At a glance
- Largest city: Chur (38'214 inhabitants)
- Specialties: Bündnerfleisch, capuns, pizokels, pear bread
- UNESCO World Heritage: Rhaetian Railway, St. Johann Monastery in Münstair, Tectonic Arena Sardona
- Hotel industry: 695 hotels (45’382 rooms)
- Overnight stays/year: 5.25 million
Graubünden is the largest canton in terms of area and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland. It borders three countries: Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein. The region has an alpine character and is a paradise for guests in summer and winter alike.
Nature in Graubünden is characterised by snow-capped mountains and imposing glaciers, green valleys and deep gorges. The people in this region are as diverse as the nature itself. With Swiss German, Romansh and Italian, three of the four national languages are spoken there. Roughly speaking, the canton of Graubünden can be divided into the following tourist regions:
Prättigau, Davos, Klosters and Arosa
In these world famous resorts there are a thousand possibilities, be it skiing, hiking or biking. The English royal family used to reside in Klosters. In Davos, the highest city in Europe, the World Economic Forum WEF takes place every year. And in Arosa the bear park or the annual humor festival are some of the main attractions.
Engadin is a wide and open high Alpine valley with a dry and sunny climate and 322 sunny days a year. Turquoise blue mountain lakes, imposing mountains and glaciers characterise the magnificent landscape. In autumn the larch forests glow golden yellow. Particularly famous is the Piz Bernina mountain with its peak 4048 metres above sea level. The Engadin is divided into Upper Engadin with the posh resort towns of St. Moritz, Sils or Pontresina and Lower Engadin with the villages of Zernez, Guarda or Scuol.
Between Flims/Laax and the Oberalp Pass you can experience a diverse region with numerous holiday destinations: Flims/Laax, Brigels, Obersaxen, Vals, Disentis, Sedrun and the first 'town' on the Rhine river, Ilanz. Highlights: the Ruinaulta or Rhine gorge, turquoise Lake Cauma and Lake Cresta or the source of the Rhine with Lake Toma. Disentis and Sedrun are part of the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis with 30 ski lifts and 180 kilometres of pistes.
North and Central Grisons
These include the regions of Lenzerheide/Valbella, the Albula valley with Bergün, the Oberhalbstein with Savognin and Bivio, the Domleschg / Schams / Hinterrhein, the Bündner Herrschaft with its wine growing areas and the Rhine Valley around the capital.
Southern valleys of Graubünden
Drive from Zernez over the Ofen Pass, cross the Swiss National Park and arrive in the picturesque Münstertal. The monastery in Müstair is part of the UNESCO cultural heritage. From the Upper Engadin, you can also reach the Italian-speaking southern valleys of Puschlav via the Bernina Pass as well as Bergell via the Maloja Pass with the picturesque villages of Soglio and Stampa. The southern valleys of Graubünden also include the Misox Valley with the Val Mesolcina and the Calanca Valley.
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Highlights in Summer / Autumn
Swiss Grand Canyon
It is not for nothing that the Rhine Gorge, Rhaeto-Romanic Ruinaulta, between Reichenau and Ilanz is known as the "Swiss Grand Canyon". The gorge is one of the most spectacular landscapes in Graubünden and is unique in the Alpine region. A hike along the steep cliffs or a ride on the Rhaetian Railway or Glacier Express through Ruinaulta is a unique experience. If that is still not enough of a thrill, you can take a breathtaking river rafting trip through the gorge. Place: Reichenau / Ilanz
Bernina Express and Glacier Express
The world-famous Bernina Express is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and runs from Chur to Tirano. The route crosses the famous Landwasser viaduct, winds its way through several spiral shaped tunnels and reaches the Engadin via dozens more bridges and tunnels. The route continues past beautiful mountain lakes and glaciers to the Bernina Pass at 2253 m altitude. The railway then winds its way down in countless hairpin bends and over the famous circular viaduct from Brusio to the small northern Italian town of Tirano at 429 m altitude, where palm trees and vines thrive. The famous Glacier Express has been connecting St. Moritz and Zermatt in an 8-hour panoramic journey past glaciers and gorges since 1932. While you enjoy a three-course meal, the train winds its way past rugged rock faces through the Rhine Gorge and over the 2033 m high Oberalp Pass, passing idyllic mountain villages.
Swimming in the Lej Marsch
Tucked away in a wooded area near St. Moritz lies the idyllic and natural moor lake Lej Marsch. It lies in the Pro Natura nature reserve, which is why bathing is only permitted in marked areas. There is even a sandy beach at Lej Marsch - in the middle of the Grisons mountains at 1,800 metres above sea level. A picnic by the lake is just as suitable as a barbecue at one of the fireplaces. Place: St. Moritz
Cross-country skiing in Engadin
The Engadin is considered one of the cross-country skiing Meccas of Switzerland - thanks in part to the annual Engadin Ski Marathon held in March, the most famous cross-country skiing event in the Alps. Engadin is a cross-country skiing paradise because it is a wide, open valley with plenty of snow and sunshine. Professionals as well as beginners find the best conditions here.
More than 2,000 years ago, people were already using snowshoes, i.e. two plates with a large diameter under their feet, to move faster and more effortlessly in the snow. Snowshoe walking has enjoyed great popularity for some years now. In Graubünden there are over 100 official routes for snowshoe fans. Here are some selected trails that are also suitable for beginners:
- Unesco tour (Flims-Laax-Falera): 3.4 km, 2.5 hours, ascent: 174 m
- Tarasp - Avrona - Vulpera: 3.6 km. 1.5 hours, ascent: 256 m
- Easy Trapper (Arosa): 2.3 km, 1 hour, ascent: 40 m
- Fontanivas round trip (Disentis): 5.7 km, 2 hours, ascent: 180 m
- Palpuogna (Bergün/Preda): 4.4 km, 1h 45 min, ascent: 189 m
Sledging / tobogganing
There are almost 100 different toboggan runs in Graubünden - unbelievable! The longest runs are on the following runs:
- Preda - Bergün with 6 km length, using the Bernina Express train as a lift
- Gnawing scansinas (Flims-Laax-Falera) with 12 km length
- Fideriser Heuberge (Prättigau) with 11 km length
Selected places in Grisons
Arosa / Lenzerheide
43 ski lifts, gondolas and chairlifts ensure that skiers in Arosa-Lenzerheide have no less than 225 kilometres of slopes at their disposal - a distance as long as the one from Zurich to Lausanne! Endless skiing fun is guaranteed. In addition to the classic slopes, the innovative ski area offers even more, such as a snow park, cross-country ski trails and winter hiking paths. Arosa is also home to numerous high-profile events, such as the Arosa Humor Festival and numerous other occasions which the innovative tourism director and his team regularly organise.
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In the border triangle between Austria, Italy and Switzerland lies the Lower Engadine with the Swiss National Park and numerous picturesque villages such as Ardez, Ftan, Guarda or Tarasp. Right in the middle of it all is the main town of Scuol with its famous thermal spa and no less picturesque Engadine houses, squares and narrow streets. Apart from relaxation in the Bogn Engiadina, Scuol offers plenty of opportunities for excursions, whether on foot, by bike or on skis in the wonderful Motta Naluns ski area.
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Chur, the oldest town in Switzerland, is the cultural and economic centre of the Graubünden region and the gateway to the Alps. The cosy old town with its 800-year-old cathedral invites you to stroll and shop, but also to enjoy a fine meal or a drink. Chur is the starting point for excursions throughout the canton. Flims/Laax and Lenzerheide can be reached in half an hour, Arosa and Davos in an hour and the Engadin in 1 ½ hours.
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