Davos (pop. 12,000) sprawls along the valley floor under seven mountains laced with chair-lifts and cable cars. Originally a health resort, the city catered to such fin de siecle giants as Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Mann, who, while in Davos, wrote Treasure Island and The Magic Mountain. The influx of tourists in recent decades has given the city an impersonal feel, but the thrill of carving down the famed run from Weififluhgipfel to Kublis (a 2000m vertical drop) may make up for it. Europe’s largest natural ice rink (22,000sq. m), between Platz and Dorf, has figure skating, ice dancing, hockey, speed skating, and curling. (415 36 04. Open Dec. 15-Feb. 15. M-W and F-Sa 10am-4pm; Th 10am-4pm and 8-10pm. 5SFr. Skate rental 6.50SFr.) For joggers, birdwatchers, and the aspiring windsurfer, the Davosersee is the place to be. (Take bus #1 to Flueelastr. and follow the yellow signs to the lake.) At the Davosersee Surfcenter, board rentals are 30SFr per hr. 60SFr per day. Classes are also available. (Open mid-June to mid-Sept. daily llam-6:30pm.) Davos provides direct access to two mountains Parsenn and Jakobshorn and four skiing areas. Parsenn, with long runs and fearsome vertical drops, is the mountain around which Davos built its reputation. (www.fun-mountain.ch. Day pass 60SFr.) Jacobshom has found a niche with the younger crowd since the opening of a snowboarding park with two half-pipes. (Day pass 55SFr.) In the valley run 75km of cross-country trails, one of which is lit at night. In the summer, ski lifts connect to hikes, such as the 2hr. Panoramweg. To get a little culture with your sweat, visit the Kirchner Museum, on the Promenade. It houses an extensive collection of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s artwork, whose harsh colors and long figures defined 20th-century German Expressionism. (Take the bus to Kirchner Museum. Open Su and Tu-Sa 10am-6pm; Sept.-Dee. 24 and Easter-July 7 Su and Tu-Sa 2-6pm. lOSFr, students 5SFr.)
Davos is accessible by train from Chur (lV&hr. 7 per day, 25SFr) via Landquart or from Klosters (25min. 2 per hr. 8.60SFr) on the Rhatische Bahn lines. The town is divided into two areas, Davos-Dorf and Davos-Platz, each with a train station; Platz has the tourist office, post office, and most places of interest to budget travelers. Dorf is closer to the Davosersee. Buses (2.70SFr) run between the two train stations and stop near major hotels and the hostel on the Davosersee. The main tourist office, Promenade 67, is up the hill from the Platz station. (415 21 21. Open Dec. to mid-Apr. and mid-June to mid-Oct. M-F 8:30am-6:30pm, Sa 9am-5pm, and Su lOam-noon, 3-5:30pm; mid-Oct. to Dec. and mid-Apr. to June M-F 8:30am-1:45pm, Sa-Su 8:30am-noon.) At Jakobshom Ski Mountain’s Snowboardhotel Bolgen-schanze , Skistr. 1, dorm rooms are sold as a package with ski passes (414 90 20; www.fun-mountain.ch. Reception Su and M-Th 8:30-llam and 4-7pm. Checkout 10am. Free Internet access for guests. 1-night, 2-day ski-pass 125-135SFr, weekend 175-185SFr; 6-night, 7-day pass 570SFr. AmExMCV.) Postal Code: CH-7270.
Davos’s sister resort, Klosters, lies across the Gotschna and Parsenn mountains. Though Klosters is lOmin. from Davos by train, it’s a world away in atmosphere. While Davos makes every effort to be cosmospolitan, Klosters capitalizes on its natural serenity and cozy chalets. Most ski packages include mountains from both towns, and Klosters’s main lift leads to a mountain pass where one can ski down to either. In summer, Klosters has better access to fantastic biking trails. Ski passes for the Klosters-Davos region run 121SFr for 2 days and 279SFr for 6 days (including public transportation). The Madrisabahn leaves from Klosters-Dorf (1-day pass 46SFr, 6-day pass 249SFr). The Grotschnabahn gives access to Parsenn and Strela in Davos and Madrisa in Klosters (1-day pass 57SFr, 6-day pass 308SFr). Summer cable car passes (valid on Grotschna and Madrisabahnen) are also available (6-day pass 120SFr). Bananas, operated out of Duty Boardsport, Bahnhofstr. 16, gives snowboard lessons. (s422 66 60. Lessons 70SFrper 4hr. Board and shoes 31SFYper day.) Ski rental is also available at Sport Gotschna, across from the tourist office. (422 1197. Skis and snowboards 38SFr per day plus 10% insurance, 5 days 123SFr; boots 1969SFr. Open M-F 8am-noon and 2-6:30pm, Sa 8am-12:30pm and 2-6pm, Su 9am-noon and 3-6pm.) On the luscious green valley floor, hikers can make a large loop, from Klosters’s Protestant church on Monbielstr. to Monbiel. The route continues to an elevation point of 1488m and turns left, passing through Bodmerwald, Fraschmardintobel, and Monbieler Wald before climbing to its highest elevation of 1634m and returning to Klosters via Pardels. Several adventure companies offer a variety of activities including river rafting, canoeing, horseback riding, paragliding, and glacier trekking.
Klosters-Platz and Klosters-Dorf are connected to Chur by train via Landquart (lVihr. every hr. 5:30am-9:30pm, 19SFr). The same line connects Klosters and Davos (30min. every hr. 5:30am-l 1:30pm, 9SFr.) The main tourist office, in Platz by the station, sells area hiking (16SFr) and biking (7.50SFr) maps. (Open daily 10am-5pm.) Andrist Sport on Gotschnastr, rents bikes. ( 410 20 80. 38SFr per day, 6 days 130SFr. Open M-F 9am-noon and 2-6:30pm, Sa 8am-noon and 2-6pm.) To get to Jugendherberge Soldanella (HI) 0, Talstr. 73. from the station, go left uphill past Hotel Alpina to the church, then cross the street and head up the alleyway to the right of the Kirchplatz bus station sign. Walk lOmin. along the gravel path. This massive, renovated chalet has a comfortable reading room, couches on a flagstone terrace, and friendly English-speaking owners. (422 13 16. Breakfast included. Open mid-Dec. to mid Apr. and late June to mid-Oct. Reception 7-10am and 5-10pm. Checkout 10am. Dorms 28SFr; singles 39SFr; doubles 70SFr. Family rooms 39SFr per person. Nonmembers add 6SFr. AmExDCMCV.) Postal Code: CH-7250.
THE SWISS NATIONAL PARK
The Swiss National Park offers hikes that rival the best in Switzerland, but no other area can match the park’s isolation from man-made constructs, which allows hikers to experience the undiluted wildness of the natural terrain. A network of 20 hiking trails runs throughout the park, mostly concentrated in the center. Few of the trails are level; most involve a lot of climbing, often into snow-covered areas. However, all trails are clearly marked, and it is against park rules to wander off the designated trails. Trails that require no mountaineering gear are marked with white-red-white blazes. The Swiss, however, are practically mountain goats, so even some of the no-gear routes can be tricky.
Zernez is the main gateway to the park, and home to the main headquarters of the park, the National Parkhouse. The staff provides helpful trail maps as well as up-to-date information on which trails are navigable take their advice seriously; when they say a trail is too dangerous, they mean it. ( 856 13 78. Open June-Oct. Tu 8:30am-10pm, W-Su 8:30am-6pm.) From Zernez, trains and post buses run to other towns in the area, including Scuol, Samedan, and S-chanf. The park is closed November through May. The Swiss National Park is one of the most strictly regulated nature preserves in the world. Camping and campfires are prohibited in the park, as is collecting flowers and plants. A team of wardens patrols the park at all times, so it’s better not to test the rules. Zernez, Scuol, and S-chanf have campsites right outside the park boundaries. Phone code: 081
The most famous (and most-visited) region of the Bernese Oberland, the Jungfrau area has attracted tourists for hundreds of years with glorious hiking trails and permanently snow-capped peaks. From Interlaken, the valley splits at the foot of the Jungfrau: The eastern valley contains Grindelwald, with easy access to two glaciers, while the western valley hosts many smaller towns, each with unique hiking opportunities. The two valleys are divided by an easily hikeable ridge.
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