Author: Kevin Riley
A network of trains, funiculars, buses, and cable cars whisk you to a myriad of great hiking experiences all around Klosters and Davos. And you can ride them all for free.
My hometown, Klosters, lies at the upper end of the Prättigau Valley, and just down the mountain from its partner town Davos. In both towns, there are a number of hotels and holiday apartments available. My favourite place to rent is a spacious one floor in a large old house, just down the road from the house where I lived as a child.
From our living room for the week (or two or three) we have a fantastic view up the very head of the valley, looking towards Monbiel, Aeuja, and the far mountains behind my favourite mountain restaurant and inn, Berghaus Vereina.
On some evenings, you can be dazzled by the Alpenglow – the mountains glowing orange long after the valley has plunged into darkness. A great time to enjoy some wine and cheese in your home away from home.
Getting Your Davos-Klosters Inclusive Card and Saving Money
As a guest in a hotel or holiday apartment, in either Klosters or Davos, you’ll have to pay a tourist tax – SF 4.50 (about $5) per night. Before you start thinking, “OMG, more expenses,” consider why this is the best deal ever. You’re going to find out why, once you get your card.
So, to get your card, after checking into your accommodations, head to the nearest tourist bureau – there’s one just down the hill from the Chesa Grischuna and next door to the Kantonalbank in Klosters, and there are bureaus in two locations on the main street in Davos. There, you’ll receive your Davos-Klosters Inclusive card.
Now, this is where your tourist tax money is well spent. That card will get you free rides on the train anywhere between Klosters Dorf and Filisur (that will save you SF 39.60 for just one return train ride from Klosters to Filisur). Free rides on the buses in Klosters and Davos (very handy when you want to pop down to Dorf and get one of the delicious wood-fired-oven pizzas at Al Berto’s). Free rides on the funicular trains that climb the mountain up out of Davos. Free rides on all those cable cars (you’ll save SF 30 on just a one-way ride up Gotschna).
Here are some of the great places you can experience with the free transportation:
Up Gotschna for Some Great Hikes or Just a Hearty Mountain Breakfast
The 2281-meter Gotschna is Kloster’s main mountain (Hausberg) and it’s cable car lifts you up over 1000 meters to a solid stone station and mountain restaurant that overlooks Klosters. With the rather sheer drop of the Gotschna Wang (Gotschna wall), you get a fantastic view of Klosters below.
With our Inclusive cards in hand, we’ve ridden up to the top just for breakfast. What a great start to the day. A hearty breakfast, in the clear mountain air with the warm sun beaming down. After the breakfast they serve up here, you could just get trundled back to the cable car for the ride down, or you could hike off some of that glut of energy you just consumed.
Although we have been guilty of riding back down and rounding out the gluttony with a cup of cappuccino on the terrace at Chesa Grischuna (aka The Chesa), we usually opt to hike. There are a number of great options.
The Gotschnaboden to Davos Hike
One option is to ride the cable car back down to the middle station (Gotschnaboden] and take the leisurely hike to Davos. My saner family members often opt for this hike, while I run down the Wang to join them (Warning: This is one of those, “All stunts are performed by a professional trail runner, don’t try this,” runs – I don’t recommend it unless you are either super fit and agile, or crazy like me.)
From the middle station, there’s a quiet trail that leads through the forest and along some pretty farmland.
Coming out by the whistle stop and collection of buildings of Wolfgang, the trail leads around Davos Lake. Carry on into Davos. There you can either walk along the main street, doing some window shopping as you go, or use your card for a free bus ride to the other end. Your goal: Schneider’s.
Schneider’s is an old Konfiserie (confectionery shop) that houses a restaurant where you can have a delicious lunch, enjoy a rewarding after-hike drink, and nosh on some delicious cakes and other confections.
The Parsenn to Davos Hike
The other option – the one that will burn more calories – is the one across the higher-altitude Parsenn and along the Panoramaweg (Panorama Way).
This will take you along a wide track to the Parsenn restaurant, where you’ll see a gazillion skiers clumping across the terrace in winter. Along the way, keep your eyes open for marmots (Murmeltier). You’ll often hear their high-pitch warning whistles, but if you’re lucky you’ll get to see some of the chubby critters out eating as much grass as they can before winter truly hits.
The hike winds on up along the side of a mountain, and even in September you can already get some snow up here. Yes, a little chilly but not bad as you’re generating enough heat from the climb and that Gotschna breakfast.
Here, you’re on the Panoramaweg, and it truly is panoramic. The views down into the gorge between Klosters and Davos are beautiful, especially when Davos Lake comes into view.
Further on, you’ll come across the funicular down to Davos. Again, a free ride with your Inclusive card – and another great reward awaits you at Schneider’s. In this case, a hearty plate of Älplermagronen (Alpine Macaroni) with applesauce on the side.
Up, Up, Up to Weissfluhjoch
If you want a ride up into the truly rocky alpine environment, use your Davos-Klosters Inclusive card for another free ride up the funicular from Davos to Weissfluhjoch. A beautiful view, even if it was already dang cold when we visited in mid-September.
After braving the biting cold of Weissfluhjoch, it pays to stop at the funicular’s middle station and fortify with a warming cup of tea or coffee.
A Train Ride to Filisur and Ancient Castle Ruins
Since your Inclusive card is good for a free train ride all the way to Filisur, take advantage of it with a visit to this quaint village of painted Engadin-style houses and an easy hike up to some old castle ruins.
From the station, you hike along a trail that looks like hobbits should appear at any moment. Then, a gentle climb and soon you’ll see the small remains of Castle Greifenstein to your right. Greifen means “hold tight” and Stein means “stone” – and this castle certainly holds tight to the rocks.
Circling around the craggy rock it was built on, you’ll navigate a small trail right up into the castle. You can easily imagine why someone built a castle here – no one could attack this place.
From the castle, there is another gentle hike back to Filisur. In the village itself, you’ll see the beautiful Engadin-style houses. Some are centuries old and decorated with paintings or the sgraffiti that is popular in the nearby Engadin Valley.
After wandering through the village, and admiring all the beautiful architecture, return to Filisur Station for an unbelievably delicious lunch. Who’d have thought such good food was available in a train station. I highly recommend their version of the local Gerstensuppe (barley soup).
Into the Snowy Dischmatal and a Rösti Reward
Whenever I have visited the Dischmatal (tal means valley) it has always been quite a few degrees colder than anywhere else around Klosters and Davos. Our latest trip, in late September, was no different – already there was snow on the ground and the temperature had dropped to quite a few degrees below freezing. Our fellow bus riders (again a free bus ride with the card) did look a little aghast at the crazy mountain man who was going into the cold, snowy valley in shorts.
This upper reach of the Dischmatal is a summer alp, and you may still see some cows up here in late September. However, with the snow blanketing the ground, you wonder how they find any food in this bleak landscape.
One of my wife’s favourite spots along this trail is the barn with the goats. These guys are super friendly and always happy to let you scratch their heads. They seem to be rather spoiled.
Soon, you’ll start coming out of the snow zone and pass a few small farms.
And then, “Oh happiness,” the target is in sight – Am Teufi. A few barns and a fantastic little restaurant. Our pace quickens.
And here is our reward. I’d plow through a blizzard for the Rösti at Am Teufi. This is absolutely the best Rösti I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve eaten a lot of this delicious potato dish). The Rösti at Am Teufi is consistently delicious, especially when smothered with fried eggs and bacon. And it is a much more reasonable price up here than in any of the fancy restaurants in town.
Up Behind the Moon to the Highest Brewery in Switzerland
The village of Monstein bills itself as “Hinter dem Mond” (behind the moon) and after you visit this remote, high-altitude village you’ll be likely to agree. They also have the highest altitude brewery in Switzerland. It makes some of the best beer you’ll taste in Switzerland – how could they not when they are tapping water this high up.
To get to Monstein, use your card to take the train from Davos to Glaris. From Glaris you can either hike up a bit and connect to the forest road to Monstein, or make even more use of your card to ride the Rinerhorn cable car up to the top of the mountain, and then hike down to the forest road.
From the Rinerhorn, hike down through some small alp farms and the hamlet of Spina. In Spina, be sure to stop at the VIP Lounge.
A quiet walk through the forest on a narrow dirt road, brings you to the tiny hamlet of Monstein. A beautiful old church seems to cling to the mountainside, and pastures sweep down towards the valley far below.
The hamlet itself is a collection of old Walser-style houses and barns – and, of course, the brewery.
Hiking down from Monstein on the other side, be on the lookout for wild raspberries. We found a profuse bramble of raspberries in a clearing on the side of the mountain and gorged ourselves on the delicious berries.
Through a Rugged Gorge and a Bratwurst Roast
Coming out in the valley below, you now have a choice – take the train back from Davos Monstein Station or keep going away from Davos, through Schmelzboden and into the Zügenschlucht – Zügen Gorge.
This is the old road – the one we used to bravely follow to get to Filisur before the safer road was built around this avalanche-prone gorge in 1974. You’ll pass through tunnels, under the tall stone bridges of the train line to Filisur, and peer down into the wild waters of the gorge.
And then, finally, it’s lunchtime. A fire pit with an ample supply of firewood allows us to build a roaring fire. Not only great to sit around as the air is a wee bit chilly in late September, but also the best way I know to eat Bratwurst, Cervela, or other sausages. Just pop then on a stick and roast. With a little mustard and a crusty roll – delicious!
Continuing on through the gorge, you’ll come out at the whistle stop of Wiesen. Look for the absolutely bizarre bar/restaurant near the station. An unlikely party place, but rocking when we passed by.
At Wiesen Station, be sure to push the button for Davos, so the train knows to stop for you. Again, your Davos-Klosters Inclusive card gets you a free ride back to Davos, and from there on to Klosters.
Up to Schatzalp and an Alp Farm Cafe
Schatzalp is another of the many alps (summer farms) above Davos, and a cable car will whisk you up there. Of course, free with your Inclusive card.
This is a gentle and peaceful hike (we only met one other hiker the whole hike, and he was an older Japanese photographer).
After passing through a herd of friendly cows, we come out by a small alp farm at Stafelalp. And a nice surprise. One of the buildings has been turned into a cafe.
Approaching the cafe, with a few farmers having an afternoon coffee or Kirsch, we felt like real tourists. However, we received the usual friendly Swiss welcome and hospitality.
Inside, it’s cosy and warm. The tables are small and quaint. The torte (Wehe) are delicious. And there’s a great view out the small window by our table.
Then, it’s a long downhill run towards Frauenkirch. There, we can catch the train back to Davos – free of course.
Take Advantage of the Davos-Klosters Inclusive Card
So, if you’re staying in this mountain paradise, make sure you get your card right away. There are so many more places to explore (up the Jakobshorn and back into Sertig, up Madrisa and all the trails on that mountain, into the Fluela Pass) and your card will take you there – for free.
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