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AROSA was discovered by the outside world in 1883 when Dr Otto Herwig-Hold, on a skiing tour of the remote mountains south of Chur, came across the little community – a perfect spot to build his new tuberculosis sanatorium. The chest patients of old have long since given way to winter- and summer-sports enthusiasts, and the little isolated village has developed into one of Graubünden’s most acclaimed resorts, yet it’s still small enough to have retained its atmosphere and lacks even a trace of the hotshot swagger of Davos or St Moritz.
Arosa lies at the end of a single, spectacular road which cuts its way up into a sheer and narrow valley southeast of Chur, passing on the way through a succession of idyllic terraced villages and offering vistas breathtaking enough to make you want to stop and gape every three minutes – which you could do, but for the fact that in the 32km journey, there’s a total of 244 switchbacks. It’s easier, and no less spectacular, to take the narrow-gauge RhB train direct to Arosa, which departs from the forecourt of Chur station and shadows the road all the way up.
Arosa occupies the broad sunny bowl of the Schanfigg, surrounded on all sides by snowy peaks – the Weisshorn (2653m) is the main focus due west of the resort, along with the Hörnli (2512m) to the south and the Brüggerhorn (2401m) to the north. The town itself consists of two areas: the main resort is Ausserarosa, clustered around the train station and the Obersee lakelet; while the older village at the upper end of the valley is dubbed Innerarosa. Arosa’s skiing is excellent, with over 70km of mostly blue and red pistes sidewinding down the gentle sunny slopes around the resort; beginners will feel especially at home. There’s also 25km of cross-country pistes in and around the resort. Lifts and a gondola rise from the Obersee to the Weisshorn (with a chairlift from halfway up branching over to the Brüggerhorn), and at the very end of the road in Innerarosa there’s another gondola connecting to the Hörnli.
There are several good high-altitude summer hikes: from the Weisshorn summit, a scenic and easygoing four-hour trail heads over the Carmennapass and through the lonely Urden valley to Tschiertschen, connected to Chur by postbus; or you could head across the meadows from the Weisshorn middle station to Alpenblick and the tranquil Schwellisee before returning to Arosa (3hr). Another dramatic route leads off the back of the Hörnli summit and across the peaks to the Parpaner Rothorn (2861m), from where cable-cars run down to Lenzerheide, near Valbella 12km south of Chur, and connected to Chur by bus.
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