The Engadin or Engadine, Valley of the Inn people, is a long high Alpine valley region in the eastern Swiss Alps. It is located in the canton of Graubünden in the most south-eastern part of Switzerland and with about 25,000 inhabitants. The region is protected by high mountain ranges on all sides. It is worldwide famous for its sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, and a plethora of opportunities for various outdoor activities.
At an elevation of 1,856 meters above sea level, in the Upper Engadin lays a glamorous high Alpine resort – St. Moritz. It has got a population of 5,000 and is one of the richest and most famous places in the world. St. Moritz offers a modern Alpine lifestyle, hotels that set standards in all categories, top-class restaurants that can satisfy the taste and demands of even the pickiest gourmets, and events of international calibre.
Why travel to St. Moritz?
St. Moritz is more than just a holiday resort. Though surrounded by Alps peaks, it boasts plenty of sunny days – over 300 days of sunshine a year. There is much to see and do in St. Moritz both during winter and summer. This cosmopolitan ski resort combines tradition with luxury. It is the kind of destination that offers a wide range of unique pursuits. There you can enjoy horse and greyhound racing, play polo on a frozen lake; you can hike on a glacier, partake in the famous Cresta Run, survey the cinematic majesty of the Engadin Valley’s from soaring lookouts, or simply enjoy the taste of the famous Engadin nut tart you can find on every corner.
What is it like in summer?
In summer, besides horse riding and mountain biking, you can try kitesurfing, windsurfing, sailing, or rowing. Even then you can go ice skating in the Ludains Ice Arena, or you can play golf in an Alpine paradise with four courses nearby. If you are visiting St. Moritz with your partner, don’t miss the romantic carriage ride around the lake and through the Staz forest. You can also catch funiculars and gondolas for unforgettable mountain experiences.
Winter wonders in St. Moritz
St. Moritz is a cradle of Alpine tourism. The notion of winter sports holidays was invented in the 19th century by the Britons, who certainly could not have chosen a more splendid location anywhere in the world. What happened is that St. Moritz hotel pioneer Johannes Badrutt made a bold bet with his four British summer guests: they should come again in winter and, if they didn’t like it, he would reimburse their travel costs. And if they were to find St. Moritz attractive in winter too, he would invite them to stay as his guests for as long as they wished. No needs to say that Badrutt won the bet. The same year, the first tourist office in Switzerland was established in the village and St. Moritz went on to become one of the world’s most exceptional winter sports resorts.
Progressive the aspect of St. Moritz
St. Moritz was often ahead of the times and developed rapidly in the 19th century. At Christmastime in 1878, the first electric light in Switzerland was installed at the Kulm Hotel. By 1896, it became the first village in the Alps to install electric trams. In 1880, the first curling tournament on the continent was held here, in 1882 the first Ice-Skating Championship, and in 1889 the first golf tournament. In 1890, the first bob race was held in St. Moritz. A horse race was held on snow in 1906, and in the following year on the frozen lake. The first ski school in Switzerland was established in St. Moritz in 1929, and in 1935 the first ski lifts began running in the country. St. Moritz hosted the Winter Olympics twice, in 1928 and in 1948. Skiing conditions there are great from December until late April. It has hosted numerous bobsledding and ski world cups, as well as many other events, including some unlikely ones on the frozen lake such as cricket, a golf tournament, and a polo tournament. Many travel bloggers come to this place for exploring, videography, photography, and writing travel blogs. The place has also been the venue for many Sailing and Windsurfing World Championships.
- St. Moritz landmarks
Believe me, it is not easy at all to choose only a few, but here are our favourite 5:
Lake St. Moritz, with a trail of about 5 kilometers. The water might be a little chilly for swimming, but you can always take a canoe or a stand-up paddleboard and enjoy a self-guided trip over the lake. Not to mention a restful walk around the shore. There is a lot to photograph here – Alpine wildflowers, greenery, dark forests, and lofty peaks. And in winter, when the lake freezes, it is used for polo, horseracing and other sports activities.
- Diavolezza – an awesome mountain lookout. With an experienced guide, you can hike over the Pers and Morteratsch glaciers on the way to the Morteratsch station, and contemplate their frozen beauty on the way.
- Piz Nair – A mountain that hosted the alpine skiing events for the Winter Olympic Games in 1948. You can arrive at this 3,000 meters high peak by the funicular and the cable car. At the upper station, you will be just 30 meters away from the summit and treated to a 360° view of the Upper Engadin. There is a restaurant with a panoramic view from which you can identify the lakes and mountains in the Bernina Range while enjoying a cup of Swiss hot chocolate.
- Museums and Galleries -Though built as a replica of a typical Engadin house from the early 1700s, the Engadin Museum was founded at the beginning of the 20th century. It houses more than 4,000 items picturing local life from the 13th through the 19th century. Across 14 rooms, you can household utensils, peruse interiors, farm implements related to alpine living, furniture, embroidery, costumes, and other decorations. There are also artefacts excavated in the Engadin valley from Neolithic and Bronze Ages and Roman finds from the region.
- Segantini Museum, established in honour of the late-19th-century landscape painter, Giovanni Segantini. Segantini himself had drawn the design of the building, which resembles a Byzantine church with its rotunda and dome. And under the dome, there is possibly his most valued work, a symbolist triptych representing Life, Nature, and Death in Alpine landscapes.
- The Berry Museum, another museum dedicated to a great artist, Peter Robert Berry, spa physician and painter. It is housed in the 100-year old Villa Aron in the heart of St. Moritz. The majority of his drawings, pastels, and oil paintings, created over a period of 40 years are still owned by his family. The Museum keeps the artist’s extensive and culturally significant estate, consisting of notes, letters, diaries and books, music-related items, and numerous documents such as maps, brochures, and writings related to the founding and development of St. Moritz.
- Muottas Muragl – it is believed that its beauty had been discovered by the above-mentioned painter Giovanni Segantini. Muottas Muragl is at 2,454 meters and as if it watches over the Upper Engadin Valley and its lakes. The views are so spectacular that you could easily forget you came up here for any reason other than the panorama. It is like a natural balcony above the valley and you could find yourself enchanted by the beauty of the scenery, most of all at sunset. You can also walk through a majestic landscape of the Philosophers’ Trail, and for the adrenalin junkies, there is the fastest toboggan run in the region.
So, how to get to St. Moritz?
Airports nearest to St. Moritz are Zurich airport (229km, or 2 hours and 45 minutes away), then Milan Malpensa airport (251 km, or 3 hours away), and Geneva airport (478 km, or 5 hours away). In winter, airport transfers can be even longer and tiresome due to busy roads and snowfalls. Although Switzerland has got one of the most accurate transport systems in the world, the best decision you could make, especially if you are travelling with children and lots of baggage, is to hire a limo service. If you wish for a private car to take you to and from the airport and drive you around the Engadin Valley, then simply book any St. Moritz limo service. Edelswiss, for example, with its diverse fleet and highly experienced chauffeurs, is at your service anytime. Our chauffeurs will monitor the arrival time of your plane and wait for you at your terminal at any major Swiss airport. He will help you with your luggage and take you to the hotel. Later on, if you wish, the St. Moritz limousine you hire could take you to a sightseeing tour of your desires. When you are on a vacation, transportation is the last thing you should be worrying about.