Guarda, Switzerland: Why Is It Worth Your Visit?

Guarda at sunset

Guarda is a small village tucked away in the beautiful Lower Engadine Valley of eastern Switzerland, in what was once the Inn district. Despite being in one of the most stunning parts of the Swiss Alps, Guarda Village is a hidden gem for other reasons. 

Known as one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland, it is filled with old Swiss architecture dating back to the 1600s with beautifully painted facades on many of the old houses. Its architectural heritage is so renowned it won the Wakker Prize in 1975 for its preservation. 

When you combine one of the most characteristic villages with the beauty of the Lower Engadine Valley, this small village is simply somewhere you have to visit. It is my idea of heaven, where local culture and stunning nature meet in harmony. 

So, let’s look at the details of Guarda village, how to get there, where to stay, good restaurants, and all the awesome things to do during your visit.

How To Get To Guarda, Switzerland

Guarda, Switzerland
Guarda, Switzerland – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

By Train 

There are very few places in Switzerland you can not reach by train, and Guarda Village isn’t one of them. There are direct trains from Landquart to Guarda Village that take just over an hour. 

If you are coming from Zurich, you can take a direct train to Landquart and change to Guarda, and the journey takes just over 2.5 hours. 

The train ride is beautiful, especially when you begin entering the alps. 

By Car 

You can drive to Guarda very easily, especially in the summertime when the roads are clear of snow. There is public parking in the little village too that should always be available. 

If you are driving in winter, the mountain pass in the Swiss Alps will be closed and you will have to put your car on the train at Klosters, near Davos. 

The drive from Zurich takes about 2.5 to 3 hours, so it is very doable.

Best Things To Do in Guarda

Take In The Architecture As You Explore The Village

Guarda Village
Guarda Village – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Taking a stroll around this charming village is a must as that is pretty much the main reason for going there. Take it slow, as it is not a big village, and go from house to house taking in the stunning architecture of Guarda. 

The houses are beautiful and have a charm about them that is very unique and a lot of the houses were restored to their former glory by a special restoration team. 

The exterior facades are by far the highlight and they are made using special techniques. The Sgraffito murals are made by removing the outer layer of plaster to reveal the colors beneath. 

Each Endagine house in Guarda is different from the next in its outdoor decorations but all have wooden interiors for insulation. The houses in Guarda do make you feel like you are in a fairytale a little bit. 

Other sites in Guarda you should miss are the Reformierte Kirche Guarda which dates back to the late 15th century and has a stunning wooden ceiling that was installed in the 1900s. 

Casa Viletta should also be on your list as it is lovely and dates back to the 1800s and there is an old water mill there too. 

Hike The Lower Engadine Valley 

Hiking from Guarda
Hiking from Guarda

The Lower Engadine is beautiful and there is no better way of seeing it than going on a hike from one of the many trails that either start or end in Guarda. 

A lovely hike is from Guarda to Scuol as you will get to explore all the little villages along the way. The path is clearly marked and has you looking down on the River Inn flowing along the valley floor. 

This hike takes you through the villages of  Boscha, Ardez, and Ftan before you reach Scuol. It is quite a long hike at 18.5 km but you can stop at one of the other villages and get the train back if you are tired. 

You can also hike from Guarda to Lavin, which is in the other direction from Scuol. This is a lovely trail that follows the River Inn and you have the mountains of the Alps towering above you as you go. It is a short hike that should take just an hour, and you can explore Lavin before hiking back to Guarda. 

My favorite hike in Guarda is the Schellen-Ursli Trail as it takes you into the mountains and stunning scenery of the region. It is an easy hike that takes just a few hours. It starts from Guarda and leads you into the mountains via Plan dal Növ, Clüs, and Lake Lajet where you can stop for a swim and then back to Guarda.

Experience The Chalandamarz Festival (March)

Chalandamarz Festival
Chalandamarz Festival – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Tradition is a big part of the Engadine culture and the Chalandamarz is a tradition that is followed religiously in Guarda. 

The Chalandamarz is a festival during which winter is sent on its way and it takes place on the 1st of March every year. The tradition is carried out by the children of the village who walk around the village beating cowbells, the oldest child carries the biggest cowbell and he/she leads the group around.

They bang the bells to send winter away at the beginning of spring and at the same time, wake everyone in the village up. The children are given money and present and they then perform transitional songs for the whole village. 

This is a wonderful tradition to witness and it is well worth being in Guarda for it, but you will have to spend the night in a hotel in Guarda on the last night of February to experience it. 

Follow In The Steps Of The Schellen-Ursli Story 

The Schellen-Ursli is a children’s book that was written by a kindergarten teacher who lived in Guarda called Selina Chönz. She wrote the book in 1945 and it is all about a little boy called Ursli who lived in Guarda. 

It was his dream to hold the largest bell for the Chalandamarz festival. But, sadly he got a small bell and ended up being teased by the other kids in the village. Ursli then goes on an adventure to find the biggest bell he can, and he eventually finds one in a mountain hut. 

His journey to finding the bell is full of mountain adventures and it is a lovely story. The book was translated into English and many other languages. It is called A Bell for Ursli and is full of lovely drawings of Guarda. 

You can think about the story as you explore Guarda and the Schellen-Ursli Trail I mentioned above. You can also visit the Tinkle-bell Ursli museum in Guarda to learn more about it.  

Try Some Traditional Engadine Swiss Cuisine

Bündner Fleisch
Bündner Fleisch – image via Wikimedia

The Engadine region is home to its own form of traditional Swiss cuisine and you shouldn’t leave Guarda without trying some of it. Meat lovers will be in heaven as meat is a large part of the traditional food in Engadine. 

Be sure to go to one of the local restaurants where you can try delicious venison, white veal sausages called Engadin Sausage, and the famous  Bündnerfleisch–Graubünden. 

Bündnerfleisch – Graubünden is an air-dried meat similar to jerky or biltong and it was made to ensure the locals could preserve food over the cold winters. It is made by cutting beef thinly, soaking it in brine for a few weeks, and then hanging them out to dry. 

Other local delicacies you should also taste include the delicious rich alpine cheese along, with Rosti (a potato cake served with apple sauce), and the nut tart is an awesome dessert. 

You can find all these being served at the restaurants in Guarda you will find in the “Where To Eat” section below. 

Guarda Toboggan Run In Winter – The Plan dal Növ

Plan dal Növ
Plan dal Növ – © Engadin

There is an awesome toboggan run in Guarda and if you are there in winter, it is something you can not miss. 

To get to the top of the toboggan run you will have to hike up to Plan dal Növ. It is a 40-minute hike to the top and you might have to dodge some sledders on your way up. The path is well-marked and takes you through a forest. 

Be sure not to cross into the wildlife rest zone which is just above where the toboggan run starts. 

Sledding down the mountain is a lot of fun, you’ll be flying around sharp bends, through the forest, and then down to Guarda. Be careful though, as winter hikers and snowshoers also use this trail. 

Understand The Story At Schellenursli Museum

The Schellenursli Museum is located in the center of Guarda and it is a lovely place that showcases the Schellen-Ursli Story. Inside you will find an exhibition that details some of the parts of the story. 

It is a wonderland for children, despite being a small museum as they will kind of live through an old Swiss children’s story, giving them a great sense of the old culture of the village. 

See The Architecture At The Church of Guarda

Reformierte Kirche Guarda
Reformierte Kirche Guarda

The Church of Guarda, also called Reformierte Kirche Guarda, is a stunning church in the village that everyone should spend some time looking at. 

The church features beautiful towers along with stunning painted stone architecture that also features in the houses of the village. 

Be sure to go inside and admire the lovely wooden roof, and the garden at the back is also delightful. There is also a cemetery at the back of the church with gravestones of past locals laid to rest. 

Where To Stay in Guada

Considering Guarda is a little village at 1653 meters above sea level, there isn’t a huge amount of choices when it comes to accommodation. But, there are certainly enough hotels to ensure everyone who visits is happy. 

Hotel Meisser is probably the most luxurious option in the village and Hotel Meisser offers Tesla charging too. You can find their website here

Hotel Meisser Guarda
Hotel Meisser Guarda

You can also stay at the wonderful Guarda Lodge, Meisser Lodge too, and the Boutique Hotel Romantica with stunning views. 

Other great options include self-catering apartments such as Chasa 76 and Chasa Tabla

Where To Eat in Guarda

Crusch Alba, Guarda
Crusch Alba, Guarda

If you are staying in self-catering accommodation then you can go to the local store located in the center of the village. There is a restaurant or two in the village as well if you would like to have lunch as you pass through or for dinner if you are staying the night.

Restaurant Dalet, Hotel Meisser Restaurant, Crusch Alba, and Meisser Lodge Restaurant are all great options during your stay. 

To be honest, you are pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to eating options considering how small the village is. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Guarda Switzerland worth visiting?

Guarda is certainly worth visiting s it offers everything you could want from the Swiss alps along with a load of culture at the same time. You are there you will be charmed by the village, its architecture, and alpine history, especially as it is set amongst the stunning mountain scenery of the Engadine. You can hike into the mountains, ski in winter as well as tobogganing, follow in the footsteps of children’s stories, experience local traditions, and local food, and much more.

In which Canton is the beautiful village of Guarda located?

Guarda is located in Engadine in the Canton of Graubunden in the southeastern part of Switzerland.

What is the altitude of Guarda Switzerland?

Guarda is located at an altitude of 1653m above sea level.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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