Via Engiadina and Bernina Tour – long-distance hiking in the Engadine
Gian Giovanoli, Engadin St. Moritz Tourismus AG
Your alarm rings, but what really wakes you up is the magnificent mountain scenery outside your window. At breakfast, you take a last glance over the route. You can already feel the excitement in your legs. You spend the whole day on beautiful paths through nature with one fantastic view after the next. Every evening ends with a new panoramic summit. Sounds like a dream? That’s exactly how a long-distance hike in the Engadine Valley will be.
The high valley in Graubünden in Switzerland is the ideal destination if you want to get away from it all for a while by hiking high up into the mountains. In the Upper Engadine, all the towns are situated higher than 1,600 metres (5,250 feet). When you start hiking from this height, you arrive in the fabulous Graubünden mountains very quickly. We introduce you to two long-distance trails that show you all the beauty of the area: the Via Engiadina, a more leisurely route which is suitable for beginners, and the Berina Tour which takes you on a challenging alpine journey. If you want to hike even further, you can easily combine the two routes and continue on the Via Engiadina from Maloja, the end of the Bernina Tour.
The Via Engiadina runs lengthwise through the Inn Valley from Maloja in the Upper Engadine to Zernez in the Lower Engadine. Over 70 kilometres (43 m), you discover the valley from above with fantastic views over glistening lakes and huge rocky peaks. You spend the nights in typical Engadine villages that are brimming with history. The high trail follows beautiful mountain paths and hiking trails. Some of the climbs are steep so you should have a basic fitness level, although the paths are not technically challenging. The Via Engiadina is therefore suitable for less experienced hikers too. Are you curious? You can book your hike on the Via Engiadina here: booking.engadin.ch/de/experiences/wanderferien-via-engiadina-von-maloja-nach-zuoz (website in German).
The Bernina Tour is a spectacular long-distance hike for experienced mountaineers that takes you from the Italian-speaking Val Poschiavo valley over the Diavolezza mountains to Maloja in the Upper Engadine. The 70-kilometre (43.5 mi) route takes you up through rocky terrain and close to mighty glaciers. As you hike, the backdrop is defined by the Bernina massif. At 4,049 metres (13,284 ft), the ranges’ highest peak, Piz Bernina, is the highest mountain in the Eastern Alps and the only 4,000 metre peak in Graubünden.
The alpine trails here require surefootedness and a head for heights, but they’re not too technical. The more difficult or exposed parts are secured with ropes. You can book the Bernina Tour as a complete package: booking.engadin.ch/de/experiences/wanderferien-bernina-tour (website in German)
Since these trails take you high up in the mountains, they’re best suited for the snow-free summer months and warm, early autumn. The Bernina Tour includes several mountain lifts so you save a few metres of elevation gain but still enjoy phenomenal views. The Via Engiadina also uses a lift once.
You can reach these hikes with the Rhaetian Railway which is in itself an experience. The route to Poschiavo, where the Bernina Tour starts, is stunning. For the Via Engiadina, you get off in St. Moritz and continue from there by bus to Maloja.
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You leave Bever to the north to ascend on beautiful paths over the steep, wooded slopes of the Crasta Mora. Again and again, meadows or stone fields break through the trees and you can look forward to beautiful views down into the valley. Behind a ridge it goes steeply uphill until you cross the side valley that leads up to the Albula Pass.
The fifth stage is the longest at just under 20 kilometers. So you can enjoy your last day of hiking again to the full. The most demanding ascent is done right at the beginning. It goes steeply up to a mountain ledge high above S-chanf. Here you have a fantastic view over the Upper Engadine and the Swiss National Park on the other side of the valley.
From Poschiavo at the foot of the Bernina group, you start your long-distance hike with a proper ascent into the impressive mountain world. You leave the place to the north and, as soon as possible, turn off the road onto a hiking path. In many bends you gain more and more height - just like the Rhaetian Railway, whose tracks wind up over the same slope. Again and again you cross the impressive train route.
On the last stage of the Bernina Tour, you take the mountain railway up to the Murtèl middle station in the morning. From there it is initially steep and then becoming flatter downhill. You cross the slopes to Alp Prasüra and slowly advance into a new landscape. It is getting greener and greener and the Upper Engadine lakes spread out down in the valley.