Graubünden (Romansch: Grischun, Italian: Grigioni), sometimes also called Grisons, is a region and canton of Switzerland. While it is Switzerland's biggest canton by area, it is also the most sparsely populated.
|Surselva and Rhine valley (Arosa, Chur, Disentis, Flims, Laax, Vals)|
Along the Rhine river from the source of its tributary in the Surselva valley to the capital Chur.
|Prättigau (Davos, Klosters)|
The Prättigau valley and the neighbouring Landwasser valley with the mountain resort of Davos.
|Central Graubünden (Lenzerheide, Lostallo, Soazza, Thusis)|
Around the second tributary of the Rhine (Hinterrhein) and the valleys surrounding it.
|Engadin (Pontresina, Samedan, Samnaun, Scuol, St. Moritz)|
A long high alpine valley source to the river Inn. The most famous destination is St. Moritz which is by some considered the most expensive ski resort in the world.
- 1 Chur. The capital and biggest city of the canton.
- 2 Davos. Ski and spa resort hosting the yearly Davos Economic Forum.
- 3 Disentis.
- 4 Ilanz.
- 5 Klosters.
- 6 Lenzerheide.
- 7 Pontresina.
- 8 Samedan.
- 9 Samnaun. Small town in a duty-free area.
- 10 St. Moritz. Possibly the most upscale ski resort in Switzerland.
- 1 Bernina - Italian speaking district with famous Bernina Pass and Val Poschiavo
- 2 Flims Laax Falera ski resort
- 3 Lostallo
- 4 Oberalp Pass - pass on the western border of the canton, popular hiking starting point
- 5 Rhine Gorge - beautiful canyon with several hundreds meters high cliffs, nicknamed Swiss Grand Canyon
- 6 Swiss National Park - the only national park in Switzerland
- 7 Vals well known thermal bath
Graubünden is a mountainous canton, from maps one can see that it is dominated by the Engadin and Rhein valleys. However these have many a side valley that offers hidden and isolated splendours. From Graubünden, rivers flow to the Mediterranean, North and Black seas; it is the watershed of Europe. It is a spectacular landscape, home to Switzerland's only National Park. Graubünden combines wild rugged scenery with charming villages and a unique Romansch culture. The capital is the ancient Chur which has existed since Roman times (Latin: Curia); it is a small city with a fully cobbled and painted shuttered old quarter. Like the rest of the canton it is modest; concealed here is some of the best outdoor sports in the world, ancient mountain towns, stunning panoramas, three official languages and distinct culture, yet it does not boast; little is known by outsiders of the delights within.
There are no public holidays in addition to those observed in the whole of Switzerland. However there are some local holidays which are only observed in some towns.
Graubünden is the only canton in Switzerland to be officially trilingual: German, Italian and Romansh are spoken in different areas.
German is nowadays the most common language in the canton. It is spoken as first language by three quarters of the people. The variant spoken is a Highest Alemannic dialect commonly called Bündnerdeutsch. It is, even more so than most dialects in Switzerland, very different from standard German and is mostly not understandable by German speakers. However, all the locals do speak standard German.
Romansh is the second most widely spoken language in the canton. While it used to be spoken in a bigger area, it is now only spoken in a couple of valleys in Graubünden with about 30,000 native speakers left split up into five different dialects. While the number of Romansh speaker is small, it is still an official language of Switzerland. Swiss Francs are annotated in this language and the Swiss public broadcaster has its own Romansh TV and radio channel (Radiotelevisiun Svizra Rumantscha). As a traveler, you are unlikely to get into any situation which would require you to speak Romansh. Being such a small minority, most native speakers are bilingual in German.
As elsewhere in Switzerland, not everyone will be able to understand and speak English. However, most younger people will have learned some level of English in school and especially in tourist areas, you should have no problems getting by using English.
There are no airports in Graubünden so the easiest option is to take the train from either Zurich or Milan, where there are international airports. You can also take the train into Zurich Bahnhof from other European cities, as it is an international train station.
The Rhätische Bahnis the backbone of railway transportation in Graubünden. Some lines are operated also by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), Matterhorn Gotthard Railway and Thurbo. The trains are nearly always on time and can get you to most places. Services are frequent, usually at least once per hour. Post buses will take you from the stations up the mountains to the villages.
Here can be found a network map of public transportation system in Graubünden.
It is worth buying a network ticket if you are planning to travel around the canton. There is, for example, Allegra 1-day Travel Pass, GraubündenPass (2 days out of 5 / 5 days out of 14) or BÜGA (monthly or yearly ticket).
- The UNESCO World Heritage listed Benedictine Convent of St. John at Müstair in easternmost Engadin
- The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Reservat da Biosfera Val Müstair-Parc Naziunal
- The scenic UNESCO World Heritage listed Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes - from Thusis via St. Moritz and Poschiavo to Italy
- You may want to visit the Thermal Bath in Vals.
- Skiing is the biggest winter-time activity in Graubünden. There are resorts throughout the Engadin valley, St. Moritz being the most famous, but also in the Prättigau valley, Davos and Klosters, and the Surselva valley. Flims Laax Falera is among the biggest. Apart from these larger famous resorts there are many smaller resorts to be found throughout Graubünden. There are 2,200 km of ski pistes in the canton.
- Hiking is the main activity in the summer. Cable-cars, railways and ski-lifts can help you up or down in some places, or you can go it alone on the thousands of trails that wind across the mountains, valleys and lakes of Graubünden. The views are absolutely stunning. One of the more famous hikes in this part of the Alps is the Via Spluga.
- The Swiss hiking trail network is one of the best in the world, and the trails in Graubünden are no exception. Trails marked in yellow, or with a yellow diamond, are the easiest and require very little other than a pair of good shoes. Trails marked with white-red-white are harder and may require hikers to have a good head with heights. Trails marked with white-blue-white are alpine trails and require the highest level of conditioning, as well as specialized alpine hiking equipment (e.g. crampons, ice axe, etc.). Trails marked with pink trail markers are often the same as basic yellow ones, but can also be traversed in winter without much difficulty.
- Many hiking trails leave directly from rail stations or bus stops, so a car is not needed to access them.
Traditional Romansch foods include Capuns, Rösti and Pizokel. Rösti is shredded potatoes, fried, with cheese melted on top. Occasionally, bacon and a fried egg are added on top of the rösti.
Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in Graubünden. The beer Calanda Bräu is brewed in Chur. Wine is made in the canton as well. Von Salis grows wine in the villages Malans, Jenins and Maienfeld, which is unusual for Switzerland let alone Graubünden.
Mineral water is also bottled in vast amounts in Graubünden. The water Valser is bottled in Vals and Calanda Wasser is bottled in Lenzerheide. Apfelmost, available in alcoholic and non-alcoholic forms, is a refreshing apple drink, similar to cider.
There is very little crime in Switzerland, Graubünden being one of the safest cantons. There may be areas of Chur that could be dodgy after dark.
Italy and Austria border much of Graubünden and both countries are easily accessed from the Engadin and San Bernadino pass. There is also the rest of Switzerland to explore, including the nearby Italian-speaking region of Ticino.