There are 150 valleys in the rugged mountainous region of Graubünden (known as ‘Grisons’ by French speaking Swiss), the biggest, least populated canton of Switzerland, well-known for glamorous ski centres, dramatic alpine landscapes and spa resorts. Graubünden also has the longest history of any region of Switzerland with numerous castles, fortresses, churches and chapels and, from valley to valley, the local language varies from German to Romansch to Italian.
The climatic health resorts of Davos, Arosa, Klosters and St Moritz are renowned the world over, and not only for their winter sports facilities. Typical Engadine stone houses characterise the towns of St Moritz, Zuoz and Pontresina. The highest peak in the canton is Bernina (4049m), bordering Italy and Austria.
Chur, which is the capital of Graubünden and the oldest Swiss settlement, is the hub for several other ski resorts. Sights of the city include the Cathedral (12th-13th century), the St Lucius Church and the Rhaetic Museum.
In Engadine valley, small villages beyond Zernez and the Swiss National Park have cross-country skiing and summer walking areas. One-third of the 168 sq km (65 sq mile) Swiss National Park is covered with dense forest and is home to several wildlife species, among them roe deer, eagles, marmot and lizards.
Many of the country’s top ski resorts are to be found in Graubünden including chic, expensive Davos and Klosters, with excellent skiing facilities and lots of different and sophisticated après-ski, and glamorous St Moritz with its top-notch on- and off-piste activities (snow-polo, horse-drawn sleighs, the Cresta run), glitzy nightlife and luxury hotels.
Smaller ski resorts in the area include the beautiful spa town of Bad Scuol, the smaller resorts of Laax and Flims, and beautiful Arosa, popular with downhill skiers of all levels and also for cross-country skiing.