Engadin St. Moritz in 8 Days

Saturday: Arrive and lift off

6.00 pm - Stand above it all…

…and marvel: the Engadin lounges in the bedazzling summer sunshine. The four lakes sparkle like a string of diamonds in the crystal clear brilliance of the light, while the majestic mountain chains rise from the high-alpine plateau. There is no better view of the Engadin than the one to be found from Muottas Muragl – the ideal place for a proper holiday kick-off celebration!

7.00 pm - Enchanting box seats

A sunset dinner on Muottas Muragl is a romantic spectacle. Sitting in the front row, simply watching the wonders of nature as presented in the ever-changing light, sampling regional delicacies, and marvelling perhaps a little at this unique operation, which, as the first Plus-energy hotel in the Alps, produces more electricity than it consumes.

9.00 pm - Blue hour

The last blue hues of the day seep into the night sky from behind the mountain range, an enchanting moment one would like to preserve forever, but it must suffice to simply hold on a moment longer, protracting it on a short stroll up to the outlook. Then, it is back to the valley floor in the historical cable car, and back to your home for now. Tomorrow, another day awaits.

Sunday: Lounging at the lake

10.00 am - Scintillating St. Moritz

The Alp’s legendary destination seems to doze still, and yet, the morning sun playfully throws shadows on the façades. This is the ideal moment to take a stroll and dip into the history of St. Moritz. In the village centre where the enchanting old structures like Chesa Veglia (a farmhouse erected in 1658) are found, while Chesa Futura of the well-known British architect, Norman Foster, with its façade of over 250,000 larch shingles, rises from the rooftops, and above on the hill, the famous leaning tower of St. Moritz, erected in the 12th century, can be seen.

11.00 am - On the exclusive tour

Opposite the leaning tower is the legendary Kulm Hotel, the first luxury hotel in the Alps, opened by Johannes Badrutt in 1856. Especially for non-guests, having a look into one of the five-star hotels is worthwhile, as each has a character of its very own: Kulm Hotel is discretely elegant, the Suvretta House distinctly British, Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains, both poised yet leisurely, and Badrutt’s Palace, which is thoroughly epicurean. Finally, there is the dominant Via Serlas: the world’s biggest outdoor luxury shopping mall leads from the village centre to the train station and includes the most famous designer labels.

12.00 pm - Where it all began

Just over 150 years ago, winter tourism was invented in St. Moritz, but the history of this renowned destination goes much further back than that – 3000 years ago, to be exact, when the healing waters of the Mauritius Spring were drawn, and half the known world made pilgrimages to the alpine village to drink this iron-rich elixir. In the Heilbad St. Moritz in the village of St. Moritz Bad, the legendary water still flows from a fountain which is open to all, while the original vessel can be viewed and admired in Hotel Kempinski.

12.30 pm - Dinner is served

Colourful, bright and trendy: Giardino Mountain hotel in Champfèr is one of eight 5-star hotels in the Engadin. In its restaurants, both guests and non-guests are treated with delicacies and Mediterranean fish specialities. It is such a cosy setting that it practically takes a concerted effort to leave one’s place on the idyllic, sun-spoilt terrace.

2.00 pm - Dancing kites

Every day, just after noon, the Maloja wind enters the scene, and there is no more holding back for the kitesurfers. By the dozens, they let their kites soar into the air and pull them across the Lake of Silvaplana. Daring jumps, rapid races – watching from the shore is a true spectacle.

2.30 pm - Idyllic bathing spots

A lovely walking path leads along the Lake of Champfèr and through the larch forest towards the former Olympic ski jump – and suddenly, a petit, wonderfully picturesque lake emerges, situated in a protected nook of the wood, with a small sand beach on its northern shore. Lej Marsch – along with Lej da Staz – are the Engadin’s most preferred bathing lakes.

5.00 pm - Chilling und grilling

Relax, you’re on holiday. Take a tip from the locals: you can turn the picnic from your backpack into a veritable feast. Take a dip at intervals in the cool lake water, and otherwise lie on your back, soaking up sun and see if you can catch a glimpse of a single cloud in the sky.

7.00 pm - The golden age

On a relaxing stroll through the summer aromas in the forest back to the Lake of St. Moritz, the scenery looks as if it has been dipped in gold. And that is just how you feel, walking on sunshine, weightless and completely in the now.

Monday: Wild wonderland

9.00 am - Picnic in paradise

From its gates in Zernez, the 172 square-kilometre Swiss National Park, the only of its kind, spreads out before you. The spectacular nature conservation area is home to countless rare species of the Alps, who enjoy free range in an unspoilt and wild mountain habitat. Incredible hiking trails lead visitors through this pristine mountain landscape – with enchanting picnic spots along the trail’s edge. It is well-advised to fortify yourself with some local delicacies before leaving Zernez, like one of Hatecke’s renowned dried beef sausages from his delicatessen and butchers in the centre of town.

9.30 am - Upon the bird’s back

Since May 2008, the National Park experience has begun directly in Zernez, in the new visitor’s centre. Three excellent short films show the National Park from a surprising perspective before one embarks on their own journey of discovery – explanations are given through a manually controllable audio device. Additionally, there are a lot of hands-on displays, which reflect the park’s goal to playfully spark the interest of visitors; to touch rather than teach. In this you can fly on the back of one of the massive bearded vultures over the Emotional Park, and marvel at all you see.

11.30 am - Fun along the way with GPS

Directly in front of the visitor centre is where the Swiss bus coach waits. In the National Park, from Parkplatz 1 a path for kids named Champlönch leads the way to Hotel Il Fuorn in roughly two to three enjoyable hours. Anyone who rents a GPS set, will be accompanied along the way by ten virtual companions: Marchet, the park ranger, Marmotin, the marmot, and Piz dal Fuorn, the mountain spirit. Each in turn appears on the GPS’s display and tells stories of the various points of interest at which you stand – motivating even the youngest hikers to carry on to the next one.

3.00 pm - Wilderness oases

The only hotel in the entire National Park, with a history of 500 years, awaits at the end of the Champlönch kids’ path. Impossible to miss or ignore, it will be equally difficult to resist the temptation to order a well-earned tasty bite to eat, and possibly an ice-cream for the courageous little troopers, before returning by coach to Zernez.

7.00 pm - There are other ways

It is certainly worth trying the truly original Engadin specialities such as capuns, maluns or pizokel. But you do not always need the typical Swiss stone pine ambience of the traditional Engadin parlours for this. Restaurant Dorta in Zuoz is one of the most original locales in the valley and is located in one of the oldest farmhouses far and wide. Here one can dine either in the old converted hayloft, the parlour or even the former dungeon, enjoying the simplicity of the surroundings just as much as the bread taken freshly from the wood-burning oven and served with each regional speciality.

9.00 pm - A royal finale

Nobly enthroned high above the town of Zuoz, the Castell is a design-hotel, oasis of well-being, meeting-point of the cultivated, and hotspot for gourmets and night-owls all rolled into one. The sensual red bar designed by the Zurich architect, Gabrielle Hächler, and the multi-media artist, Pipolotti Rist, is the place to be for a nightcap.

Tuesday: The valley by bike

10.00 am - A leisurely tour of the lakes by bike

From Pontresina to Silvaplana: 30 kilometres, 415 meters of elevation change, and numerous bathing possibilities. This bike tour leads past virtually every lake in the region. The biggest challenge is resisting the urge to jump from the saddle and flop in the sand at the first one, as the first stage of this easy loop begins in Pontresina and leads past Celerina to the idyllic Lej da Staz.

11.00 am - Water haven

This cherished bathing lake is well-loved not only because of its blue water, but also for the creative cuisine of the Lej da Staz restaurant located on its shore. Any who find it still a bit early in the day, or still a bit too chilly to take a refreshing dip in the lake, can take a seat instead on the restaurant’s sun terrace and enjoy a – somewhat prophylactic at this point – piece of pie or even an aperitif.

12.00 pm - Piece of cake

Freshly replenished, and at ease with the world, it is time for a quick descent to the Lake of St. Moritz and beyond to the village, and then further to the Lake of Champfèr. The final gentle ascent leads towards Surlej.

1.00 pm - Picnic at the lake

The Lake of Silvaplana is not simply a kitesurfer’s playground, as its shores are also equipped with charming, well-placed picnic and barbecue spots. For all who are keen to kick back, this is just the place to stop for lunch, which could consist, for instance, of a dried beef sausage from Hatecke, some fresh bread from Bäckerei Bad and a revitalizing nut cake from either the Hauser or Hanselmann confectioneries.

3.00 pm - Culture on tour

All who complete this tour by e-bike are sure to have enough strength left on the way back to Pontresina for a quick detour in the Segantini Museum in St. Moritz. Food lovers with a sweet tooth will probably prefer to make their detour toward Sils Maria and Café Grond to taste the one-of-a-kind Silserkugeln pastries. P.S. Any who crave a greater challenge than the Lake Tour presented here should instead take the cable car to Corviglia in the morning, and peddle through the high-alpine mountain panorama to their heart’s content, before descending on the Flow Trail back to St. Moritz.

Wednesday: Southbound with the little red train

8.48 am - Stopover Morteratsch

Today you will be flying high: in a train between the Engadin glaciers on Bernina Pass and down the other side to the palm trees of the small Italian city of Tirano. A spectacular Alp-crossing made possible by the specially outfitted carriages of the Bernina Express of the Rhaetian Railway, or even with the normal regional train.

9.12 am - On fire for eternal ice

The hike along the glacier path from the train station at Morteratsch to the tongue of the Morteratsch Glacier is relatively short, and yet it takes you through thousands of years of geological history in brilliant natural surroundings. An educational, marked pathway from Bernina Glaciers with accompanying app informs visitors about the receding glacier and its mystical existence.

10.30 am - The birthplace of Gletscher-Mutschli cheese

This small alpine show dairy lures its guests with exceptional nourishment. Their all-you-can-eat brunch is legendary (daily until 11:45 am, closed Mondays). Afterwards one can watch the dairy master produce their famous Heutaler Alpkäse and Gletscher-Mutschli cheeses until it is time to catch the Bernina Express again, which departs at 11:31.

11.31 am - From glaciers to palm trees

This stretch of railway is deemed the most beautiful Alp-crossing and is part of the Unesco World Heritage site. Behind Pontresina, the Bernina Express climbs elegantly up the Bernina Massif to 2253 meters above sea-level, where the glaciers and sun try to outdo one another for beauty. The railway follows the grandiose topography harmoniously through 55 tunnels, over 196 bridges and inclines of up to 7% with ease, until finally arriving in Tirano.

1.15 pm - A bit of Italy

In the Veltlin, at the mouth of the Valley of Puschlav, is the small mountain city of Tirano. Although at various times throughout history this city belonged to Graubünden, whose nobles built their wonderful Palazzi here, there is still the unmistakable Italian feeling reverberating from the plazas, boulevard cafés and shops. Be sure not to miss the local specialities like dried meat (Bresaola), cheese, rye bread, buck-wheat pasta (known as Pizzoccheri), as well as other home-made pastas.

4.50 pm - Through Unesco World Heritage

The Bernina Express is now homeward bound, and the return trip will take about a half-hour longer than the way here. The sun still shines warmly over the towering peaks and glaciers above the valley and into the little red train carriages, and once again one of the most beautiful panoramas of the Alps unfolds before your eyes. At length, the train reaches Pontresina at 6:57 pm and St. Moritz at 7:15 pm, and therewith, the unforgettable journey reaches its end.

Thursday: Excitement from A to Z

10.00 am - In adventure land

Near the train station in Pontresina they are climbing, swinging and creeping, in perfect safety, upon ropes and swinging bridges high in the treetops. This ropes course, which was constructed in 2010, offers children ages 4 and up, and even grown-ups, fun and excitement upon a total of nine courses of varying difficulty. A somewhat less dizzying alternative for an athletic beginning to the day can be had with a golf lesson on one of the fabulously located courses, either in Samedan (since 1893), or Zuoz (since 2003), where the renowned Canadian golf course architect, Les Furber, achieved a masterpiece.

12.00 pm - Well-earned replenishment

The house alone is a sight to be seen: Chesa Salis in Bever, built over 400 year ago, was originally a farmhouse, and thereafter a stately mansion, and is now furnished with 18 fabulous rooms and a restaurant which has given itself over to the slow food philosophy. Whoever dines here, should take the time to relish in the act. Which, with all that is on offer, should not pose a problem …

2.00 pm - Tales at every turn

From the dreamy Engadin village of Bever there is a path which leads through the mystical countryside from tale to tale, all of which have flowed from the quills of Engadin authors and have been decorated and staged by local artists: this is Bever’s fairy tale path. Each stop along the way has been installed with giant books with tales of witches, bears and fairies. It has been rumoured that some of the tales’ characters have even come to life in romantic Val Bever. Any who finishes the walk in Spinas without having felt the magic probably was not listening carefully enough.

3.30 pm - Culinary oasis

When the Albula train line was constructed 100 years ago, the idyllic hamlet of Spinas virtually burst at its seams. Up to 400 people, mostly Italian immigrant workers and their families, lived there. All that is left now is the freshly restored Gasthaus Spinas, located at the end of Val Bever’s fairy tale path, charming its guests with regional specialities and warm hospitality. Any who are keen to experience their very own fairy tale, can order a horse-drawn carriage and be gently rocked back to Bever amid tinkling bells.

8.00 pm - Simply delicious

Cosy, simplistic and hip. In Pitschna Scena (Romansh for ‘little scene’) in Pontresina, you will feel right at home in the comfortable, Swiss stone pine parlour, while enjoying simple delicacies from the 4-star kitchen of the classy Hotel Saratz. The daily specials are written on a blackboard, and a selection of specialities in the small menu. For desert on Thursdays there are live concerts.

Friday: The full programme

10.00 am - Towering above the mountains

At 3303 meters, the Corvatsch is the highest point in the Engadin. All around the other peaks cower in the shadow of this proud chief. A well-maintained hiking path leads through the wild landscape: fragrant larches and Swiss stone pine trees provide the aroma, small gulches and sprawling sunny slopes add enticing variety, creating a scene which is out of this world.

12.00 pm - Far away from the day-to-day

Once a remote alpine ranching operation, Fuorcla Surlej is now one of the most well-loved mountain huts in the Engadin. Surrounded by pristine nature, it charms visitors not only with regional specialities but also with a spectacular view of the legendary Bernina Massif. Just sit, marvel and enjoy – and then start down toward Val Roseg.

3.00 pm - Resistance is futile

In the Roseg Gletscher restaurant at the far back of this valley, everyday life will seem ever so far away. The fact that this hospitable mountain hotel, fortunate in its utmost serene location, is not simply forgotten, must have something to do with its legendary range of deserts and pies. Give into your temptation, as afterwards comes the last, relaxing stage of the journey: a hike down enchanting Val Roseg towards Pontresina.

7.00 pm - Romantic finale

For the last evening it is necessary to do something special. A dinner in Restaurant Cà d’Oro in Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains promises to be a culinary dream-trip to the Mediterranean: in the elegant salon from the turn of the century, premium class culinary arts are celebrated, which has earned the restaurant a well-deserved Michelin Star. Any who still thirst for a bit of action afterwards can take the stairs down to the Casino St. Moritz and win back their holiday budget – full in the knowledge that, although a holiday in the Engadin does not cost the world, it is surely priceless.

Saturday

10.00 am - And finally, something sweet

A final stroll through St. Moritz is tantamount to a small culinary tour d’horizon: start at Hatecke’s chic delicatessen and butcher’s, with its extraordinary selection of dried sausages, and then head on to the confectioneries Hauser and Hanselmann with their legendary Engadin nut cakes; continue onward to the Metzgerei Heuberger, the butcher’s with an array of sausage specialities; and finally, stop in at Glattfelder where one finds coffee, caviar and other exclusive items like Swiss stone pine tea. All so you can take a bit of the beauty of the Engadin home with you.



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