The train will soon arrive in Saint Moritz. Before crossing dozens of villages in the Swiss Alps, climbing hills, hiding in tunnels and balancing on viaducts. Its huge windows frame a Swiss landscape to the point of caricature: that river flows so lightly, those fir trees shine so green, that cabin is so white that all that remains is for a wooden cuckoo to peek out of its gabled facade singing “cuckoo”.

The beautiful journey aboard the Albula-Bernina Rhaetian railway, a UNESCO world heritage site since 2008, justifies the trip to this mecca of ski tourism and luxury. One comes to wish that the train journey would never end. It’s not a figure of speech, he really wants it. But the trip ends: we have arrived at Saint Moritz and there is no trace of the snow that appears on the postcards.

Few travelers think of visiting Saint Moritz outside of the winter season, when the color of its mountains has not yet acquired the nuclear white that has made its ski slopes world famous. With more than 300 sunny days a year, only 40% of the tourists who travel to this town in the Engadine valley each season do so for sport. However, they find reasons to travel to this small town of 5,000 inhabitants that multiplies its population with the first snow. If the fascinating journey aboard the train weren’t reason enough, here are nine other arguments that are well worth a visit to Saint Moritz.

Johannes Badrutt, the clever owner of the legendary Hotel Kulm, had an idea more than 150 years ago: convince British guests who had stayed there over the summer to return to Saint Moritz in December, under the lure of paying for their trip if they the Swiss winter sun did not convince them. Hundreds of wealthy travelers supported him and, since then, the town has been home to some of the most luxurious hotels in the world, capable of captivating Coco Chanel or Alfred Hitchcock, who set the opening sequence of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) at the Badrutt Palace (built in 1896 by Caspar Badrutt, son of the former), although it was actually shot in a studio in London. The Kulm, the first hotel in the town, opened its doors in 1855. Today the nearly 40 hotel establishments in the municipality receive 300. 000 guests per year. Half of its 5,200 beds are in four and five star hotels. Even if you don’t stay in any of them, any traveler can enjoy a coffee on one of their terraces and views that will leave anyone speechless.

Saint Moritz is known worldwide for its Jazz Festival. But last year it added a new attraction to its leisure offer: the St. Moritz Art Film Festival (SMAFF), a film festival run by artists that this 2023 will celebrate its second edition from August 31 to September 3. Stefano Rabolli, director of the event, was commissioned to design a festival that would attract visitors during the summer. This is how SMAFF emerged, with directors who investigate the experimental ―such as filmmaker and painter Julian Schnabel, director Sophie Fiennes (sister of actor Ralph Fiennes) or video artists such as Diego Marconi― and work on films that are not necessarily commercial. If in its first edition it chose the face in the cinema as its theme (Face to Face, was its title), this year it will exhibit artistic films and shorts inspired by the motto Become a landscape. “Saint Moritz is a beautiful town in one of the most beautiful valleys in the Alps. But there is something bipolar about it: every year it goes from attracting crowds in winter to becoming a desert the rest of the year. SMAFF wants to attract not only tourists but also citizens, cultural producers and new audiences in a sophisticated festival, based on research”, explains Rabolli.

In 1937, Saint Moritz was the first town to register a logo as an identifier for a municipality: the image of a radiant sun that today is emblazoned on numerous attractions in Saint Moritz, just as the red apple has become a symbol of New York. That same sun bathes almost daily the nearly 90 lakes where you can enjoy a day in the countryside in its surroundings. Half an hour from the center, for example, Lake Marsch is the perfect setting for organizing a sunny picnic in autumn and even taking a bath in summer, on its small sandy beach surrounded by fir trees, or enjoying the typical Engadin walnut tart. It can be accessed on foot, by car or by bicycle.

Another popular lake, the Stazersee, in a forest clearing between Saint Moritz and Pontresina, allows you to enjoy the crystal clear waters of the glaciers of the Bernina Alps after an easy 20-minute walk from Lake Saint Moritz. A small hotel-restaurant with 100 years of history awaits the walker as a reward.

Let’s start from a fact: here it is easier to find a Dior or Hermes boutique than a guard pharmacy, particularly on its golden mile, Via Serlas, one of the most expensive streets in the world. As a vacation destination for the international jet set, it allows even the most extravagant luxuries. Like flying in a helicopter over glaciers, waterfalls and mountain lakes. A whim that costs from 150 euros if the journey is limited to about 15 minutes, or up to 2,500 if the traveler wants to be transferred to one of the luxury restaurants hidden among the mountains, such as 3303, so named because it is located at that level . Without going that far, Saint Moritz has another 130 restaurants, several of them with a Michelin star.

Its 350 kilometers of nearby ski slopes have made Saint Moritz a regular place of pilgrimage for skiers from all over the world. Host to the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympic Games and the 2003 and 2017 Alpine Ski World Championships, it also hosted the 1995 World Polo Championship. But in recent years, its local mountain, Corviglia, where the Switzerland’s steepest slope, it also attracts mountain bikers and those who enjoy horseback riding and hiking. Alpine climbers have a challenge in the Upper Engadine and its 17 climbing courses with varying degrees of difficulty. In addition, its lakes encourage sailing, rowing, windsurfing or kitesurfing and the Ludains artificial ice rink is open all year, also in summer, for skaters.

The legendary gallery owner and collector Bruno Bischofberger was the first to open a gallery in Saint Moritz in 1963, on the same site as Vito Schnabel’s, owned by the son of the painter Julian Schnabel, in a Bauhaus-style building. The magnetism of the valley (and the presence of renowned gallery owners and wealthy collectors) attracted artists such as Schnabel himself, Jean-Michel Basquiat or Andy Warhol, who hung 10 of his portraits of Marilyn Monroe in the attic of the German businessman Gunter Sachs. . Among the galleries that have brought their collections here are the powerful and very Swiss Hauser & Wirth, the Andrea Caratsch gallery or the Karsten Greve gallery. 

The picturesque alpine architecture invites to walks in an environment that reserves some curiosities. Few know, for example, that in Saint Moritz a tower rises even more inclined than that of Pisa. Dating from the 12th century, it was part of the church of San Mauricio and was demolished in 1890 to, later, raise its 33-meter height once more with an inclination of 5.5 degrees. Another recommended visit is the Kulm Pavilion, erected for the Winter Olympic Games, and which is today a listed building, renovated in 2017 by the Foster+Partners studio for the World Ski Championships. Its restaurant with a terrace in the sun receives visitors all year round. It also bears the signature of Norman Foster Chesa Futura, a building for private homes in the shape of a flying saucer and with a facade of 250.

Saint Moritz began to gain fame as a summer spa thanks to its medicinal waters, discovered 3,000 years ago. At 1,800 meters above sea level, the town today maintains its offer in spas such as Ovaverva, one of the city’s architectural symbols, with a very inviting outdoor pool with views of the mountains, slides up to 90 meters long and a renowned gut training training center. Another famous spa institution is Heilbad, and in the recently restored Forum Paracelsus, you can drink its healthy sulfur water for free. Many other five-star hotels have saline water thermal baths, treatments and massages for their clients.

In a building overlooking the valley of Saint Moritz, the Segantini Museum has housed since 1908 the most complete and important collection of Giovanni Segantini (1858-1899), the renovating symbolist painter of Alpine landscape painting. And a short walk from there, the Berry Museum of Villa Arona, dedicated to the Swiss painter Peter Robert Berry (1864-1942), in addition to showing his oil paintings, offers the opportunity to learn about daily life in the Swiss Alps at the beginning of the century. XIX, something that is also displayed in the Engadiner Museum. A few kilometers from Saint Moritz is the Susch Museum, located in a former 12th-century monastery in the city of the same name, which houses a collection of conceptual art with a large presence of women artists from Central and Eastern Europe.

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