What to do in St. Moritz
One of the world‘s most famous and among the first winter sports resorts, St. Moritz hosted the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948. The village of St. Moritz Dorf sits on a sunny terrace sheltered from the north wind above the St. Moritzersee (St. Moritz Lake). St Moritz Bad, on the valley floor at the southwest end of the lake, has iron-bearing springs that were already being used in the Bronze Age. The beautiful alpine scenery with 25 crystal-clear mountain lakes as well as forests and glaciers is the region’s greatest attraction, drawing tourists and outdoor sports enthusiasts year-round. Summer visitors enjoy hiking, climbing, sailing, windsurfing, tennis, horseback riding, golf, and even skiing on the glaciers. The magnificent view from St. Moritz embraces the mountains from Piz Languard in the east to Piz Julier in the west. The most prominent peaks are Piz Rosatsch, with its glacier; to its right Piz Surlej and Piz Corvatsch; and in the distance, the beautiful Piz de la Margna.
The origins of winter tourism in St. Moritz go back to the late 1800s, and from those first ski runs it has developed into a world-famous modern skiing metropolis with more than 20 lifts carrying skiers to terrain for all skill levels. The highest resort in Switzerland, it offers some of the best intermediate terrain with a number of exceptionally long runs. But skiing isn’t the only winter sport here. St. Moritz offers artificial and natural ice skating rinks, curling, tobogganing, Nordic skiing, bobsledding, and kite skiing, plus a variety of spectator sports. The Olympic ski jump and slopes host frequent world ski events, and every year there are international horse races on the frozen lake as well as winter polo.
From St. Moritz Dorf, a funicular ascends 2.1 kilometers to Corviglia via an intermediate station at 2.005 meters at Chantarella. Corviglia, at 2.486 meters, has sweeping alpine views and excellent skiing as well as a restaurant. The lift carries sightseers and hikers in the summer. From here, a cabin cable car makes the 10-minute ascent up Piz Nair, with even wider views from its 3.057-meter elevation. From St. Moritz Bad the Signalbahn serves the Signalkuppe ski area, at 2.150 meters.
St. Moritz Lake
Just as the mountains above St. Moritz draw skiers in the winter, the lake below is the focus of attention for many summer visitors. About two kilometers from St. Moritz Dorf on the east side of the lake are hotels with restaurants and cafés, favorite stops for walkers on the path that follows the entire lake shore. From the Meierei hotel, it is another kilometer to the Staz Hotel and restaurant on the eastern shore of Lake Staz. From here, it is an hour’s walk on forest paths to Celerina or the quiet alpine village of Pontresina.
From St. Moritz Bad, it’s an hour-and-a-half easy walk on beautiful forest paths by way of the 1.920-meter Quellenberg or the 2.002-meter Johannisberg to the Hahnensee, where there is a restaurant with a terrace for savoring the views. Another two hours along the slopes of Piz Surlej takes you to the Fuorcla Surlej, at 2.755 meters, from where there is a breathtaking view of the Bernina peaks and the Engadine lakes. From Fuorcla Surlej, a 2.5-hour climb brings you to the 3.451-meter summit of Piz Corvatsch.
Set in a replica Engadine house from the early 1700s, the museum houses more than 4.000 items illustrating local life from the 13th through the 19th centuries. It is best known for its early house interiors, but along with the furnished rooms, it includes embroidery, costumes, household utensils, and farm implements related to alpine living. There are also artifacts excavated in the Engadine from Neolithic and Bronze Ages and Roman finds from the region.
St. Moritz-Celerina Bobsled Run
An experience you can only have in St. Moritz is a thrilling bobsled ride down the world’s only natural, and the oldest operating, bobsled run. Riding with experienced pilots, you’ll get almost the same experience as Olympic and World Championship bobsledders do as you plummet down the 1722-meter course at speeds of up to 135 kilometers per hour. It’s 75 seconds of solid adrenaline rush.
Johanna Spyri’s classic book Heidi has been a favorite of generations of children, and often their first glimpse of Switzerland. The movie that made the book even more popular was filmed here, and children will certainly want to visit the cabin of Heidi’s alpine grandfather where much of it was filmed. To get there, follow Via Salastrains from St. Moritz Dorf.
St. Moritz Design Gallery
The passageway between a parking garage and hotel may seem an odd venue for an art gallery, but that’s just what you’ll find as you go between the Serletta garage and Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. All along the passage are 31 large, illuminated glass showcases displaying collections of rare posters. The exhibit changes annually with a new theme each year; past exhibits have shown vintage posters advertising skiing, Engantine rail journeys, hotels, and Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz.
Where to stay
The Hotel Chesa Salis, a 16th-century, Engadine patrician mansion nestled in a pretty hamlet, is a gem. It has a pastoral setting, splendid antique furniture, an outstanding restaurant, lovely bedrooms, and quality in every detail. Best of all, the hospitality of Sarah Wild and Uwe Schmidt and their staff is superb. The hotel, built in 1590, was originally a farmhouse owned by the Moeli family, wealthy merchants from Italy. Later, the home was bought by the aristocratic von Salis family. The noble heritage of the Chesa Salis is witnessed today by its meter-thick walls, handsome craftsmanship, beautiful wood paneling, outstanding paintings, handsome beamed ceilings, intricate plaster etching on the exterior walls, frescoed ceilings, and colorful ceramic fireplaces. When you enter the reception area, there is an eclectic mix of old and new with handsome antiques blending with black leather sofas, and a contemporary glass counter highlighted by a modern painting. In contrast, most of the furnishings are definitely traditional in style. All of the guestrooms are lovely.