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Chur vs. Davos

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Chicago
posts: 76
reviews: 1
Chur vs. Davos

Next summer, my wife and I will be taking the Bernina Express from Tirano to Davos or Chur. We will arrive at either destination during the early afternoon. When we get to our destination, we would like to take a short (2 to 3 hours), easy, scenic hike that afternoon, have a nice dinner that night and then take another short hike the next morning before taking a train to Zurich.

Chur has what seems to be a neat medieval district but Davos is smaller and it seems you could be at the hiking trails within minutes of leaving your hotel.

My questions are: Which destination would be better suited for this tight schedule? Any recommended hotels? Will we have difficulty communicating because we don't speak German or Swiss German?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Brentwood, United...
posts: 2,596
reviews: 2
1. Re: Chur vs. Davos

I stayed a few days in Chur last year in June and stopped off in Davos on a day trip. Chur is a charming place, one of the oldest towns in Switzerland. On a day trip I got out of the train at Davos and then got back onto the next train! That it was drizzling with rain did not help but I was not impressed with Davos outside the skiiing season.

However Chur is not in the mountains but on our last morning I went up on the chair lift from behind the town and it was a delightful place with great views. Wish I had had more time to do some walking!

I stayed at the Hotel Freieck ( www.freieck.ch ), it was very pleasant, most of the hotels in Chur are in the old town which is some way from the station.

One problem with Switzerland is that being a mountainous area the weather is very changeable and if the clouds are down you dont want to go wandering up the mountain tracks. Since you are only talking about a one night stay I think Chur would be your best option. Price wise Chur may also be cheaper, Davos is rather up-market!

You will have no difficulty with langages, most Swiss people in the tourist areas are either Bi or Tri in languages, shame on us tourists!

Edited: 3:08 am, August 21, 2011
Luxembourg
posts: 4,959
reviews: 30
2. Re: Chur vs. Davos

Hehe, this is the "chairlift" at Chur which takes you to the backyard mountain Brambüsch, I even went up there one Winter day for skiing. Definitely go there.

http://www.brambruesch.ch/#

St. Moritz...
Destination Expert
for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
posts: 3,170
reviews: 265
3. Re: Chur vs. Davos

Did you consider travelling the "original" Bernina Express itinerary Tirano - St. Moritz - Chur? The Engadin St. Moritz area http://www.engadin.stmoritz.ch/sommer/en/) (is the ideal overnight (or even longer if time permits) stop in this case. During summer season, most hotels in the area will offer you a complimentary day pass for your mountain excursions with two or more nights. See the "mountain cable cars included" special on the website above.

As you mention a 2-3 hours hike, I suppose you are taking the train in the morning (you can take just any train, they are all on the same track as the designated "express"), so you would be in the Engadin area around lunch time. If you want to stay just overnight, with the "normal" train, you could get off the train at *Bernina Diavolezza" to go up to Diavolezza (http://www.diavolezza.ch/en/) for lunch with a breathtaking mountain panorama and to breath in the fresh mountain air. There is the Munt Pers hike (walkingswitzerland.com/walks/…) there which could fit into you schedule and the 360 degrees panorama you will never forget.

Otherwise, if you take the "express" or would first check into your hotel, if you just stay for the one night and as you mention having a nice dinner, I would suggest you go up to Muottas Muragl for sunset over the upper Engadine lake plateau and a nice candle-light dinner (http://www.muottasmuragl.ch/en/). The mountain cable car there runs late for dinner guests. You could even opt to spend the night up there and have your next morning's hike along the Muottas Muragl - Alp Languard panorama trail or go up to the Segantini hut, where the famous painter of the mountains spent his last years.

Chicago
posts: 76
reviews: 1
4. Re: Chur vs. Davos

Wow,thanks.

One question: Do the non-express Bernini trains have cars have pan0ramic views? If so, do you need reservations do get seats in these cars?

Thanks, again.

St. Moritz...
Destination Expert
for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
posts: 3,170
reviews: 265
5. Re: Chur vs. Davos

Mind that it is called BerninA. The regular trains have large windows, but not the ones overhead and no AC, just usual train windows and in some wagons you may even open them. In summer you might even got an openair carriage (seehttp://www.rhb.ch/index.php?id=213?&L=4) , allowing you a complely different experience, to breath in the fresh mountain air and feel the difference when the climate changes over the pass and down into the warmer Poschiavo valley. But bring a windbreaker, as even with warm days it gets cool. But you can freely change from outdoor to indoor during the ride.

For the regular trains, you dont need a reservation.

New Delhi, India
posts: 16
reviews: 35
6. Re: Chur vs. Davos

Hi Engadiner, St Moritz - just read your very informative suggestions! However I have a different question - I will be travelling beginning Jan 2012 to Zurich and have 3 free days to do the Alpine area. I have heard about the Glacier Express, is it the same as Bernina Express. I understand it is from St Moritz to Zermatt, how long does it take and is it really worth taking it?

I completely agree about your observations on Chur, St Mortitz and Zermatt are so much more expensive and I am not really a skier!! I am planning to stay in Chur but would like to visit St Moritz and Zermatt too - as this is my first time in Europe in winters, coming from a warm country - India, it makes me a bit skeptical.

Would be happy to get your suggestions to improve my itinerary so that I see the best places without ending up spending ridiculous amounts on over priced hotels.

Thank you

St. Moritz...
Destination Expert
for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
posts: 3,170
reviews: 265
7. Re: Chur vs. Davos

Well, punit, you get what you pay for as elsewhere. St. Moritz and Zermatt ARE unique, so if you want to really experience them, it's worth spending the extra instead of spending less and regretting not to have seen it.

The Bernina Express http://www.rhb.ch/index.php?id=33?&L=4 and the Glacier Express www.rhb.ch/Glacier-Express.34.0.html?&L=4 are two totally differenet train journeys.

The Bernina Express goes starts from Chur, but actually the Heritage part goes from Thusis. The original part is from St. Moritz to Tirano, which is around two hours over the Bernina pass. You travel from high mountains to a palm fringed lakes area. In Summer, there is a bus extension connecting you to Lugano in the Italian part of Switzerland. The "normal" train goes on exactly the same track, so the same view. You dont need reservation on regional (normal) trains, just on the designed Express.

The Glacier Express goes from St. Moritz to Zermatt or vice versa and takes eight hours through an ever changing landscape, from mountain area to mountain area, some parts real steep with cogwheel traction.

You dont have to ski to enjoy the mountains, there is something for everybody. In winter, Chur being in low altitude and not in the mountains, there is humid cold air there with not much of sunshine if not even a thick cloud cover, whereas in the mountains even with temperatures very much lower, you dont feel the cold so much, as the air is extremly dry and the sun is warm. If you want to experience the mountain winter, go for the mountains.

There are inexpensive accomodation options in the mountains as well. For the St. Moritz area, check the online-booking platform on www.engadin.stmoritz.ch and see what is available with your dates. Beginning of January sould not be booked in the less expensive hotels or hostels, as this is the Russian Christmas and New Year and they tend to stay more in the upper-class accomodations. End of January it will be more difficult as there is a Ski World Cup at the same time as the Polo tournament on the lake, so this will bring guests to both ends.

New Delhi, India
posts: 16
reviews: 35
8. Re: Chur vs. Davos

Thank you for your very comprehensive comments. So we should stay at Zermatt Or St Moritz as they sound like mountain regions and take the glacier express too.

Really appreciate your effort

Warm regards

Puneet

St. Moritz...
Destination Expert
for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
posts: 3,170
reviews: 265
9. Re: Chur vs. Davos

It has not to be St. Moritz only, there are smaller villages around here and they are very well connected by public transport. St. Moritz is the hub and the largest place, but if you look at the website I gave you, you get all the area. Just check where the hotel is, as some of the less expensive places are really remote - ask if you are not sure.

St. Moritz...
Destination Expert
for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
posts: 3,170
reviews: 265
10. Re: Chur vs. Davos

With only 3 days, I myself would not want to sit in a train for eight hours as you do with the Glacier Express. Instead take a shorter train ride and enjoy the fresh mountain air. If you travel e.g. from Zurich, where you probably will arrive, to St. Moritz area, from Chur on you are on the Glacier Express track, so a beautiful part of it you would have seen already.

I dont know if you plan to buy some train pass while you are in Switzerland. If not, it might be a good idea to look for a hotel that offers you a complimentary pass for the area. E.g. the hotel Terminus in Samedan http://www.terminus-samedan.ch (only in German) has such an offer for the public transport in the Upper Engadin (without cable cars) and it's situated right at the train station in Samedan, so no long transfers and within easy reach of everything. To save money, you could also opt for a halfboard, means breakfast and dinner is included.

You could then travel up to the St. Moritz area on your arrival day andstay overnight. The next day you could do the Bernina Express excursion, where in Winter I would not even go as far as Tirano if you are not a train buff wanting absolutely to see the spiral viaduct. You could go off at Poschiavo and sightsee there. It's a small place. If you just want the mountain part. the complimentary pass goes as far as Alp Grüm, from where you could go back and e.g. go off again in Morteratsch and skip one or two trains. This would give you enough time to perhaps go up to Muottas Muragls in the afternoon (but mind that days are still short in December) for sunset or have a walk along one of the lakes (or take a bus towards Maloja along the lakes platea, still covered in your pass), to be back at the hotel for dinner. The next day you could perhaps travel back to your next destination on the alternativde route through Vereina in order to avoid backtracking on the Albula line.