Great Bases for Walking in Switzerland – SILVAPLANA and SURLEJ

Most people have heard of St. Moritz, with its reputation as a glamorous ski resort.  Many don’t realise that a very short distance away is a much quieter area of beautiful lakes surrounded by stunning peaks.  There are cable cars, funiculars and gondola lifts to get you up high with minimum effort, and a great network of paths from which to enjoy the stunning views.

Silvaplanersee Lake with Surlej and Silvaplana, Engadine, Switzerland

Silvaplanersee lake with Surlej on the left (upper) bank and Silvaplana on the right

Silvaplana and Surlej are situated on opposite banks of Silvaplanersee lake, connected by a short bridge (see photo above).  We spent a week in a hotel in Surlej, which is at the foot of the Corvatsch cable car, and found it to be an ideal base.

Getting to Silvaplana and Surlej

Wherever you are coming from you will first need to get to St. Moritz, which is easily done by train.  See Rail Europe for routes, timetables and to purchase tickets online.


A Single Stop for European Rail Travel

For a large range of travel passes, including multi-country passes, see Interrail.

From St. Moritz there are regular buses – see Engadin Bus for routes and timetables (they even have a timetable app!)  There are several routes which cover all the villages in the Upper Engadine area, so wherever you decide to stay it is easy to get about.

Where to Stay

We stayed in the Hotel Chesa Surlej in Surlej, which is very close to a bus stop, the lake and the Corvatsch cable car.  The hotel made a comfortable and convenient base.

Hotel Chesa Surlej

Hotel Chesa Surlej

For many more options in Silvaplana and Surlej, including hotels, guesthouses and apartments, click to see their list of properties, or use the search box elsewhere on this page.

Important note – when we stayed in Surlej several hotels in the area were offering packages which included a pass for all the local cable cars, lifts and buses in the Upper Engadine area.  This is a fantastic offer, as it means you can use the lifts as often as you like, saving money and time.  Offers change, so it is definitely worth checking which hotels are offering this option before booking.


Using the local bus service and various lifts, including those at Sils-Maria, Corvatsch and St. Moritz among others, opens up a huge range of hiking opportunities.  There are paths in the area to suit all abilities, and the views down to the lakes and surrounding mountains are fantastic.

Footpath in the Upper Engadine, Switzerland

Typical footpath in the Upper Engadine

Silsersee lake, Switzerland

View over Silsersee lake

Silsersee and Silvaplanersee lakes, Switzerland

Silsersee and Silverplanersee lakes

Suggestions for walks include:

  • Take the Corvatsch cable car to the middle station (visiting the top station first if you wish), and then take the Panoramic Trail to Sils (about 4 hours)
  • Get a bus to Sils Maria, and then take the Furtschellas lift.  From the top station you can walk to the viewpoint at Marmore.  From here you can continue to Curtins, and then either walk or take a horse-drawn carriage back to Sils Maria (3 to 4 hours)
  • Get a bus to St Moritz and take the Signal Lift.  From the top you can follow the ‘Via Engiadina’ trail for about 2 hours, before leaving the trail to descend to Silvaplana (about 3.5 hours)
  • Get a bus to St Moritz, and then catch the train towards Pontresina, but get off at the first stop ‘Punt Muragl’.  Here you take a funicular up to Muottas Muragl.  Follow the signs to Alp Languard, enjoying fabulous views.  From Alp Languard take the chairlift down to Pontresina and get the train back to St. Moritz (about 3 hours walking)
Muottas Muragl funicular railway, Upper Engadine, Switzerland

View over the funicular railway

Chairlift, Switzerland


These are just a few suggestions.  For more ideas see the walking books and map suggested elsewhere on this page, or visit the local Tourist Information Centres.  The Corvatsch website also has suggestions and a hiking map.

Castle at Silvaplana, Switzerland

Castle near Silvaplana

Marmot, Switzerland

Marmots are common in the area

Valley in the Upper Engadine, Switzerland

Valley view

Whichever route you choose, you will be rewarded with great paths and glorious views.
View of St Moritz and the Upper Engadine lakes, Switzerland

View of St. Moritz and the lakes

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