A Visitor’s Guide To Sils Maria (Escape to Paradise)

sils maria
Last updated: May 3rd, 2023

Situated in Upper Engadin at an altitude of 1,800 meters above sea level, Sils Maria is a gorgeous village away from the crowds of Switzerland’s major tourist hubs. With gorgeous nature, vast Alpine pastures, and mesmerizing lakes, the nature around this small village leaves no one indifferent.

When to visit, how to get there, and the top things to do in the Sils Maria area are just some of the main topics covered in this visitor’s guide. Keep reading for an in-depth look into one of Switzerland’s prettiest villages, and a top destination for all travelers who find themselves exploring the regions of southeastern Switzerland!

Popular Attractions & Activities in Sils Maria


Nietzsche Haus
Nietzsche Haus – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Nietzsche-Haus is a 200-year-old house in Sils im Engadin where Friedrich Nietzsche summered for seven years. The house functions as a museum and hotel, offering modest rooms in Sils, as well as a comprehensive exhibit on the works of the famous philosopher.

The physical exhibits and guided tours are primarily in German, but there is a digital English translation of the entire collection. The need for English translation became obvious when Nietzsche-Haus gained international fame and an influx of foreign visitors.

The museum and hotel observe the same opening times – from December to mid-April, and again from mid-June to late October.

Hotel Waldhaus

Waldhaus Sils Hotel
©Copyright Waldhaus Sils Hotel, 2023

Hotel Waldhaus in Sils is one of Switzerland’s most famous hotels. It’s one of the oldest hotels in the Fex Valley, with a tradition that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. The hotel is situated in the village center, and it’s only about a 5-minute walk away from Nietzsche-Haus, the most famous tourist attraction in the area.

What’s most special about this hotel is that it’s welcomed quite a few celebrities. The likes of Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, David Bowie, and even Albert Einstein have stayed at Hotel Waldhaus in Sils, which is a big part of its attraction. It’s a big point of pride for the owners, who have managed to keep this hotel in their family for the fifth generation.

Wind Surfing At Lake Sils/Silvaplana

Lakes Sils
Lakes Sils

Lakes Sils and Silvaplana are two of the largest Alpine lakes in the Grisons. Thanks to fairly reliable winds, both lakes are very popular for windsurfing and kite surfing in the summer months and snow-kiting in the winter. There are even kitesurfing and windsurfing schools in the area, which are perfect for beginners.

The lakes aren’t very comfortable for swimming because the water rarely rises above 16 degrees Celsius, but if you’re brave enough you can definitely try dipping your toes in the water. Otherwise, stick to windsurfing, kayaking, rowing, or other fun activities that are offered on the two Alpine lakes.

Explore The Hiking Trails

Sils Maria Hiking
Hiking in Sils Maria

Avid hikers will enjoy themselves at Sils Maria. The village and its surroundings boast a myriad of hiking trails, which range from short circular hikes to multi-day adventures. Start with a quick hike on the Chastè Peninsula in Lake Sils, where you can find a Friedrich Nietzsche memorial plaque and enjoy some wonderful views of the lake and the surrounding forest.

The Water Trail at the upper Furtschellas station is also a popular hike in the Sils area. It’s approximately a two-and-a-half-hour hike that takes you around six small lakes and features some of the prettiest landscapes in the region.

The Grevasalvas hiking area above Plaun da Lej on the northern shore of Lake Sils is also quite popular with hikers and trekkers.

Visit Crasta Farm

Crasta Farm
Crasta Farm © Engadin St. Moritz Tourismus

Crasta Farm is a local farm/dairy approximately a 30-minute walk (or a 5-minute drive) from Sils Maria. The farm offers tours to visitors who request them, as well as an opportunity to shop for some of the best local dairy products.

This farm supplies the town of Sils and its surroundings with fresh milk every day, which is lauded as the best Alpine milk you can try. They’ve even set up milk vending machines in the town, where you can purchase fresh milk by the liter.

Crasta Farm offers horse-drawn carriage tours of its grounds, an opportunity to see quite a few farm animals and purchase fresh and organic veal, cheese, and milk.

How to Get to Sils Maria

The quickest and easiest way of reaching Sils Maria is by driving. The village is situated in southeast Switzerland close to the border with Italy, and it doesn’t have the best public transport connections to major cities. It’s quite far away from Zurich, Lucerne, and Geneva, and it would take you at least 4-5 hours if you were to travel by public transport from those cities.

On the other hand, the drive from Zurich to Sils Maria is just two and a half hours, and you can leave the car at the large parking lot at Sils Baselgia. Sils Maria is connected to St. Moritz with a bus service, so if you’re staying in or near the famous resort village, you can reach Sils Maria in some 20 minutes.

Where to Stay in Sils Maria


Nietzsche-Haus has some of the lowest prices for accommodation in Sils Maria, so it’s an excellent place to stay if you’re looking for a budget option. But there are only three rooms and one apartment in the house, so you’ll want to book your stay well in advance, to secure a spot in the historic house.

If you’d rather stay somewhere more upscale, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of hotels throughout the village. Waldhaus Hotel is the best 5-star hotel in the area, so book a room there if you want to be pampered during your stay.

Other hotels are mostly 3-star and 4-star, with a price range between approximately 100 CHF and 400 CHF per night. There are also several private apartments and rooms you can rent, which are good for travelers on a tighter budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to visit Sils Maria?

The best time to visit Sils Maria depends on what you want to do in the village. If you’re going there to explore Lake Silvaplana and its excellent water sports opportunities, naturally the best time to visit is the summer. On the other hand, if you want to try your hand at snow-kiting or explore the cross-country skiing trails in the area, winter would be ideal for your visit.

The main tourist attractions in the region are open almost year-round, so choose the season that fits best into your travel itinerary. 

Is Sils Maria Worth Visiting?

If you’re fascinated by Switzerland’s natural attractions, Sils Maria is absolutely worth visiting. With gorgeous Alpina lakes, countless miles of hiking trails, and some of the prettiest Swiss landscapes, the wonderful village offers a lot to explore. If you’re already in the Engadin region, it’s worth it to make the trip to Sils Maria.

On the other hand, if you’re not that interested in nature or you’re nowhere near Upper Engadine, it’s not really worth the time it takes to get there. At best you will need 2-3 hours to reach the village from Central Switzerland if you drive, and twice as much time if you travel by train. Also, there aren’t too many things to do in the area if you don’t enjoy hiking and water sports.  

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