Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Visiting Davos, Switzerland Without Downhill Skiing


Though I downhill ski, when I travel to ski country, I like to find options that don’t lock me in to nothing but a week of high-priced lift tickets, expensive food at mountain resorts and dealing with everything from out of control skiers to long lift lines. Of course, everything is a little different in Europe but, still, I prefer varying my activities when visiting a ski resort.

And that’s what I did when I visited Davos, Switzerland. This is, of course, a mega resort and yet there is plenty to do that has nothing to do with downhill skiing. Here are some of my favorite activities plus additional options:


1. Cross country ski

More than 45 miles of trails beckon, some for those, like me, who prefer classic Nordic skiing, and others for skiers who like to skate. Many trails wander through peaceful valley. And you hardly have to be an expert: there’s a ski school, a place to rent equipment and, even better, the trails are free! Plus, you’ll find a two-mile trail that’s available for night Nordic skiing.


2. Ice skating

I’m not a big fan of indoor skating but, in Davos, you have your choice: If you prefer the relative warmth of an indoor rink, you’ve got it here. But Davos is also home to Europe’s largest natural rink. This is where I skate when I travel to Davos.

3. Hiking

Just because there’s snow on the ground is no reason to stop hiking. And Davos, with it’s well-marked trails, makes it easy to either work up a sweat on a strenuous trail or just enjoy the scenery. When I don’t have a lot of time to get to a trailhead, I walk around Davos Lake. Otherwise, there a lovely 2+ hour easy walk from Ischalp back to Davos that meanders through a dense, snow-coated forest and then along a wide trail to Calavadel with its scenic valley views, finally following a river to Davos.

4. Snowshoeing

I actually prefer Nordic skiing to snowshoeing which I find nowhere near as smooth and rhythmic. That being said, Davos offers some pristine showshoe trails, including those that make a loop from the top of the Pischa cable car station. There you’ll maybe have the well-marked trails to yourself as you wander along sunny slopes. And, of course, like most things in Davos, you can sign up for a 1+ hour showshoe trek by moonlight.

5. Tobogganing

Though I’m not the biggest fan of careening downhill at high speed with no chance of slowing down before hitting the bottom, families love tobogganing here, especially nighttime adventures along the curves of Davos-Schatzalp.

6. Horsedrawn carriage

This is definitely a more mellow alternative that can be perfect for couples who want a romantic ride by moonlight.

7. Wellness & Pleasure Pool Centre

After all these workouts, mellow as many may be, your muscles are bound to become weary. That’s why you’ll want to spend the afternoon at the Wellness Center where you can opt for a hot stone massage or an interesting acupoint massage (it’s based on acupuncture meridiens). You’ll also have your choice of treatments and rooms, like found in the Saunarium and Silent Room, with gorgeous mountain views. A Finnish sauna, foot pools, hydrotherapy pool and cold surge shower are all meant to stimulate your immunity and your circulation.

8. Museums

Davos is not all about action. The town is chock full of cultural activities. Among the museums that I love because I enjoy checking out vintage artifacts include the Winter Sports Museum where you’ll find displays of old ski bindings, sleds and skates; the Toy Museum with its teddy bears, doll houses and other items from a private collection dating from the 18th century; and the Museum of Medicine -- because I have a medical background, I can’t pass this up -- where you’ll find artifacts that make you glad you’re seeing a doctor in the 21st century.

In addition, because I enjoy checking out art, the Kirchner Museum is a must see for those who enjoy this German artist’s colorful landscapes. His work is said to have inspired Expressionism and this museum is the largest collection of his work in the world.

17 comments:

NoPotCooking said...

Sounds great - I don't ski at all so, it's just what I would have wanted to know.

kerry dexter said...

I always enjoy checking out activities beyond downhill, too. thanks for the ideas on Davos.

Meredith said...

Switzerland is one of the places my husband and I long to visit together. He's been several times and loves it for many of the reasons you describe here.

JTravel said...

Hi Meredith, I hope you and your husband get to visit Switzerland together. No matter what time of the year you visit, there are a wealth of activities you'll enjoy for sure.

JTravel said...

Hi kerry, It's great to have so many cultural and sports activities easily accessible in Davos. Over the course of a week, I was never bored.

JTravel said...

Hi NoPotCooking, Thanks for your comments. And, sometimes when friends or couples visit a ski resort, there may be someone in the party who doesn't downhill ski. So it's great to have other enjoyable options.

Christine said...

Nice to know about other activities. We have a number of children spread out in age - so we always need a variety of options.

JTravel said...

Hi Christine, Davos is perfect for the whole family with the array of sports and cultural activities available. And they are all relatively easy to get to.

Sheryl said...

I'd love to visit Switzerland some time. It has always appealed to me. Although I do not ski, now I see that there are plenty of other options - thanks!

JTravel said...

Hi Sheryl, Not all ski resorts have such an array of non-downhill-related options almost at your doorstep the way Davos does.

MyKidsEatSquid said...

I've always wanted to try cross country skiing--this from someone who grew up downhill skiing (but I wasn't very good at it). Great suggestions. Have you visited Dovos in the summer time? Maybe for those who don't like downhill skiing, visiting some of these resorts in the off season saves money and gives you a completely different view of the city then when it's crowded with tourists.

JTravel said...

Hi MyKidsEatSquid, Great idea about visiting Davos in the summer. Yes, you'd definitely avoid the crowds and the high prices. I've never been there at that time of the year. Another thing added to my ever-growing list.

Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

Definitely NOT a skier (although my parents were fans of cross-country skiing back in the day), so I'm glad to know the tourism industry thinks of us fearful types too. Sign me up for the wellness center!

Susan Johnston said...

Love these suggested activities! I'm not much of a skier, but I do enjoy browsing museums and ice skating.

JTravel said...

Hi Casey, Having a wellness center at a ski resort is a big plus. That way when you become sore and tired from any of the available sports activities you've always got a place to chill.

JTravel said...

Hi Susan, Ice skating and museum hopping are two of my favorite activities, for sure.

canvas art prints said...

Great list of alternative activities - since my friend broke his leg skiing i've never wanted to go.