Klosters is a small Swiss village with a population of just 3000 and lies 1200 meters above sea level.
A world famous ski and summer resort, it can be reached from Zurich within 2 hours by car or 2 ½ hours by train. It is justifiably a world famous ski resort, part of the giant Klosters/Davos ski complex. It provides 310km of pistes reached by over 40 cable cars, chairlifts and T bars across five mountains, making it one of the largest ski areas in Europe. However is has a lot more to offer than skiing. Ice skating, sledging, curling and indoor pools are all on offer in winter as well as snowy walks through the forests.
It has remained a traditional farming village with classical wooden architecture and “chocolate box” chalets. There are cozy Swiss restaurants, horse-drawn sledges and quiet streets.
In summer the cable cars operate to provide access to mountain walks and rambles through grassy meadows to stunning peaks. Traditional cowbells can be heard across the meadows. Locally made Alpine cheese and butter are available, as is wine from the vineyards just down the valley. Nature reserves provide protection for chamois and ibex whilst the huge pine forests have protected the red squirrel from the more common grey squirrel that has taken over so much of Europe. Mountain bikes can be hired. There are zoos for the children and wine-tasting in the highest vineyards in Europe for mums and dads. The lake at Davos, just 10mins away provides some of the highest sailing in Europe. Tennis, pony trekking, swimming (both outdoors and in) and a trip on the world famous Heidiland and Glacier Express Railways are all on offer.
What makes Klosters and its surrounding area so special is that it is a conservation area. The villages of the whole region are full of traditional Swiss wooden chalets and have not been allowed to sprawl. There are no massive concrete developments as found in many other resorts. Klosters still only has around 30 shops. The meadows are open to everyone. A day trip to the wealthy eighteenth century capital of Chur is worth the effort. Visit St Moritz for the day. Zurich, just a couple of hours away, is a delightfully gentle city with fascinating architecture and legendary shopping.
Nearby Attractions and Activities
If one of the largest ski areas in Europe still isn’t enough to satisfy your “wanderlust”, there is a train through the Vereina tunnel (which is the longest narrow gauge railway tunnel in the world) to St Moritz. The Engadine Valley and St Moritz in particular have legendary skiing in their own right, and are stunningly beautiful. The journey takes around 45minutes. Make sure to sit on the left of the train, so that once through the tunnel, you can enjoy the beauties of the Engadine valley, it’s an experience itself. There are connecting buses from the train station to extensive further areas of skiing. There is also train access to Arosa via Chur.
Shopping in Klosters
Shopping in Klosters is high quality, but limited. The whole of Klosters only has permanent population of 3000. A train ride to Davos takes about 20 minutes, and there is a much larger selection of shops there. The train ride is well worth the effort as it weaves backwards and forwards above Klosters, constantly climbing, before rounding the corner to cross the forest and frozen lake before reaching Davos itself.
The nearest two places worth visiting are St Moritz, 45 minutes by train, or Chur, the capital of the canton. St Moritz is great fun to visit, but is another alpine town, and therefore offers similar attractions to Klosters or Davos.
Chur (pronounced “cooer”)
For more variety visit Chur (pronounced “cooer”. To reach Chur take the train or drive down the valley to Landquart. Landquart itself as a large designer outlet village just by the railway station. Driving is easy; there is only one road out of Klosters down the valley all the way to Landquart! The follow the green signs to Chur, which is only 10 minutes away. Remember, green is for motorway in Switzerland, blue is for non-motorway roads, the reverse of most countries.
Once in Chur, head for the old town (very well signposted). Many of the buildings date from the early nineteenth century, decorated with ornate frescos. Cobble, pedestrianised streets run between them. The old town is especially charming at night on Thursday, when the shops stay open until 21.00 (beware Wednesday afternoons – most shops still shut at 12.00). Small shops selling the strangest things glisten in the dark – there is one shop, for example, that sells nothing but bottle openers! Always around the next corner is a fountain filled by water flowing down the numerous mountain valleys. The church which dominates the town is a fraud; it is relatively recent Anglican addition. The much older Cathedral Church of Chur lies in a square up steps that are completely hidden behind the Anglican Church. The office of Bishop of Chur used to be one of the most important in the Catholic Church at the time when many of the main north-south European trade routes had to cross his territory, and the Cathedral remains a fascinating testament to those times. The Tourist Office is well signposted, and worth visiting even if only to get a free map – it’s quite easy to get lost in the many eighteenth century alleyways.
An alternative day trip is to Zurich. The motorway to Zurich takes about 90mins from Landquart, or take the mainline train from across the platform which takes a little less. Zurich is not, of course, the capital of Switzerland (Berne is), but it is by far the largest city. It’s not a city famous for its art or architecture, nor for its culture. But it is a delightful and very gentle place, full of many attractive buildings and shops.
Lucerne is a wonderful trip, especially in summer, when it can be combined with a trip on the Lake. But it is a fair drive. By distance it’s not that far, the problem is the terrain of the land. It is necessary to drive most of the way to Zurich before turning west to cut across to Lucerne (spelt “Luzern” in Swiss German). There are too many mountains in between! It is a good 2 hour drive each way. Once there, the old town is filled with beautifully frescoed old buildings and, of course, there is the famous wooden bridge with its tower in the middle that features on so many postcards of Switzerland. The lake has traditional Swiss paddle steamers chugging up and down it, and there is a wonderful transport museum called the “verkehrhaus” that my children absolutely loved. It has everything from a giant model train layout to real aircraft to wander around.