The Engadine, a Swiss valley, and region bordering Austria and Italy, is perhaps the most cheerful and charming section of the already immensely charming Swiss Alps.
Located in the Canton of Grisons, the Engadine is a multilingual valley, with the locals speaking German, Italian, and the ancient Romansh language, which is one of the official languages of Grisons and traces its heritage back to Roman Latin. The Engadine valley is an idyllic setting with pastoral fields and woodlands rolling up to the slopes of majestic glacier-capped mountains. The towns in the region retain much of their historic architecture and castles punctuate the start and end of the valley. In history, the Engadine was part of an important crossing point in the Alps and the villages that remain today are reminiscent of that history, built from stone and covered in colorful stucco as well as historic graffiti, or as it’s called in the region “Sgraffito”.
The experience of staying in the Engadine is one of utmost calm. The hotels in the region are often luxurious and comfortable, as the Engadine is a popular destination for those looking to spend a sunny weekend in the embrace of the alps. The locals are typically long-time residents and their families have often been in the valley for innumerable generations. Plenty of cultural activities are available in the valley including wine tasting, touring castles and historic plazas, and of course, riding in the toy-store style trains and buses that connect the valley’s villages. In the winter the traditional activities of long distance sledding and horse-drawn sleighs are favorites for both tourists and locals alike.
Eating in the Engadine is an engaged affair, often occurring over five or more courses. The hotels in the region serve decadent dishes consisting of local meats, cheeses, and bread. Taking influence from both the German-Swiss and Italian cooking traditions, here a fondue is just as likely as a fresh pasta. Of particular note is the quality of the water in the Engadine. The valley stands at one of the heads of the watershed that eventually joins the Danube and as a result, the water is startlingly cold and clear – as well as deliciously potable. The towns in the Engadine are all equipped with large decorative fountains which fresh drinking water pours out of in a constant glimmering stream.
The Engadine region’s hiking offers a deep variety of options. All of the Engadine’s villages are linked by the impeccable train system and the upper reaches are often served by cable car or chairlift. As a result, the hiking in Engadine is incredibly adaptable. Everything from climbing the rugged peaks above to peaceful valley walks is possible. The region even supports a host of winter walking trails which are a truly magical experience. Above the valley looms the impressive Bernina Massif. To this day Piz Bernina is capped by a dramatic glaciated summit. Due to the variety of experiences available in the Engadine, we offer multiple tours in the Engadine region, including the Engadine Summit Series – a tour catered towards those who dream of climbing the region’s more approachable summits.
The villages of the Engadine are the valley’s heart and soul. Some of the more notable ones are Scuol, Pontresina, and Sils Maria. Scuol is among the larger villages in the valley and is distinguished by charming sgraffito, multiple statues of the region’s historic figures, and the nearby 11th century Castle Tarasp. Pontresina is a popular resort town and an even more popular winter destination. The town is lively and full of alpinists preparing to ascend the local peaks. The nearby Val Roseg is also a stunning destination, with horse-drawn carriages transporting tourists up into the sunny valley, surrounded by some of the region’s more impressive mountains such as the Piz Roseg and Piz Bernina. Sils Maria is a lakeside village of much lore. It was a favorite summer destination of the German philosopher Nietzsche and his summer home there has been turned into a museum!
The Engadine is the destination of a lifetime and a long-time favorite of Ryder Walker’s clients and guides. The comfort and accessibility of the region pairs beautifully with its dramatic landscape and the full roster of activities at the lucky visitor’s fingertips!