Dubbed the birthplace of winter tourism, St. Moritz lures in visitors with its unique combination of incredible outdoor activities and unrivaled luxury. Whether you visit in the summer or the winter, the town is equally buzzy—in the winter, guests cozy up to fireplaces or take horse-drawn carriages through town, while summertime guests spend their days riding electric bikes on the myriad of trails encircling the surrounding mountains. Plus, with more than 300 days of sunshine each year and relatively mild temperatures, there’s rarely a bad day in St. Moritz.
01. Marvel at World-Class Contemporary Art
Basel might be the Swiss name most associated with contemporary art, but St. Moritz is no slouch. The town itself is home to many major players in the gallery scene — Vito Schnabel has an outpost here, as does Hauser & Wirth. Even public art here is impressive: works by the likes of Joel Shapiro dot the streets, while James Turrell has installed one of his famous “Sky Scapes” in nearby Zuoz. One of the area’s more unique galleries is Stalla Madulain, housed in a 500-year-old barn. The gallery showcases works by up-and-coming contemporary powerhouses like Not Vital and Jani Leinonen.
02. Listen to World-Class Jazz in an Exclusive Club
St. Moritz’s Dracula Club is the stuff of legends. Founded in 1974 by European bon vivant Gunter Sachs, the club is almost exclusively open to life members. Suffice it to say, unless you’re a European playboy or a Swiss hedge-fund manager, you’re not getting in—but there’s one exception. The club opens its doors to the public each year during the annual Festival Da Jazz, a month-long celebration that runs from early July through early August. Past performers at Drac’s, as it’s referred to, include Norah Jones and Aloe Blacc.
03. Stay in St. Moritz’s Oldest Hotel
While there is no shortage of luxurious hotels in St. Moritz, only one can stake its claim as the true birthplace of the town’s winter tourism—and it all started because of a bet. Kulm Hotel, perched in an idyllic spot overlooking the lake, has been around since 1855, when it mostly served summer guests from England. Wanting to drum up wintertime business, Kulm’s owner, Johannes Badrutt, wagered with his summertime English guests that they would also love St. Moritz in the winter and invited them to visit for the season. If they didn’t love it, Badrutt promised, they would be reimbursed for the cost of their stay. Alas, the rest is history: Badrutt’s guests returned to their native England happy and tanned and winter tourism in St. Moritz—and the Kulm—have thrived ever since.
04. Hike to a Glacier
One of the best ways to get up close and personal with the Engadine Valley is to hike to a glacier, a popular summertime activity for locals and visitors alike. The walk to Morteratsch is around three miles each way and traverses a wide dirt and gravel trail with a gentle elevation change, making this a great hike for kids and adults alike. Along the way, the trail is lined with mountain streams, wildflowers, and stunning views of the valley. Enlightening signs along the path indicate how far the glacier has receded each year due to climate change.
05. Go Skiing Under the Moonlight
If you’re visiting St. Moritz during the winter, it’s likely that you’re planning to hit the slopes—but imagine doing it at night. On Friday nights during the ski season, the runs open at 7 p.m. at nearby Corvatsch, an 11,000-foot peak about five minutes outside of St. Moritz. The floodlit runs look stunning beneath moonlight, creating a truly unique experience. Want the mountain all to yourself? Also on offer is a private rental of the mountain for up to 10 guests. The deal even comes with a DJ and, of course, plenty of fondue for keeping warm.
06. Take a Scenic Train Ride
Getting to St. Moritz is half the fun! Switzerland’s extensive train network is the stuff of dreams—the trains run on time, are incredibly comfortable, and, on the trip from Zurich to St. Moritz, offer views so picturesque that you might be convinced you’re actually looking at an oil painting. New in 2019, a ticket in the Glacier Express’ Excellence Class includes a seat in a deluxe panoramic car, a five-course meal, and complimentary champagne, among other perks.
07. Be Active on the Lake
While St. Moritz’s iconic lake isn’t ever warm enough to just jump in, it’s a center of physical activity for the town. Runners and cyclists traverse the surrounding path, while rowers and paddle boarders take to the calm, clear waters in the early morning hours. The St. Moritz Sailing Club, situated right on the lake, rents boats and offers lessons as well. During the winter, the town hosts the Snow Polo World Cup and horse races directly on the frozen lake.
08. Dine In a Star Architect’s Creation
The alpine-chic Kulm Country Club got its start as the host structure for the winter Olympic Games in 1928 and 1948. Today, the stunning building is now a restaurant featuring a sleek redesign by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster. The chef, Daniel Müller, is a St. Moritz local who serves a menu that includes rich mountain dishes like beef tagliata, tartare made with local beef, and an arugula salad with porcini mushrooms and fontina.
09. Drink From the World’s Largest Whisky Collection
Surprisingly, the world’s largest whisky bar lives in St. Moritz. The Devil’s Place, housed in the lakefront Waldhaus am See, is home to more than 2,500 varieties, earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. The list focuses on single-malts from Scotland, as well as Irish whiskeys, bourbon, and other grain spirits.