Even in Switzerland’s competitive repertoire of awe-inspiring scenery, delicious cheese, chocolate and world-class medical spas, the Canton of Graubünden still stands out. Renowned as one of the grandest of the Swiss Alpine cantons, it’s supermodel looks are home to bright green valleys, snow-capped peaks and shimmering alpine lakes.
Bathe in thermal water bliss
According to legend, the thermal waters of Graubünden can mend everything. Believers will tell you tales of youthfulness preserved, rheumatic ailments healed and metabolic disorders cured. A place of miracles if you will.
The best places to indulge in thermal water bliss is in Bad Ragaz at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, the ultimate in aquatic rejuvenation and one of the world’s most revered luxury spa resorts. For the Swiss, it’s home away from home, a place to unwind, eat well, bathe and natter in the sauna. For global guests, it's a place to consult the 70-strong team of medical specialists and therapists on all things wellness and water. No matter your mandate, the legendary thermal water of nearby Tamina Gorge is integrated into every aspect of your stay.
Bad Ragaz is also home to the Tamina Therme, a gleaming white temple of glass, water and clouded mist. Boasting several pools for wallowing, it’s worth visiting to witness the ‘art of sauna,’ which the locals have so well mastered. Whether you choose to bathe in the bubble beds or indulge in the rituals and spa ceremonies of the Sauna Village, a journey of aquatic discovery awaits your every plunge.
Only an hour’s drive away lies the mountain village of Vals, Graubünden’s other haven for all things healing and water. Owing its wilderness and diversity to the forces of water which have shaped the deeply-cut mountain valley over millions of years, Vals’ most notable trump card is the 30-degree mineral-rich thermal spring which is the only one in Graubünden that springs (pardon the pun) straight from the ground. The best place to soak in Vals’ miracle water is at 7132 Therme, which was designed by architectural great, Peter Zumthor, Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Baths here are built from 300 million year old stone and 60,000 slabs of Vals quartz whose unique colour and patterns are owed to the ancient formation of the Alps. Soak in one of the six thermal pools, including the ice pool, after a long hike or warm up in the fire pool, under a star-studded sky.
Swim in the Valley of the Shimmering Lakes
If you ever tire of bathing in imperial thermal water bliss, decamp to one of Graubünden’s shimmering alpine lakes, renowned for their sparkling turquoise waters.
Copyight Danuser, Lake Caumasee
If cold and swimming don't go hand in hand then indulge in the star of the show, Lake Caumasee, whose waters are sourced from warm springs and punctuated by an island in the middle. Claimed as one of Switzerland’s most beautiful lakes, days here are spent relaxing on the shores of turquoise waters flanked by alpine forests. Take a dip, paddle one of the many crafts, saunter a stroll or indulge on traditional fare whilst sitting on the sun drenched terraces overlooking scenes of aquatic pleasure beyond.
Other engorged puddles of Graubünden include Lake Poschiavo. One visit here and you’ll be quietly pleased about the prehistoric rockfall which dammed this spectacularly beautiful body of water many moons ago. Attracting nature lovers and sports fans in equal measure, it's a perfect spot for swimming, fishing or simply strolling around its beautiful shores. To catch a different view of the lake’s forested banks merging high into the mountains, take a cruise and admire the reflections in its icy-blue waters.
Take a horse and carriage to Heidiland
If you were mesmerised by the magic of Johanna Spyri’s children’s classic, Heidi, then a visit to Heidiland is is a must. Set in the rolling green meadows and mountains of Maienfeld, immerse yourself in the world of Heidi, Peter and her grumpy grandfather in the Heidi village or whilst taking a stroll along the Heidi trail. For the ultimate experience, enjoy a picnic whilst taking a horse and carriage from Bad Ragaz through the meadows and terraced vineyards to Heidiland itself.
Hike towards happiness
Copyright Danuser, Rhine Gorge
A paradise for hikers, you can experience breathtaking nature along Graubünden’s signposted trails. Boasting numerous summits, pristine mountain lakes, waterfalls in full spate, sunny side valleys and wild alpine flowers, it’s sublime nature at its finest. Whether you want a gentle stroll or a challenging high-altitude trek, loose yourself in the sounds of silence as you marvel at the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sardona tectonic area or whilst you hike amongst the wild, craggy landscapes of Switzerland’s little Grand Canyon, the Rhine Gorge. Those interested in views, climb aboard one of the funiculars, cable-cars or ski-lifts of Davos to hoist you even higher into wild alpine trekking. If you have a penchant for shiny stones then be sure to stroll in Vals Valley, a place renowned for its rare crystals.
Ride the rails across the highest rail journey in Europe
Nothing compares to lounging in the warmth of a carriage and watching cinematic Alpine vistas roll by. The famed Bernina Express is the highest rail journey in Europe and arguably the most beautiful in the world. Connecting the Swiss and Italian Alps, railfans can cross suspension bridges over bold gorges, gasp at the flawless views of icy-blue Poschiavo Lake and be awed at the wonder of the Bernina Range and cascading Piz Palü Glacier.
Clip clop your way through Dischma Valley
Some come to Davos for parties, others for geopolitics, but her real beauty lies in the nearby Valley of Dischma. Approx. 12 km in length, it’s one of the longest tributary valleys in Davos, fed by a glacier. Icy cold and clear as glass, the true way to experience Dischma Valley is by horse-drawn carriage which takes you into the valley along the quaintest of babbling streams.
Indulge in fondue on the side of a mountain
An experience at the Guarda Val Hotel
A lot of places serve fondue, but not many serve it like the Guarda Val Hotel, from a rustic Alp hut perched on the side of a mountain. Even fewer couple this experience with a butler filling your glass whilst your private chef ladles you an entrée of the most delicious mushroom and barley soup you've ever tasted, foraged from the surrounding alpine terrain earlier that morning of course!
Stay in the house of architects, the rooms of legends or Federer’s local haunt
Hotel 7132 (Tom Mayne stone)
If the world of design takes your fancy then head to the 7132 Hotel in Vals, which is attached to the thermal baths of 7132 Therme. Often referred to as ‘the house of architects’, it has been masterminded by some of the world’s greats. Bathe in Tom Mayne’s stone retreat with glass-shower centrepiece, or if you’re lucky enough to book one of the penthouses enjoy breathtaking views of the Alps whilst bathing in the quartzite Jacuzzi.
For rock ’n’ roll fans stay in the rooms of legends at the Hard Rock Hotel Davos. A luxury, music-inspired alpine escape with priceless memorabilia adorning the walls (including Michael Jackson’s sequined sweater), the hotel has an in-house Vibe Manager and guests are invited to reserve their choice of one of the 20 Fender® guitars to create a pop-up studio right in their very own rooms.
If an alpine escape is more your style, then Lenzerheide is a wooded wonderland of all things outdoor. Not completely off the radar, Roger Federer built his chalet here, perched on the side of a mountain, a perfect bolthole for him and his family. It’s unlikely you will be able to stay here, but equal second is the Valbella Inn, which is nestled in the Lenzerheide high valley. The cosy sun terrace affords wonderful mountain views particularly from its five-storey wellness tower, Tor da Lenn.