Exploring Switzerland

Switzerland is all about mountains, chocolate, cheese and watches.
Definitely not a wrong statement.

No matter how negative the situation might be, I try to see something positive in it. Even though I had to cancel my trip and move to Sweden, we seized the opportunity to explore a few beautiful places in the country I grew up – Switzerland.

I have lived here for more than 24 years now, and honestly I am ashamed of how naturally I take the beauty of this country for granted. When we speak of holidays, we always want to go far away. Be it Australia, Egypt, Bulgaria, Italy, France or whatever. The further away, the more beautiful it is? Definitely not!

In this post I want to show you 5 overwhelmingly beautiful places in Switzerland we have been exploring during the past few days, and I hope I can encourage some of you to take holidays in beautiful Switzerland. I definitely will do so!

WALENSTADTBERG – HOME SWEET HOME

I want to start with the place where I grew up. In 2004 we left the Canton of Graub√ľnden in order to move to Walenstadtberg. I remember quite well how frustrated we were because this place is so small, I wouldn’t even dare to call it a village – officially it it one ūüėČ

This picture is taken just few steps away from the house where I grew up. You can see the Walensee on the right side and Walenstadt, Flums, Mels, and other small villages as you look down the valley.

It is located at 700 to 1200 m above sea level on the southern slope of the Churfirsten above Walensee. Approximately 200 people live in Walenstadtberg.

You don’t necessarily have to go there by car as we did, but you can also use public transportation. Walenstadtberg can be reached via a mountain road from Walenstadt. A bus service connects Walenstadt with Walenstadtberg.

What can you do in Walenstadtberg?

That is a really good question, but there are a few nice things you can do:

‚ú® Go on a hike to Paxmal

The bus will bring you to our rehabilitation clinic, but from there, you need to take a hike in order to visit the Paxmal.

The Paxmal is a peace monument built by Karl Bickel between 1924 and 1949. The left wall is the earthly life: a couple of people in its existence and development, love and procreation. The right wall is devoted to the spiritual life: the beings who are awakened, struggling, and which keep growing. There is also a museum in Walenstadt.

‚ú® Various hikes

Walenstadtberg is also the starting point for various hiking routes. One of my favourites is the one from Walenstadtberg to Quinten. Getting off the bus at Walenstadtberg, alte Post, one immediately starts the hike. The first important stop is Garadur, where the path becomes narrower and starts to go downhill through the forrest. It’s a really easy hike and within approximately 2 hours one arrives in Quinten. Quinten is not reachable by car, and one needs to take the ship to get back to Murg or Walenstadt. If you want to, you can also start the hike in Walenstadt and add another hour to your hike.

There are several more hikes, especially various trails starting close to the Paxmal. Send me a message if you want to know more about it, I’m more than happy to share!

LAKE SILVAPLANA – AT THE FOOT OF THE JULIER PASS

Our next stop brought us to Silvaplana in the Engadin, Graub√ľnden. Growing up in the mountains I am quite used to driving winding mountain passes, but I really had to bring my friends from Zurich – that’s big city life in Switzerland – to one of our wonderful pass routes in Graub√ľnden. The Julier pass connects Bivio and Silvaplana. We started from Lantsch/Lenz close to Lenzerheide and drove to Tiefencastel, following the road to Bivio and then taking the Julier pass to reach Silvaplana. If you are not used to mountain passes and you love to see mountains, endless green meadows and a lot of cows, this is the right drive for you.

Lake Silvaplana as seen from the “hike” down from the waterfall. There is a lot of wind, so if you are into surfing, go for it!

Silvaplana is a very well known holiday resort. It is situated at Lake Silvaplana in the Upper Engadine at an altitude of 1815 m at the beginning of the Inn valley. The lake is the middle of the three Upper Engadine lakes and lies between Lake St. Moritz and Lake Sils. On the southern side of the Inn lies the village of Surlej. Surlej means “above the lake”. A flood in 1793 partially destroyed Surlej. Therefore, in 1873, an 80 m long rock tunnel with a diameter of 3 m was built to lead the Ova da Surlej stream through an artificial tunnel to the waterfall. The waterfall is also called “Ova dal Tunnel” (water of the tunnel) or “Ova da Surlej” (water of Surlej).

From the place where we parked our car between Silvaplana and Surlej it took us approximately 20 minutes to reach the waterfall, and it was definitely worth the walk.

On the way up to the waterfall Ova da Surlej.
The beautiful waterfall Ova da Surlej.

We spent a few hours at Lake Silvaplana. The weather was not perfect, but we enjoyed a few moments of sunshine at the coast of the lake when eating lunch – remember: never forget your Rivella for lunch!

GUARDA – HOME OF THE SCHELLENURSLI

Guarda is worth a look! ūüėČ

The second day in Graub√ľnden brought us over the Fl√ľela pass to Scuol, then to Guarda and over the Albula pass back to Lantsch. Again, we covered two mountain passes with amazing views. Take a glimpse her at Aval Grialetsch.

Aval Grialetsch.


My grandma lives in Scuol, and after paying her a visit and eating lunch, we decided to take the detour and visit Guarda. Guarda is a small village in the municipality of Scuol and the setting of the famous children’s book Schellenursli, written by Selina Ch√∂nz and illustrated by Alois Carigiet.

Guarda is one of the best preserved Engadine villages and therefore interesting both architecturally and historically. The village consists almost exclusively of the typical Engadine houses. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful small houses and could spend hours walking up and down. Sadly it started to rain and the pictures look quite dramatic. But here you go.

Strolling through Guarda, enjoying the empty roads (& the rain), falling in love with this place.
Church in Guarda’s center.

LENZ / LENZERHEIDE

Sadly, the weather did not want to cooperate on Thursday either, and we spent most of the morning in the small mountain hut of my dad. Towards the afternoon, the sun decided to pay a visit for a few hours and we seized the opportunity to go for a walk. My family’s hut is located between Lenzerheide and Lenz. You can take the Postauto from the central station in Chur and get off the bus at Lenzerheide in order to reach the Heidsee (Igl Lai). You can go for a walk around the Heidsee or for a swim in it.

Igl Lai / Heidsee

Igl Lai is situated between Lenzerheide and Valbella. It consists of a larger northern and a smaller southern part, which are separated by a dam. The northern, older part of the lake was formed by water collecting between moraines and landslide masses after the last ice age.

In 1914, a concession agreement was concluded between the municipality of Vaz/Obervaz and the Electricity Works of the City of Zurich, according to which EWZ was able to exploit the gradient of the Heidbach to develop the Heidsee as an accumulation basin. In 1916, the city of Zurich was also granted permission to build a reservoir in the south of the Heidsee.

SCHAFFHAUSEN / RHEINFALL / STEIN AM RHEIN

Due to the bad weather, we decided to cut our stay in Graub√ľnden a little bit shorter and added Schaffhausen, the Rhine falls and Stein am Rhein to our little Exploring-Switzerland-Tour. Luckily Switzerland is a very small country and sudden changes in destinations does not result in super long additional travelling time. We took the car to go to Schaffhausen, but you can easily get there by train. If you travel from Zurich, it takes only 38 minutes!

‚ú® Schaffhausen

Moji and I drove to Schaffhausen by car and met with Andreas, who had been working at the market during the morning. Andreas knows the place quite well and he showed us the Munot.

The Munot is a circular fortress in the centre of the Swiss town of Schaffhausen on the Emmersberg and is considered the town’s landmark. It was built in the 16th century from ashlars and quarry stones from the Malm, which is located here and in the surrounding area; shortly after its completion, the first doubts arose as to whether the fortress corresponded to the state of military technology. It was only used once for defence: In 1799, during the retreat of the French troops from the Austrians.

The view from the Munot over the city.
A tourist selfie on top of the Munot.
The beautiful spiral “staircase” up to the Munot.

‚ú® Rhine Falls

I had never seen the Rhine Falls before this day, and Moji and Andreas wanted to change that. The Rhine Falls are among the three largest waterfalls in Europe, and they are truly beautiful. A lot of tourist were there (I was told that normally, there are soooo many more people there, but for me it was already super crowded).

The Rhine Falls were formed in the¬†last ice age, approximately 14,000 to 17,000 years ago, by¬†erosion-resistant rocks narrowing the riverbed. It’s really overwhelming and amazingly beautiful! The highlight for me was the sound of the water. It somehow has a calming effect on me and makes me happy.

‚ú® Stein am Rhein

Our last stop brought us to Stein am Rhein, just 20 minutes away from Schaffhausen. Stein am Rhein has a very well-known old town center and looks just as cute as Guarda. It is very popular amongst tourists as it is the location where the Rhine takes its outlet from Lake Constance. Close to the Rhine, you’ll find the St. George’s Abbey, which was a¬†Benedictine¬†monastery.

It is one of the best preserved medieval monastery complexes in Switzerland. The monastery is a valuable architectural and artistic monument dating from the beginning of the 11th century. It was founded in Romanesque times and was rebuilt several times between the 15th and the early 16th century. The monastery was already abolished during the Reformation.

The late gothic cloister.
“to the cloister”

As a student you get a reduced entrance fee (CHF 3.-) for the abbey and it’s definitely worth it. You can find many wonderful rooms with beautiful floors and paintings on the walls.

I am fascinated how beautifully this monastery is preserved! I would never have thought that we still have something so beautiful in Switzerland!

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I hope you enjoyed the pictures and small historical inputs on these “five” locations. Something I’ve learned during these past few days: You have never seen everything in your country or surroundings, you should never take anything for granted and you should appreciate the beauty of things just next to you.

I must admit, I never really thought Switzerland is this super amazing country and I never quite understood why so many tourists came and come here for their holidays. What a fool I am. My home country is beautiful and I am looking forward to many more trips whenever I get the chance to.

I hope you also found some inspiration and let me know, if you need more information on some of the places. I am happy to tell you more!

Have a wonderful Sunday evening!

— Bibi

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