Saint Moritz (St. Moritz) is a glamorous holiday resort in the eastern Swiss Alps. It is placed in the Upper Engadin at an elevation of 1,856 meters above sea level.
Engadin is a long high Alpine valley region in the canton of Graubünden. This otherwise called Valley of the Inn people is the most south-eastern part of Switzerland with a population of 25,000.
High mountain ranges protect this region on all its sides, offering beautiful landscapes. However, although surrounded by the Alps, Engadin is famous for its sunny climate – St. Moritz, for instance, bathes in the sun for more than 300 days a year.
St. Moritz is one of the richest and most famous places in the world. Combining tradition and luxury, it offers a modern and unique Alpine lifestyle.
During all seasons, there is plenty of opportunities for various outdoor activities. The main is skiing, of course, but you can also enjoy playing polo on a frozen lake, hike on glaciers, watch horse and greyhound racings, outdoor yoga, or take a part in the famous Cresta Run.
On your way to explore the cinematic majesty of the Valley, you can boost your energy with a bite of the famous Engadin nut tart you can find on every corner. And when you’re done, retreat in some of the modern hotels that set standards in all categories.
Why is St. Moritz so attractive?
1. St. Moritz has always been ahead of time
- In 1864/65, the birth of winter tourism in the Alps,
- In 1864, the first Tourist Office in Switzerland was opened,
- In 1878, at Christmas time, the first electric light in the country was installed at the Kulm Hotel,
- In 1880, the first Curling Tournament in Europe was held,
- In 1882, the first Ice-Skating Championship was held,
- In 1885, the first modern winter sport Cresta Run was introduced,
- In 1889, the first Golf Tournament was held,
- In 1889, the first telephone was installed in the Canton of Graubünden,
- In 1890, the first Bob Run and Bob Race were held,
- In 1896, it became the first village in the Alps to install electric trams,
- In 1896, the first hotel in Europe got a “Palace” category”,
- In 1906, the first horse race on snow was held,
- In 1907, the first horse race on the frozen lake was held,
- In 1928, and again in 1948, it hosted the Winter Olympic Games,
- In 1929, the first Ski School in Switzerland was established,
- In 1935, the first ski lifts in the country began running,
- In 1979, the first Ice Golf Tournament was held,
- In 1985, the first Polo Tournament on the frozen snow-covered lake was held,
- In 1987, the first Snowboard World Cup In Europe was held,
- In 1989, the first Cricket Match on the frozen snow-covered lake was held,
- In 1995, the first Polo World Cup in the Alps was held,
As you can see, St. Moritz developed quite rapidly during the 19th century. It is the cradle of Alpine tourism, offering today perfect skiing conditions from December until late April.
The idea of a winter sports holiday was born here in the 19th century. Johannes Badrutt, a hotel pioneer of St. Moritz, made a bet with his four British guests who often visited the place in summer.
Badrutt invited them to come again in winter offering to compensate for their travel costs if they didn’t like St. Moritz under the snow. If they happen to find it enjoyable in winter too, they would be his guests for as long as they wished. Although the proposal was bold, Badrutt won it.
The event was followed by the establishment of the first tourist office in Switzerland the same year. From that moment till now, St. Moritz has been one of the most exceptional winter sports resorts in the world.
Besides the Winter Olympics, it has hosted numerous bobsledding and ski world cups, and Sailing and Windsurfing Championships. Many unlikely events on the frozen lake have been held there such as cricket, a golf tournament, and a polo tournament.
2. Unspoilt nature
The lake plateau between St. Moritz and Maloja is typical of the aquatic environment of Engadin Valley. The Valley is home to the four large, well-known lakes – St. Moritz Lake, Champfèr Lake, Silvaplana Lake, and Silser Lake, accompanied by several smaller mountain and moorland lakes hidden in the forest.
The whole region is stunningly beautiful. You can go on a leisure stroll or a hike by the lakeside to discover the beauty of deep-blue Engadin lakes.
Lake St. Moritz has 5 kilometers long pathway. The water might not be too pleasant for swimming, but you can enjoy a restful walk around the shore.
The tranquillity of this serene area, far from bustling cities, recharges batteries. The view of green hillsides overlooking the placid water might lure you to stroll through the dense forest of green pine trees that are dwarfed by the mountainous summits.
A special experience is jogging along the lakeshore path in the morning as the mist rises from the water.
The lake is usually calm, decorated by one or two sailboats at a time. If you like, you can take a canoe or a stand-up paddle-board and go on a self-guided trip over the lake.
Photography lovers have a lot to photograph here – solemn mountain peaks, lake and its dramatic surroundings, greenery and Alpine wildflowers, deep dark forests, and sports activities on a frozen lake. Capture the sun descending behind the mountains for a particularly romantic and picturesque moment.
For a 360° view of the whole Upper Engadin, you need to reach Piz Nair, a mountain that hosted the alpine ski events for the Winter Olympics in 1948. To arrive at this 3,000 meters high peak, take a funicular and the cable car.
The upper station is just 30 meters away from the summit from where you can identify the surrounding mountains and lakes. And when you’re done, take a rest in a restaurant there and treat yourself with fondue and a cup of Swiss hot chocolate, famous Swiss delicacies.
3. The cultural aspect of St. Moritz
The lifestyle of St. Moritz is an intriguing mix of wild natural beauty, seductive charm, prestigious events, and bold eccentricity. Such as nature, St. Moritz gently nourishes its culture too.
By visiting its museums, you can obtain an interesting insight into the life and works of famous artists. Additionally, you can find out more about the Engadin’s lifestyle and customs in the past.
The Engadin Museum was founded at the beginning of the 20th century and resembles a replica of a typical Engadin house from the early 1700s. It exhibits more than 4,000 items picturing local life from the 13th through the 19th centuries.
You can get a realistic impression of how people of the Engadin region lived in those periods. Across 14 rooms, you can peruse interiors, household utensils, farm implements related to alpine living, furniture, costumes, embroidery, and other decorations. There are also artifacts excavated in the Engadin valley from Neolithic and Bronze Ages and Roman findings from the region.
The Berry Museum was established in honor of Peter Robert Berry, spa physician, and painter. It is located in the heart of St. Moritz, in the 100-year old Villa Aron. The Museum houses his extensive and culturally-significant estate comprising books, diaries, notes and letters, music-related pieces, as well as documents like maps, writings, and brochures about the founding and development of St. Moritz.
Segantini Museum is another museum dedicated to a great artist, the late-19th-century landscape painter, Giovanni Segantini. Segantini himself had drawn the design of the building resembling a Byzantine church with its rotunda and dome. His possibly most valued work, a symbolist triptych representing Life, Nature, and Death in Alpine landscapes, is hidden under the dome.
St. Moritz is a number one destination for relaxation and rejuvenation to many celebrities. There is no major star who hasn’t visited this sun-drenched Alpine valley and enjoyed the spectacular views of the lakes and mountains.
Hermann Hesse, Tomas Mann, Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, Andy Warhol, Charlie Chaplin – they have all sojourned here.
In an open letter from 1953, Hesse wrote: “I’ve seen many landscapes and nearly all of them were to my liking, but fate only deemed for a select few to appeal to me in a deep and lasting manner, to gradually blossom into small homelands, and probably the most beautiful of these landscapes, which has the strongest effect on me, is the Upper Engadin.”
Now we leave it to you to see it for yourself.