One of the most famous ski resorts in Switzerland, St. Moritz, nestled in the stunning Engadin valley, has hosted the Winter Olympics twice in the past century and many other events besides, including the 2003 Skiing World Championships. As well as boasting truly fantastic skiing and snowboarding opportunities, the town itself has a range of attractions beyond the slopes that make it a great destination for cultural tourism all year round.
Perhaps the most iconic symbol of this lovely town is the breathtaking Lake St. Moritz itself. While quite small compared to some of Switzerland’s other lakes, with a surface area of less than a kilometre-squared, it is a site of a number of sport activities throughout the year, especially when it is frozen. For example, during February, one can witness the famous ‘White Turf’ horse races, which have been taking place on the frozen Lake St. Moritz since 1907, as well as polo matches. It is also the site of the first ever ice cricket tournament, which occurred in 1988.
For a great ski in the winter and a great hike in the summer with stunning views, Piz Nair is a fantastic location. This is the mountain that hosted the alpine skiing during the Winter Olympics in 1948 and has also hosted a number of tournaments and championships since. Easy to reach by cable car from the town, this stunning peak offers fantastic ski runs, including a brilliant black that’s fast and challenging.
For a great experience of Swiss cuisine, Hanselmann is a cosy and authentic cafe that offers a range of real Swiss chocolates, lovely coffee and very welcome and filling hot meals – it is an especially good spot for breakfast. The views are outstanding, with windows overlooking the beautiful lake and the surrounding mountains. The cakes and pastries are also delectable, including a sublime Black Forest Gateau and the local speciality, the Nusse Torte.
Dating back to the 12th century, this intriguing 33-meter-high tower is one of the main symbols of St Moritz and is all that is left of the St Mauritius Church that was demolished over 100 years ago. Its incline of 5.5 degrees is more than that of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and is vying for the title of ‘most inclined tower in Europe’. Since the ground on which it sits is not stable, it has to be straightened up slightly every few years.
At 3,300 meters up, Piz Corvatsch is one of the highest points in the area, and is a haven for skiers, with a magnificent eight-kilometer run to St. Moritz-Bad below, not to mention the stations with their great restaurants that provide especially good, warming traditional Swiss fondues. Particularly worth seeing is the enormous ice cave of this mountain, as well as the gorgeous views of the Alpine glaciers; it is also a great spot for hiking during the summer.
One of the most remarkable railways in the world, the Glacier Express is an activity in itself. Offering trips to Zermatt, the journey is almost more exciting than the destination, famed for its spectacular views of the mountains as it travels over almost 300 bridges, across breathtaking valleys, intriguing forests, and babbling mountain streams. The restaurant carriage also provides carefully prepared meals to make this unique railway journey a truly luxurious experience.
A famous 19th-century Realistic Symbolism painter and a national treasure, Giovanni Segantini is best known for his sweeping Alpine landscapes, and spent much time in the Engadin area. This makes the stunning Alpine town of St Moritz the perfect place for the Segantini Museum. Built more than a century ago for the sole purpose of honouring this beloved Swiss artist, this museum currently houses the largest collection of Segantini works in the world and is well worth a visit.
Worthy of its name, which means ‘she-devil’, the difficult and varied red and black runs of this mountain are devilish indeed. They include the famous 10-kilometer run down the Morteratsch Glacier, and represent certainly one of the most popular ski destinations in St Moritz. The panoramic views of the glaciers are truly spectacular, which can be fully appreciated on the terrace of the restaurant at Diavolezza‘s summit. For a truly unique and magical experience, this famous mountain is the sight of moonlight skiing once a month.
Located in a lovely, typical Swiss Alpine building, Engadiner Museum is a great way to discover the life and history of those who inhabited the Engadin valley, with a number of authentic pieces of furniture, pine woodwork and beautiful traditional and abstract wall frescos. This intimate museum transports visitors to another era and gives a fascinating insight into what it was like to inhabit this incredible landscape in times gone by.
A great spot for visitors to get their art fix, Galerie Gmurzynska is a commercial art gallery that hosts a wide range of modern art and exhibitions. It is best known for supplying Western collectors with avant-garde Russian pieces and today continues to surprise and intrigue visitors with its diverse and well-presented collection. For a break from the slopes and an injection of art culture, this unusual gallery is always worth a visit.