St Moritz: not just about glitz and glamour

We had another one of those days today – you know: blue skies, brilliant sunshine, incredible scenery… Just the usual. 


Lake St Moritz, Switzerland. Just another one of those days…


Having arrived late yesterday afternoon into St Moritz on the Glacier Express we didn’t really get much time to explore the town. So first on the agenda for today was an early morning walk around town to see the sights; then I thought we could catch the cable car up to Corviglia and Piz Nair for some epic views; and, finally, go for a hike around Lake St Moritz, through the Stazerwald (as the forest around here is called) to Lej da Staz (translation = Lake da Staz). Shane took a little convincing, but he too thought it was a great plan…. eventually.  


Shane not quite warmed up to the idea of going for a trip to town, then up the mountain, then around the lake.


“I’m going to need another coffee.” Shane warming up to the idea of going for a trip to town, then up the mountain, then around the lake.


Shane (finally) warmed up to the idea of going for a trip to town, then up the mountain, then around the lake.


After I had fortified Shane with some of St Mortiz’s best caffeine, we took a look around St Moritz. Turns our St Moritz is very small and incredibly pretentious. The town is cute enough, in a very 19th century “continental Europe” kind of way. Gone are the wooden chalets we saw in Zermatt and central Switzerland; here it’s all stone and concrete villas, apartment buildings and giant hotels perched on impossibly steep mountainsides.  


St Moritz early this morning.


St Moritz is one of the world’s most famous (and expensive) holiday resorts and attracts over 250,000 visitors ever year – most of them more interested in “being seen” than anything else (not us). The town’s reputation as a winter hang-out for the rich and famous started in the late 1800’s, when local hotelier Johannes Badrutt literally invented winter tourism* and pitched his marketing at Europe’s elite. Badrutt’s hotel is still here and still attracts the creme de la creme every winter.

*The story goes that in September on 1854, Johannes Badrutt made a wager with 4 wealthy British summer guests staying at his hotel: that they should return in winter and, in the event that the town was not to their liking, he would reimburse their travel costs. If they were to find St. Moritz attractive in winter, he would invite them to stay as his guests for as long as they wished. Needless to say they returned and loved it and spread the word that St Moritz was the place to be in winter. This marked not only the start of winter tourism in St Moritz but the start of winter tourism in the whole of the European Alps region. The first tourist office in Switzerland was established the same year in the town. 


Badrutt’s Palace, THE original winter hotel in St Moritz.


One of the original posters advertising winter holidays in St Moritz.


Located high in the Engadine Valley, on the shores of lake St Moritz, the town is busiest in winter when thousands flock here to ski the slopes of famous mountainsides like Diavolezza and Corviglia. The town has hosted the Winter Olympics twice (1928 and 1948) and, even though it’s not winter, we wanted to check out the local slopes. So we caught the little cog train up to Mt Corviglia (2,468m) from central St Moritz, and from there the cable car to Piz Nair (3,057m). The scenery on the way up wasn’t as green and picturesque as we’ve seen in other parts of Switzerland; the mountains here are far more rugged and barren. Perfect in winter for skiing, of course, with no trees to get in the way, but quite desolate at this time of year. Still, it was quite spectacular standing up at Piz Nair, looking across at all the mountains around us.


The grass and trees petered out very quickly on our way up Mt Corviglia.


We passed through the early morning clouds as we caught the cable car up to Piz Nair.


Watching as the morning cloud burnt away on Piz Nair.


Shane doing his photographer/mountain goat trick again (that’s him – top left) – i.e. trying to find a precipitous spot from which to take an awesome photo.


Spectacular mountain scenery all around us.


Having not quite fully recovered from our up-hill assault of Mt Rothorn (near Zermatt), we did not quite feel up to another big mountain hike today. We satisfied ourselves instead with riding the train and cable car up and down the mountain (so lazy I know!), saving ourselves for the much easier hike around Lake St Moritz, through the Stazerwald and to Lake da Staz. Both Lake St Moritz and Lake da Staz are fed by the Inn River, and in turn feed the Inn; they are just 2 of the many beautiful lakes that dot the Engadine Valley.

Hiking around Lake St Moritz late this morning.


The gorgeous Lake St Moritz. 


St Moritz hosts sailing competitions on its lake every year in summer and an ice polo competition on the lake in winter when it’s frozen solid.


Loving Lake St Moritz!

It was a little chilly to go swimming (maximum temperature in St Moritz today: 19C), but walking around both lakes kept us warm. This being Switzerland, in all its sophistication and civilisation, when we reached Lake da Staz we found a restaurant there (of course). And not some crappy little take-away serving soggy meat pies and yesterday’s sausage rolls (which is what you would find in Aus in such an isolated spot, if you were lucky); this was a great little place serving traditional Swiss fare with a definite rustic bent to it. I had the fresh-water trout (caught 50m from the restaurant in Lake da Staz) with salad, and Shane indulged in some local veal with thick onion gravy and potatoes. Man I love this place – 5 star meals in a glorious natural setting!

Lunch by the lakeside – 5 star meal in a spectacular natural setting.


Lake da Staz: our view from lunch. 

We stretched lunch out for as long as we could, but eventually had to head home. Another easy (i.e. flat) hike through the Stazerwaldand we were back in our little studio apartment, marvelling at how great our time in Switzerland has been.

Our walk home took us through the forest and past some paddocks. These horses have one of the best views in St Moritz from their paddock I think.


Walking home through the Stazerwald was very easy with the wide open paths cut through the forest.


“I give you: the Swiss forest!”


“Look – more incredible mountain scenery just over there!” It’s easy to get excited in Switzerland.


Almost home again after another fantastic day in Switzerland…



1 reply »

  1. Gruess Gott, Robbie and Shane – you have certainly put Switzerland on my must see list. I am really enjoying following your posts. Keep having fun! Kerri

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