“Why travel far when the good is so close at hand?” is a legitimate question, especially in Switzerland.
But lets focus on today’s destination – Chur – the capital of the largest canton in terms of surface area. No matter whether you want to experience mountain magic or pulsating city life. The Alpine town and also the oldest town in Switzerland has both to offer. Chur is located in the Rhine valley in the middle of an alpine mountain world and attracts attention with its picturesque old town and nature. Now I would like to show you some of the most beautiful corners of the city and for my dear hiking friends I would like to present three great destinations that start directly in the city.
Chur: The oldtown
Chur is not only known for its more than 5000 year old settlement history, but also for its old town, which is one of the most beautiful in Switzerland. And no, I’m not just saying that as a local, really! Why else would tourists from all over the world travel to Chur to explore the winding alleys, the episcopal castle, the cathedral or the Arcas? Today the old town is almost free of traffic and this makes it especially attractive to enjoy the coffee or ice cream outside. Which brings us to the first point: My three favourite cafés in Chur, which are definitely worth a visit and a delightful experience!
Culinary delights in Chur
The restaurant and café Evviva Plankis is located on the Kornplatz. Many of the incredibly tasty products and dishes are lovingly handmade and the ingredients are almost entirely obtained from their own garden, bakery and farm. You will find traditional delicacies like Capuns, Maluns or Bündner Nussorte. My tip is especially the unique gelati, which convince with unusual taste variations, like Bündner Röteli. What I particularly like is that the production of the products and the operation of the café is supported by people with disabilities.
The small café at the Untertor invites you with its wonderfully fragrant coffee and tea specialities. For the hungry city explorers among us, the tarte flambée is especially recommended, but you will also find sweet treats from regional production.
Picture: Website Kaffee Eugen.
The latest hotspot for a cosy brunch in a living room atmosphere is not directly in the old town itself, but just nearby. I am already familiar with the concept from Davos, and now I am all the more pleased that KaffeeKlatsch has opened its doors in the historic post office building since December 2019. Here you will also find a lot of homemade food from local production.
Picture: Webiste Kaffee Klatsch
Sightseeing in Chur
Cathedral & Bishop’s Court
Above the old town is the impressive cultural monument (also one of the most important in Switzerland). The episcopal court was already settled in pre-Roman times and was an important Roman base on the north-south axis. Also the cathedral is already 800 years old and after various restoration works it shines in its most beautiful splendour!
This church dominates the cityscape of Chur and I myself have to stop briefly each time to admire the impressive tower. For years my way to school went directly past the church and I loved the traditional Gänggelimarkt (flea market) and weekly market (farmers’ market) at the foot of the church. Even today, I return every year with great anticipation to the Christmas market (the most famous one, by the way!) and enjoy the view of the church with a mulled wine.
Arcas & Obertor
Directly from the Martinskirche the Arcas invites you to stroll. The Arcas with its historic rows of houses is probably the most beautiful place in Chur. Here, events take place again and again, and indeed, the picturesque scenery is unique. A few minutes walk from the Arcas is the Obertor, which is the southern entrance to the old town. The archway is also a landmark of the capital of Graubünden and my little insider tip is still to be seen here in the Obertor confectionery: You can get all the sweet specialities of Chur here!
Shopping in Chur
On my voyage of discovery I was unbelievably positively surprised! Because normally Chur is rather slow in adapting new concepts and trends. I am all the more enthusiastic about the ZeroWaste shop with integrated coffee. If you want to reduce your ecological footprint and consume it as unpackaged as possible, you should definitely stop by in Paradiesgasse. At home in the heart of the old town, you can stop by on every stroll through the city. My tip: The almond paste is unbelievable good ;)”
“Bühler’s Zuckerbäckerei” is the oldest still existing production facility of the bakery, confectionery and pastry industry in the cantonal capital. So if you want to take a delicious souvenir, such as the local specialities ‘Bündner Nusstorte’ or ‘Röteli’, you should take a look at the heavenly-scented bakery at the Obertor.
Hiking Routes around Chur
Chur is an ideal hiking base. Directly from the city you can start your hiking adventure on foot, with the mountain railway or bus. Here are my three favourite places, which I like to visit, if I want to start from Chur.
What most people don’t know is that Brambrüesch, Chur’s local mountain, attracts visitors all year round with a great offer. In winter the region offers the largest and best range of snowshoe hiking trails and in summer there is something for everyone, from enjoyable hikes to challenging hikes. Here I recommend the leisurely panoramic hike from the Brambrüesch plateau, always slightly downhill to the Känzeli middle station. On the hike (distance: 5.4 km; duration: 1:15h) you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Schanfigg Valley, Arosa Weisshorn and Weissfluh Peak until you get a wonderful view of Chur shortly before the destination.
Picture: Website Brambüsch Bahn
This hike reminds me of my school days, when every year in May we all the school children of the whole town moved to Maiensäss. The start is at the Fürstenwald, from where it is a steady climb up to the Mittenberg, which I particularly like because of the wonderful panoramic view over the Rhine valley of Chur. From there you can take the same path back to the starting point. But I recommend to take the high trail to the village Maladers. From the village, the path leads back to Chur and one ends up right next to the cathedral and is in the middle of the old town.
(distance: 10.5 km; duration: 3:15h)”
Even though the castle is no longer on Chur soil, it is still worth a visit! The hike also starts in the Fürstenwald and leads up a pleasant path to the Trimmiser ‘Rüfen’. From there the signposting is a little bit hidden, but on the left behind the bushes there is a steep ascent to the ruin. The view from the ruins over the Rhine valley is unique and worthwhile. For the descent and the way back, you can take the same path or take one of the countless trails back to Chur Fürstenwald.
(distance: 7.5 km; duration: 2.40h)
I hope you enjoyed the trip with me to the Bündnerland and I am very happy if you convince yourselves of the beauty! The capital is often overlooked a bit because there are so many skiing and hiking areas in the area. You can find many more hiking adventures in the next Chur area on my blog. For example the 4-lake hike with the famous mountain lakes Crestasee and Caumasee, but also the high altitude trail Sardona with Segnesboden as a Unesco world heritage site is worth a visit. There are even more ideas on my Instagram Channel and if you have any other questions, just contact me directly.
Have you visited Chur before?