Discover the rich history and breathtaking natural beauty of the Swiss city of Chur. These are the best things to do in Chur.
Chur, said to be the oldest city in Switzerland, is a hidden gem. I visited this city during my interrail trip and I was pleasantly surprised!
Located in the heart of the picturesque region of Graubünden, Chur (you pronounce it Koer) is also the capital of the canton Graubünden. The charming city lies along the Rhine River and has a long history. Farmers lived on this site about 9,000 years ago, making it the oldest settlement in Switzerland. You can feel the history as you walk through the cobblestone streets with the old buildings.
The city is also a good base for exploring the Swiss Alps. From Chur, you can explore some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the region. It is also the starting point of the famous Bernina Express, which takes you through the beautiful Alpine landscapes.
So, if you are looking for a destination steeped in history, surrounded by breathtaking nature, and full of adventure opportunities, Chur is definitely a city not to be missed.
The best things to do in Chur
Want to visit Chur know what to do in Chur? I’ll tell you all about the most beautiful Chur sights, the best things to do in Chur and fun day trips.
Explore the Altstadt
The historic Altstadt (old city center) is the charming heart of Chur. Chur’s Altstad is largely car-free and it is a delight to wander through. Here you will find those beautiful narrow cobblestone streets and impressive historic buildings. The Altstadt is not very big; you’ll explore it in about an hour, maybe two hours if you take a lot of pictures.
When I was visiting Chur, I went for a walk in the Altstadt every day and barely saw any people. I was surprised to find such a quiet place in Europe and it’s so beautiful! This makes me thing that Chur is a hidden gem for sure.
Check out the Hofturn
The Hofturn is one of the first structures I saw in Chur. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find much information about it, but it is a tower with an old gate. You can walk through it by going up a flight of stairs. In the façade, you can see images of ancient shields. It is a very beautiful landmark.
On either side of the tower, you have a view of an important church, the Reformierte Martinskirche and the Kathedrale St. Martin. Mariä Himmelfahrt.
St. Martin’s Church is a historical masterpiece. It is a striking building with a brick facade and a slender 60-meter-high tower. St. Martin’s Church was originally a Romanesque church built in the eighth century.
During the city fire of 1464, the church was largely destroyed. The reconstruction was completed in 1491 and substantially renovated in the early twentieth century. During the same period, the church received beautiful stained glass paintings telling the Christmas story.
Cathedral St. Mariä Himmelfahrt
Chur Cathedral is the largest church in Switzerland and is one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Europe. There has been a church on this site since the fifth century and the present building dates from the twelfth century.
From the outside, the cathedral looks quite ordinary, but inside it is very beautiful. The cathedral has impressive vaults, colorful stained glass windows, and a beautiful altar.
Visit the Domschatz Museum
Across from the cathedral is the Domschatz Museum. In the museum, you will find the cathedral’s treasures, an impressive collection of religious artifacts. Among other things, you will see ancient manuscripts, liturgical vestments, and precious liturgical objects. Also on display is a remarkable cycle of murals dating back to 1543.
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 2 to 5 p.m. in the winter months. Tickets cost CHF8 (you get a discount with the Chur guest card). Check the official website for more information.
I found the square around the Arcasbrunnen to be one of the most beautiful places in Chur. It is an incredibly photogenic place, as the square is surrounded by colorful historic houses. Some of the buildings even have colorful murals.
The Arcasbrunnen itself is an unusual fountain with an ornate group of statues depicting a mythological scene. Surrounding the fountain, there are some nice stores and restaurants.
Hike to the Haldenhüttli
Do you like beautiful views? Then take a short hike to the Haldenhüttli. This is a little mountain hut or viewing platform not far from the cathedral. The views of the surrounding mountains and the serene surroundings make it a great place to take the beauty of Chur.
Relax in Fontana Park
Another great place to relax for a while is Fontana Park, which is an idyllic city park on the edge of the Altstadt. It is a green park with a few substantial trees and in addition, there are many colorful flower beds. There are also a number of beautiful statues.
It is not very big, but there are a few benches where you can sit and, for example, read a book. A nice place to unwind.
Visit the Rätisches Museum
The Rätisches Museum in the Altstadt is one of the main attractions in Chur. This is the place to be if you want to learn more about the rich history and culture of the Graubünden region.
The carefully presented artifacts and displays show how the region has transformed over the centuries. As a result, you will learn to understand and appreciate the unique identity and traditions of this historic area.
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. A ticket costs CHF6 (free with the Chur guest card). Check the museum’s website for more information (it’s in German).
Go up the Mittenberg
The Mittenberg is a prominent mountain peak on the eastern side of Chur and has an elevation of 1114 meters. If you feel like going for a hike with great views, the hike to the top of Mittenberg is definitely worth it!
It’s a challenge, as the trails uphill are quite steep at times. But at the summit, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Chur and the surrounding mountains and valleys.
I myself unfortunately only made it halfway, as the top of the mountain was in the clouds so I couldn’t see anything. But next time I definitely want to try again. It looks so good in the pictures!
From the station, a circular walk to the top and back is about 10 kilometers (with a 550-meter ascent and descent), but if you’re staying in the Altstadt, it’s a bit shorter. You can find a nice route on Komoot.
Head into the mountains with the Brambrüesch cable car
You can also make it a lot easier on yourself by taking a cable car up the mountain. The Brambrüesch is a mountain on the western side of Chur and has an altitude of no less than 2174 meters. The Brambrüesch cable car takes you up to 1591 meters, which is also quite high! Once at the top, you can enjoy spectacular panoramas of the surrounding mountains and the city of Chur.
You don’t have to go back right away, as there is plenty to see and do on the mountain as well. such as hiking, mountain biking and even tobogganing in the winter.
Good to know: with the Chur guest card you get a 50% discount on this cable car.
Visit the Roman excavations in Chur
There are Roman excavations to see in Chur! Did you expect this in a Swiss city? They are located near the Brambrüesch cable car station. The excavations are protected by a special building designed by local architect Peter Zumthor.
For CHF5 you can borrow a key from Chur Tourismus at Bahnhofstrasse 32. This allows you to visit these extraordinary excavations.
Chur guest card
You’ve already seen the term Chur guest card come up a few times in this article. Almost every Swiss city has such a pass. You get it when you stay overnight in a hotel or hostel in Chur and can use it for free on public transportation (within the city) during your stay. You can also visit several museums for free or at a discount and get discounts on many other fun activities.
You usually get the card via email before you arrive or on the spot during check-in. Very convenient and inexpensive!
Read more about the Chur guest card (website is in German).
Fun day trips from Chur
Did you know that Chur is also a great base to explore other beautiful places in Switzerland and even other countries? These are fun day trips you can take from Chur.
Day in Liechtenstein
Did you know that from Chur you can get to Liechtenstein in no time? I thought it would be fun to visit a new country while traveling in Switzerland, so I took the train from Chur to Sargans and from there the bus to Vaduz. I arrived in Liechtenstein in less than an hour!
A day in Liechtenstein is perfect for checking out Vaduz (even though it’s the nation’s capital, it’s tiny) and going for a fun hike. Nice places to visit are the Alte Rheinbrücke, Schloss Vaduz (this is where the prince lives, you can see it but are not allowed in), and the vineyard of the Prince of Liechtenstein.
Tip! Visit the Liechtenstein Center first. Here they have leaflets and cards with information about Liechtenstein. You can also get a stamp in your passport as a souvenir.
A second special place to visit on a day trip from Chur is Davos. This is the highest city in Europe and is known worldwide for its annual World Economic Forum and as a top destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Known as a luxury vacation destination, you will find mostly luxury hotels and wellness centers here. It is therefore a good place for a relaxing vacation in the Swiss mountains.
I went for a walk in Davos and that is also highly recommended. From the Hohe Promenade trail, you have a beautiful view of Davos and the surrounding mountains.
Go for a hike between the world’s most beautiful railroad bridges
From Chur, it is an hour by train to Filisur, a small mountain village. What makes this village (and the train ride) so special is the iconic Landwasserviaduct. This is a spectacular railroad bridge that towers high above a deep gorge.
I myself wanted to see this bridge so I decided to go for a hike near this bridge. Getting from the Filisur train station to the Landwasserviaduct is pretty easy, just follow the signs. Around the bridge, there are several viewpoints.
If you want to see another beautiful bridge after that, hike along the river (named Landwasser) to Wiesen. Here you will find the beautiful Wiesen Viaduct. You can also walk over this bridge. In Wiesen, there is a tiny station and here you can continue your journey by train again.
Personally, I really enjoyed this hike. It is not very difficult, there are no steep slopes, but it goes up and down between the trees and you have occasional views of snow-capped mountain peaks. The hike is about 10.5 kilometers long and it took me about 3 hours (including a short lunch break).
Travel on the Bernina Express to Italy
The reason many people visit Chur is because they would like to take a ride on the Bernina Express, one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. Chur is the starting point of this legendary train.
This panoramic Bernina Express takes you through the breathtaking Swiss Alps, past deep blue lakes, majestic glaciers, and charming mountain villages. The train ride is on the Rhaetian Railway, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
By the way, you can also choose to board the Glacier Express in Chur. This famous train runs between Zermatt and St. Petersburg. Moritz via Chur.
Tip! A ride on the Bernina Express is quite pricey, but you can also travel much of the same railroad on the (much cheaper) regional train. I have done this myself and just like the Bernina Express, the regional trains have large windows and are very comfortable. In addition, there is a map on each table with the highlights of the route.
Where to stay in Chur
As you can see, there are a lot of fun things to do in Chur and it is a great base for day trips. Therefore, it is really recommended to spend a few nights in Chur. These are some of the best places to spend the night.
- Bogentrakt – This is the place where I myself slept during my visit to Chur. It is an old prison converted into a hostel. In the cells, dormitories of four beds were made (sturdy and with a curtain for privacy), in addition to private rooms. It is new (open since March 2023) and really nicely done!
- ABC Swiss Quality Hotel (4⭐) – If you are looking for more luxury, this is a very nice hotel. It is close to the train station and you can walk right into the center from here. The rooms are modernly furnished and fully equipped.
- Hotel Stern Chur (4⭐) – This historic hotel is already 360(!) years old and is located in Chur’s Altstadt. The rooms are compact but cozy. The hotel also has a restaurant where they serve delicious Swiss specialties.
Check out Booking.com for more options, availability, and prices.
Best time to visit Chur
For most travelers, the best travel time to visit Chur is summer, from June to August. During these months you can enjoy pleasant temperatures, and it’s perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain biking in the surrounding mountains. Plus, the days are longer, giving you more time to enjoy nature and sights.
Although it is also the busiest tourist period, summer offers the most versatile and comfortable experience for travelers looking to discover Chur’s charm.
Unfortunately, during the summer period, accommodations are also the most expensive, so if you need to stick to a budget, it’s better to go in the spring or fall. I myself visited Chur in April and that was great. The weather was mostly good, although the mountains were occasionally hidden in clouds and there was some rain.
Chur is also a great destination in winter, as there are several ski resorts nearby.
Book a trip to Switzerland
So, now you know all about Chur and what to see and do in this amazing Swiss city! Would you like to visit Chur? Then book your trip now!
✈️ Plane tickets – The nearest international airport is the one in Zurich. Check WayAway to find the best deal on plane tickets. From the airport in Zurich, you can travel by train to Chur, a journey of a little over 1.5 hours.
🚆 By train – Switzerland is one of the best European countries to travel to by train. Check Rail Europe to find itineraries and train tickets.
💊 Travel insurance – Having good travel insurance will give you peace of mind. Check Insubuy to find the best travel insurance that fits your needs.
🎡 Tours and Activities – There are many fun activities to do in Switzerland. Check Get Your Guide for all the options.
🚂 Swiss Travel Pass – Would you like to see more beautiful places in Switzerland during your holiday? Make it easy on yourself and purchase a Swiss Travel Pass. This gives you unlimited access to trains (including panoramic trains!), buses, and boats, and you can also visit more than 500 museums. Buy your Swiss Travel Pass now!
Read more about Switzerland
Want to visit more beautiful places in Switzerland besides Chur? Get one of these amazing travel guides full of tips and travel inspiration.
As a hiking enthusiast, Switzerland is one of my favorite European destinations. As a result, I travel to Switzerland quite often! Therefore, you can read more about traveling to Switzerland on this website. Check out one of these articles:
- Switzerland Bucket List: 15 beautiful places
- 18 Fun things to do in Geneva Switzerland
- A perfect day hike in Lauterbrunnen
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