Val Mustair: Explore One Of Switzerland’s Unspoiled Gems

val mustair switzerland

If you’re looking for a true hidden gem in Switzerland, you’ll find it in the southeastern tip at the Val Müstair. Nestled in the Swiss canton of Graubünden, Val Müstair (population approx.1500) connects the Ofenpass (Pass del Fuorn) with an elevation of 2149 m / 7051 ft to the province of South Tyrol in western Italy.

In addition to the stunning beauty and exciting outdoor adventures, you’ll find several interesting sites to visit among the traditional Graubünden villages in Val Müstair.

Nature Park Biosfera Val Müstair

One of the most exciting parts about Val Mustair in general is that the whole region is a Swiss Nature Park called Biosfera Val Müstair. And, together with the neighboring Swiss National Park, it forms the larger UNESCO Biosfera Engiadina Val Müstair. This park exists to help protect both the natural and cultural treasures that are found in this unique corner of Switzerland, and are one of the main reasons people come here in the first place.

How to Get to Val Mustair

Val Müstair, Switzerland
Val Müstair, Switzerland

The journey to Val Mustair passes through the Switzerland National Park and is one of the most scenic routes in the country.

By Car

  • The driving time to Val Mustaur from Bern is 4 hrs, 44 mins via the A1, A3, and Route 28.
  • The driving time to Val Mustair from Geneva is 5 hrs, 57 mins via the A1.

Parking Options:

By Train

  • From Zurich, Get there in 5 hrs and 19 minutes with transfers in Landquart, Klosters Platz, and Zernez.
  • From Bern, get there in 4 hrs and 54 minutes with transfers in Landquart, Klosters Platz, and Zernez.
  • From Geneva, get there in 7 hrs and 26 minutes with transfers in Zurich, Lanquart, Klosters Platz, and Zernez.

Things to Do in Val Mustair

Benedictine Convent of St. John in Müstair

Benedictine Convent of St. John
Benedictine Convent of St. John in Val Mustair

The Benedictine Convent of St. John in Müstair has existed for more than 1200 years and is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland. It was founded by Charlemagne and although it eventually started crumbling, it existed without destruction until restoration started after the 1983 UNESCO designation. It has still only been partially restored today and even during our visit in July 2023, they were restoring one of the central frescoes as part of the ongoing work.

The UNESCO inclusion of the Convent of Saint John was due to the well-preserved medieval frescos in the convent church. As you can see in the images I took while visiting, they are on the walls, the roof and apses in the back of the church.

I found the church well worth the visit as such well-preserved frescoes that date from medieval times are rare to see. And these will only get better with time. And, the church itself is free to visit, so even if you don’t want to dive deeper into the convent museum, you can still enjoy it.

Holy Cross Chapel in Val Mustair
Holy Cross Chapel in Val Mustair

Convent Museum

As well as being able to visit the buildings mentioned above, there is also a museum that is open to the public.

The Convent Museum is situated in the Planta Tower which is a thousand-year-old fortified tower. You will see over 1200 years of the convent’s history and architecture during your visit.

The tour starts with the cloister and continues down to the Planta Tower’s large cellar before continuing through its three floors. The museum essentially provides a snapshot of daily life in the convent. YOu get to see the reception and living areas, sleeping quarters, prayer areas, and the Hohenbalken room from the Baroque period.

The museum curators have also included archaeological findings and exhibits such as art history treasures and jewels belonging to the convent. Unfortunately, we were there too late in the day to visit, but still managed to go inside the church and wander around the grounds soaking up the history that is on show here!

  • Opening Times: Daily except for Christmas day
    • May – October: 9 am – 5 pm
    • November – April: 10 am – 12 pm & 1.30 pm – 4.30 pm
    • Sundays / public holidays: 1.30 pm – 5 pm
  • Ticket Prices: CHF12 for Adults, CHF 6 for school children and students

Tessanda Val Müstair

Tessanda Val Müstair
© Tessanda

One of Switzerland’s last professional handwaving mills, Tessanda Val Mustair has been in operation for at least 90 years. Some of the creaky looms, now 100 years old were made by carpenters who lived in the valley. They are made from handcrafted jewels and have names such as “Mammoth” and “Garden of Eden”.

Wool and linen are produced at Tessanda using yarn from pure, natural fibers. The weaving dates back to the year 800 at the same time the Monastery of Saint John was built.

As Tessanda approaches its 100th birthday, its founding idea of offering women a respectable job and keeping the craft of handwaving alive remains.

Alpine Astrovillage Lü-Stailas

Alpine Astrovillage Lü-Stailas
Alpine Astrovillage Lü-Stailas – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

This center for stargazing and astrophotography was founded by Doctors Vaclav & Jitka Ourednik in 2009 to commemorate the International Year of Astronomy. Its location in the eastern Swiss Alps at an altitude of 1,900 meters means excellent sky quality and little light pollution.

Alpine Astrovillage Lü-Stailas (AAV), the center is a unique place for astronomy. Courses in sky observation and astrophotography are offered in collaboration with schools. Amateur astronomers can practice their hobby under excellent conditions and with a telescope that enables them to see the Andromeda galaxy “up close”.

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-country skiers enjoy a diverse network of ski trails in Val Mustair. The area has 23 miles of trails and is one of the largest cross-country skiing areas in the Graubunden. The trails are at an elevation between 4724 ft and 6739 ft making it one of the highest elevated ski areas in Switzerland.

The trails lead along the Rombach stream and go to the high-altitude trail adjacent to the ski area. The trails are easily accessible by Post Bus and other public transportation.

Hiking in Val Müstair

Sta Maria Val Mustair
Sta Maria Val Mustair © Biosfera Val Müstair

The Val Müstair has a huge range of hiking trails with hand-curated maps to guide you on trails with sensational views and historical sites along the way.

Themed Trails

If you want something a little easier-going and maybe a hike you can take the kids on then this is the list for you. They have shorter and medium-length hikes with themed trails you can enjoy along the way.

If you want something a lot more challenging, then keep reading.

Lais Rims Hike

  • Length: 14.7 km
  • Hiking Time: 6 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Ascent/Descent: 963 m

One of the more popular and stunning hikes in the area is to Lai da Rims, a high-alpine lake at 2396 m in the Val Mustair. Just be aware that this hike, along with most others to the lake are quite hard and require experience. So, be warned and to not undertake these hikes lightly.

Val Mora Trail

  • Length: 21.6 km
  • Hiking Time: 9-10 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Ascent: 557 m
  • Descent:1329 m

This is one of my favorite trails in the Val Mustair area as it takes you behind the main valley and away from the roads and crowds. It is actually a very popular mountain biking trail and that is how we did it a few years ago. And even that is quite a hard ride.

It is quite a steep climb up to the plateau that had us quite out of breath and laughing when the e-bikes passed us. At the top, it is undulating along the Val Mora until you descend again towards the Ofenpass.

It is also a very long hike you can do, but keep in mind that not only is it long and hard, but you will need to coordinate with the bus that runs along this valley.

National Park Trails

As this valley borders the Swiss National Park you are also only a stone’s throw away from some other stunning trails, many of which I have done over the years. Ranging from multi-day hikes to short and long day hikes through lots of stunning pristine terrain.

Where to Stay in Val Mustair

You’ll find a variety of accommodations in Val Mustair including comfortable hotels and Bed & Breakfast inns.

For a hotel that is filled with history and offers traditional Swiss cuisine, book a room at the Hotel Schweizerhof Santa Maria. It’s located in a historic building circa 1903 and is filled with paintings and artifacts. The hotel is comfortable, well-kept, and convenient to the Stelvio Pass.

For a cozy room and a hot breakfast each morning, book a stay at the B&B Villa Stelvio. It’s in a very serene and scenic spot between the Swiss National Park and the Stelvio National Park near the Swiss-Italian border.

Is Val Mustair Worth Visiting?

With its stunning beauty, good accessibility, and intriguing historical sites, Val Mustair is well worth a visit.

Plan Your Trip to Switzerland

Accommodation: I always book my hotels via Booking.com. They have some of the best rates, longterm deals, easy cancellation and more
Transport: Train travel is one of the best ways to explore Switzerland. Buying a Swiss Travel Pass is a great way to save money on travel and museums.
Car Rental: Having a car gives you flexibility on your travels. I use RentalCars.com and Discover Cars to get the best deals on car rentals in Switzerland.
Luggage Storage: Find out where you can store your store your luggage while you are visiting various places in Switzerland.
Trips & Tours:Viator and Get Your Guide are the best places to find local tours and trips for your adventures in Switzerland.
Packing: Here are my recommendations for what to pack for a trip to Switzerland. As someone who has lived half their life in Switzerland, I have a good idea of what you need to bring!
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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