St. Moritz is a playground for the rich and famous. Celebrities and royals flock to its luxury hotels and world-class ski hills in the winter for outdoor fun. St. Moritz, (aka Sankt Moritz in German or San Maurizio in Italian) was the birthplace of winter tourism, opening its doors in 1864. It has since hosted 2 Winter Olympics and boasts 350 km (217 miles) of ski trails that have been home to international events for more than a century. However, visiting St. Moritz in summer is pretty special too.
While St. Moritz is known for its winter activities, there are countless things to do in St. Moritz in the summer! With discounted prices at luxury hotels, fewer crowds than Zermatt or Grindelwald, and a tourism infrastructure containing high-end restaurants, luxury spas, and fantastic shopping, St. Moritz is a great addition to your Switzerland itinerary in summer.
St. Moritz – Switzerland in Summer
We only had two days in St. Moritz. The moment we arrived at this beautiful alpine town in the Engadin region, we knew we wanted more. Even though our time was short, we made the most of it and stretched out every minute to see as much as we could. I think we did a pretty good job squeezing in a lot of the best things to do in St. Moritz in the summer. Dave and I can cover a lot of ground when we set our minds to it.
Where to Stay in St. Moritz – Hotel Kulm
One of the top hotels in St. Moritz is Hotel Kulm. By visiting in the low season, they had room for us where we’d otherwise be out of our league in the winter. You can feel the elegance and glitz the moment you drive up to its entrance as priceless classic cars line the entryway alongside Astin Martins and Ferraris. Pulling up in our Volkswagen wasn’t a problem though, the staff welcomed us with huge smiles, fresh juice, and cool towels.
Many people visit Hotel Kulm and never leave the resort and we can understand why. They cater to your every need. Be it movie stars, royals, or regular Joes, you can hide away with private cars and helicopters taking you wherever you’d like. Or you can simply walk like us. With a 160 year history, Hotel Kulm has been catering to wealthy families for generations.
Birthplace of Winter Tourism at Hotel Kulm
Remember we told you that St. Moritz was the birthplace of winter tourism? Well, it all started at Hotel Kulm when owner and founder Johannes Badrut told four English tourists that were visiting in summer that if they come back in winter and didn’t enjoy their stay as much as they did in summer, he’d reimburse their entire trip. When they returned in December, they loved it so much they stayed, and Badrut never needed to give them back their money. Word spread throughout England and St. Moritz became the first winter vacation destination in Europe.
Swiss Sauna and Spa
We couldn’t let a night spent in this historic hotel without using its amenities. So before we even stepped foot in St. Moritz, we made our way to the luxurious indoor pool and spa. It was the outdoor pool that attracted everyone’s attention as its heated water was inviting and the view was spectacular.
The infinity pool plunged over the ledge to a view of Lake St. Moritz and the surrounding mountains. We relaxed in the water spas taking in the views before heading into the sauna for some much-needed heat to soothe our aching muscles. Every Swiss resort has a sauna and the spa at Hotel Kulm has both wet and dry saunas, infrared saunas and hot tubs. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Leaning Tower of St. Moritz
The Kulm Hotel is located directly across from the Leaning Tower of St. Moritz. The more we travel, the more we learn that Pisa isn’t the only leaning tower in the world. With a 5.5 degree lean it is the same as its more famous counterpart. The tower dates back to the 12th century and is pretty cool to see. I don’t know why we didn’t get a picture of it. We walked past it each time we left the hotel! Sometimes you just need to enjoy the view instead of taking a photo I guess.
St. Moritz Lake
In the summertime in St. Moritz, a lot of the action happens around Lake St. Moritz. St. Moritz boasts 320 days of sunshine a year and residents take advantage of that regardless of the season. Sailboats scatter the lake as people stroll along its shores. In Winter, you can go ice skating on the lake and there are zany adventures like winter cricket, winter polo, and the White Turf winter horse race. The people of St. Moritz know how to enjoy the outdoors! For us, the main outdoor summer attraction in St. Moritz was hiking.
Hiking in St. Moritz
I’m glad we had a good rest at the hotel the day before our day outdoors because it was up bright and early for one of the best hikes in St. Moritz. The Muottas Muragle to Alp Languard hike is one of the best things to do in St. Moritz.
We didn’t expect the views to rival the likes of Grindelwald or Zermatt, but when we reached the higher altitudes, we were taken aback by the beauty. Does every place in Switzerland have beautiful views? Read: The Ultimate One-Week Switzerland Itinerary
Muottas Muragl – Segantini Hütte – Alp Languard Hike
The hike begins at the Punt Muragl train station where we took the funicular railway up to Muottas Muagl for the start of our hike. The trip up the funicular is an activity unto itself offering beautiful views of St. Moritz, the St. Moritz Lake, and the panoramic views of Upper Engadin from 2,456m (8,057ft).
This classic hike is about a 2 1/2 hour climb and if you are going to do just one hike in St. Moritz, make it this one. It’s a good challenging hike that is steep in sections, but not too difficult. It’s the perfect hike for intermediate hikers that will take you to a fantastic lookout at the Segantini Hut.
The views of St. Moritz
The views continue to change as you hike from one side to the other as different ranges of the Alps come into view from the Albula Alps to Bernina Range tower over the Muragl Valley with the Sella glacier and Tschierva glacier plunging toward the valleys. The view took us off guard as we didn’t expect to see such dramatic views of mountains and glaciers. We thought that scene was reserved for Zermatt or Grindelwald.
Make sure to keep an eye out for Marmots on the trail. We saw a few, but always seemed to miss snapping a photograph of them before they scurried away.
Named after the Italian painter, Giovanni Segantini the Segantini Hut is a beautiful viewpoint that is worth spending a bit of time taking in the view. It was here that Segantini died while painting the third part of his painting Life, Nature, and Death. The view from this location was his inspiration for the Nature portion of the tryptic. Segantini’s works can be seen in the Segantini Museum in St. Moritz.
Toilet with a View (or let’s make it rhyme – Loo with a View)
The first thing you’ll notice while climbing up to Segantini Hut from Muottas Muragl is a bright red building with the Swiss flag on it. This is a toilet that sits on the edge of the mountain. It’s not often we talked about toilets on the blog, but this is one that you must go in. Make sure to put your camera (but hold on tight) out the window for the view from here.
After you’ve reached the summit, make sure to enjoy a coffee and pastry from the restaurant at Segantini Hut. There are outdoor benches and several viewpoints that let you enjoy the panoramic scene of Bernina Massif, The Upper Engadine Valley, and the Alps. The sun was warm and strong on our faces and we could have sat there for hours.
The Descent to Alp Languard
Alas, it was time to descend and this is where the hike gets interesting. The trail becomes narrower than the hike up and it goes through beautiful rock slides and fields of boulders creating a great adventure hike through a few obstacles.
Where the sections become too narrow, there are ropes and chains attached to the cliff walls for safety. Make sure to hold on and don’t look at your camera or phone. It’s not dangerous at all, but if you aren’t paying attention accidents can happen.
Many people were climbing up this route and our guide told us it is a much more strenuous climb in this direction. If you only have a short time in St. Moritz, we suggest doing our route from Muottas Muragl. The hike to Segantini hut can be done in either direction, but the people we saw on the way down looked like they were suffering much more than we did.
Our hike in St. Moritz came to an end at Alp Languard where we caught the chairlift back down to the village. It’s fun riding a chairlift down a mountain. It offers a completely different perspective.
St. Moritz Country Club
The Kulm Country Club is a historic place to have dinner in St. Moritz. It showcases the history of winter sports in St. Moritz. It was here that bobsledding (skibobbing) and the skeleton was born and competitions began at Kulm Park. The Kulm Hotel is home to the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club and there is memorabilia scattered throughout the hotel and country club showing its alpine history.
The Country Club hosts many events and has been host to World Championships a the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics. There is a lot of alpine history here especially on Piz Nair where the Olympic and world cup sports take place.
Go to a Cheese Dairy
No trip to Switzerland would be complete without visiting a dairy to see how traditional cheese is made. The Morteratsch alpine cheese dairy is not only a place where they make cheese, it is an excellent outdoor dining venue set in a gorgeous meadow. After a hike in the mountains of St. Moritz, make your way to Morteratsch on the river to the Alpschaukäserei for a cheese fondue or raclette. Don’t miss ordering their cheese board to start, it is a work of art.
While there, keep an eye out for the cheese master who comes out regularly to stir the huge vat of cheese. The Alpine Cheese Dairy lets you view traditional cheese production up close and personal for free as you enjoy your alpine meal. Daily shows happen daily at 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Like many of the mountain resorts in Switzerland, shopping is a must (for the wealthy) when in St. Moritz. Via Serlas is the highest outdoor shopping street in the world located at 1,822 meters above sea level. Dave and I can only window shop as the usual high-end brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier, and Dior are on display. It’s fun to see what things go for though and wonder, “who on earth buys these things?”
Best Way to Get to St. Moritz
We drove to St. Moritz by car and it was amazing taking us through one of the most iconic drives in Switzerland. Having a car helped us explore all of the top attractions at our own pace. However, Switzerland had an extensive rail system and you can easily travel to Ticino via rail with a Swiss Travel Pass and one of the most popular ways to get to St. Moritz is to take the Grand Train Tour from Zermatt to St. Moritz. Two free informative apps to help plan your Switzerland journey are Grand Train Tour of Switzerland app and the Swiss Travel Guide app. Visit My Switzerland for more information
A Swiss Travel Pass includes:Unlimited travel by train, bus, and boatPublic transportation in more than 90 cities and townsIncluding mountain excursions: Rigi, Schilthorn, Stanserhorn, and StoosFree admission to more than 500 museums throughout SwitzerlandGet your Swiss Travel Pass Here.
St. Moritz is an incredible destination that surprised us. After spending time in Zermatt and Grindelwald we weren’t sure if we’d be as impressed with the mountains of St. Moritz, but it was beautiful and we would have loved to spend another few days exploring this magical region of Switzerland. You can be sure we have put it at the top our list of places to visit in winter.
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