Engadin – Family Destination Guide

Tips for planning a family trip to the Engadin region with our favorite family activities, including theme trails for kids, ropes courses, and beautiful picnic areas.

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The Engadin region in southeast Switzerland is full of beautiful areas to explore for families, including a protected national park, an immense glacier, gorgeous lakes and endless mountain views. In 2012, we spent a week in the Engadin and loved seeing how the language, architecture, and landscape differ from other parts of Switzerland. But happily, many things are the same, with well marked trails, many designed for families, making us feel right at home.

To help you plan a trip to this region, here are all our favorite activities for families in the Engadin.

See also Engadin-St Moritz • Best Hikes for Families

Overview of Engadin Region of Switzerland

The Engadin is in canton Graubunden, in the far southeast corner of Switzerland. It’s a bit far for a day trip from Zurich, about 2.5 to 3hrs to reach any of the destinations I’ll highlight. So you might consider a long weekend or week long stay.

The southwestern part is called the Upper Engadin, of which St. Moritz is the main hub. It has wide valleys surrounded by rocky peaks with lots of big mountain resorts. It is quite built up with big towns, meaning more services and more people. The Engadin St Moritz website focuses on the areas surrounding St. Moritz. Here’s a panorama map of area.

The northeast part is called the Engadin, or Unterengadin, or Scuol Samnaun Val Müstair. This area has slightly different look and personality, with narrower valleys winding through big forested mountain ranges, with smaller, quieter towns. The Engadin Scuol Samnaun website focuses on this area.

We liked both areas. In the Upper Engadin, we did more typical Swiss hikes, going to the top of big mountain resorts, with breathtaking panorama views of enormous glaciers, big lakes, and sprawling valleys. But in the Engadin Scuol area, we did little river walks and valley strolls which had a different appeal.

Summer Hiking Pass

Note that Upper Engadin mountain resorts do not accept SBB Halb-fare or Junior cards. However, you can purchase a summer hiking pass for 2-6 days that covers mountain transport and all public transportation in the area. They also have a Mountain Railways Included offer, which provides a summer hiking pass for free if you stay at least two nights in a participating hotel.

At a few Engadin resorts, families get discounts for multiple children. The first child pays the child fare. The second child gets a 30% discount. All other children ride for free. Ask for family discounts when buying tickets.

Hikes in Upper Engadin – St. Moritz

I was totally overwhelmed by the options. There were so many family-friendly trails and fun theme trails to pick from that it was hard to choose. We spent hours poring over the promotional materials and hiking maps both before and during the trip. It wasn’t perfect, but I think we did pretty well. Here are our favorites. 

This mountain hut overlooks the Morteratsch glacier and surrounding peaks, with a short moderate 5 km hike along the glacier to reach the hut.
Lots of variety on this trail to the famed Val Roseg in the Engadin: a peaceful alpine lake, glaciers, river valley, forest, mountain peaks. The full trail is quite long one but I have two shorter alternatives for families, including a horse carriage option.
Ride a cable car to a view point over the Morteratsch glacier and some dramatic peaks. Then a short scramble up to the “Highest Fire Pit in Europe” where you can grill up a picnic.
Panorama mountain trail traversing a mountain near St. Moritz with views of the super blue Silvaplana lake below.

Hikes in Engadin – Scuol

I was totally overwhelmed by the options. There were so many family-friendly trails and fun theme trails to pick from that it was hard to choose. We spent hours poring over the promotional materials and hiking maps both before and during the trip. It wasn’t perfect, but I think we did pretty well. Here are our favorites. 

Short panorama trail on a mountain with signboards telling the story of Flurina and a Wild Bird, a children’s picture book set in this area. Ends at a restaurant and playground with a view.
Theme trail with interactive play stations related to each page of this classic Swiss children’s book set in this area.
Fun theme trail for families in the Swiss National Park with nine interactive stations along the trail, teaching you about bears.

Our holiday apartment in Scuol

We stayed in Scuol, the biggest town in the Unterengadin at about 2,400 residents  The buildings in the Unterengadin have a very distinct look, with their elaborately decorated exteriors. Walking around the old part of Scuol was an attraction in itself. Other towns in this area, most notable Guarda, have the same look and are smaller and quieter. This whole area is known for its “Quellen” or natural springs. Every town has lots of spring water fountains, each said to have a slightly different flavor due to the variation in mineral content. This “healthy” water also shows up at the Bogn Thermalbad in Scuol, which was a nice way to spend a couple hours after a day of hiking. The thermal bath is not designed for kids (no slides or play equipment), but our kids loved the hot/cold pools and warm outdoor pool with lots of bubbles, sprays and lazy river.

Our adorable apartment and the nearby fountain; one spout has sparkling water.

We liked that Scuol was small but not too small, with just enough stores and restaurants with semi-reasonable shopping hours (but still closed at lunchtime!). The town is also near the main road that cuts through the valley, so it was easy to access other parts of the Engadin. We’ve spent several vacations in tiny, sleepy, hard to access villages, which certainly has its appeal. But it was nice to have a more conveniences this time without sacrificing on beauty or charm.

public park and playground with a view in Scuol

Not our favorites

There were also a few duds, so considered yourself warned. I’m sure some might enjoy these activities, but they were not our favorites.

Swiss National Park – Il Fuorn river walk
We also visited the Swiss National Park, which is a protected area dedicated to the conservation of wild flora and fauna. There is a small but helpful visitor center in Zernez, near the entrance to the park. The park itself is free to enter and has a limited services like a few hotels and cafes sprinkled along the main road.

It is a beautiful area, but wild means wild: no manicured valleys here. Dead wood stays where it falls, landslides leave a trail of clutter. It’s pretty but in some ways kinda ugly.

The most obvious choice for families in the Swiss National Park is Kinderpfad Champlönch, an educational theme trail which has an accompanying children’s book and a digital guide you can download on your phone. I wish we had done this trail, but our kids were tired and we were a bit lazy. So instead, we chose to do a little easy river walk in the park, from Il Fuorn to Punt La Drossa. It was fine and we had nice time that day, but it wasn’t particularly interesting.

While I totally support the park’s mission and applaud their efforts, I’d personally rather hike elsewhere. The main attraction of the park is the chance to see wildlife in the wild, but that requires luck, patience, quiet and other things that are in short supply when traveling with small children. Also, the beauty is strangely a little spoiled by the wildness, which makes the landscape look dirty and unkempt, a big contrast to the rest of Switzerland. I guess I’ve been spoiled by all the manicured alpine meadows.

Picnic by river – not allowed! Wading in stream – not allowed! Playing with stick – not allowed!

Lastly, the park has lots of rules: no fires, don’t leave the trails, no splashing around in rivers, no picking up rocks or sticks, etc. This dramatically reduces the fun potential for kids. I didn’t know about most of these rules until after our hike, which explains why other hikers were giving us disapproving looks. We didn’t build a fire or pick flowers or litter, but we did eat sandwiches by the river, dipped our feet in, and maybe picked up a few sticks. But even that is officially against the rules. So I wasn’t really interested in spending more time there. If you’ve had a good time there, I’d love to hear about it so maybe I’ll change my mind.

Hochseilgarten Pontresina (website). We had a great experience at Seilpark Engadin, so we drove an hour to try a different ropes course just to mix things up. Unfortunately, it was completely full when we got there and all time slots were already booked for the rest of the day (a big group had pre-booked). We were quite disappointed and it upset the plans for the whole day. The course itself looked fun and I wish we had a chance to do it, but I also had some reservations. While Seilpark Engadin was tucked away in a quiet forest, Hochseilgarten Pontresina was right next to a busy road and the town, so it was noisy and not as relaxing a setting. Hochseilgarten Pontresina was also more formal and less flexible. Perhaps this makes them more safe (who knows?) but I didn’t feel as welcome there. I’m not saying to avoid it, but if you go, go early and be prepared to wait.

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6 Responses

  1. Hi Tanya,

    Thanks for your blog – I have used it soo many times for planning holidays and day hiking trips. The information is written very well and super useful. We are planning to go to St Moritz and looking for a beautiful stroller-friendly hike .. Can you tell me which one of the above or any other ones would be suitable for us?

    Thanks soo much in advance!

    1. Walking up the Val Roseg would work since it’s a dirt road. Walking around the main lake near St Moritz and up to the smaller lake Lej da Staz, that would also be a very nice one. The Flurina trail near Scuol is ok for strollers. I found this PDF with lots of stroller friendly trails in this area, german only though. You could also go on their hike search and choose “disability access”. I hope this helps.

  2. We are currently in Pontresina for the weekend. We are celebrating birthdays and have splashed out to stay at the grand hotel kronenhof however I wanted to say how fab it is for kids and the bike ride we did with possibilities. Just as an update a few years on from your post about the Engadin. The hotel has a spa pool, main pool and a small kids pool. It has a kids club from 3 with care every afternoon. Smaller kids can go in with parents or babysitters and when there is no care you can take your kids in to
    Play with the toys. The childcare team also supervise dinner between 6-7pm and there are activities for them In the evening if needed. We hired e bikes from the hotel. You would need to bring your own if you need a chariot and we bikes along a great panormamaweg past various lakes to silvaplana. We passed loads of Places to swim and grill and a great playground. You could access any part of this weg from various points. You could hike parts to if wanted. Pontresina is quieter and prettier than st Moritz In my opinion, with various overnight options. Hope this is helpful for someone.

    1. Thanks for the helpful info! I hope we can get back to this area soon.

  3. I’ve followed your site off and on for a few years, in part to help plan for trips to Switzerland and Germany and in part because I spent a year in Basel after college. This summer my wife, kids, and I are traveling to the Engadin for a few days in between hiking to Alpenhuette in Tirol and spending some time in Bergamo. Your posts on things to do in the Engadin are great! Would you mind sharing information about the Ferienwohnung you rented in Scuol? We were planning on staying in Scuol, and it looks particularly nice.
    Thanks for the great blog, and keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks for the kind words about the blog. We stayed at B&B Hotel & Appartements Chasa Valär, in one of their apartments. I can’t figure from their website, which it was. Ours was on the lowest floor around the corner from the main entrance. It was a great location and cosy. Hope you have a great holiday in the Engadin.

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Hi! I’m Tanya and our family has been living & hiking in Switzerland since 2005, collecting dozens of fun hikes and activities for all ages and abilities. More about us…

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