus.
These "adventurous" passages get less almost every year, the lowest - and longest - tunnel allows even the meeting of buses.
When coming from Italy (South Tirol) via the Reschen/Resia pass you leave the main road before reaching the first Austrian village Nauders and go in 12 hairpin turns down to the Engadin valley, pass the Austrian checkpoint there and after the bridge drive around the Swiss checkpoint (they do not even have windows on this side of it) and go along as described for the Swiss road.
Most visitors come by car
The in ancient times difficult access to this valley (an easy path for ox carriages only from Tirol) is the reason for the duty free status. But today are two roads going to Samnaun, the Austrian one, a comfortable new road over relatively easy territory (at least as compared to the Swiss slopes in the lower part of the valley) and the Swiss one, an adventurous experience, the most extreme one I saw in the Alps after Passo Gavia and the road to Tremosine from Lago di Garda. Four tunnels are so narrow that cars can not meet in them but at all these tunnels the driver can see the road approaching the other end and so the car which is further away from its etry into the tunnel has to stop and let the other pass through the tunnel first..
Double Decker Gondola
Samnaun had the worlds first double decker Gondola. It carrys 180 people up to the skiing area. Before this gondola was built there was only a cable car wich carried 80 people and so there were long waiting times. Now waiting is no subject anymore. the "old" gondolais now used for cargo transports and as backup when there are lots of people wanting to go skiing.
Samnaun has got a free Skibus wich connects the villages with eachother and the gondola station. It runs about every 15 minutes, of course only during the ski saison.
There is a "Ortsbus" too, it connects all the villages (incl. the villages wich can't be reached with the ski bus because the streets are to narrow). This service is free for guests of Samnaun.
Timetables for these busses can be found at the stops or at the tourist information in Samnaun Dorf.
Lots of Hotels (like ours) have got their own Skibus to bring the guests to the gondola. Here a picture of Hangl's ski bus.
Samnaun can be reached easily from Switzerland and Austria by public transport. A bus connects Samnaun with Scuol-Tarasp and Landeck about 4-6 times a day. Scuol Tarasp can be reached from any part of switzerland via Zürich-Landquart and the Vereina Tunnel. Landeck is on the Arlberg Mainline.
Usualy you have to change the bus in a place called Martina wich is on the border between Switzerland and Austria. If you come from Switzerland and you are going to Samnaun you cross the Border and stay in Switzerland... This is becuase of the Duty-Free status of Samnaun.
The Bus ride from Martina to Samnaun is quite spectacular, as the road is very narrow and has got some very narrow tunnels where the bus only just fits through. Make sure to get a seat at the front to see the driver do his excellent and difficult work.
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