This Under-the-radar Swiss Town Is a Mountain Lover's Dream — With Walking Trails, Luxury Hotels, and a Stunning Train Ride
The Arosa train line snakes its way up into the mountains from the small Swiss city of Chur, gaining more than 3,000 feet of elevation in just 16 miles. About 40 minutes into the one-hour journey, the train veers right at the town of Langwies to traverse the Langwieser Viaduct, a soaring feat of Swiss engineering about as picturesque as they come. So, by the time the train pulls into Arosa, there's a real sense of arrival.
You're at the end of the line, high in the mountains. You've crossed a fabulous bridge to get here, and all that's left to enjoy is an idyllic mountain village, tucked into a valley bookended with snow-capped peaks. Step off the train and you'll find a vendor selling warm, spiced glühwein, and horse-drawn carriages awaiting to bring you to your hotel. This is the postcard-worthy Swiss town of your dreams.
Arosa isn't huge on the international ski circuit, but it's well-known within Switzerland — as a place for families to teach their children how to ski, as a last-minute city escape for young Zürich couples, and as a more accessible ski town compared to the glitzy, more expensive alternatives like St. Moritz and Gstaad. And what Arosa lacks in Chanel boutiques or annual snow polo competitions, it more than makes up for with charm.
While Arosa might not be the grandest Swiss ski town, there's still a range of things to explore here — from luxury hotels and experiences to pulse-pounding year-round outdoor adventures and annual events like the beloved Arosa Gay Ski Week. If you're looking for a Swiss mountain fix, we suggest you give this town a look. Here's where to start to make the most of your visit.
Where to Stay in Arosa
Tschuggen Grand Hotel
If you're looking to spend, this is where to do it. The Tschuggen Grand Hotel offers all the bells and whistles of a proper mountain hotel — a fabulous spa, an on-site ski shop and lockers, whip-smart concierges to advise on how to best tackle the mountains — but it's the truly over-the-top amenity of a private on-site gondola that makes the expense worth it. For the Swiss, the hotel is synonymous with the best that Arosa has to offer. "We have a lot of families who are repeat guests," said Stefan Noll, the hotel's general manager. "Some have been coming for three generations."
Valsana Hotel & Apartments
Some come to the Alps for traditional hotels, while others look for something a little more modern — and the Valsana hits the spot. Located in the heart of town just across the Obersee pond from the train station, the Valsana offers modern rooms that appeal to younger travelers, as well as apartment-style accommodations that are great for groups. The property is also a leader in sustainability, with a carbon-conscious experience from check-in to checkout. This includes a predominantly paperless check-in process, recycling of Nespresso capsules from the rooms, sustainable mattresses, organic spa products, and being the first hotel in Switzerland to be heated entirely off geothermal energy.
What to See in Arosa
If you're coming in the winter months, all roads lead to Arosa Lenzerheide, the town's ski resort that connects Arosa and Lenzerheide (in a neighboring valley) for a truly enormous terrain offering. While there are a few advanced ski trails for thrill-seekers, the bulk of Arosa's skiing airs on the beginner/intermediate side, with plenty of gentle slopes and rolling groomers for lower-intensity — yet still thoroughly enjoyable — skiing.
Something that sets Arosa apart from other Swiss mountain towns is its abundance of walking trails, which are maintained by the ski resort in both the winter and summer. Even nonskiers will have an abundance of terrain to explore. And in a country known for its fabulous alpine hut scene usually reserved for skiers and serious climbers, all of Arosa's huts can be reached via the walking trails, so everyone can enjoy a drink, snack, and the views from higher elevations.
Arosa Bear Sanctuary
Although there are no more wild bears in Switzerland, the Arosa Bear Sanctuary offers a happy home for the rescued animals, in addition to a viewing platform from which guests can experience the majesty of these creatures in an alpine setting.
What to Eat and Drink in Arosa
Il Primo Posto
Elegant Italian fare is the name of the game at this fine-dining establishment, often considered the best table to book in Arosa. Il Primo Posto's menu is filled with refined takes on Italian classics, like pillowy truffle ravioli and whole-cooked branzino. There's also a filler wine list with offerings from across Europe, as well as some local Swiss favorites.
Located on the lower level of the Tschuggen Grand Hotel, The Basement feels like a secret hideout, complete with a lively bar scene and its own private bowling alley. If you're looking for a no-fuss burger or salad, this is the place to go. Don't leave without trying the famous Arosa cheesecake, served with a dollop of cranberry sorbet — it's one of the must-try foods that somehow tastes even better in an alpine setting such as this.
Güterschuppen's cozy fireplace and banquettes piled high with pillows are the place to be for brunch, après-ski drinks, and dinner. The menu at this unpretentious, modern eatery is international, with a few hints of alpine influence — meat eaters will love the tender beef ribs that fall off the bone, and for vegans, there's a veggie tajine over cranberry couscous.