Switzerland is a small country with an outsized landscape of stunning glaciers, snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes and historic cities. Yet even for someone who’s visited the country as often as I have, Switzerland still has the capacity to surprise. My time in the Grisons, Switzerland’s largest canton, captivated me in eye-opening ways, inspiring a desire to share the beauty of the region with this guide to 25 little-known things to do in Grisons, Switzerland.
25 little-known things to do in the Grisons, Switzerland
Known as Grisons in English, the region is called Graubünden in German. In addition to its rich culture, the canton (state) offers an impressive diversity of alpine villages, ancient cities and incredible landscape of 430 mountains, 615 lakes and 150 valleys of the Grisons. It’s a region of wild, remote places and spectacular beauty.
Visit Chur, capital of Grisons, Switzerland
Chur is the oldest town in the Swiss Confederation, and the political center of the Grisons, Switzerland. It’s a charming a mix of museums, thriving Old Town center, and with an impressive 12th century Chur Cathedral in the courtyard of the Bishop’s Palace.
Chur has been at the crossroads of trade routes since its time as a Roman province, and been destroyed by fire several times. But its calm pedestrian-only streets showcase a wonderful mix of medieval, Baroque-period and modern buildings.
Hike the Parc Ela Trek
Go on a multi-day hike on the spectacular long-distance hiking trail, Parc Ela Trek. In 17 daily stages, the Parc Ela Trek winds over Alpine passes and walking paths around Parc Ela, the largest nature park in Switzerland.
Over 222 km, the trek winds past 25 mountain lakes, 20 mountain passes, and 15,000 m of total ascent. Nights are spent in the middle of nature in simple accommodation at 2,000m.
Visit an alpine cheesery and eat fondue
Enjoy a cheese-tastic visit to Tschugga Cheesery near Valbella. This is the oldest cheesery in Grisons, and home to passionate cheesemaker Toni Salzgeber and his family.
Salzgeber uses milk from surrounding farms to produce rounds of raw milk cheese, alpkäse, during the summer months.
You can enjoy a cellar tour followed by fondue lunch or dinner. Dipping bread cubes into a heavenly mix of fragrant melted cheese while sipping Swiss wine or hot tea is a quintessential Swiss food experience.
Explore St. Moritz
Visit the glamorous alpine resort town known for its winter sports, luxury hotels, and high-end shopping. St. Moritz is nestled in the Engadine Valley and oozes elegance and charm, with prices to match.
St. Moritz offers a blend of pristine snow-capped mountains, glittering lakes, and an idyllic alpine setting. It’s very popular with outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities throughout the year like skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and water sports on the nearby Lake St. Moritz.
Beyond its natural wonders, its high-end boutiques, exquisite hotels, and Michelin-starred restaurants cater to a well-heeled international clientele. It is also home to a vibrant cultural scene, with art galleries, museums, and music festivals.
Take a ride on the Bernina Express
Ride the scenic Bernina Express, a masterpiece of narrow-gauge railway engineering and part of UNESCO World Heritage since 2008.
Travel through stunning mountain landscapes, including the legendary 65-metre high Landwasser Viaduct. Reservations on this historic train route are required.
Visit the Diavolezza Col
At 3,000 metres above sea level, Diavolezza provides phenomenal views of Grisons glaciers and surrounding peaks, including 4,000+ metre Piz Bernina, the highest in the Eastern Alps.
If traveling by train on the Bernina Express, exit at the Bernina-Diavolezza station. Then ride the gondola up to the Diavolezza Col and view the Morteratsch and Pers Glaciers, enjoy lunch with a view, and travel through time with the Virtual Reality Glacier Experience.
Experience the Glacier Express
Embark on a journey aboard the famous Glacier Express, a panoramic train ride that crosses the Swiss Alps from St. Moritz in Graubünden to Zermatt in the Valais canton.
This spectacular 8-hour rail experience now includes an Excellence Class service level. Guests will experience guaranteed window seats, a five-course meal, and aperitifs at the Glacier Bar.
Explore the Arosa-Lenzerheide Ski Resort
Winter season in the Grisons is a snowsport-lovers paradise. The expansive region of Arosa-Lenzerheide offers skiing, snowboarding, terrain parks, sledging and other winter activities over 225 km groomed slopes, at elevations up to 2865m above sea level.
Discover the Albula Railway Museum
Learn about the fascinating history of the Albula Railway line and its engineering marvels at the Albula Railway Museum in Bergün.
With various display rooms and a bounty of original exhibits, including one of the last «Crocodile» locomotives in existence, the Museum is a must visit for all railway enthusiasts.
Combine a visit to the Albula Railway Museum with a tour of the line itself, by walking the Albula Railway Trail from Preda to Bergün through the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is an easy and informative walk lasting about 2.5 hours. It follows the spectacular route of the railway line. Watch for information panels and barbecue picnic sites along the way.
Visit the Landwasser Viaduct
Marvel at the impressive stone railway viaduct that spans the Landwasser Valley near Filisur. The 65-metre-high viaduct is a single-track six-arched curved limestone viaduct bridge that spans the Landwasser River between Schmitten and Filisur.
If you’re on the Bernina Express, you’ll travel over the viaduct on the Abula Line of the Rhaetian Railway.
Want to see and photograph the iconic viaduct from land? Exit the train at Filisur-Station, then head to the upper south viewpoint. It will take about 30 minutes to reach on foot.
Use the map below to search for hotel and short-term rental options
Stay at the Valbella Resort
In the Lenzerheide high valley, the Valbella Resort caters to outdoorsy types, keen to hike or bike the local mountain trails, ski in winter, and enjoy the resort’s five-story wellness tower.
Valbella is also home to Roger Federer, retired Swiss tennis champion and Swiss Tourism ambassador. Follow the sound of a bouncing tennis balls, you never know!
Explore the Rhine Gorge
Known as the “Swiss Grand Canyon,” the Rhine Gorge is unique in the Alpine region. This stunning natural wonder is one of the most spectacular landscapes in Graubünden.
In the wild Gorge area, you can take a hike along the craggy rock formations, mountain bike along the Rhine, or run the river’s rapids in a raft.
To get here, travel to Ilanz, accessible via a short train ride from Chur or bus ride from Flims. From Ilanz, purchase a Ruinaulta ticket, which gives you free access all day by train and bus to the various points of interest in the Rhine Gorge region.
Pick a hike and start walking
The Grisons is home to 11,000 kilometres of marked trails. With such a large number of ‘wanderwegs’ to choose from, it can be difficult to decide.
An easy, level trail is Muottas Muragl Panorama Trail, with great views on the Engadin lake-strewn plateau and the Bernina Massif. Length: 7 km
For photo enthusiasts, pick a tour to the Jöri Lakes. Enjoy scenes of light-green lakes set in the heart of a barren mountain landscape. Length: 11 km
Go on a guided tour with a fresh air sommelier
As if the air weren’t already pure enough, Graubunden, Switzerland, is home to the “world’s first Mountain Air Sommelier.” Visitors can sign up for olfactory outings in the Alps with Patrick Stebler, a perfumer from Chur.
Choose from herb-scented journeys, hay-filled hikes, or foraging for larch wood in Vals. Walks include a meal or snack connected with the scent of the day. These guided fresh air excursions run all summer long, ending with chestnut season in early October.
Enjoy Swiss cuisine
The Grisons is home to delicious Swiss food and many local specialties. Savor cheese-based dishes like raclette and fondue, and capuns, a local dish made from Spätzle dough with pieces of dried meat, like Bündnerfleisch, rolled in a leaf of Swiss chard.
Got a sweet tooth? Visit Bühler’s Zuckerbäckerei in Chur for a package of Pfirsichsteine, or peach pit candy. This confection is made from ground almonds and sugar syrup, then pressed into the shape of a peach pit. Enjoy nibbles while sipping glasses of locally made Churer Röteli cherry liqueur.
Go mountain biking in Lenzerheide
Welcome to the largest mountain bike region in Switzerland! Rent a bike or e-bike and explore the ‘Bike Kingdom’s’ well-marked mountain biking trails that cater to all skill levels.
Capital Chur is perfect for urban bike rides and exploring nearby wine-growing regions. It’s home to the Alpenbikepark at Brambrüesch. Here, bikers can experience five thrilling freeride trails of varying difficulty over 1,000 metres elevation.
Lenzerheide is home to Bike Kingdom Park, arguably the most famous bike park in Switzerland. Its steep and challenging cross-country courses offer entertainment for all bikers.
In Arosa, families will love Bear Mountains’ Biketicket 2 RIDE, the Hörnli Trail and the Skill Center at the valley station of the Hörnli Express.
Visit the Tschuggen Grand Hotel
Enjoy a luxurious spa experience or indulge in fine dining at the renowned, five-star Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa.
The ski-in, ski-out hotel’s 130 rooms and suites were designed by Carlo Rampazzi, while star architect Mario Botta created the hotel’s 5,000m2 wellness complex. And fun fact: the luxe hotel is the only hotel in the country with its own railway, the Tschuggen Express.
Explore Swiss National Park
The Engadine is in the far eastern edge of Switzerland. It’s known for traditional and pastoral ways of life, where hiking routes highlight its scenic valleys, glaciers, meadows, streams, and stunning mountain views.
It’s home to Switzerland’s last wild corner and its one and only national park. The Swiss National Park was established over 100 years ago in response to the rapid disappearance of wild areas in Switzerland.
Thanks to 80 kilometers of hiking paths, nature trails and excursion destinations for children and families, everyone can have a good time in this natural playground stretching over 170 square kilometers. Keep a lookout for herds of chamois antelope or bearded vultures flying overhead.
The park headquarters in Zernez has a museum where you can learn everything you need to know about marmot burrows, mountain ranges and rock strata.
Take a dip in Lake Davos
During the summer months, relax on the shores of beautiful Lake Davos. Or try watersports like swimming, paddleboarding, sailing or renting pedalo boats with the kids.
In winter, the combined Davos Klosters is a major ski area, with 300 km of groomed slopes for skiing and riding. It’s quite close to Zurich (less than two hours by car), and very popular with both Swiss and international skiers. It’s a great resort to learn about the pleasures of skiing in Switzerland.
Discover the Engadine Museum
Located in St. Moritz, the Engadine Museum is home to multi-lingual exhibits about the unique culture, history, and traditions of the Engadine region, the only one to have its own language, Romansch.
The permanent exhibition is housed in 21 rooms within a typical Engadin home dating to 1906.
Try paragliding in Flims-Laax
My experience paragliding in Interlaken changed me into a massive fan of this spectacular sport. You can try paragliding in the Grisons, soaring above the picturesque landscapes of Flims-Laax and experience the thrill of paragliding yourself.
Visit the picturesque alpine village of Soglio
In my humble opinion, Soglio is one of the loveliest alpine villages in Grisons, and in all of Switzerland. Ascending from the river valley up to this sunny village nestled on a mountain terrace, my jaw dropped surveying its alpine views, narrow cobblestone lanes and the calming presence of the Church of St. Lorenzo.
Roam the romantic village on your own or take a guided tour. Several hikes leave from Soglio, passing through the largest chestnut forest in the Alps.
Take a dip in the thermal baths of Scuol
Relax and rejuvenate in the mineral-rich waters of the Bogn Engiadina thermal baths in Scuol, in Grisons, Switzerland.
There are six indoor and outdoor pools with massage jets, bubbles, waterfalls and a swim-current channel, as well as a brine pool. A wide range of wellness and therapy services complement the bathing option. This is the perfect place to switch off and dive into relaxation.
Visit the Tectonic Arena Sardona
Geology fans will want to spend time at this UNESCO World Heritage site. The unique formations of Tectonic Arena Sardona showcase the awesome power of nature when the continents of Africa and Europe collided.
The ‘Glarus overthrust’ around the Martin’s Hole forms the heart of the 300 square meter Sarganserland- Walensee-Glarnerland Geopark.
Attend the Snow Polo World Cup in St. Moritz
In a town as chic and swish as St. Moritz, it won’t come as a surprise that polo is a thing. But snow polo? That’s next level.
You can witness this thrilling annual international polo tournament held on the frozen lake of St. Moritz every January. The Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz is the first-ever snow polo tournament, and the only ‘high goal’ polo tournament played on snow.
The Grisons is in the southeastern part of Switzerland, bordering Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein.
There are 26 cantons of Switzerland, and four official languages. The only canton to have three national languages is the canton of Grisons. These languages are German, Romansh and Italian.
Pin for Later
Photo credits: Claudia Laroye; Tourism Switzerland