Graubünden is a large canton in the south-east of Switzerland, bordering to Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein. There's lots of alpine nature to explore, and only a few larger towns. It's an absolute paradise for hikers, with plenty of unspoilt valleys. Also there are many options to make scenic trips or reach the peaks by cable car and enjoy the views. You can easily spend weeks of holidays in Graubünden only.
WHAT TO DO
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Why we love Graubünden
We'll probably never be able to pick an absolute favourite Swiss region, just because there's so much natural beauty throughout the country. But Graubünden is very high on the list. It's somewhat different from other regions.
The Bündner, the people of Graubünden, speak Swiss-German, Italian or Rhaeto-Romanic, depending on the subregion. Culture and architecture vary along with the local languages. The Rhaeto-Romanic areas, and the Engadine valley in particular, unmistakably have their own charm. You can still feel how these high valleys were once very isolated, especially in Winter. And in a way, they still are. There aren't many expressways in Graubünden, so one has to spend some traveling time to get there. There's an excellent train system though, which we highly recommend using.
We also love the nature/city ratio: there's lots of nature and no real cities, just some larger towns and small villages. If you like city trips, Graubünden is not the place to go to!
Nature in Graubünden
Like in the rest of Switzerland, the scenery is very different around every corner. We'll attempt to provide a short impression of what to expect. The Rhine valley can be found in the north of Graubünden. The Glacier Express offers a quick way to see that beautiful region. Part of the valley is called the "Swiss Grand Canyon", because the river has carved its way deep into the white rocks.
Further south are the Domleschg valley and the Albula valley which are sometimes wide and sometimes narrow like a gorge, with fierce rivers forcing their way through the rocks. These green forested valleys are quite different from the scenery further south.
In the south, we find the Engadine: a wide valley at a high altitude. It's one of the driest regions in Switzerland, as clouds are mostly blocked by the mountains in the west and the north. Because of the altitude, there aren't many deciduous trees here. There are conifer forests, and the tree line is relatively close to the valley floor. West of the Engadine, and at lower altitude, is the romantic Bergell valley.
Even further south is the Italy-like Poschiavo valley, which is much lower and thus warmer than the Engadine. The Bernina Pass connects the Engadine to the Poschiavo valley. A bare, rugged, high alpine landscape can be found here, plus glaciers and the highest peaks of Graubünden.
Towns in Graubünden
The regional capital Chur is the largest town in Graubünden, and also the oldest town of Switzerland. It's located in the north of Graubünden and easy to access from Zurich. Other well known towns are Arosa, Davos and St. Moritz, which can be characterized as upper class tourist towns. Examples of smaller, more authentic towns are Zuoz, Samedan and Bergün.
Worth mentioning is the tiny settlement of Juf. At an altitude of 2114 m, it's one of the highest villages in Europe inhabited all year round.
What not to miss in Graubünden
The Bernina Express offers an excellent way to see Graubünden in just a few hours. Do not skip it, or at least travel part of the route by a regular train.
Of course you need to get off the train to actually feel what Graubünden is all about. Do some hiking, anywhere in Graubünden, to admire the forests, lakes and mountains of this beautiful region.
Finally, you should include at least one mountain top in your plans. The Weisshorn near Arosa is a great one for its stunning 360° view. Another very good option is Diavolezza on the Bernina Pass, offering a magificent view of the Piz Bernina (which is the highest mountain in Graubünden) and its surrounding glaciers.
TOWNS IN THIS REGION
Upper class alpine town which makes a magnificent base for hiking and skiing.
Davos is the highest town in Europe. Nestled in the Landwasser Valley, Davos is surrounded by mountains and forest.
SUBREGIONS IN THIS REGION