Sign Up for Our Monthly Europe Newsletter
Most Americans know Davos, Switzerland, as the home of the annual World Economic Forum, which brings together many of the planet’s most important business and political leaders. But this Alpine ski town is more than just a hub for the rich and powerful — and there is more to do than just hit the slopes.
Visitors heading to Davos will find a slew of unique and quirky attractions, especially if they make the very worthwhile investment in a Swiss Travel Pass, which allows clients to get all around the country by rail with remarkable ease. Below are five great nonskiing activities.
Don’t Forget KlostersKlosters, Davos’ sister city, is only about 7 miles away from Davos — a short train ride on Swiss Rail. Klosters may not be known by many U.S. travelers, but it’s well-known to Europeans for its Alpine beauty, amazing skiing and for being a favorite getaway of the British royal family.
Locals think of Davos (population 11,000) as “urban” and Klosters (population 3,800) as “idyllic.” But I’m willing to bet that most travelers will think that both cities are quaint small towns. Nevertheless, wandering the charming streets of Klosters feels like stepping back in time.
Spend a Day at the Schaltzalp Located high in the hills above Davos, Hotel Davos Schaltzalp has been welcoming guests since 1900, when this grand hotel opened as one of the first sanitariums for people with respiratory ailments, such as tuberculosis. It is widely considered the setting for the famous novel “The Magic Mountain,” by Thomas Mann, whose wife was a patient here.
Today, Hotel Davos Schaltzalp still welcomes guests who want to sample this old-world-style hospitality. Those who prefer to just visit Schaltzalp can ride the funicular (cable railway) from downtown Davos up to the resort. There, they can have a drink in the hotel’s wood-soaked bar; sit out in the lovely gardens; hike the trails that run throughout the hills; or have lunch at the Panorama Restaurant Schaltzalp and enjoy the view.
Down a Few in MonsteinJust 13 miles from Davos is the village of Monstein. The scenic rural setting here is reason enough to visit, but this is also the home of BierVision Monstein AG, also known as “the last beer stop before heaven.”
This small, regional craft brewery — one of the highest in Europe in terms of altitude — distributes its Monsteiner beer throughout Switzerland and has come to be known as a top small producer in the region. Visitors can take a tour of the operation, which is in a 100-year-old former village dairy, then go down to the basement tasting room (the former cheese-aging room) to sample some of the varieties.
Producing Monsteiner beer is a communal effort, with many in the tiny village involved in the production — a fact that is evident from all the beer steins hanging on the tasting room wall with villagers’ names on them. That way, when they stop by for a beer, they can use their own glass. After sampling the brew, visitors should take a short hike up the hill to the restaurant at Hotel Ducan, which serves local specialties.
Sail Away on Lake DavosIn spring and summer, visitors should be sure to sample the watersports on Lake Davos. This high-mountain lake, with about 3 miles of shoreline, features opportunities for swimming, sailing, windsurfing and more. The water might be a tad chilly (OK, it’s cold), but the setting — featuring amazing mountain peaks surrounding a green valley — make it a beautiful spot for a dip.
Face Off at Vaillant ArenaDespite its small size, Davos is home to one of Europe’s best ice hockey arenas: the Vaillant Arena, formerly known as Davos Ice Stadium. This venue, whose interior feels like it’s entirely made of wood, is where the annual Spengler Cup international ice hockey tournament takes place.
It’s also the home of Hockey Club Davos, a professional ice hockey team with a huge following. Visitors can take in a home game and cheer for the blue and gold along with the crowd. There’s not a bad seat in the house, and it’s a great way to rub shoulders with the locals.
WHERE TO STAY
Arabella Hotel Waldhuus DavosVisitors to Davos have many accommodation options, but a top choice should be Arabella Hotel Waldhuus Davos. This mountain lodge-like property is modern and comfortable, features a comfortable bar and is walking distance to downtown Davos. It is also adjacent to an 18-hole golf course.