What’s Doing in St. Moritz
St. Moritz is a small city, neatly nestled in the Swiss Alps, which lays claim to both culture and nature. It spans approximately 11.1 square miles (28.7 square kilometers), and is home to a population of just over 5,000. About two thirds of the inhabitants speak German, and, due to its close geographic location to Italy, about a quarter use Italian.
Its location in the mountains graces St. Moritz with over 300 days of sunlight a year. The temperature, however, remains cool all year, with below freezing average temperatures in the winter and highs of 60° F (15.6° C) in July, its hottest month.
St. Moritz is best known for having hosted the winter Olympics on two separate occasions, in 1928 and 1948, although the city continues to host bobsled competitions.
But St. Moritz wasn’t always a winter playground, and it was almost exclusively visited during the summer months by those seeking a cool getaway. Then, in 1864, a local innkeeper by the name of Johannes Badrutt bet some of his regular guests from England that St. Moritz was just as enjoyable in the winter as in the summer. The innkeeper asked them to return a few months later and said he would pay their travel costs if they weren’t satisfied. Badrutt won the bet, and St. Moritz gradually became known as a winter destination.
WHAT TO DO
Given its ideal location in the Alps, St. Moritz attracts throngs of winter tourists looking for skiing, snowboarding, and hiking opportunities. Nevertheless, there are abundant activities during the summer months as well, including running, cycling, and sailing. A number of other attractions are also available to entertain the less adventurous traveler.
The Segantini Museum, listed as a Swiss heritage site of national significance, is named after Giovanni Segantini and displays many of his more prominent works. Segantini is most well known for his paintings depicting natural settings, from peasants living in nature to detailed mountain landscapes.
The St. Moritz-Celerina Olympic Bobrun is the oldest bobsled track in the world as well as the only one that is naturally maintained. It was used for the bobsled events in the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics in addition to numerous Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing World Championships. One can opt to take a tour of the course in a taxi-bob piloted by a professional driver.
For a lovely winter walk, the Philosophers’ Trail covers a variety of terrain and elevations, providing stunning views of frozen lakes. The route starts at Muottas Muragl, a small mountain summit, accessible via Seilbahn for a 33 CHF fare, can be tackled in small or large segments. Along the way hikers can take a break to stop and read signs offering words of wisdom from well-known philosophers. Muottas Muragl also provides incredible views, and is home to what is said to be the world’s most accurate sundial.
A three-mile (five-kilometer) hike will bring sightseers to Morteratsch Glacier, a massive and breathtakingly beautiful natural marvel. The trailhead is easily accessible by local train service as well as by car, and is within walking distance of a number of hotels. The trek itself is not particularly difficult and can be easily accomplished by hikers of diverse ages and skills. There are numerous benches along the path and the views along the path (which include a dwarf goat farm and some wooden sculptures) add to the fun.
For a more demanding hike, ascend to the top of Piz Corvatsch, the highest mountain in the Bernina range. The mountain’s peak, at 11,322 feet (3,451 meters), supplies panoramic vistas of the mountains and the lake below, although the much more easily accessible Muottas Muragl provides arguably better views. Hikers can explore a massive ice cave and ski 8 kilometers back down to St. Moritz-Bad. A lower summit on the mountain range, Piz Murtel, is accessible via cable car.
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