Summer in South Grisons – Engadine Valley, St. Moritz and Pontresina – a practical guide

Grisons is one of the most charming parts of Switzerland. Especially the southern part of this canton – the Engadine Valley – is very popular among tourists from all over the world. Mostly in winter, during the ski season, but also in summer you will find many exciting things to do. There is a world-famous resort town here – St. Moritz, many interesting hiking and biking routes and viewpoints with breathtaking panoramas. An amazing adventure will also be a ride on the Glacier Express of the Rhaetian Railway.

Canton of Grisons with the Engadin Valley

Grisons is the largest Swiss canton located in the Alps, bordering Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein. It is known for cultural diversity. This is evidenced by, among others the use of three languages by the locals: German, Italian, and Romansh. Especially the latter is an interesting ethnic phenomenon – it is used by only about 36 thousand people – inhabitants of Grisons. The capital of Grisons is Chur – the oldest city in all of Switzerland. The most important places to visit in Chur are the 12th-century cathedral and the Rhaetian Museum. Other important cities in the region include Davos, St. Moritz, and Scuol. The Rhine River begins in Grisons.

The Inn River, a tributary of the Danube, also runs through the region. In the southern part of the canton, it forms the Engadine Valley. The valley consists of two main parts: the Upper Engadine with the famous St. Moritz and the Lower Engadine with the town of Scuol. This region also has several side valleys: Val Müstair (located in the vacancy of the Fuorn Pass – that covers huge chunk of Swiss National Park), Val Bregaglia, and Val Poschiavo (two Italian-speaking valleys connected by the Maloja and Bernina passes with the main valley). This area is part of the Rhaetian Alps, with the highest peak – Piz Bernina, 4049 m above sea level. The landscape of the valley is diversified by picturesque lakes.

St. Moritz

St. Moritz is a world-famous, elegant, and exclusive resort town with cosmopolitan vibes. St. Moritz is located on a southern, sunny slope with breathtaking views of the Engadine Valley and the peaks of the Alps over 3000 m above sea level. Most of the inhabitants of the town are German-speaking, but there is also a significant Italian population, due to the proximity to the Italian border. The city hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice – in 1928 and 1948. The world cup competitions in bobsleigh and skiing are also held here. St. Moritz is also famous for being the first place with electric lighting in Switzerland (1878), and for having the first electric tram in the country (1892).

The town primarily attracts enthusiasts of winter sports, but also offers many attractions in summer. The city is sunny 320 days a year. This charm was discovered over a century ago by the British for whom this place was an escape from the rainy islands.

During the winter season, St. Moritz offers sports activities such as:

  • skiing,
  • snowboarding,
  • horse racing on ice,
  • hockey polo,
  • greyhound racing on ice,
  • ice cricket,
  • ice skating (all year round),
  • ice hockey,
  • marathon for 12,000 skiers.

During the summer season, St. Moritz, on the other hand, is a place for:

  • walks,
  • climbing,
  • hiking on routes of varying difficulty,
  • cycling,
  • canoeing,
  • sailing,
  • windsurfing,
  • fishing

The last three activities are possible thanks to the nearby lake Silersee.


Pontresina  is located about 7 km from St. Moritz. It is a picturesque village in the Engadine valley with houses dating back to 17th and 18th centuries and stylish Belle Epoque hotels. Most of the buildings are covered with traditional wall decorations – Sgraffito. On the main street, there are boutiques, mountaineering shops, restaurants, the Bellavita swimming pool complex with SPA, and a Conference and Cultural Center. Pontresina is a place much closer to nature than the commercial St. Moritz. The village is situated in a sunny spot right by the Bernina Pass. There are pine forests in the area and Muottas Muragl, Mt. Diavolezza, and the Morteratsch and Roseg glaciers. It is also an ideal starting point for hiking and running routes.

How to get to St. Moritz and Pontresina from Zurich?

In order to get to southern Grisons, it’s best to go to Zurich first.  There is a Rhaetian Railway (Rhätische – Bahn RhB) to St. Moritz and Pontresina. There are trains from Zurich (and other Swiss cities) to Chur and Landquart. Also, there are three railroad lines:

  • from Chur via Rhäzüns to Samedan and Moritz (with the Albula line, which is included in the UNESCO cultural heritage list),
  • from Landquart via Klosters to Samedan and Moritz,
  • from Disentis, Chur, and Landquart via Klosters to Scuol.

You can also get to southern Grisons by the Rhaetian Railway from Tirano, Italy. A line runs through the Italian-speaking Bernina region to Pontresina and St. Moritz. This train goes along the Bernina line, which is also a UNESCO cultural heritage site.

How to get around the region?

In addition to the above-mentioned railroads linking the region with the outer towns, the RhB railroad, linking Pontresina withScuol, runs along most of the Engadine valley. It stops in all major towns and villages in the region. With the yellow Postal Car buses, you can get to even the smallest villages in the valley. Bus lines are well coordinated with each other and with train timetables

A summer stay for two or more nights at hotels in St. Moritz and Pontresina entitles you to use the Engadin Inclusive Card, which allows free access to several cable cars and chairlifts, as well as trains and public transport in the region:

  • cable cars St. Moritz – Chantarella – Corviglia,
  • cable cars Corviglia – Piz Nair,
  • cable cars St. Moritz – Signal,
  • chairlifts Suvretta – Randolins,
  • chairlifts Pontresina – Languard,
  • cable cars Pontresina – Diavolezza,
  • gondola lifts Celerina – Marguns,
  • cable cars Silvaplana – Corvatsch,
  • cable cars Sils – Furtschellas,
  • cable cars Muottas Muragl,
  • buses Engadin Bus and Moritz,
  • second-class local routes on the Rhaetian Railway, such as Moritz – Alp Grüm and Pontresina – Samedan

The card is valid from May to October.

What is the best time to visit Grisons?

Grisons has a lot to offer in both winter and summer. The best conditions for winter sports in Grisons are from December to early April. The summer season starts mid-June and ends mid-October.

Where to stay in Grisons? – recommended hotels in Pontresina

During my stay in Grisons, I chose Pontresina for my base. It is more intimate than St. Moritz, which is a large resort. Additionally, its location makes it a very good starting point for any hikes in the area.

I’ve been sleeping in two hotels. I spent the first two nights in Saratz Hotel. It is a very nice and elegant hotel, but its strongest point is a beautiful terrace with a view of the area.

The last three nights in the phenomenal Grand Hotel Kronenhof. This place is a real hotel gem! The architecture of the hotel makes it one of the most magnificent buildings in the Alps. The historic building from 1848, elegant, light-filled apartments and one of the best spas in Switzerland, all in a great location, in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Such a nice mix of the magical old times, modern comfort and a beautiful nature around is what makes the Grand Hotel Kronenhof so unique. Be sure to read the whole post about my stay here: Grand Hotel Kronenhof – classic Swiss luxury and yoga retreat by the Alps

Summer in South Grisons – things to do


The best attraction of Grisons in the summer is hiking as there are numerous mountain trails. The most interesting hikes around St. Moritz and Pontresina include:

The trail through the forests around St. Moritz – starts and ends at St. Moritz Bad, Post bus stop, leads through the forests surrounding St. Moritz on a distance of 13 km, the hike takes 3 hours 20 minutes. It is an easy trail along the Inn River, moor lakes: Lej Marsch, Lej Nair, next to the Olympic ski jump.

Piz Languard trail – quite a difficult trail with a steep climb to the top of Piz Languard. The upper stage of the hike ensures breathtaking views of the mountain peaks, the trail both ways is 8 km long.

The trail to the Morteratsch glacier and the Boval Hut – a trial offering breathtaking views of the glacier in theMorteratsch Valley, the Piz Palu and Bernina massifs and the Morteratsch and Pers glaciers, the trails is 11.5–12.9 km long depending on the variant.

Trail from Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard – the trail depending on the variant has a distance of 6.4–9.7 km one way and leads to a peak over the valleys of Roseg, Morteratsch, and the Upper Engadine. The longer trail follows high traverses under the slopes between Piz Muragl and Piz Languard.

Segantini Hut trail – a short trail with a distance of 6.3 km both ways leads high above Pontresina, you can enjoy views of the peaks over Val Roseg and the Upper Engadine Valley

Trail from Lej Sgrischus to Piz Chuern – with a distance of 9-10.6 km both ways, leads through the Munt Alps, past the beautiful Lake Sgrischus, then climbs up to a panoramic view of the Piz Chuern peak and the Coravatsch Massif and peaks over the valleys of Fex, Fedoz and the Upper Engadine.

Trail from Julier Pass to Fuorcla and from Grevasalvas to Maloja – depending on the variant the distance of the trails is 7,3 or 11,8 km one way. Hiking through the steep mountain range between the Julier Pass and the Upper Engadine Valley Lakes. There are two lakes on the trail, a panoramic mountain pass, and beautiful views of the Albula and Bernina Alps.

Trail from Alp Languard to Fuorcla Pischa – with a distance of 9.4 km one way. It is a scenic hike to Fuorcla Pischa, a high mountain pass in the Val Languard valley. On the trail, there are breathtaking views of the glacier massif of Bernina, Piz Languard, and the rugged rocky basin with ponds near the Pischa Pass.

The trail of lakes from Silvaplana to Maloja – depending on the variant, the trail is 4.6-11 km long one way, leads over the eastern shores of Lake Silvaplana (Silvaplanersee) and Lake Segl (Silsersee) with amazing views of the lakes and high peaks over Upper Engadine Valley

The trail from Fuorcla Surlej to Pontresina via Coaz Hut – a picturesque hike with a panoramic view of Piz Bernina and Roseg and wonderful views of the Benin range, the Coaz hut located among the glaciers, depending on the variant, the distance of the trail is 4.8 or 20 km one way. Read more about this hike here: The most beautiful hike in St. Moritz in Switzerland – from Fuorcla Surlej to Pontresina

Bicycle routes

Southern Grisons is an ideal summer destination for enthusiasts of cycling. The most interesting cycling routes in this region include:

Alpine Bike Route (section 3/16) – the Alpine Bike Route leads through the Alps, and its third section leads from Livigno to Moritz. The mountain bike route runs parallel to the main road and is 50 km long. It has gained recognition from the International Mountain Bike Association, which included the Alpine Bike Route on the list of epic routes. The views on the downhill section to Morteratsch are the most impressive (this is the most award-winning part of the route). At the end of the route you will have stunning views of St. Moritz, while going in the opposite direction you can admire the Bernina range.

Trans-Altarezia Bike Route (section 4/5) – leads from Arnoga at the foot of the Pass da Val Viola to Poschiavo and is 44 km long. The beginning of the route goes uphill, and the downhill part goes along one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland – Lagh da Viola. Most of the route leads through forests, and as you pass the Lagh da Saoseo you will see the first buildings of the Poschiavo

The Suvretta Loop – the 34 km long route starts near the Celerina train station. Its most interesting sections are the over five-kilometer downhill through Suvretta da Samedan and the Val Bever valley. From the trail, you can admire the lakes of the Upper Engadin Valley as well as the Bernina

Albula Trail – short downhill route with a distance of 8.6 km and an elevation gain of 625 m leads through the Albula Pass and starts at an altitude of 2,315 m above sea level. During the ride, you can admire the spectacular views of the Alps.

Bernina Express – 38 km long route owes its name to the legendary Rhaetian Railway going to the Berninapass Pass. Equally impressive is the mountain bike route that starts in Samedan, next to the glaciers of the Bernina range. It leads through long, gently ascending sections, alternating with two steep but short uphill sections to the Berninapass Pass at an altitude of 2,200 m above sea level. The route continues downhill to Poschiavo. The International Mountain Bike Association has listed the Bernina Express on its list of epic routes.

Helicopter – Scenic Flight

An exciting way to discover the beauty of the Rhaetian Alps and the Engadine Valley is to admire them from the air. HeliBerninaoffers a wide range of tourist flights by helicopter. There are three standard Scenic Flight routes to choose from, and these are:

  • sightseeing flight of Bernina Glaciers – 15 minutes,
  • sightseeing flight Standard Bernina – 20 minutes,
  • sightseeing flight Bernina-Bergell – 30 minutes.

In the case of groups, it is possible to adjust the flight to your own expectations. The offer also includes sightseeing flights of 40 minutes, 45 minutes, or 60 minutes, flights on request, culinary flights, and many other options.

You can read more about this experience here: Helicopter flight over glaciers and Engadine mountains in Switzerland

Viewpoints Diavolezza, Piz Nair, Corvatsch

During your stay in the Alps, of course, you have to stop at one of the many viewpoints. The most beautiful are:

Diavolezza – that is She-Devil in Italian, a mountain with a height of 2,978 m above sea level in the immediate vicinity of the Bernina Massif. At its top, there is a tourist and ski Diavolezza Hut with a beautiful viewpoint on the peaks and valleys of the Rhaetian Alps. You can get here by cable car from the station at 2,093 m above sea level close to Berninabahn – a train stop connecting St. Moritz and Tirano. You can read more here: Diavolezza – the best glaciers viewpoint in Swiss Grisons

Corvatsch – the viewpoint platform is located at an altitude of 3303 m above sea level and can be reached by cable car. The ride takes approximately 20 minutes, with one transfer at the middle station – Murtèl. There are restaurants at the top and middle stations of the cable car. The climb to the viewpoint platform takes about 3 hours. The viewing platform offers panoramic views of the peaks, including the nearby Corvatsch (the platform is about a kilometer away from the actual top of the mountain), Piz Bernina, Upper Engadin Valley lakes, and many Alpine peaks of the Canton of Grison

Piz Nair – viewpoint in the Suvretta Massif. You can get there by cable car from Corviglia, which in turn is accessed by two funiculars from St. Moriz. From the top of Piz Nair, with very steep slopes, there is a view of the Upper Engadin Valley and Lake Lej Suvretta as well as the peaks of the Rhaetian Alps. Downhill lovers, however, are most excited about the steep slopes of the mountain.What’s more, you can spend the night here in a gondola overlooking the snowy peaks. Be sure to read about it here: Million Stars Hotels – sleeping in Tiny House Gondel at 3000 m above the sea level in Switzerland


Berninapass is an alpine pass located at an altitude of 2,328 m above sea level, on the eastern side of the Piz Bernina peak. You can get here via Route 27 from St. Moritz and the highest located rack railway in Europe. This is one of the must-see spots on the Grisons tourist map. The pass connects Poschiavo in the Bernina District in the south with Samedan in the Maloja District in the north. You will be able to admire picturesque lakes Lago Bianco, Lej Nair, and Lej Pitschen.

Glacier Express

The famous Glacier Express is a fast train of the Rhaetian Railway that connects the alpine resorts – Zermatt and St. Moritz. On a picturesque route with a distance of 270 km and an elevation gain of 2,500 m, among valleys, mountain passes, ridge, and mountain slopes, the route of the train lead through 91 tunnels and 291 bridges. Each Glacier Express train has a dining wagon and panoramic wagons of 1st and 2nd class, and one train also has a panoramic wagon of the exclusive Excellence class. The ride takes approximately 8 hours, which makes the Glacier Express “the slowest express train in the world”.


*** I visited Switzerland as part of collaboration with Switzerland Tourism Board who supported me in all my crazy travel ideas.

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Welcome on my blog about traveling, active lifestyle and chasing all the crazy dreams. I have been on 6 continents and in more than 100 countries so far, but I still have so much to explore :)

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Author picture

Welcome on my blog about traveling, active lifestyle and chasing all the crazy dreams. I have been on 6 continents and in more than 100 countries so far, but I still have so much to explore :)

< read more >