The Lakes Region of the Engadine Valley is home to Sils, one of the most scenic and serene areas of the region. The hospitality and tranquility you get are second to none. Located amidst picturesque lakes and mountains, it’s no wonder that artists and poets have sought refuge in this area. To make the most of your time in Sils, Switzerland, we present this article that discusses the 9 best things to do in Sils.
Sils (or Segl in Romansh) is so picturesque that it has attracted lots of artists, novelists, and musicians. It is surrounded by a huge expanse of flat land stretching between Lake Silvaplana and Lake Sils.
The village is divided into Sils-Maria (Maioria meaning feudal estate) and Sils-Baselgia (derived from the word Basilica). Sils municipality also includes Val Fex, Plaun da Lej, and the three alpine settlements Grevasalvas, Blaunca, and Buaira.
Here are 9 of the best things to do in Sils, Switzerland if you are considering visiting:
9 Best Things to Do in Sils, Switzerland
1. Embark on a Horse Carriage Ride to Val Fex
Beyond the village of Sils is the Val Fex (Fextal in German). Val Fex is a quiet valley between 1,800 and 2,000 meters above sea level with only a few residents and two small guest houses. The car-free valley is worth discovering for its quiet beauty, alpine flora, pine and larch forests, and sun-drenched landscape. Val Fex is a hiking paradise in the summer, with its wide-open meadows and pastures, shady woodland, and varied trails.
Val Fex can be explored at your own pace or by horse-drawn carriage. The horse carriage can take guests to Hotel Fex, where they can get off to take in the majestic views. Alp da Segl is only 15 minutes away from Hotel Fex.
If you want to learn more about Val Fex near Sils, we have written about it in detail here: Val Fex – One of Engadin’s Most Beautiful Valleys.
2. Enjoy Europe’s Highest Boat Cruise from Sils
At 1,800 meters above sea level, Captain Franco Giani runs the highest scheduled boat line in Europe. Holidaymakers and locals alike enjoy relaxing boat rides on MS Segl Maria, which crosses it three to four times a day. It is a quick, 40-minute route from Sils Maria to the Chastè peninsula via Plaun da Lej and Isola to Maloja.
On request, private boat tours are available at lunchtime and in the evening.
3. Explore Chastè Peninsula
With mountains, nature, and a lake surrounding it, Chastè is a magical wooded peninsula. A 300-meter stretch of the peninsula extends into Lake Sils at its northeast end. There are breathtaking views of the lake, Isola on the other side of the lake, as well as Maloja at its southwest edge. Mountain peaks and forests nearby look like smooth surfaces reflected in the lake on calm days.
It’s easy to hike around the peninsula of Chastè because there’s a well-marked trail. You should be able to finish it in 70 to 90 minutes. Many benches and paths are here for you to rest or enjoy the views.
If you would like to learn more about Chastè Peninsula, I recommend reading our article The Wonderful Lure Of Engadine’s Chastè Peninsula.
4. Hike around Furtschellas
Several hiking trails can be started from Furtschallas La Chüdera (2,313 meters above sea level), the mountain nearby. Among the most popular hiking trails are:
- Wasserweg (Water Trail) – A 2.5-hour tour that takes you to six small alpine lakes Lejin Cristal, Lejin Magnetit, Lejin Malachit, Lejin Rhodonit, Lejin S-chaglia, and Lejin Epidot.
- Via Gastronomica – A culinary trail that starts at La Chüdera mountain restaurant and leads to Val Fex Valley. You may have your lunch at Hotel Sonne Fex and your dessert at Hotel Seraina.
Elsewhere in the valley, you will have access to lots of other hiking trails, lakes, and fantastic views.
5. Take in the Stunning Views at Fuorcla Surlej
Fuorcla Surlej is without a doubt one of the most impressive viewpoints in Switzerland.
Fuorcla is a Romansh word meaning fork. The word comes from the Latin furcula meaning “small fork” or “small mountain pass”. The fork itself is a saddle between Piz Murtèl and Munt Arlas. Surlej village can be found beneath Fuorcla Surlej. And if you were curious where the name comes from, sur lej means super lacum, which translates to “over the lake”.
The views from Fuorcla Surlej are amazing. You can find the following mountain peaks along with their recorded heights (in meters):
- Piz Boval – 3,353 meters
- Piz Tschierva – 3,546 meters
- Piz Morteratsch – 3,751 meters
- Bernina Massif – 4,049 meters
- Piz Scerscen – 3,971 meters
- Piz Roseg – 3,937 meters
- Dschimels (The twins) – 3,479 meters and 3,508 meters
- Piz la Sella – 3,584 meters
- Piz Glüschaint – 3,593 meters
- Piz Chapütschin – 3,386 meters
If you would like to learn more about how to visit Fuorcla Surlej, I recommend checking out this article Fuorcla Surlej: One of Engadin’s Most Beautiful Viewpoints.
6. Tour Sils with a Guide
Touring Sils village with a guide is always a fantastic way to spend time. In the village, you can visit the Nietzsche House, the Engadiner Library, and the Church of San Lorenzo (Kirche San Lurench in German) in Sils-Beseglia. It also has beautiful houses (Andreoli and Salis houses).
Free guided tours are offered every Monday near the Church of San Lorenzo. You will need to register at the Tourist Information Office (Via da Marias 38 Sils Maria) or by phone +41 838 5050.
As an alternative, you can tour Sils Maria with a digital guide any time of the day. The digital guide can be accessed here: https://app.smartrails.ch/engadin/digitale-silser-dorffuhrung.
7. Swim in one of the Beautiful Lakes around Sils
As part of the lakes region, there is no shortage of lakes to swim in here during summer. There are over 50 lakes here that you can choose from. Some of the most popular ones include Lej Nair in Silvaplana, Chastè, and Lägh da Cavloc in Maloja.
In Sils, you may also want to check out Beach Club Sils on the northern shore of Lake Silvaplana. They have a playground, a sandbox, beach volleyball, as well as a restaurant.
8. Discover the Nietzsche House
Friedrich Nietzsche spent seven summers (1881 and 1883-1888) in the nearly 200-year-old house owned by the Durisch family in Sils Maria. The house remained privately owned for many years following Nietzsche’s visit. Featuring guest rooms, a museum, and a library, it is now devoted to his memory.
The Nietzsche House Sils-Maria Foundation was set up in 1959 by patrons who recognized the house’s cultural and historical significance. As a house for learning, it serves as a meeting place for artists, writers, scholars, students, journalists, and others interested in philosophy, literature, and culture. The Nietzsche House offers modest double rooms for limited stays for research (minimum 3 nights, maximum 3 weeks, for groups 1 week).
9. Ride the Engadine Trails on your Bike
As a mountain bike paradise, the region has beautiful biking trails parallel to the lakes, above Isola, and up to Val Bregaglia. Alternatively, you may bike to Val Fex or use the Maloja Express trail to get to Maloja Pass. In addition, you can also bike from Silvaplana to Lej Marsch, Lej Nair, Lej Zuppo, and Palüd Lungia via the Five Lakes Trail.
Hotels in Sils, Switzerland
Often overshadowed by its neighbor St. Moritz, Sils is an incredibly beautiful place to visit and stay. Some excellent hotels can be found in Sils, including Hotel Waldhaus, Parkhotel Margna Superior, and Edelweiss Swiss Quality Hotel.
Summary: Best Things to Do in Sils, Switzerland
The picturesque scenery of Sils in Switzerland makes it an excellent place for peace and tranquility. Large lakes lie at the bottom of the valley, along with smaller alpine lakes scattered throughout the region. Summer will be spent bathing in the lakes, winter will be spent skiing in the mountains, and autumn will bring golden hikes. Typically, we visit Sils either in autumn or in summer, and we enjoy both seasons. Sils offers many things to do, and this list is far from exhaustive.
Quite possibly one of the most soul-satisfying places in Switzerland, Sils is well worth exploring. We hope that you enjoy your time in Sils and find something on this list of things to do.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.