|Scuol and around|
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The road from Davos over the dramatic, icy Flüela Pass drops down into the Engadine at the gateway village of SUSCH, a perfect introduction to the valley, its cobbled alleys filled with the rushing noise of the River Inn. Set picturesquely amidst the sgraffitied houses, the Baselgia San Jon boasts two towers – one Romanesque, the other late Gothic. To the east, beyond the ruined castle of Chaschinas on its hill, rears the giant Piz Arpiglias (3027m). The road to Scuol continues from Susch through tremendous scenery between the high, wooded valley walls; along the way is a string of alluring little villages, most positioned slightly above the valley-floor road and rail line. Some 7km northeast of Susch on a lofty perch above the river, GUARDA is especially gorgeous, its architecture and traditional sgraffiti meriting a federal order of protection. Just beyond, Ardez and Ftan are both equally worthy of a stop.
Some 22km east of Susch, the lively town of SCUOL (pronounced sh-kwol), known as Schuls in German, is beautifully located in a sunny, open part of the Inn valley at the end of the train line. Its reputation is built on its history as a spa town, a reputation shared by its neighbours across the river, Vulpera and Tarasp. In the centre of Scuol, the huge new Bogn Engiadina complex (Engadine Baths; daily 10am–10pm; 081/861 20 00) offers a range of pools and treatments, including saunas and both indoor and outdoor Finnish baths (Fr.23), as well as a heavenly two-hour session in the Roman-Irish baths (reserve one day ahead; Fr.54) which takes in the whole works: warm and hot rooms, vapour baths, massages, mineral plunge pools and more. Little-used streets behind the baths head down the hill into Scuol’s picture-pretty Old Town, filled with traditional houses, tinkling fountains and an especially photogenic village square. The view of Chaste Tarasp (Tarasp Castle) on the opposite bank is now overshadowed a little by a modern hotel – the panorama from Ftan is better – but the castle is still worth a closer look; buses or a ninety-minute walk bring you to the gates. Parts of the restored seventeenth-century castle survive from its construction in 1040, and it was the seat of Austrian bailiffs of the region until Graubünden joined the Confederation in 1803. Guided tours of the interior are in German only (June–Sept daily; contact tourist office for times and prices; SMP). The Motta Naluns ski area (2146m, with lifts up to 2800m) offers plenty of easy and intermediate runs, including long, thrilling reds from Piz Champatsch 12km back down to Scuol. Scuol’s snowboarding school is the oldest in Europe. A one-day lift pass is Fr.43, or Fr.57 to include a session at the Bogn Engiadina afterwards.
East of Scuol, postbuses penetrate the wilder reaches of the valley up to the Austrian border and on to the Tyrolean hub of Landeck. Just before the frontier, a minor road curls back to climb into a cramped, isolated valley, at the very end of which sits Samnaun (www.samnaun.ch), the only German-speaking community in the region and, for some bizarre reason, a duty-free area. The whole place is crammed with banks, shops and cut-price petrol stations, all open long hours including Sundays. A tough, multi-day hiking trail leads from Samnaun over the Zeblasjoch pass to the famous Austrian resort of Ischgl.
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