Summer and Autumn in the Engadine 

St Moritz isn’t just for skiing. There is so much to do when the snow isn’t around. Here are some ideas.

screenshot2019-01-31at12.41.43 photo from

Lej da Staz 

This lake, a picturesque 45 minute walk from St Moritz Bad, is one of the most beautiful lakes in the area. Each season has its own attractions. In autumn, the larch turns yellow and nutcrackers, the specialist bird of these forests, and red squirrels are especially active searching out pine kernels and hiding them for their winter food. In summer the lake is a perfect swimming hole with a small beach and rustic wooden changing rooms. The old pier is a perfect spot for sun bathing and throwing yourself off, there’s even a plank for diving.

In winter the footpaths are cleared so you can walk in the forests even after heavy snowfall and feeding stations for the birds and stocked with seed which you can take for a donation in the honesty box. The coal tits and marsh tits come and feed from your hand, sometimes two or three scuffling for access to the food. Created tits are never far away and even sometimes come to your hand too.

 The restaurant/cafe at Lej da Statz is open all year round and has an ample terrace and sun seating where you can drink in the view (and a local beer)
It takes around 45 minutes to walk from St Moritz Bad to Lej da Staz. Take the path along the lake shore (either way around the lake) and it is well signposted.

You can either walk back to St Moritz bad by a circular route around Lej and then continuing around St Moritz lake the other side. Or you can walk on through the forests to Ponterisina. Either way will take around 50minutes.

Milli Weber House 

Milli Weber was a children’s illustrator and artist and this house, built a century ago by her brother and father, was her life’s work. It is covered with murals she painted, with walls, ceilings, furniture and and even an organ intricately illustrated. The house has collections of her art, and an intricate dolls house. It’s an unusual and interesting place to visit. It is only open Wednesday – Sunday afternoons and it it is best to make an appointment.

It’s a 30 minute walk from St Moritz bad or 10 minutes from the station.
Mountain Biking 

St Moritz has been developing its infrastructure for mountain biking over the past 10 years. On the mountainside above the town are plenty of trails including three downhill ‘flow trails’ of varying difficulty. Take the Corviglia mountain railway up or, for those who like a fitness challenge, cycle up the tracks via Salastrains and the top of the Signal gondola. More information about the Mountainbike highlights here

There are a huge number of trails through the woods in the valley for those who want a more relaxing bike ride and a stunt track in Pontresina for testing your skills.


You can hire bikes and get all the local information from Engadine bikes at the roundabout just at the end of via Salet and turn right.

Interactive map.
Via Ferrata

These climbing trails with fixed gear, ladders and protection give more of a thrill to the experienced walker’s mountain experience. Bring your own gear or hire the requisite helmet, harness, via Ferrata slings and gloves at the Diavolezza Gondola.
At Diavolezza there are two via Ferrata of two levels of difficulty which take you to the top of a prominent rocky peak just above the top station and below the towering, glacier clad mountains of Piz Bernina and Piz Palu.

 There is another via ferrata at Pontresina which takes you up cliffs to a point 15 minutes walk from the cafe Languard where you can take the chairlift down or walk down on paths.
You do these climbs at your own risk. Please follow local advice as to when they are open as they can close if there is an early snowfall.
Pontresina also has mountain guiding for those who are not familiar with the mountain environment

Amazing views of the Piz Benina and Palu and their glaciers. There is a gorgeous sun terrace at the mountain restaurant and lovely walks to two small peaks nearby – Munt Pers which is around an hour’s walk and Sass Queder which is only 30 minutes. You can also walk down the mountain past a couple of stunningly beautiful mountain lakes which takes around 2 hours.

A guided glacier tour will take you down onto the Morteratsch glacier and bring you out at the railway station to take you back to St Moritz.

Swimming lakes and walks in the woods. 

There are two lovely lakes for swimming to the west of Lake St Moritz. They are shallower that Lake St Moritz and so get warmer. Lej Marsch is close tho the road and so gets busy but Lej Nair is around a 15 minute walk into the woods. The trails through the woods are great for walking or cycling and are well signposted.

Water sports 

Lake Silvaplana is ideal for watersports and the Maloja wind, which blows regularly in summer from around midday until sunset,  ensures perfect conditions for kite surfing and wind surfing. You can rent windsurfers and get lessons at Windsurfing Silvaplana and learn to kitesurfing at the Swiss Kitesurf School


On St Moritz Lake a few minutes walk from the flat there is a yacht club where you can hire sailing boats.

A walk through St Moritz with an IKEA armchair 

It would have been good to have a camera with us to record the occasion. Myself in the lead carrying an Ikea armchair and an ancient standard lamp through the streets of a swiss ski resort, brother In law in tow with a giant 1980’s TV, of the type that is deeper than it is wide.   

At first the armchair seemed easy to carry, I’d slung the lamp across the arms and carried it underneath down the steep street. Then it all got a bit awkward, the lamp started slipping to the side skewing the weight forcing me to compensate and making it worse. Soon the lampstand was dragging along the cobbled pavement. After a couple of times dumping the chair violently on the ground and slumping into it and two sets of counting myself to 60 twice “don’t put it down til you reach 60”, I reached the bus stop, to the bewilderment and bemusement of a group of ski-bling clad Italians, waiting for the bus to take them into the centre of St Moritz for a bit of glitzy apres ski. 


I set down the lamp and the chair and collapsed into it. Neal put the TV set down in front of me and there we sat waiting for the bus as locals and tourists gawped and giggled. We were clearing out some of the items amassed by the Swiss husband’s family over the past seventy years since his grandfather had bought a flat in St Moritz in the 1950s.  


In the rush to get the detritus out of the house and onto the bus before the dump shut I hadn’t thought to bring my phone to record this strange recreation of a 1980s living room among the rush-hour traffic of nose-to-tail four wheel drive Porsches. As the bus arrived, packed with skiers and skis, husband arrived with a dining chair and a bedside table and sister with a rucksack full of crockery and a wheelie case full of tablecloths and a rug; just what we would have needed to perfect the look of a pop up art installation. But the dump shut in 30 minutes and we needed to get there. 


Julia looked reletively normal (rucksacs and wheelie case) and boarded incognito at the central doors. In contrast I looked exceedingly odd and managed to cram the chair into the back doors just as they closed. The doors shut on the chair pushing it against a woman who was crammed in the corridor. She looked around and her look of annoyance changed to incredulity as she saw what had squeezed her leg. “Would you like to sit down to recover” I offered. She burst out laughing. 


Yet more people got on at the next stop. I offered an elderly man who boarded a seat. “I’d love to but I’m getting off at the next stop and if I sit down on that I don’t think I’d get up for two hours” he said. So I sat in the armchair and looked out of the glass folding bus doors through the legs of other passengers, at the views over the lake. It was frozen and ice skaters and walkers were out in force. A bunch of teenagers were playing a game of ice hockey. 


The bus was crawling through the rush hour traffic. The clock ticked by. We had 30 mins before the dump closed and the traffic was stationary all through st Moritz town centre. It’s always like that in the afternoons: nose to tail four wheel drive Porsches and BMWs. It’s the equivalent to the Italian ‘promenade’ but in cars. A local man had told us that there are some locals who drive up to the dorf in the afternoon just to have a look and see what the traffic is like.


A lady in her 80s wearing a mink coat and lipstick in a bright cerise asked whether I could move the armchair so she could get off at the next stop. We decided to get off the bus too. 

 ‘It’s just a quick walk through the centre then down the escalators’ I told my sister as we dismount, me in reverse carrying the arm chair. 


We started making our way through town, shoppers and skiers parting when they saw me staggering along under the armchair, view dangerously obscured on the crowded, cobbled, icy streets. We took two steep flights of stairs through a shopping area filled with jewellers, designer interiors shops (everything you could want for your home made entirely of antlers – a Christmas tree, chairs, coat-stands, chandeliers) and art shops (anyone for a bejazzled portrait of Donald trump. Or a diamond-encrusted take-off of the Mona Lisa?)

 We panted past Jimmy Choos, Bulgari and on to the Palace Hotel, the headquarters of bling in the town of über-bling. This year the hotel is decked out with a planetary theme for its Christmas decorations, huge floodlit planets hung behind the hotel. A steam-punk-style space rocket with strobe lighting had landed among the Rolls Royces and Bentleys. I dumped the armchair opposite the palace hotel and slumped into it for a quick rest and a view of the lights.

 “How are you getting on?” asked my sister. I flex my arm muscles, ”Knackered”. A woman who had stopped to admire the decorations was giggling, she was British. “It looks just like you’ve set yourself up to wait for the Gucci sale.” She said. I looked behind me, I was sat right between Gucci (full on pink and orange sequin dinner suit, and Andean Blanket with too-short arms masked by foot long yeti-fur cuffs) and Dolce and Gabana. We chatted about swiss second hand shops being too choosy to take our 1980s furniture collection. “It’s all too snobby here” she said. 

  But time was marching on and we needed to get to the dump. We headed past Pucci, a bunch of shops with DJ-clad shop assistants holding trays of Champagne, and a shop selling Maseratis which was laid out like a boutique fashion emporium. We reached the top of the escalators, four vertiginous flights sweeping down through the hillside to the lake shore via four stories of car parking inside the mountain. I looked down the escalators holding my armchair and felt a wave of vertigo as imagined the carnage if I dropped the chair. 

 Julia set off with her bags and I waited on the lift – reminding me of Roald Dahl’s great glass elevator, as it moved on the slant. Unfortunately, Unlike the eponymous elevator it moved at a snails pace. Just as it arrived Neal and husband arrived with their loads. “Our bus stopped in town and chucked us all off saying the traffic was too bad he wasn’t going any further” said neal. Did that happen to you? “Erm. No.” I said “we thought it would be quicker” we turned round to see our bus, at last free of traffic, pass the top of the escalators heading to the station. “Ten minutes to closing time” I yelled as they launched down the escalators and I leaped into the lift which had eventually arrived, past some emerging tourists. I am *not* carrying this armchair back through St Moritz if they are shut I thought. 


Julia was way ahead but she didn’t know where the dump was. She’d reached the train station and was running around asking people where the dump was. But in a town devoted to the needs of Bling, hedonism and tourism, nobody knew where such a prosaic place as the town recycling center was. She jumped onto a waiting bus to ask the driver but found he didn’t speak English. 

“Where’s the dump” she said urgently 

“Yes I go to the dorf” he said 

“Not the dorf the dump”

“Yes yes get on the bus. I go to the dorf”

“Does anyone speak English on this bus?” She wailed and two Chinese tourists piped up “we speak English”.

But it turned out they didn’t know where the dump was and they didn’t know what dump was in German. 


Eventually someone on the bus calmly pointed out a sign for the dump and Julia shot off in that direction just as ruedi Neal and I emerged from the underground car park sprinting – as far as one can when laden down with home furnishings. 


I trailed behind on the final furlong. I tried putting the armchair in my head but the seat cushion dropped down over my eyes and then fell out, nearly tripping me up. Neal was way ahead, manhandling the TV set I couldn’t get my arms around, let alone lift. Ruedi with bedside table and two chairs was already at the finish line. But Where was the standard lamp? Wasn’t I supposed to have that? I looked around vacantly, thinking back to when I’d last seen it. It was back at the bus stop, where we had made up an impromptu living room.


But there was no time to contemplate a future behind bars of a swiss jail for fly tipping, we needed to get to the recycling centre. If I didn’t make it in time I wouldn’t be carrying the chair back across town and up to the flat. I would definitely be doing some intentional fly tipping. 


But we had made it .The place was still open, a highly organized affair (as one would expect). Two workers met us and helped us divide our spoils between piles and skips according to type. Incredibly, the TV joined 7 other old fashioned analogue TVs in their own area. 


“Either it’s months between pick-ups from this recycling centre, or there an awful lot of people are doing house clearances over Christmas” said Neal

“Perhaps people got new TVs for Christmas” suggested Jules. 

Neal pointed out that if someone was going to get a new tv they would have got one by now. 

We wondered what had caused the demise of so many of st Moritz’s elderly. 


Relieved of out loads we practically skipped home along the lake. Much later that evening over dinner we related our adventures to my parents, who had declined the offer to join in with our load-bearing magical mystery tour when we’d bumped into them on the bus. 

“Where’s the lamp now?” asked Jules. And then I remembered. It was still at the bus stop. It would have been there for hours drawing comment from Swiss, for whom finding a lamp at a bus stop would be highly irregular.  


“You’re going to prison for fly tipping” chanted the children, who delighted in imagining what would happen to a person who committed this most heinous of crimes against the Swiss people. 


I went down to the bus stop after dinner to collect the lamp. It wasn’t there. 


The British relatives wanted me to report it stolen. “You should pre-empt them and say it’s been nicked, then you’ll be safe. 


Swiss husband suggested that staying completely anonymous would be safest “Don’t report it, they’ve probably picked up the lamp and already registered it as a crime”. 


We never found out what happened to the lamp, but it gave us plenty of entertainment – the rest of the evening was passed in happy discussion about how the police would be examining CCTV footage of a four people carrying the dog-eared contents of a living room through St Moritz.


A classic ensemble of Napoleonic coat crossed with Papa New Gineau Bird of Paradise cape, twinned with camo jodhpurs. 

Long weekend St Moritz – the plan

Last September when the end-of-summer chill was starting to bite at the tail end of an Indian summer, I was talking with friends in the pub after work. Chat roamed to skiing and I suggested a visit husband’s family flat in St. Moritz. We were all rather short on annual leave so the idea was almost consigned to the recycling bin, but, with the assistance of a few glasses of wine, a long weekend seemed the answer.


It was decided. We’d go for an early Spring spin to St Moritz.


In the light of the next day it seemed vastly extravagant and degenerate but I’m not one to go back in an agreement and I booked the flights right away: Edinburgh to Basel return for £50. So now we were committed.


I’m just back from spending a week there over New Year and, in those silent meditative moments on ski lifts, instead of contemplating the meaning of life, I was distilling the top things to do in a three day visit to St Moritz. I’ve designed a trip to blow out the cobwebs, and to fit a week of snow sports and socializing into one long weekend.


Here we go.…



flights to Basel

Train to St Moritz. Arrive 7pm.

Take Bus 3 to via Salet (it leaves straight after the train gets in so go straight to the Bus stop). Number 6 also goes to Via Salet. Or you can get a 1 or 9 and get off at Reithalle which is 3 minute longer walk.


Arrive at flat, unpack, quick shop at co-op for lunches breakfasts and at 830pm head out to Jazz and cocktails at the Kulm hotel. Walk along lake, up escalators into town and then through town to Kulm. 15CHF for a cocktail

Dress code smart casual (sunny bar) smart elegant (other bars)



early start. Skiing at Corviglia. First cable car is at 750am.

Ski like mad in morning. Mid morning coffee at mountain restaurant with views. Sandwich lunch on slopes.

Back to flat early.

Afternoon to swimming pool with outside jacuzzi pool to watch sunset. 12CHF


Evening. Bus to Corvatsch for snow nights. 7pm-2am 27CHF

Night bus home.



late start. Ski Corviglia.

End day with a drink at the Quattro bar at Corviglia and last run down.

To The Palace Hotel for afternoon tea  39CHF – eh? That seems a lot, perhaps we’ll just pop in for a cup of tea

Stay on for the evening … (If we can avoid being ejected).



Bus to ski Diavolezza and Lagalp. 

End of day ski glacier run to Morteratsch. Drinks at the hotel and train back to St Moritz.

Fondue in the flat.



702am train to Basel. And flights home.


Costs of travel plus ski pass: 


Swiss transfer ticket 141CHF – return from Basel to St Moritz

3 day ski pass – includes all bus and train transport while in Engadine


= total 364CHF



Snow rail plus 2 days skiing


67.40 extra day skiing Diavolezza.

=total 357.40