If you’re visiting Grisons (Graubünden in German), one of Switzerland’s most touristy regions, you might wonder which is better: Davos or Arosa? It’s important to know which place is right for you because each has its advantages and characteristics. Here’s a guide to help you decide between two.
Davos and Arosa, both in Graubünden, are well-liked mountain destinations. Davos is famous for skiing and hosting the annual World Economic Forum (WEF), while Arosa is a picturesque mountain village with a strong cultural heritage, ideal for families and couples.
Overview: Davos vs. Arosa
You can’t go wrong with Davos or Arosa. There’s plenty to do, shops, and restaurants in both Davos and Arosa.
Hotel options are aplenty in Davos and Arosa. Davos is a busier alpine resort with modern buildings that attract tourists of all kinds. Arosa has more alpine chic wooden chalets, reminiscent of its Walser past.
From a geographical perspective, they are also quite similar. They are both high alpine towns with easy access to many mountains and good skiing possibilities. They are also located quite close to each other.
Key Differences: Davos vs. Arosa
The key differences between Davos and Arosa are as follows:
|Population: approx. 10,898||Population: approx. 3,132|
|Total Area: 284 km²||Total Area: 154.79 km²|
|Elevation: 1,560 meters||Elevation: 1,775 meters|
|Well-known mountain health resort known for hosting the World Economic Forum||A charming mountain resort in the Plessur Region|
|Highlights: Jakobshorn, Pischa, Parsenn, Rinerhorn, Schatzalp, Davos Sertig, Davos Monstein, Flüelapass||Highlights: Arosa Bear Sanctuary, Carschlingg Archeological Site, Langwieser Viaduct|
|Lakes: Lake Davos||Lake: Lake Obersee, Lake Untersee|
|River: Landwasser||River: Plessur|
Which is Better: Davos or Arosa?
The houses in Arosa have a traditional alpine design similar to Verbier, Wengen, Klosters, and Mürren. Davos, on the other hand, has more modern-looking hotels and apartment blocks, and the feel and appearance are more cosmopolitan and sleek.
Davos is famous for hosting the world’s top leaders every year during the World Economic Forum. But not only that. It is also a popular ski resort and one of the highest towns in Switzerland at 1,560 meters above sea level. There are tons of ski resorts in the town, each with its advantages.
For those who want something quieter, Davos has side valleys to visit such as Sertig Valley. In summer, Davos Lake has swimming areas, as well as possibilities to sail and surf.
You’ll find plenty to do in Davos if you spend a day or two there. You can visit the following in Davos:
- Parsenn – The biggest ski resort in Davos Klosters, Parsenn is the perfect ski area for ski fans. It also has one of the longest downhills in Europe. It’s also worth doing the panorama trail on Parsenn in the summer.
- Jakobshorn – Winter in Jakobshorn means freestyle, crazy events, and après-ski parties. In the summer, Jakobshorn is ideal for biking and hiking. From Jakobshorn, you can get to Sertig via Jatzhorn.
- Pischa – Pischa does not have any prepared slopes. A quiet and sunny mountain, Pischa has natural snow and is perfect for alternative winter sports.
- Rinerhorn – The perfect ski resort for beginners, families, and those who want to take it slow and easy. Two nights a week they do night skiing and tobogganing. In summer, they have a petting zoo, a playground, and downhill scooters.
- Schatzalp – A small and easy mountain that is perfect for those who want to take it slow as well as families with smaller children.
- Davos Monstein – Davos Monstein is a charming little village perched above the Landwasser Valley. In addition, it’s home to the highest brewery in Switzerland.
- Davos Sertig – Davos Sertig or Sertig-Dörfli is a small and idyllic village away from the hustle and bustle of Davos town. It is incredibly picturesque and is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Graubüden.
- Flüelapass – This high mountain pass near Davos crosses the divide between the Rhine and Danube basins.
Arosa is a charming Alpine village with wooden chalets, ski areas, and many alpine lakes. It is a municipality in the Plessur Alps and surrounded by mountains, including the Weisshorn and the Hörnli. The village center is picturesque, though quite small, with a small lake welcoming you. It is also home to the Arosa-Lenzerheide ski resort. Nonetheless, it is charming and cozy.
- Lake Obersee – Lake Obersee in Arosa is a serene, frozen wonderland in winter, perfect for ice skating and curling.
- 10 Lakes – Explore the 10 Arosa lakes by hiking, look for blue and white plates at each lake’s outflow, match the numbers in the themed trail booklet, and, once you’ve completed the hike, receive a special gift from Arosa Tourism.
- Arosa Bear Sanctuary – You can observe several rescued bears in a natural environment from a viewing platform and learn about bear conservation.
- Squirrel Path – The Squirrel Path is a popular and short trail where squirrels come right up to you and eat from your hand.
- Landwies Viaduct – The Langwies Viaduct, an engineering marvel of the Rhaetian Railway, rises 62 meters above a gorge where the Plessur and Sapün rivers converge. It is celebrated for its innovative 287-meter reinforced concrete structure that opened in 1914.
- Bergkirchli Chapel – The Bergkirchli Chapel is a small, simple, mountain chapel offering a peaceful atmosphere and breathtaking mountain scenery.
Skiing: Davos vs. Arosa
There are five skiing areas near Davos. It is one huge winter arena with more than 300 kilometers of slopes, 100 kilometers of cross-country ski tracks, 58 ski lifts, two ice skating rinks, and curling fields. The five skiing areas around Davos are:
Arosa, on the other hand, has one large ski resort shared with Lenzerheide.
Ski Pistes: Davos vs. Arosa
Below we have two tables comparing the slopes of other ski resorts in Davos Klosters Parsenn and Arosa Lenzerheide, which are the two largest ski resorts in both ski towns.
|Pistes (in km)||Arosa Lenzerheide||Davos Klosters Parsenn|
|Ski season||December to mid-April||mid-November to mid-April|
Davos has some smaller ski resorts that may not be as big as Klosters Parsenn but are still great places to visit for some people.
|Pistes (in km)||Davos Rinerhorn||Davos Jakobshorn||Davos Pischa||Davos Schatzalp – Strela|
|Ski season (Expected)||mid-December to the end of March||early December to mid-April||end of December to mid-March||mid-December to early April|
Cross-country Trails: Davos vs. Arosa
Both regions have beginner and advanced cross-country ski trails, so cross-country skiers will have a blast. Davos has more cross-country track trails compared to Arosa.
|Cross-country Trails (in km)||Davos||Arosa|
|Classic Cross-country Trails||75.8||29|
|Skating Cross-country Trails||56.4||20|
|Night-time Cross-country Trails||2.6||2|
|Dog Trails||18.5 km||–|
Hotels: Davos vs. Arosa
Both Davos and Arosa provide various types of places to stay, including luxury and mid-range hotels. Arosa has numerous apartments that you can rent.
Our recommendations for hotels in Switzerland are based on our personal experiences or user reviews. I highly recommend using Booking.com. It is a fantastic way to find hotels in Switzerland.
Hotels in Davos
- Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvedere (5-star) – The 5-star Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvedere, located in the heart of Davos, is just a 3-minute walk from the convention center. Originally opened in 1875 as the Grand Hotel Davos, it has a fantastic wellness area, fitness facilities, saunas, and a steam bath. It also offers guests the choice of enjoying international and local specialties. Additionally, a free shuttle service from the train station is available.
- Precise Tale Seehof Davos (5-star) – Located adjacent to the Parsenn Cable Car, the Precise Tale Seehof is a luxurious 5-star hotel that provides direct access to skiing and hiking trails in Davos. With a choice of several restaurants, a rich breakfast buffet, and spa facilities, it’s an elegant yet practical choice for a stay in the area.
- AlpenGold Hotel Davos (5-star) – The AlpenGold Hotel Davos, formerly known as Hotel Intercontinental, offers an array of amenities that make it the ideal family hotel in Davos. Guests can take advantage of both indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and wellness center, ski storage, and an on-site ski school. With three a-la-carte restaurants to choose from and a kid’s and teenager’s club, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
- AMERON Davos Swiss Mountain Resort (4-star) – The AMERON Davos Swiss Mountain Resort is an excellent value-for-money hotel with an indoor pool, fitness facilities, and a large spa center. Rooms feature furnished balconies with mountain views, while dining options include on-site restaurants and nearby venues in Davos. Families can take advantage of the free kids club and small playground, and the hotel offers tour and luggage storage, as well as ski storage facilities. Overall, it’s a top pick and my personal favorite for its amenities and affordability.
- Grischa – Das Hotel Davos (4-star*) – The 4-star superior Hotel Grischa in Davos boasts the best location for both skiing and exploring the city, with the Jakobshorn Cable Car just 100 meters away and the center of Davos just 200 meters away. The hotel offers five restaurants, and the Davos-Platz Train Station is conveniently located across the street. Guests will find everything they need within walking distance, including ski rentals and a small grocery store. The hotel staff is friendly and welcoming, and the rooms feature a small balcony and offer great value for the price.
- ALPINE INN Davos (3-star) – ALPINE INN Davos is ideally located in the heart of the city with easy access to ski lifts and other attractions. The ski room was excellent, equipped with proper ventilation and boot dryers to keep ski gear in top condition, while the breakfast was outstanding with a wide variety of high-quality products.
Hotels in Arosa
- Arosa Kulm Hotel & Alpin Spa (5-star) – The Arosa Kulm Hotel is a 5-star mountain retreat in the Arosa-Lenzerheide Ski Area with ski-to-door access, stunning Grisons Alps views, and a range of amenities, including free WiFi, Alpine-style rooms, six restaurants, and two bars, making it a perfect destination for both relaxation and exploration. It’s known for its excellent buffet breakfast, central location, and attentive staff that ensure a pleasant stay.
- Tschuggen Grand Hotel – The Leading Hotels of the World (5-star) – Tschuggen Grand Hotel offers a luxurious alpine getaway with a private cable car to the ski and hiking area, gourmet dining, and the sprawling 16,404 square feet Tschuggen Bergoase spa. With 128 rooms and suites designed by Swiss architect Carlo Rampazzi, the hotel features a contemporary style and stunning views, and guests can indulge in fine cuisine at four on-site restaurants.
- BelArosa Super Hotel (4-star) – The BelArosa Superior Hotel, designed in Alpine style, offers ski-to-door access and modern spa facilities, just a 5-minute walk from Arosa’s center, the train station, and cable cars, with spacious rooms and suites featuring balconies and kitchenettes, and during the summer, guests enjoy extra perks with the Arosa Card.
- Valsana Hotel Arosa (4-star) – The eco-friendly Valsana Hotel comprises three modern wood and stone buildings, with convenient ski access and nearby facilities including a supermarket and sports shop on the ground floor, along with a picturesque sun terrace for dining, and spacious wellness and spa facilities.
- Hotel Hohe Promenade (3-star) – A good value-money-deal, the family-run Hotel Hohe Promenade in Arosa offers a peaceful yet central location, including amenities like a sauna and free WiFi, with Arosa’s attractions just a short walk away.
Summary: Davos vs. Arosa
In my opinion, if you’re thinking of skiing in the mountains, then you can choose either of those and be happy. There are excellent ski resorts and cross-country ski tracks around both of them. They also have beautiful mountains and lakes.
If you’re looking for a place with plenty to do, Davos is the way to go. It’s a practical town with outdoor activities, mountains, shops, restaurants, and lots of hotels. On the other hand, if you’re after a quieter vibe, especially with the family in tow, Arosa is perfect. It’s known for being family-friendly and offers a more relaxed experience. The town is also home to several high-end hotels and wellness centers.
Here is a summary of the advantages of visiting either Davos or Arosa.
Advantages of Visiting Davos
- There are more hotels and restaurants in Davos because it is a larger town. It is more vibrant and bustling.
- Davos showcases more modern architecture, with some grand hotels and contemporary buildings.
- Davos is energetic and has a cosmopolitan vibe. It also attracts more business professionals. It hosts the annual World Economic Forum which draws many influential business leaders, politicians, and intellectuals every year.
- Known as one of the largest ski resorts in the Alps, Davos offers a wide array of ski slopes catering to all levels of expertise.
- Davos features numerous cross-country skiing trails compared to Arosa.
- Sports enthusiasts are drawn to Davos due to its extensive offering of sports activities, especially in the mountains.
Advantages of Visiting Arosa
- Arosa, at 1,775 meters, is situated at a higher elevation than Davos, which is at 1,500 meters. This difference means that Arosa often has more snow in the winter.
- Arosa has a smaller population. It gives a more tranquil and intimate atmosphere.
- Arosa still retains its traditional alpine charm, featuring mostly picturesque chalet-style architecture and quaint village streets.
- Arosa is a better destination for families with young children.
- If you’re into apartment-style accommodation, you’re in luck – there are plenty of choices available in Arosa. You’ll also find plenty of hotels with swimming pools and wellness amenities.
- Those who prefer more quiet surroundings may find Arosa more suitable.
- Arosa Lenzerheide offers more slopes than Davos Klosters Parsenn, but it’s a single resort. Davos, on the other hand, has additional options like Rinerhorn, Jakobshorn, and Schatzalp-Strela.
In my opinion, Davos is the more practical option due to the many mountain resorts, hotels, and restaurants in the area. However, I find Arosa to be more beautiful and family-friendly. While I do have a slight preference for Arosa because it suits our needs better and I find it more beautiful, I’ve visited both resorts and can wholeheartedly recommend either of them to everyone.
Thanks for checking out our comparison between Davos and Arosa. No matter where you go, have fun!
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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.