Welcome to the Swiss Alps
Interspersed with traditional villages linked by classic Swiss mountain trains – not to mention the highest peaks in the Eastern Alps – the Engadin is a hiker’s paradise, which we invite you to discover on a Collett’s summer walking holiday, whether you are a high-level adventurer or a leisurely valley stroller.
Boasting a unique location on the southern side of the Alps, here you can expect an Italian climate with 300 days of sunshine a year. The many mountain lakes that comprise much of the valley bottom are a tranquil joy for gentle walks, whilst the rugged peaks that tower impressively above, accommodate a host of enthralling higher adventures for the more ambitious hiker. And in between, intermediate walkers will surely thrive too, catered for perfectly by a network of panoramic waymarked trails at moderate and high level.
This is a special corner of Switzerland yet to be discovered by British walkers, but the Graubunden (the canton in which the Engadin lies) is certainly no secret to the Swiss. Many people come up from the heat of the lowlands around Bern and Zurich to walk in this sunny wonderland, where the air is crisp, clean and invigorating. The Upper Engadin lies at 1800m, its signature mountain lakes fed by high glacial valleys. You can see it all on whichever walks you choose to do here. Every cable car, funicular, bus or train – all provided for free with your included mountain pass – is a window to a world of sheer natural majesty.
Such is the magnificence of this area, the train journey from Chur to St Moritz and beyond has been given UNESCO World Heritage status. The Bernina Express might be slow for an express, but it will absorb and enchant you. Weaving its way through the valleys of the upper Rhine, you skirt precarious mountainsides, span viaducts high above tumbling waters, before arriving in the glamourous destination of St Moritz.
Walking in the Engadine on a Collett’s holiday
Where hikers are concerned, this magisterial destination has something for everybody and the variation is part of the pleasure. Picturesque valleys and glacial lakes are loomed over towering peaks, such as Piz Bernina (4049m), the highest in the region with glaciers cascading off all sides.
Your springboard is nestled below all the mountain drama between the two largest lakes in the canton. Sils is joyous and picture-postcard, and it is the perfect base for a walking holiday, lying on a network of trails that criss-cross the region. Whilst it provides exhilarating adventure for the fit and active, it is also an idyllic mountain retreat for those who seek out relaxation and reflection.
This is where Collett’s comes into its own. We have researched and documented a fabulous collection of walks at low, medium and high level, so that walkers can come here and discover tracks and trails that they would not have found if they came here independently. Our walks are tried and tested gems, off the beaten track, rich in flora, fauna and breathtaking scenery.
Everyone who books with us gets a Walks Pack to correspond to the grade of walks they would prefer to do: Easier Moderate, Moderate or Challenging. There is a proposed walk for each day of your holiday.
Additionally, you can meet up with our Walk Advisors every early evening for a sociable pre-dinner drink. You can browse maps and ask questions in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. We call this Office Hour and it is a lovely opportunity to get to know other Collett’s guests, whilst gleaning local information about anything walks-related.
If you choose to branch away from our proposed walks, perhaps because they are too easy or too hard, you can browse our Ideas & Information Files, gleaning opinions and suggestions from our Walk Advisors and borrowing Route Laminates for any walks that might take your fancy. Either way, we are here to ensure you a succession of unforgettable walks just right for your level of fitness so that you are always in your comfort zone free to enjoy the air and the landscapes.
Easy & Moderate Walking in the Engadine
There is an abundant choice in the Engadine and our carefully-researched selection of walks have all options covered. The expanse of trails crossing the region have unrivalled variety and each day will be a genuine breath of fresh air. Pathways from Sils soon get walkers to the large sparkling lakes of the valley bottom, where gentle trails radiate in a variety of directions to enchant the leisurely meanderer who craves a day surrounded by majestic mountains without the altitude gains associated with higher level walking.
Due to the unique location of the valley, spring is late in the Engadin. As a result, flower walkers can enjoy lush alpine meadows right through July and into August. Thanks to the cable car and mountain railways system in the area, a much wider area is accessible to us including some easier high-level walks above the valley floor. You can immerse yourself in these stunning landscapes thanks to the availability of the free mountain pass.
Within easy reach of Sils, there are woodland trails surrounded by larch and spruce trees, often flanked by waterfalls and upland pastures filled with docile cattle. These meandering walks are surrounded by mountains that contain a wealth of wildlife including eagles, vultures, ibex, marmots and even the rare and elusive European brown bear. Whilst it’s not always easy to spot these impressive animals, the location of Switzerland’s only National Park, just a short drive away, should reassure you that the chance is always there.
High Level Walking
Surrounding yourself with such impressive peaks comes as standard in the Engadin and we help you take advantage of the trails that connect them. The 4000m peaks of the Eastern Swiss Alps and the dramatic glaciers cascading from their summits can all be seen up close from our wide variety of high treks. We have taken the time to carefully select the very best adventures on the area’s high trails, from mountain passes and flowing glaciers to summit tops and river headwaters.
A lot of our proposed walks unfold above 2500m. You will venture up to historically important passes, once used as trade routes between Italy and Germany. The added bonus of mountain huts (berghaus) provides the chance to sit back and enjoy startling views with well-earned refreshment. Some of the harder hikes are close to our base in Sils, whilst others are easily accessed by brilliantly operated free local transport, including the famous Bernina Express.
Sils in the Engadine, Swiss Alps
Sat idyllically between the two largest lakes in the region with towering peaks all around, Sils boasts an exquisite location. The village offers easy access to all corners of the Engadin, either by foot, horse-drawn carriage, cable car and especially bus. The local bus stop is just 150m from the Hotel Maria, where we are based, and these efficient services unlock the whole of the Engadin with well-timed and efficient link-ups with mountain trains.
Once back from your walk, there are a number of cafes and bars with sunny terraces waiting to greet you with a warm welcome and a relaxing drink to end your day. Those looking for a pre breakfast amble or a post dinner stroll can take a short walk to one of the two lakes. Meadows and wetlands are just a stroll away, where flower lovers will be enchanted by the profusion and colour of the alpine flora.
At the head of the valley just along from Sils lies the village of Maloja. It sits at the top of the pass that bears the same name and is a gateway to the Val Bregaglia, a distinctly more Italian valley, which accommodates one of our favourite walks. A highlight of this walk is the picture-postcard village of Soglio, which was recently voted the prettiest village in Switzerland. It is easy to visit by bus using your free mountain pass.
The Engadin region in Switzerland boasts a delightful culinary scene that draws inspiration from its rugged alpine surroundings and rich cultural heritage, and in our base in Sils, you’ll be in perfect proximity to experience it all.
From comforting Pizokel, homemade pasta with savory sauces, to hearty Bündner Gerstensuppe, a barley soup packed with flavorful meats and vegetables, the Engadin cuisine is known for its wholesome and satisfying flavors.
The region’s local cheeses, like Chaschörlaib with its distinctive taste and texture, are a must-try for cheese lovers. And for dessert, indulge in Nusstorte, a decadent nut tart that is a beloved Engadin specialty.
With its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from the local landscape, the Engadin cuisine offers a delightful culinary experience that reflects the region’s culinary traditions and natural bounty. So, sit back, savor the flavors, and enjoy the warm hospitality of Engadin’s friendly locals. Guten appétit!
Embracing Engadin culture a delight. Switzerland is as diverse as its stunning landscape, the region’s unique blend of Swiss, Italian, and Romansh influences creates a vibrant cultural tapestry that is evident in its language, traditions, arts, and community.
One of the special aspects of Engadin culture is its language. Romansh, one of the oldest living Romance languages, is spoken by a significant portion of the population, and locals take pride in preserving and promoting this unique linguistic heritage through literature, music, and daily conversations.
Nature is deeply cherished in Engadin, with a strong connection to the surrounding mountains, forests, and lakes. Outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and mountain biking are beloved pastimes, and the region’s natural beauty often serves as inspiration for local artists and craftsmen. With Collett’s you’ll be treated to outstanding walks that guide you through this cultural cornucopia.
Traditions and customs play a significant role in Engadin culture, with local festivals, folk music, and dances that showcase the region’s cultural heritage. The arts scene in Engadin is thriving, with local artists and craftsmen showcasing their talents in various forms. From painting to sculpture, woodcarving to textiles, all can make intriguing souvenirs to remember an inspiring holiday.
Hospitality is a hallmark of the culture you’ll find in the Engadin, and joining us at Hotel Sonnenspitz in Sils or any of of our self-catered accommodation is no exception.