Graubünden, Grisons, Grigioni, Grishun – because it’s large and entirely in the Alps, Graubunden has around one third of all mountains in Switzerland! So, with many Alpine passes, 150 valleys and more than 1000 lakes Graubunden offers a huge variety of winter hiking.
In fact, the average height of Graubunden is an impressive 2,100 meters (~7000 feet)! So, more often than not there’s enough snow and the only pressing question we normally face is where to go? We often find ourselves choosing between high altitude walks available in the iconic ski towns of Davos, Arosa and St. Moritz, to name a few, or the gentler but off-the beaten path hikes in remote corners of Graubünden. The ski towns in particular are great for high altitude walks, usually up to or even beyond 2000 meters, as they actively manage the avalanche risks and curate the paths accordingly. If you’d like to get away from the crowds though then a visit to somewhere like Juf, one of the highest inhabited villages in Europe, is a great off-the-beaten path option to consider.
In this post we cover mostly hikes that we’ve done, plus one or two from our to-do list! After all, what fun would it be if there weren’t more hikes to look forward to? Some of our suggestions are short and easy hikes and others will get you huffing and puffing to get to the top.
And one final note on transportation in winter. This canton’s size and mountainous terrain makes it a big area to swallow and getting across it by car or public transport in any direction can take you hours. We’ve mainly travelled here on the trains and busses and must admit that, though they’re quite slow due to the terrain, there are UNESCO world heritage train lines in Graubunden for a reason. Where else do you get bright red trains crossing a ravine on a high bridge and going straight into a cliff face on the other side? So, if only for the novelty of it, we’d recommend doing some of these train journeys in Graubunden at least once.
Without further ado – winter hiking here we come!
- La Siala – Flims/Laax Crest Trail
- Schwänzelegg – A Winter Walk Near Grusch
- St. Moritz – Walking on Frozen Lakes
- Arosa Weisshorn – Hiking up to 2653m in Winter
- Juf – Hiking to Europe’s Highest Village
- Scuol – High-Energy Winter Hiking
- Davos – Hiking up the Sunny Side
1. La Siala – Flims/Laax Crest Trail
If you’re in the neighborhood of Flims / Laax or simply looking for an easy winter hike with breathtaking views then this trail is one to consider. It’s rare for winter walking paths to start this high up (2570m) and then take you along a ridge. It’s a flat area so no worries about steep paths and big drop offs. In fact, this hike is mostly about the views! Hiking at this altitude means you’ll have a view of peaks in every direction. The series of cable cars to and from this trail are also quite scenic and part of what makes this such a memorable journey. You’ll find all the details of our trip and the route here.
Start: Bus Stop: Laax GR Bergbahnen
End: Cable Car – top: La Siala
Time: 1 h
Distance: 2.5 km
Difficulty: T1 (easy)
Altitude: 250m ↑ 10m ↓
Season: Winter (Dec – Apr)
High point: 2807m – highest point is at La Siala
Public Transport: To start of trail: 2.5 hr from Zurich; 1h 15 min from Chur
Parking: We’d recommend public transport for this one way hike. If you prefer driving then we would suggest parking in Laax and grabbing the bus back to the car when you finish in Flims. Buses run several times each hour. Check www.sbb.ch for up to date timings.
Parking Address: Rocksresort Parking Laax, Via Murschetg 632, 7032 Laax
2. Schwänzelegg – A winter walk near Grusch
Not far from Landquart, there’s a local ski resort, Grüsch-Danusa, that’s particularly popular with families. For non-skiers it has also got a circular panoramic winter path called route 329 which offers a bird’s eye view of the local mountains from a 1700-meter vantage point. The walk is well signposted, not long and really one of the easiest winter walks with good views in the area. So, what are you waiting for? For more information, check our post on this walk here.
Start: Schwänzelegg (Cavadura) cable car station
End: Same – Loop Hike
Time: 1 h 30 mins
Distance: ~ 4 km
Difficulty: T1 (easy)
Altitude: 140 m ↑ 140 m ↓
Popularity: 4/5 – popular
Season: Winter: Dec – Mar
High point: No peak. Highest point is around 1780m.
Public Transport: To Grüsch Train Station: 1h 17min from Zurich, 21 min from Chur.
Parking: Parking for 1000 cars next to Grüsch-Danusa Cable Car. 5 Chf for up to 12 hrs and 10 Chf for the day
Parking Address: Valzeinastrasse 6, 7214 Grüsch
Highlights: Alpine views
3. St. Moritz – Walking on Frozen Lakes
The Engadin region of Graubunden is famous for its cold temperatures and winter festivals. By January, the lakes near the famous town of St. Moritz freeze and the locals surely know how to have fun on them. Each year they also set up a grandstand and have polo matches, horse racing and skijoring (look it up!) on the ice – amazing!
The hike we’d like to tell you about is officially known as Route 313, the St. Moritz to Molaja Seenweg. It’s a rare but flat winter walk that takes you across four frozen lakes. The entire walk is about 17 km long from St. Moritz Bad to Maloja but you can alter the distance using the many bus stops along the way. As you walk deeper into this valley the sun comes out and lights up the snow covered peaks flanking you on either side of the valley!
We’ve only recently done this hike so I suspect a full post will follow in time to come. In the meantime, you can find more info from the official site here. They also indicate whether the path is open or not. As you can imagine it’s a path that’s very weather dependent! Our main advice for this path is to bundle up warm and enjoy the views! More details on this hike and a map here. Statuses of the trail can be found here under Lake region (Maloja, Sils, Silvaplana, St. Moritz).
Start: St. Moritz Station
End: Maloja, Posta Bus Stop
Time: 5 h
Distance: 18.5 km
Difficulty: T1 (easy) – flat but long walk
Altitude: 110m ↑ 70m ↓
Season: Winter (Jan – Feb)
High point: ~1800m (no true highpoint as this is a flat walk)
Public Transport: To St. Moritz Bad, Via San Gian Bus Stop: 3.5hrs from Zurich, 2h 15 min from Chur.
Parking: Parkhaus Serletta. Underground parking at St. Moritz station. About 2 Chf / hour. Note, you will need to take a bus back to the station as it’s a one way hike or turn back halfway to make it into a loop hike.
Parking Address: Via Grevas 53, 7500 St. Moritz
4. Arosa Weisshorn – Hiking up to 2653m in Winter
Arosa is another famous winter resort area. They claim to have a whopping 60 km of prepared winter walking paths! The path we enjoyed the most is the summit hike to Arosa Weisshorn at 2653m. You can hike it all the way up from Arosa itself (900m up) or shorten it using the cable cars. The top half of the path to the summit is not open all winter long as it depends on weather conditions. So we do recommend checking if the Weisshorngipfel-Sattelhütte and Sattelhütte-LAW Mittelstation routes on their website here are open before going! If it is, the views on the way up from Arosa and the top are stunning. You’ll have a 360-degree view of countless mountain summits. It’s simply breathtaking and worth the journey there!
Start: Arosa Train Station
End: Weisshorn Cable Car Station
Time: 2h 45 mins
Distance: 6 km
Difficulty: T2 (medium)
Altitude: 900m ↑ 10m ↓ from Arosa, 650m ↑ from the LAW Mittelstation or 250m ↑ from Bruggerhorn.
Season: Winter (or summer)
High point: Arosa Weisshorn 2653m
Public Transport: To Arosa: 2.5h from Zurich, 1hr from Chur
Parking: Three park garages: Ochsenbühl, Brüggli & Sandhubel. This website provides updated info on space availability and prices.
Winter Hiking Map: Here
5. Juf – Hiking to Europe’s Highest Village
Nestled deep in a quiet corner of Graubunden is a quite short but fabulous-looking winter walk! Known as Route 375 it starts halfway up the Avers valley in Pürt and parallels its way up the road to Juf (and back as well if you want). At 2000 meters in winter, nearly everything around you is covered in snow. You pass through tiny villages and hamlets all looking like they belong to an era long gone by. Juf itself claims to be the highest inhabited village in Europe. It’s tiny and hard to imagine people living there throughout the winter! I guess the winter sports and tourism keep them going. This is a remote corner of Switzerland so if you’re looking to get away from the popular ski towns of Graubunden then we’d definitely give this area a go. It’s a long way from home for us though, so it still remains a hike on our bucket list. But that’s completely OK, it means we still have so much to do here! More details on this hike and a map here.
Juf Winter Walk Start: Avers, Pürt Bus Stop
End: Avers, Juf Bus Stop
Time: 1.5 h
Distance: 5 km
Difficulty: T1/T2 (easy)
Altitude: 280m ↑ 70m ↓
Season: Winter (Dec – Mar)
High point: 2127m – Village of Juf
Public Transport: To Avers, Pürt Bus Stop from Zurich 3h, from Chur 1.5h.
6. Scuol – High-Energy Winter Hiking
Speaking of remote corners, another great one is Scuol. Some skiers may recognize it as they drive past it on the scenic but long route into the popular Austrian ski resort of Ischgl. Otherwise, it’s an off-the-beaten path option for most hikers. Route 355 as its officially known is also the fourth and final stage of the long-distance winter hiking path along the Engadin valley from Zernez. This section starts in the little town of Sent, takes you 1000 meters up a sunny hillside and ends in Motta Naluns where cable cars whisk you back down into Scuol. You can make the hike easier by doing it in reverse and walking down from the top of the cable car. Most importantly though be ready for some seriously impressive views of big mountains and snow-covered peaks trailing into the distance! More info and a map here.
Start: Sent, Sala Bus Stop
End: Motta Naluns (Top of Scuol Cable Car)
Time: 5h 15 mins
Distance: 11 km
Difficulty: T1/T2 – as with most prepared winter hiking paths, this is technically fairly easy, but 1000m+ altitude gain on snow is a lot of exercise! You could consider doing this in reverse.
Altitude: 1000m ↑ 300m ↓
Season: Dec – Apr (depending on snow levels)
High point: 2300m (close to cable car)
Public Transport: To Sent, Sala Bus Stop: 3h from Zurich, 2h 20 min from Chur
Parking: One way hike. If coming by car, park in Scuol and take the bus to Sent, Sala.
7. Davos – Hiking up the Sunny Side
For this last suggestion, we head to the popular ski town of Davos. It’s also famous for holding the annual WEF (world economic forum) in a slightly out of the place looking golden egg building. But hey, who am I to judge?
Davos has quite a few impressive hikes on either side of the valley and you can often make them as long or as short as you like. If we had to choose, we’d suggest the winter path that takes you up the south facing, ergo sunny side, of the valley. You start in Davos itself and hike up through a snowy forest to Schatzalp, a flat plateau with views of the valley sprawling out in front of you. There’s quite a lot of activity up here as Schatzalp plays host to a big mountain hotel. So, if you have the energy we’d suggest getting away from the crowds and continuing another 400 m up to Strelapass for some jaw dropping alpine views. There’s a restaurant at Strelapass where you can rest and fuel up for the journey back down. You can either walk all the way down or grab a cable car 200 m down from Strelapass to Schatzalp and hop on a funicular from there back in to Davos! Up to you really, this is a very customisable hike and a great way to combine good views and some exercise! Here’s a link to the winter walking map.
Start: Davos Platz, Schatzalpbahn Bus Stop
End: Strelaalp (top of the cable car)
Time: 3h 45min
Distance: 7.5 km
Difficulty: T1/T2 – technically fairly easy, but lots of exercise!
Altitude: 825m ↑ 300m ↓
Popularity: 3/5 (busy up to Schatzalp and then calmer up to Strelapass)
Season: Dec – Mar (depending on snow levels)
High point: 2350m Restaurant at Strelapass
Public Transport: To Davos Platz, Schatzalpbahn Bus Stop from Zurich 2h 30min, from Chur 1h 30min
Parking: Nearest Parking: Parkhaus Arkaden Davos
Parking Address: Schulstrasse 3, 7270 Davos
Highlights: Views from Strelaalp & Strelapass
So there you have it – some of our favorite options in Graubünden. Feel free to share your favourite winter walking experiences with us! We’re always after new corners and hidden gems.