Swiss Alps – closer than you think.

 

Graubünden is Switzerland's biggest region and number one holiday destination, celebrated for its natural beauty and world class resorts, such as St. Moritz and Davos, and hidden gems like Flims, Arosa and Lenzerheide. Summer visitors will discover a dazzling canvas of mountains, lakes and rivers on which to create a unique holiday experience.

Getting to Graubünden is both easy and quick - take a morning flight to Zürich, hop on a train from the airport to your destination and start looking forward to lunch on a sunny restaurant terrace.

Hike and bike to Graubünden's finest views

Ascending the mountain trails of Graubünden by hiking, biking or ebiking will be rewarded with beguilingly beautiful views. With more mountain peaks over 3,000 metres than any other region in Switzerland, there is an unforgettable panorama for everyone.

Flims is renowned as a hiking and biking centre and among its views none are more breathtaking or easily accessible than the Rhine Gorge, also known as 'Switzerland's Little Grand Canyon'. An easy 45 minutes walk from Flims Waldhaus brings you to 'Il Spir' a viewing platform offering a unique 180 degree view into this wonder of nature.

A challenging hike (or a relaxing journey of two chairlifts and a cable car) from Flims will bring visitors 2,675 metres above sea level to the unique geology of Cassons Ridge. From this vantage point, hundreds of lofty peaks can be seen in a broad swathe from east to west. The ridge is about a kilometre in length and a hike up and down its jagged formation is popular, even in winter. Cassons Ridge is part of the Sardona UNESCO World heritage site; the southern face of the ridge is known as the Flimserstein and is a local landmark that dominates the view from the valley below. Keen mountain bikers will enjoy the challenge of the Cassons Freeride descent to Films, with a vertical drop of 1,600 metres.

A perennial favourite of visitors to the Upper Engadine valley is a ride on the funicular railway to Mouttas-Muragl, at 2,540 m. From the sun terrace of the restaurant the magnificent view reveals a panorama of snow-capped mountain peaks and a line of shimmering lakes stretching out beyond nearby St. Moritz. From Muottas-Muragl there are a variety of itineraries for hikers and bikers on the mountain, including a moderate level hike to Alp Languard above the pretty village of Pontresina.

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Celebrating 100 years – Switzerland's biggest conservation area

Almost a century ago, on August 1st 1914, , the Swiss National Park opened in the Lower Engadin Valley of Graubünden. A visionary project, it remains Switzerland's biggest conservation area, covering 65 square miles (170 square km). The guiding principle of the Park was and still is that 'nature here may simply be nature' with minimal interference from humans. The 'gateway' to the Park is the small town of Zernez where the National Park Centre is located - an essential stop for visitors.

Once into the Park, where entrance is free for everyone, nature has created one if its finest tapestries with soaring peaks, ancient forests, glaciers, and waterfalls providing an undisturbed habitat to many species of flora and fauna. Hiking is the best way to enjoy this beautiful environment, and there are more than 80 km of trails covering all levels of difficulty.

Fine wine, tasty cheeses and delicious regional dishes

First time visitors are often drawn to Graubünden because of the spectacular scenery of its lakes and mountains, unaware that the gastronomy of the region would get any foodie's tummy rumbling.

In a region rich with mountain communities the culinary traditions are built on delicious, hearty dishes and it may be a surprise for visitors to discover that in this land of snow capped peaks, vines flourish along the sunny banks of the River Rhine, yielding grapes that produce high quality red and white wines.

There are three languages spoken in Graubünden – Romansh, German and Italian – and each language's cultural group has influenced the evolution of the canton's distinct gastronomy. Dishes such as Pizzoccheri, a pasta dish made with potatoes, cabbage, butter and local cheese, hails from the Italian speaking enclave south of the Bernina Pass. For a more Romansh flavour, look no further than classic regional dishes such as Maluns and Capuns, both of which make the most of locally available ingredients.

The resort of Flims has combined the appreciation of beautiful scenery and local gastronomy with the 'Culinary Trail' walking and dining experience. The easy walk of 12 km begins and ends in Flims and takes in the stunning Rhine Gorge and Lake Cresta. En route a three course lunch prepared with local ingredients is taken, with each course taken at a different stop.

The resort of Flims has combined the appreciation of beautiful scenery and local gastronomy with the 'Culinary Trail' walking and dining experience. The easy walk of 12 km begins and ends in Flims and takes in the stunning Rhine Gorge and Lake Cresta. En route a three course lunch prepared with local ingredients is taken, with each course taken at a different stop.

Wine buffs can enjoy a culinary and wine tour by electric bike in 'Heidiland', exploring some of the vineyards along the Rhine, with the opportunity to sample the outstanding Graubünden wines together with local cheeses and Bündnerfleisch (air dried meat) for the perfect mobile picnic.

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Graubünden's very special sites and sights

UNESCO World Heritage status is a prestigious recognition of a place or object of special cultural or historic significance that is worth preserving, a responsibility gladly undertaken by the people of Graubünden, where there are three such sites.

Clearly visible from Flims and for many miles around, the jagged cliffs of the UNESCO World Heritage Tectonic Ridge Sardona are geologically unique; normally rock formations are younger at the top, older at the bottom, but in this instance, the formation is reversed and the clearly visible upper formations are more than 250 million years old. On a bright day, from the highest point of the ridge, it is said that 500 mountain peaks can be seen.

The third UNESCO site in Graubünden is the 8th century St. John's Benedictine convent and (newer) museum, located in Müstair, a remote village close to the canton's eastern border with Italy. The nuns of the Benedictine convent welcome day visitors and overnight guests, who can stay in the simple guest house. For many people, the biggest attractions are the rare Carolingian (9th century) and Romanesque (12th century) frescoes which cover the interior of the convent's church.

For more travel information on Graubünden visit the Switzerland Travel Centre www.stc.co.uk/graubunden.

Article courtesy of Graubünden and written by Graeme Spratley. 

 

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