Even though Tschiertschen is just a stone's throw from Chur, you can imagine yourself being in a different world. Everyone in the mountain village with 200 inhabitants knows everyone and the alleys are lined with sunkissed wooden houses decorated with sayings. For the eyes, there is a view of the Schanfigg, for the nose, there is fresh mountain air and for the palate, there are the dried meat specialties of the Alpenhirt.
The mountain village of Brigels lies on a sun-drenched high plateau at 1289 m above sea level. Its gentle, open slopes, the straightforwardness of the old village centre and the modern Pradas Resort, suitable for small guests, make it an ideal holiday resort for families. In summer, there are hiking trails – for example, to the Frisal Hochtal or to the modern Bifertenhütte – the bathing lake and the golf course.
‘The threshold of paradise’ is how painter Giovanni Segantini described the village, which towers high above the southern valley of Bergell. Stroll through its winding alleys, and you feel as though you have been transported back in time. A breath of the past also blows through the Hotel Palazzo Salis on the village square. It is located in a patrician house, which was built in 1630 and was converted into hotel at the end of the 19th century.
Bergün is the gateway to the Albula and Bernina lines of the Rhaetian Railway, a masterpiece of railway technology – for good reason, a UNESCO World Heritage. However, if you only pass the mountain village on the train, you are missing out on the best: for example, the massive Engadine houses decorated with filigree sgraffiti, the enchanting art nouveau hotel Kurhaus Bergün or the nearby deep blue Lake Palpuogna.
Nested deep in the Valsertal, a side valley of the Surselva, the mountain village of Vals is surrounded by high peaks. The location is characterised by houses with stone roofing shingles, with the landscape all around sketched by the forces of water. You come into contact with both stone and water in the 7132 Therme (thermal baths) by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, a construction of timeless quality and simple elegance.
Guarda is a picture book mountain village – and, exceptionally, in a literal sense. Its typical Engadine houses inspired Selina Chönz and Alois Carigiet, the author and illustrator of the well-known Swiss children's book Schellen-Ursli. An important role in this story is played by the Engadin tradition of driving away winter, Chalandamarz. Guarda is still one of the most beautiful places to experience this.
Viano in Valposchiavo is not even well known amongst locals from Graubünden. No wonder, since the small hamlet is somewhat hidden above Brusio, where the Bernina Express travels in the famous circular carousel viaduct. Anyone who travels on foot will discover old smuggling paths and mule tracks in Viano and the surrounding area, which testify to the eventful history of the region.
8th: Sertig Dörfli
The small Walser village of Sertig Dörfli is equally characterised by its location in a Davos side valley and by tradition. In the small 300-year-old white mountain church with the strikingly pointed tower, celebrations and harvest festivals are often held. The magnificent Walser houses and the thundering waterfall make Sertig Dörfli unmistakable.
Café Badilatti, the highest coffee roastery in Europe, is just one of the highlights that can be discovered while walking through Zuoz. Engadine houses are mingled with traditional restaurants and hotels. On a discovery tour, visitors can be amazed by the sgraffito decorations on the facades and the mysterious village alleyways, in which gallery owners and those interested in art meet.
The municipality of Poschiavo covers almost 200 square kilometres, which allows for extended hikes in the Val di Campo nature reserve, as well as fascinating, educational local tours through the ‘Spaniolenviertel’ (Spanish quarter), built by emigrants, with its magnificent villas and along the patrician houses from the 16th to 19th centuries. On the central Plazza da Cumün, those interested in culture will discover the late Gothic abbey church of San Vittore and the baroque church of La Presentazione di Santa Maria.