I stayed in the Lower Engadine town of Scuol in mid-October 2016. This was my first visit to the Lower Engadine, but it won’t be my last because I absolutely loved it, and there are many places I still haven’t been to!
Scuol is in a far-flung valley in the east of Switzerland, less than 20 km from the Austrian border, and is very easy to get to by train. Zürich to Scuol takes only 2 hrs 38 min, or from St Moritz it’s only 1 hr 26 min. For anyone travelling to or from Austria, another option is travelling by PostBus between Scuol and Landeck-Zams in Austria (about 1.5 hrs). Landeck-Zams is a stop on the Vienna-Salzburg-Innsbruck-Zürich train line. Apparently when the Scuol railway station was built in 1913, there was an intention to build a rail line from Scuol to Landeck, but clearly that never eventuated!
Scuol is situated on a hillside. The lower part of town is called Scuol Sot, the upper part is Scuol Sura. “Sot” and “sura” mean lower and upper in the local variety of the Romansch language (which is Vallader). They are separated by the main street, called “Stradun”.
In Scuol Sot near the River Inn (called "En" in Romansch) is the historical village centre with narrow winding lanes, paved with stone and lined by typical Engadiner houses decorated with “sgraffito”, and small squares with pretty spring-water fountains.
Scuol Sura has fewer older buildings, but there is a historical area called La Plazzetta just above the main shopping area in Stradun.
Stradun has a wide variety of shops, including a Coop supermarket, restaurants/cafés, a bakery, the tourist office, post office, Intersport, clothing shops, souvenir shops and pharmacy/chemist (apoteca).
The town bus (Bus da Scuol) runs a route through the town consisting of two loops, serving both Scuol Sot and Scuol Sura, as well as travelling along Stradun, which runs through the middle. This bus is free with the Swiss Travel Pass. The timetable for the town bus varies according to the time of year, and there is a break in service for an hour or two in the middle of the day (when most of the shops are also closed). Pocket timetables are available on the bus or from the tourist office. There is also a link to an online timetable at the end of my post.
Starting from Scuol-Tarasp railway station on the western edge of Scuol, the town bus does the upper loop in a clockwise direction, travels along Stradun, then does the lower loop in an anti-clockwise direction, before travelling along Stradun again and going back to the railway station. Sometimes it goes back to the station between doing loops. In addition to the town bus, PostBuses serving the wider area around Scuol travel along Stradun, and it’s also possible to catch one of these buses back to the railway station.
I really enjoyed doing a round trip on the town bus, taking in both the upper and lower loops. Along the upper loop there are nice views into the valley and parts of the lower town from the vicinity of the “Ospidal” stop in particular.
The lower loop goes right through the beautiful historical village centre of Scuol Sot. The main bus stops in the historical centre are “Bügl Grond” and “Plaz”. I got off the bus at Bügl Grond, and after exploring the square there, strolled along the winding lane to Plaz, another square with a bus stop. There is plenty of seating at both Bügl Grond and Plaz. Although it was chilly, it was sunny, and I enjoyed sitting for a while in the sunshine to enjoy the peaceful and beautiful surroundings.
Adjacent to the Plaz bus stop is a path leading uphill to a church, the “Reformierte Kirche”. About halfway up to the church are some well-kept toilets. I didn’t go all the way up to the church, but next time I definitely will. The church dates from the early 16th century and stands on the top of a cliff, with great views. At Plaz there is also a small Volg grocery store.
There is a lane called “Punt”, which leads from Plaz down to the River Inn, where there is a covered wooden bridge across the river (built 1878), and a small defensive tower from the 16th century, but I didn’t go down there. Another one for “next time”!
Also at Plaz is the “Museum d'Engiadina Bassa” (Museum of the Lower Engadine) in a beautiful old building. Opening hours are fairly limited. (I have linked to their website below).
After Plaz, I continued along the lane to the end of the historical area and the next bus stop called “Porta”, where I eventually caught the bus again. There is no seating at the Porta bus stop. Two stops after Porta, at the Serras bus stop, there are good views.
Something else that would be nice to do, but which I unfortunately didn’t get around to, would be to get off at the stop before Bügl Grond, which is called “Chantröven”. Here, you can walk out onto the Gurlaina bridge, standing high over the River Inn, for lovely views.
Along Stradun, there are three bus stops. In order of travel, they are: Bogn Engiadina, Belvédère and Posta. (The town bus always travels in the same direction along Stradun). It’s not very far to walk between these three stops.
- Bogn Engiadina bus stop: This is the stop for the famous Bogn Engiadina spa and wellness centre, with indoor and outdoor mineral baths, saunas etc. The pharmacy is nearby.
- Belvédère bus stop: The Hotel Belvédère has a restaurant terrace with wonderful views over Scuol Sot. Between the Belvédère and Posta bus stops (but closer to Belvédère) is an Italian restaurant, also with a terrace and the same wonderful views. On the opposite side of the road from the Italian restaurant are some well-kept public toilets.
But best of all, opposite the Belvédère Hotel, a steep stone-paved lane leads to the lovely compact historical area called “La Plazzetta”, with beautiful Engadiner houses lining the small square and the stone-paved lanes leading off it. After exploring La Plazzetta and walking up a steep lane which led up to an area of gardens, fields and farmhouses, I retraced my steps to the square and followed a lane to my left. There were more lovely Engadiner houses along this lane, and wonderful views to the mountains on the other side of the valley as well, and I eventually ended up back in Stradun near the Bogn Engiadina bus stop.
- Posta bus stop: This is the best stop for the Coop Supermarket, the Tourist Information Office and post office. The Tourist Information Office can supply a bus timetable and town map. I have also linked to an online version of the town map below. Between the Belvédère and Posta stops, but closer to Posta, is a lovely Engadin villa from 1869, which has a painted façade decorated with portraits of historical figures from Graubünden.
Scuol Town Map, with bus stops marked.
www.apoteca-scuol.ch/fileadmin/use r_upload/pdf/Ortsplan_ Scuol.pdf
Museum d'Engiadina Bassa (Museum of the Lower Engadine)
Overview map of Scuol, Samnaun and Val Müstair ("Übersichtskarte")
Diagram of the bus route network in the area ("Linienplan")
Current Scuol town bus timetable ("Ortsbus Scuol")
www.engadin.com/servic e/reiseplanung/mobilit aet-vor-ort/?S=1
Apart from exploring Scuol itself, I made day trips to Guarda, Samnaun, Kloster Son Jon in Müstair, and took a trip over the Flüela Pass by PostAuto bus. I also made a fleeting visit to Ftan one afternoon when I had an hour or two to spare. Another day trip was to the Alpabzug in Seewis im Prättigau, about which I have already written. I’ll write about the others as I get time!
Now here are some photos of Scuol - first of all Bügl Grond and the lane leading to Plaz in Scuol Sot!