Travelers who want to return to Europe this winter – but without the mix associated with big cities – can escape in style to Graubünden, Switzerland’s largest region and a cold-weather playground that encompasses everything from off-the-beaten-path villages to renowned seaside resorts.
And while skiing and snowboarding are famous in the region, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy a winter vacation, on or off the slopes.
Tracing Olympic history in St. Moritz
St. Moritz, for example, is famous for being a chic ski mecca, but it’s also steeped in history. The resort hosted two Winter Olympics, in 1928 and 1948, and visitors can relive some of that past glory by skating on the open-air ice rink overlooking the Olympic Park. They can also watch bobsleigh on the world’s oldest bobsleigh track, the Olympia Bob Run St. Moritz-Celerina, where the 1948 Winter Olympics were held at the Piz Nair.
Ski passes are available at a number of St. Moritz establishments, including the recently renovated Laudinella Hotel, with several on-site restaurants, and the Art Boutique Hotel Monopol, located among the restaurants, shops and bars at heart of St. Moritz. The Monopol also offers a rooftop Sky Bar, spa and wellness facilities, lake views and proximity to the Chantarella funicular to access the top of Corviglia and the ski area.
Sun in Celerina
Visitors seeking sun and access to outdoor winter sports can find both at Celerina in the Engadine, an alpine valley region in the eastern Swiss Alps.
The Cresta Palace in Celerina was built in 1906. Photo credit: Cresta Palace Celerina
The village includes traditional alpine houses offering a dose of Old World charm, as well as a cable car to the ski areas of St. Moritz-Corviglia and Corviglia / Piz Nair.
Not an alpine skier? Try cross-country skiing along the extensive network of trails in the Upper Engadine – some easy enough for beginners and children – or go tobogganing and winter hiking in Muottas Muragl, accessible by funicular, or toboggan nearby Cresta Race.
Accommodation includes the Chesa Rosatsch Hotel on the banks of the Inn River, which occupies a 300-year-old building with three restaurants serving regional specialties, and the Cresta Palace, built in 1906 and featuring Art Nouveau architecture, a modern spa, two restaurants and close to the train station and cable cars to access the slopes.
Snowboarders welcome at Flims Laax
Snowboarders often feel overlooked in Europe, but not in Flims Laax, a picturesque Swiss mountain village which has been welcoming “riders” since the mid-1980s.
Considered the European freestyle capital, Flims Laax is home to the the largest half-pipe in the world and the largest snowpark in Europe.
Do you have children? In Flims Laax, they can try out the skate park, trampolines, slackline, ninja course and parkour area at Damn Care Gion, a multi-purpose complex which also includes a mountain and cable car station, restaurants, bars and a cinema.
Accommodation includes the Signina Hotel at the Laax Valley ski lift station. The newly renovated property has six restaurants, spa and wellness facilities, and a fitness center.