We have just returned from a fantastic 8 days winter holiday in Switzerland and would like to share our experience with the community.
While we have been to Switzerland in summer many years ago, this was our first winter vacation in the country & it turned out even better than what we had anticipated. We had originally planned this trip in 2020, but had to repeatedly postpone it due to COVID disruptions and after agonizingly long wait of 3 years, we were able to finally go this year for 8 nights from 22 Feb to 1 Mar as follows:
4N in St Moritz
3N in Engelberg
1N in Zurich
Day 1, 22 Feb: St Moritz
Our flight arrived at Zurich on schedule at 10:30. We stopped for a quick take-away at Zurich HB underground shopping center and caught the 12:07 connection to St Moritz via Landquart. There was no snow anywhere in Zurich, and we were beginning to doubt whether we would be able to experience the Alpine winter for which we had waited so long. Thankfully, there was lots of snow once we exited the Vereina tunnel. (or so we thought, later we were told that this winter was unusually warm for Switzerland and actually it snows even more in the Engadine region in normal years)
We reached St Moritz in the afternoon at 15:09, checked into our Hotel Laudinella and set off for a stroll over the frozen St Moritz lake. This walk over the frozen lake was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. (see attached pic) After an early Italian dinner, it was time for early lights out.
Day 2, 23 Feb: St Moritz – Diavolezza, Alp Grum, Val Roseg
The SwissMeteo App was showing a partially sunny/partially cloudy forecast. So we decided to do some light winter walks today. We took the early morning 8:10 bus to Diavolezza via Pontresina Post and took the 9:00 cable car to the top. We had intended to do the winter hike: Diavolezza to Sass Queder. While the maps show this trail to be different from the skiing trails, we found that actually, the hiking and skiing trails are one and the same. Since there were large number of skiers, we decided not to risk hiking on the same path. While the views of the Morteratsch glacier from the viewing platform at top were gorgeous, we felt a bit disappointed that we could get full money’s worth considering the hefty cable car price of CHF 44 per person (no discount for Swiss Travel Pass).
We went down by the 10:00 cable car and decided to continue to Alp Grum. The Diavolezza Bahnhof is a stop on request station & trains do not stop here by default. While we have seen the “Request Stop” button aboard the trains, this was our first time trying to halt the train from the platform. And despite looking everywhere on the platform, the ticket cabin, the signal, we could not spot any button to halt the train. So when we saw the train coming, all of us waved our hands signalling the driver to halt. This was the first time in my life, where we flagged a train like a taxi on the street!!
We reached Alp Grum at 10:42. The weather at Alp Grum was beautiful. It seemed that the sun & clouds were playing hide-and-seek with the Palu glacier. The attached pic does not capture the full glory of the magical experience we had there. We stayed there enjoying the unfolding spectacle until the next train going back at 11:13. We got off at Pontresina for lunch at the Station Hotel.
Post lunch, we decided to hike in the Val Roseg. Again the dance of sun and clouds accompanied us the entire way. (see attached pic) The hike was well sign posted and we thoroughly enjoyed the quiet hike on the snow covered valley floor. Post the hike, we got back to St Moritz. Made a trip to the Hanselmann bakery and tasted the famous Engadine Walnut Tarts. They were absolutely fabulous and lived up to their melt-in-the-mouth reputation. Enjoyed a relaxed meal at the hotel after the long day & had a good nights sleep.
Day 3, 24Feb: St Moritz – Scuol Tarasp-Motta Naluns-Ftan
The weather forecast today was better. So we decided to do a mountain hike from Motta Naluns to Ftan. We got on the 8:02 train to Samedan & changed from there to the connecting train to Scuol Tarasp. The Lower Engadine valley is definitely one of the best preserved secrets of Switzerland. The views are absolutely fabulous and not many tourists go there, so it is very quiet and pleasant. We got off at the Scoul terminus and took the cable way to Motta Naluns peak. At CHF 13 (post 50% discount for Swiss Travel Pass), it is a great bargain. You get vast sweeping views over the entire valley floor, the Inn river flowing below, the forests, high snow covered peaks…the entire Flourinaweg hike from Motta Naluns to Prui is incredibly great. Words or pics cannot capture the beauty of the place. I am genuinely surprised about how so few people are aware of this awesome place. This is a place you need to experience it yourself. I would definitely rate it as our top experience of the entire trip & would like to visit here again. Intoxicated by the beautiful views, we continued the hike down from Prui to Ftan instead of taking the chairlift as originally planned. This was however, not the best decision. As we came at lower altitudes down from Prui, the snowy pathway began to give way to a wet muddy path. We had some difficulty clearing the steep sections, but reached Ftan by noon. Had lunch at the Pizzeria Bellavista at Ftan village center and then took the post bus back to Scuol. Took the connecting train from there back to St Moritz. Had a deep sleep at night dreaming of the lovely hikes done during the day.
Day 4, 25 Feb: St Moritz – Muottas Muragl-Philosophers Trail
With forecast of clear sunny weather today, we set out on another mountain adventure. We took the 8:10 bus to Punt Muragl & took the 8:40 funicular up to Muottas Muragl. There were only 2 other persons on the funicular other than us. So we had great front driver’s view as the steep funicular climbed up the 2400m peak. At the top, while the views in all the directions were great, it took us some time to get acclimatised to the gusty winds up there. We took the Philosopher’s trail hike which is well name. (see attached pic). At those heights, surrounded by majestic mountains in all directions, breathing in the pristine cold air and feeling the warm sun rays on the face, one can easily forget their daily worries & understand the true meaning of being alive. After completing the trail, since we were still freezing from the winds up there, we got overselves warm coffee & hot chocolate drinks from the restaurant at top after the hike.
Post lunch, we took the bus to Silvaplana lake. This lake, unlike St Moritz lake was not frozen. So we hiked on the banks of the lake. Again the combination of sunny weather with occasional gusts of cold winds was perfect for the hike. Again, we did not notice too many hikers there and enjoyed the serene lake and the snowy valley surroundings. (see attached pic)
Day 5, 26 Feb: Engelberg
After an early breakfast, we checked out from our hotel & took the 8:02 connection to Chur via the scenic Albula line which we had missed on our 1st day. The weather today was cloudy and as we entered the Preda valley, it began to lightly snow. We were completely enchanted by the snow flakes gently floating in the air all around us. From Chur, we took the connecting train to Zurich. What a contrast that journey was. The same barren fields and plains at the outskirts of Zurich which we had seen on our first day were now covered in light snow. From Zurich HB, we once again took our take-away lunch & got on the connecting train to Luzern and from there to Engelberg. When we got to Engelberg in late afternoon, it started snowing even more heavily. We checked into our hotel The Schweizerhof, and then proceeded to a stroll in the village. The fresh snowfall everywhere made the tiny village even more enchanting. See attached pic.
Day 6, 27 Feb: Engelberg – Furenalp - Brunni
The weather forecast continued to show cloudy conditions for today. So we decided to go to Furenalp which is at the end of valley. We were the only passengers to get off the bus at the last stop. The gondola cable car going up was old fashion small cabin having capacity of 4 persons. Again we were the only ones there. We had planned for the hike at the top, but unfortunately, it was completely foggy with near zero visibility. We came down back in the next cable car & then decided to try our luck at the Brunni peak.
By the time we got up to Ristis top station on Brunni peak, it was getting to 12 noon and the clouds were clearing up. We hiked on the panoramaweg going up to Rigidalalp. The restaurant there was closed. So we had picnic lunch outside watching the snow slowly melt from the trees in the sun which was starting to shine again. By the time we hiked back to Ristis, it was cloudy again and we were glad to get back down to the valley before it got too cold again. (see pic)
Day 7, 28 Feb: Engelberg - Titlis
Since the forecast today was partly cloudy & partly sunny, we decided to go up to Titlis. Untill we reached up to Trubsee intermediate station, it was foggy everywhere, but once we went higher, we got bright sunny perfect conditions. The views from the top were stunning with snowy peaks gleaming in the sun while a sea of fog covers the valley floor. (see pics)
On our way down, we saw that weather had improved at Trubsee too which was also now sunny. So we got off there & set off on a hike around the frozen lake Trubsee. The path is broad and well prepared with beautiful views all along the way. (see pic) The hike took around 90mins since we kept stopping on the way to soak in the gorgeous views. Post the hike, we had light snacks from the Indian café at the base station in Engelberg. In the evening, we relaxed with a stroll through the village.
Day 8, 1 Mar: Rigi - Zurich
After breakfast, we checked out of our hotel & took the train to Luzern. At Luzern station, we kept our luggage at the lockers located at platform 15 and proceeded to board the 10:12 boat to Vitznau. As there was a chill in the air, we sat inside in the Saloon instead of the open deck. At Vitznau, we took the train up to Rigi kulm. The train coaches were modern ones instead of the historic ones we had gone on in our earlier trip. Similar to our experience at Titlis, there was fog & cloudy weather at lower altitudes, but became sunny & clear at the top station. From Rigi kulm, it appeared as though the peak was floating above the clouds. Maybe this is how heaven looks like!! (see pic) We set off on the panaromaweg hiking down to Rigi Kaltbad. While the path initially was clear and bright, we entered into the clouds at Rigi Staffelhohe & continued on the foggy & misty trail for the last section upto Kaltbad. The entire hike was a heavenly experience. From Rigi Kaltbad, we took the cabble car down to Weggis and had a picnic lunch at the docks while waiting for our boat back to Luzern. At Luzern, we retrieved our luggage & boarded the connection to Zurich HB. At Zurich, we took our take-away dinner & got on the connecting train to Kloten for the final night’s stay at Hotel Allegra.
Day 9, 2 Mar: Zurich
On final day of our stay, we had a relaxed late breakfast and then checked out from the hotel. We took the local bus to the airport. Our 8-day Swiss Travel Pass had expired, so we had to take the normal tickets. At the airport, we smoothly completed the check-in process and boarded the flight to bring an end to our incredibly magnificent journey.
We hope to soon visit again.