Europe’s winter wonderland, St. Moritz in Switzerland has welcomed the rich and famous to its mountain resort for centuries. Nestling in the inspiring high-lying valley of the Upper Engadine, at an elevation of 1,856 m, St. Moritz is the birthplace of Alpine winter holidays with hundreds of miles of ski trails and a frozen lake but with its rich mineral springs – which were discovered 3,000 years ago – the town has also known as a summer resort and celebrates its sunny days in style, charm and a cosmopolitan flair amidst its picturesque surroundings.
With millionaires and celebrities frequenting this town, St. Moritz is characterised by top-class restaurants that can satisfy any kind of gourmet requirements, the fanciest of hotels in every category and large-scale events of international caliber.
Here are the top recommendations on what to do and what not to miss from the Engadin Tourism Department.
Top Day Trip – Swiss National Park
The main attraction of Zernez is the 170.3 sq km-spread Swiss National Park, the largest conservation area in the country, known for its multimedia exhibition that captivates even the youngest visitors.
However, the picturesque Engadin municipality is not just the gateway to the National Park; it also has an unspoilt village scape with typical Engadin houses that lies on the historically significant traffic hub on the Ofen Pass and is the ideal departure point from which to explore the three-nation triangle, Switzerland–Italy–Austria.
Must-try Dish – Engadin walnut cake
The original Engadin walnut cake or Engadiner Nusstorte made with sweet, shortcrust pastry and filled with walnuts, honey, caramel and cream – was founded in St. Moritz.
Engadine confectioners who worked in Italy, France and America in the 18th century are said to have brought the recipe home, perfecting it here. Today, Engadine walnut cake is one of the gastronomic icons of Graubünden, a Swiss culinary classic that is exported all over the world. Graubünden confectioners can be found in 891 European cities, from Copenhagen in the north to Florence in the south, and from Warsaw in the east to Gibraltar in the west.
The Maison Auer Chocolaterie in Nice is even one of the resort’s big attractions. And the fact that the art of making confectionery has continued to be cultivated to the highest of levels in the Engadin cannot be demonstrated in a more mouth-watering way than by the world-famous Graubünden nut tart.
Best Activity/ Excursion
In summer: The Engadin St. Moritz holiday region is a treat for visitors with its variety and wealth of contrasts, and what better way to experience the valley but with a bike! Visitors can enjoy 400 kilometres of mountain biking bliss on the many well-signed Engadin bike routes. Anyone seeking the most spectacular ascent, the most stunning panorama or the most beautiful trail can profit from the insider knowledge of the local experts in the Engadin who offer professionally organised tours for all abilities. Guests can access the e-Bike tours, individually or in groups, across the lakes or the many mountainous bike routes, enjoy excursions on horse-drawn carriages into car-free valleys with beautiful glaciers and explore Diavolezza with diverse walks or enjoy some pampering at Europe’s highest Jacuzzi.
In winter: St. Moritz’s snow-covered slopes sparkling in the sun, and its high valley comes alive with visitors and sporting enthusiasts. Guests from all over the world come here to learn to ski and snowboard from professionals in group or private ski lessons. St. Moritz ski and snowboard instructors will show you the best techniques and terrain to suit your ability level. For the kids there are special classes where they are taught to ski in a specific kids area and provided childcare including lunch, while the adults explore the 350km (217 miles) of slopes!!
Best View – Muottas Muragl
The views over the Upper Engadin from the hiking and tobogganing mountain of Muottas Muragl (2,456 m / 8,058ft) are spectacular that you could easily forget you came up here for any reason other than the panorama. Just about all the peaks, valleys and lakes of the region can be seen from here, in all their glory. Offering one of the most beautiful vantage point, the newly renovated Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl is the first plus-energy hotel in the Alps. The Philosophers’ Trail offers visitors the chance to walk leisurely through a landscape of fairy-tale beauty; and the fastest toboggan run in the region guarantees adrenalin-fuelled thrills.
Muottas Muragl is especially beautiful at sunset as the light settles on the mountains and the lakes, making it particularly romantic as well.
Best One-Stop Shop – Hauser
Hauser’s restaurant and confectionary, located in the heart of St. Moritz offers a lot of goodies visitors can take home. All of their products are homemade using the finest local ingredients. Fruit tarts and cakes, Hauser’s Engadine Nut Cake, the Bündner pear loaf and a variety of truffles and chocolates, are all available to suit your sweet palates.
Best Local Secret – Wellness at St. Moritz
The St. Moritz therapeutic spas have been known for over 3,000 years. Sipping on champagne as you sit back and enjoy a tranquil landscape, pretty much on top of the world. St.Moritz offers world-class spa facilities from both western and eastern hemispheres, top-class hairdressers and oases of wellbeing. The town is also home to one of the oldest therapeutic spa water channel of wood dating from 1411 BC. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, entire households of princes and kings travelled to the Engadin to take the waters.
A favorite is the Kempinski The Spa, St. Moritz, known for its day spa facilities. The Spa is inspired by the European cycle of the seasons is also home to the popular Mauritius Spring, also known as one of Europe’s healing springs – with its origin in one of the hotel’s buildings.
Best Place for Local shopping – Via Serlas
Via Serlas is not only Europe’s highest shopping avenue, it also boasts the highest density of top brands. From Chanel to Gucci and Louis Vuitton, all the prestigious names on the international fashion scene are lined up together, on St. Moritz’s version of a much smaller Rodeo Drive. Apert from the fashion labels, St. Moritz shoppers will also find sparkling gemstones, stylish designer furniture, fine wine and a superb choice of delicatessens at Via Serlas.
Visitors can also find some local specialties in the street next-door. From Hatecke’s fat-free designer salsiz and haute-couture ham, Glattfelder’s caviar and original homemade coffee mixtures or Hanselmann’s legendary Engadine nut-torte, there’s plenty of shopping to do here.
Foreign visitors have the opportunity to reclaim in cash the Value Added Tax (VAT) on any purchases of CHF 300 ($313) or more, they make in St. Moritz.
Best Family Activity
In summer: Equipped with picnic basket, wood, meat and anything else you could wish for at a barbecue, you will reach Europe’s highest barbecue site at 3,066 meters- Diavolezza. Barbeque pacakges like the Magical Fire Pack can be purchased onsite as visitors sit back and enjoy one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Alps.
In winter: More snow fun awaits with Snowtubing, an activity for visitors of all ages. Snowtubes are like giant inner tubes that you ride down a special run: tobogganing with a difference.
Best Cultural Secret
In summer: Nothing quite like some rustic, authentic and great tasting cheese. At the Alpine Cheese Dairy, visitors can watch as cheese and curd are made the traditional way, over an open fire. Visitors also have the opportunity to taste the many varieties produced at the cheese buffet. A brunch that includes a substantial cheese buffet, fresh smoked curd cheese, smoked alpine sausage and alpine butter, as well as honey, jam, fruits, various types of bread is also available onsite.The idyllic alpine hut is located close to the Morteratsch Glacier, five kilometers from Pontresina, surrounded by nature. It is easily reached on foot, by bike or train (train stop Morteratsch).
In winter: Chalandamarz is one St. Moritz’s cultural highlights, taking place on March 1 every year. It is a pagan festival, and marks the end of winter and the beginning of a new year in spring, by scaring away the evil spirits of winter. Since the spirits are supposedly roused through noise, which comes from large old cowbells, whips and singing, boys and girls dressed in bright blue outfits and traditional red-and-black Engadin costumes go from house to house singing traditional songs and asking for gifts for the Chalandamarz ball that evening.
Top Architecture Find – Zuoz
Built using typical Engadin-style architecture, the village Zuoz is regarded as the most beautiful in all of the Upper Engadin. Culture vultures will be enchanted by the historic village centre and the proud patrician buildings, such as the Chesa Planta, which are particularly well preserved.
Even in this tradition-conscious village with its 1,200 inhabitants, visitors can find much to do. From its beautifully appointed 18-hole golf course, an attractive inline skating route (including an inline school and equipment hire), and an abundance of hiking and biking possibilities, this picturesque resort is perfectly equipped to also cater to the needs of tourists in the future. Here you can also find the highest-lying coffee-roasting plant in Europe and also learn more about the history of coffee at the Caferama Badilatti.
Best Restaurant for a Celebration – Chesa Veglia
In 1936, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel converted its historic farmhouse into Chesa Veglia, in the centre of St. Moritz, a unique meeting point for gourmet diners and night owls. The rustic and cosy ambience of the Chesa Veglia has always attracted VIPs who like to frequent one of the three restaurants or two bars, to indulge in international specialties or refreshing drinks.
The living section serves as an upscale dining room where Swiss and international specialties are served, the Pizzeria and the Grill are located in the former stables. The guests meet before or after dinner in the Polo or Carigiet Bar.
To this day the Chesa Veglia is part of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. The building and its furnishings are rich in detail and have been unchanged since the inauguration.
Best Cocktail with a View – Berghaus Diavolezza
Once again Diavolezza is the place to go!. Whether its lunch or a cocktail, it offers one of the best views in town, overlooking the Bernina Massif. Besides pure mountain air and a breathtaking glacier backdrop, the Berghaus Diavolezza treats guests to a fine selection of first-class regional and international specialties and an impressive wine list.
Museum Must-see – The Segantini Museum
The artist, Giovanni Segantini, spent his last years living and working in the Engadin, where he was fascinated by the extraordinary light. In 1886, Segantini moved to Savognin, and then in 1894 to Maloja and Soglio. He died prematurely at the age of 41 years in the hut now named after him on the Munt da la Bes-cha (Schafberg) high above Pontresina. The SentieroSegantini theme trail and the artist’s grave in the cemetery in Maloja recall his creative genius.
The Segantini Museum, which opened in 1908, was designed by the architect, Nicolaus Hartmann, as an accessible memorial to the painter. The building, with its large dome, was modelled on the pavilion that Giovanni Segantini had planned for his Engadin Panorama at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900. Housing Segantini’s monumental Alpine triptych, “la vita – la natura – la morte” (life – nature – death), as well as paintings from all of his creative periods, the Segantini Museum in St. Moritz is the world’s most extensive showcase of the work of this revivalist of Alpine painting.