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Upper Engadine Switzerland, help please!

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Dec 14th, 2012, 04:13 PM
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Upper Engadine Switzerland, help please!

I've read several posts over the years about the wonders of the Engadine, and it's been on my radar for some time.

I'm in the very early stages of planning a trip to Switzerland in March/April and I'm quite keen to include the Engadine this time.

I realize March isn't the ideal month, but it's the only time that will work for us given work and training schedules. We often travel to Switzerland at odd times, but March is still ski season, so I have some concerns about crowds, high season rates, etc.. We're hoping to do quite a bit of winter hiking. We'll be traveling from Perth, Australia.

I'd appreciate any and all suggestions regarding the Engadine, and advice on where to begin my research. At the moment I know absoulutely nothing about the area, other than I've wanted to explore it for some time.

Suggestions regarding specific places to stay and walk trails to explore, etc will be much appreciated We'd prefer unserviced apartments to save a bit of money.
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Dec 14th, 2012, 05:15 PM
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Actually, I don't know the distinction between the Upper and Lower Engadin (which I've spelled incorrectly). Any information will help.

I've just now located and saved all the old posts I could find here on Fodor's regarding the Engadin and will read them, but will still appreciate any assistance as I'm a bit in the dark on this one.

We're looking at a two week long trip.
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Dec 14th, 2012, 10:57 PM
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Hi Melinq,

I'm not sure of the exact distinctions between the Upper and Lower Engadin, but basically the Upper Engadin is the southwestern portion, that part with St. Moritz as its largest town. It is the highest part. The Lower Engadin is in the northeast section, and Scuol is its largest town, I think.

I've spent time in Scuol and in Zuoz, both of which are great bases. When I go back, though, I would stay in the sweet little village of Sils in the Upper Engadin next to Lake Sils. If you have time to stay in two places, I would recommend Sils and then Scuol.

The best guide to the area is the travel pages put together by frequent poster Ingo, at another travel site. Here they are:

Scuol
http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/a8885/

St. Moritz
http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/a88f9/

Ingo normally stays in apartments while there, so he may be able to help you find one that's right.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Dec 15th, 2012, 02:03 AM
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Hi Melnq8 (and swandav!),

Yep, these pages on Virtualtourist should be of some help. As for apartments, I stayed in some private ones (in Samedan e.g.) which are unfortunately not rented out anymore, but can highly recommend the Apartment complex "da la Posta" in Silvaplana. See www.interhome.com for descriptions, rates and availabilites, online booking possible. I doubt there will be crowds. I usually go skiing there in mid/late March, once even first week of April, and never thought it was crowded. Maybe on some popular ski pistes, but since you will focus on winter hiking that won't bother you. This year it's Easter around that time, though, and this might draw some more visitors over the holidays.

Apartments in Sils are very expensive IME, if you find one that fits in your budget then go for it. It's a lovely village, not crowded at all. Silvaplana attracts more sports people/skiers, while Sils attracts many hikers and culturally interested people. Both villages are very good choices, grocery, ATMs, cafes/restaurants available.

The website www.engadin.stmoritz.ch has suggestions for winter hikes. It all depends on the actual weather/snow conditions, though. Hikes around the lakes are always possible, from village to village (Maloja - Sils - Silvaplana - St. Moritz - Pontresina). More attractive are the (easy) hikes into the side valleys (Maloja - Lake Cavloc, Sils - Fex Valley, Pontresina - Val Roseg). They also groom hiking trails up on Muottas Muragl (very scenic views), in the ski areas (Corviglia above St. Moritz, Furtschellas above Sils) which lead to mountain restaurants and are rather short (half days) but fun to walk and watch the skiers IMO.

The Upper Engadine stretches from the Maloja pass in the southwest to Cinuos-chel in the Northeast. The part between Sils and Samedan is the most busy one, farther north it gets quieter - which is very nice for walks, too. You can easily do winter walking between the villages of La Punt - Chamues-ch and Zuoz/S-chanf. All these villages farther north preserved more of their original charm than the bigger and busier villages/towns where most of the skiers stay (around St. Moritz). Zuoz is highly recommended!

The Lower Engadine begins at Brail, with the centre at Scuol. But that's a different story. You may most likely want to do excursions to this part of the valley if staying two weeks. Let me know if you're interested in details on that area, too.

I suggest you also do excursions by train over the Bernina pass to Poschiavo, maybe even Tirano. It should be (very) early spring down in Tirano, with some flowers already in bloom. Also recommended is a visit by bus in the Bregaglia valley, beyond Maloja pass, in Soglio, with a hike down to Castasegna - Bondo - Promontogno (day trip). Should be free of snow then, early spring flowers already in bloom, too.
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Dec 15th, 2012, 02:03 PM
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Inga's advice is impecable. Please see my posts from our trip in May/June from our trip to this area. The idea of a bus trip through the Malajo pass is a very good suggestion. It seems like a Hobbit-esque descent from one world to another. I'm a total rail nerd, so traveling up and down the valley on the Rhaetan Railway was my idea of paradise. You can do separate day rail journeys to Posciavo, Chur, Davos, and Scuol, each town being unique and worth visiting. (One could list other many other towns, also) The climate change you'll experience by taking the above mentioned trips into Italy will increase your options for hiking and gain some warmth during a time when it still can be cold in the Valley. Don't forget, however, Italy takes Euros while the Swiss only like their own SF.
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Dec 15th, 2012, 04:25 PM
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Brilliant information, thank you all very much. I'd run across Ingo's trip reports on the area previously and will need to sit down with a map and get all of these areas clear in my head.

The two weeks might include a stay in Kandersteg...we were there a few Easters ago and fell in love with it. I haven't sorted out the train travel distances yet though, as still early days.

This helps a lot, thanks guys. I'm off to do some research.
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Dec 15th, 2012, 04:35 PM
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Forgot to ask...I assume getting around by train is a viable option? We always travel by train in Switzerland. Does traveling solely by train affect one's choice of village or are they all well serviced?
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Dec 16th, 2012, 01:49 AM
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Trains don't go from St. Moritz up the valley to Silvaplana, Sils and Maloja, but the bus service is even more frequent. Getting around by public transportation is an excellent choice in this region.
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Dec 17th, 2012, 08:14 AM
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Concur. you may wish to visit the website for the Rhaetian Railway, (http://www.rhb.ch/index.php?id=1643&L=4) which is the rail company that operates in this region of Graubrunden.
(to the casual observer the transition from the national Swiss Rail System to Rhaetian railway trains is seamless; it is essentially the same system) The rail trip from Chur to Tirano is very scenic and is regarded as some of the most fascinating rail engineering of any train trip in the world. However, these trips are long if you are not a rail enthusiast. In my opinion, the shorter rail line that runs from ST. Moritz to Scuol is even more scenic, (read: breathtaking, indescribable) albeit with more typical rail line engineering.

The comment about the bus service is spot on. The integration of rail and bus service is amazing. We would literaly walk off a train on onto a bus within minutes and the system is very easy to use. Most drivers had a servicable understanding of English and were usually helpful. YOu can enter busstops/towns onto a querry on the Swiss Rail web site (sbb.ch) and see how the trip is managed with a rail/bus combo.
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Jan 8th, 2013, 05:45 PM
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Okay, I'm back. After much debate, I think we're getting closer to a plan.

In an effort to avoid ski areas until after Easter (and the prices that come with them), we've re-worked our dates. The plan is now to spend four nights in Kandersteg over Easter and then head to the Engadine for eight nights, splitting the time between Upper and Lower, possibly Sils (or Silvaplana) and Scuol (or Zuoz).

Apartment rentals are probably out, as most have a week minimum.

Just wondering if basing ourselves in one area in the Engadine and making day trips from there is a good idea or not. This would save $$$, as we could stay in an apartment, but not sure if this makes logistic sense.

Also confused about Sils Maria and Sils im Engadin/Segl....is this one and the same?
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Jan 8th, 2013, 09:40 PM
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Figured out Sils Maria and Sil im Engadin/Segl.
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Jan 9th, 2013, 01:59 AM
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Most hotels and cable cars close after Easter season - 7 April. Only P. Corvatsch and Diavolezza will be open. It will be very quiet in the Engadine. I know you don't mind, just wanted to mention it. The problem might be that buses/trains run less frequently. Castle Tarasp will be closed, too. I'd probably not want to stay in Sils at that time - too quiet, too many shops/grocery will be closed or open at very reduced schedules only. I think Pontresina would be a good option in this case.

Anyway, I'd probably pick two bases. It's a long trip (for a day) from the Lower Engadine (Scuol e.g.) to Soglio or Poschiavo. And it takes more than 2 hours from Pontresina to the Benedictine convent Müstair e.g.
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Jan 9th, 2013, 03:28 AM
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Helpful as always Ingo.

I'd figured on the closures, based on some hotels I'd checked being closed, but did find a promising apartment in Sils. Now, I wonder again. Hmmm.
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Jan 9th, 2013, 04:46 AM
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Off season, the apartment owners are far mor likely to rent for less than a week.
We stayed at Chesa Nadig in Pontresina May 2010 for 5 days, and found it to be a good base for daytrips.
Just be aware that Pontresina is UPHILL from the train station should you choose it. (I also liked Samedan for a possible base).
Maybe you've already used this site?

http://www.pontresina.ch/en/winter/h...mmodation.html
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Jan 9th, 2013, 02:17 PM
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I have found a few apartment options in Silvaplana that rent for less than a week, but I'm still leaning towards Sils, although I'm not sure why.

We have no issues with it being quiet, as that's our preference anyway, but one does have to eat! We stayed in Lauterbrunnen following Easter and loved the peace and quiet, but found ourselves scrambling for dinner.

Good to know about the hill, mokka4, thanks.
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Jan 9th, 2013, 03:18 PM
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Ingo, forgot to ask - do you suggest Pontresina because more will be open? Do you think Scoul still makes a good base after Easter?
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Jan 10th, 2013, 01:46 AM
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Yes, more hotels/restaurants/shops will be open in Pontresina. It's a) larger than Sils, b) it's right on the Bernina pass route, which has tourists all year through, and I know for sure there is a COOP grocery which will be open at more convenient times. Sils has a smaller grocery (VOLG) which is more likely to be either closed at all or be open only at odd times.

Scuol has tourists all year round due to the fantastic spa. Spring also comes pretty early in the Lower Engadin, at least compared to the Upper Engadine, so you'll probably spot the first spring flowers there on sunny, south-facing places.
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Jan 10th, 2013, 02:34 AM
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Fantastic, thanks again Ingo.
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Jan 10th, 2013, 02:39 AM
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Sorry to be a pest, but we're wondering if St Mortiz might even be a good option, considering it's post ski season.

Scoul is decided upon, we're just waffling on the Upper Engadine location.
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Jan 11th, 2013, 09:51 AM
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Most parts of St. Moritz are overbuilt with quite ugly apartment blocks, 1960s/70s and later style. Some of the older, grand architecture is preserved in the centre of St. Moritz-Dorf, though - Cafe Hanselmann, Palace hotel etc.

I never stayed up in St. Moritz-Dorf, only down in St. Moritz-Bad (the former spa area). Ugly apartment blocks there, too, but more green inbetween.

While St. Moritz definitely lacks charm, it is an excellent hub for transportation and has the best shopping (COOP grocery!) options.

Yes, it could be an option.

Did you check Samedan? Administrative centre of the Upper Engadine, also a large COOP grocery, charming old centre. And a hub for trains and buses.
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