It’s become a tradition to celebrate Swiss National Day on 1 August in the beautiful Alpine village of Sils Maria in Engadin. Sils is just about a 15 minutes’ drive away from world-famous and bustling St. Moritz, but a world away from all its glitz, glamour and fuss. It’s surrounded by impressive mountains and gleaming emerald lakes, and you may feel like in a fairy tale when you arrive. The air is fresh and crisp, the Fex river – all milky from all the glacier-water it brings – burbles through the village, the sun sparkles. I just love it.
Before you go
On my last birthday, I received this beautiful book on four generations of women in the remote regions of Engadin and Bergell, “Das grüne Seidentuch”. It’s touching to read how those impressive rural women fought for their families in the 19th and 20th centuries. A time when this region of Switzerland wasn’t that rich and proper holiday destination yet. Unfortunately, still only available in German.
How to get there
I suggest you splurge on a Glacier Express ticket. The Glacier Express is a train (which isn’t too express, really) that connects between the two major Swiss Alpine resorts of St. Moritz and Zermatt. But of course you can board anywhere along its route. The wagons have panoramic windows which extend into the roof, so you can enjoy an unimpeded all-round view on the spectacular scenery (even though I’m Swiss and used to the Alpine scenery, I almost started crying because it’s so beautiful): snow-covered mountains, un-spoilt forests, deep gorges and impressive bridges. Of course you can also board one of the public train wagons (same train), which is cheaper, but they have much smaller windows and it really isn’t the same experience.
See & do
Hiking, hiking, hiking. This is one of the worlds finest places to do it. Or if you want more action: Engadin’s Lake Silvaplana is a favourite destination for windsurfers. But look at those pictures from our last hikes:
Good to know
Engadin is a valley quite high up in the mountains (around 1,800 m). Even in a hot summer like this, it can get quite fresh. So bring some warm clothes!
Eat & Drink
Sils is a very small mountain village. Don’t look for fancy cool places here. That doesn’t mean you don’t get delicious food and drinks. The Edelweiss Hotel for example claims to make the best gin & tonics in Switzerland (last seen here). I can also recommend the restaurants Alpenrose and the Stüva at Hotel Maria. The Stüva de la Posta is even awarded 13 Gault Millau points.
Sils has some fine choices of hotels. From the traditional and grand Waldhaus high up over the village on a wooded rocky outcrop to the Edelweiss Hotel right in the very centre, the charming Hotel Margna or the secluded Pension Chesa Pool. You can’t really go wrong here.
Again: if you’re looking for sparkling jewelry, stylish designer clothes and exclusive perfumes: go to St. Moritz. When I’m in Engadin, though, I prefer going for the locally produced really fantastic products you can get here:
Amazing products like this alpine rose body lotion, created by Isabella Mosca in Scuol (which is also available in Swiss stone pine – the smell is to die for). Or Swiss stone pine soap bars. Or Swiss stone pine shower gel. Yes, I do have a thing with Swiss stone pine. I even sleep on a stone pine pillow.
Seriously delicious herbal salts and teas. For example from Guarda Kräuter. I could die for the Älplisalz.
Not a kid in Switzerland that wouldn’t know the classic Swiss children’s story of Alois Carigiet’s “Schellen-Ursli” (“A Bell for Ursli“). I love the adorable illustrations, and each year, I buy some Schellen-Ursli cards.
Handmade and just so pretty!
And just because it’s such a beautiful spot, here some last pictures: