Maloja Pass basically connects Switzerland and Italy, once you cross Maloja Pass from Swiss side, there’s only 20 kilometers drive to Italy and beautiful Ponteggia village in Italian Alps.
Let us discover Maloja Pass and see what we can do there, what to see and where to hike, it’s a magical and beautiful place right to the Swiss-Italian border.
How to get to Maloja Pass
As Maloja pass is very close to Italian border, it is pretty far from the biggest Swiss cities, but it is really worth taking the day trip to Maloja district.
Some distances from the biggest cities:
From Zürich it is 210 kilometers;
From Bern it is 334 kilometers;
From Lugano if you choose to go through Italy it is just 108 km. If you choose this road, you are going to enjoy the views to Lago di Lugano (Lugano lake) and the famous Lago di Como (famous Como Lake where George Clooney had his villa). You are going to cross a charming Chiavenna village and after this stunning alpine drive you are going to get to Switzerland and Maloja pass. I really highly recommend taking this route if you have a chance and a car.
As well, Maloja pass is very close to famous St. Moritz resort. You can have a very pleasant drive from there to Maloja as well.
Once you get to Maloja Pass you can easily park in a big parking lot on the top, no worries about that.
The Maloja parking above (I was there in winter) is right after you cross the Maloja village, by the end of it, afterwards the road goes just down. Have some cash to pay for parking. There is some parking in Maloja village as well, there are nice neat public toilets as well.
If you would like to reach Maloja pass by public transport, it is as well possible. You will first have to take a train and the last leg you will cover by bus. Check all the latest schedules and prices right here: Swiss trains. Do not forget to remember the schedule back from Maloja pass as buses do no go that often over there.
Best time to visit Maloja Pass
Definitely the best time to visit this mountain pass is in the summer as all the roads are open, hiking opportunities are big, you can expect a really good sunny weather up there. Although, in the all Maloja Pass is painted in all the fascinating colors the nature can give.
Maloja pass is not very high, it is at 1815 meters, so it is even open in winter, unless some bad weather conditions happen and it is closed. Before you visit Maloja pass, be sure to check if it is open right here: Swiss mountain passes. As of now, in December, it is open. It is a really good place as well to enjoy the white mountain peaks and the winter weather as most of the time, at lower levels, winter is very mild in Switzerland. For example, there is almost zero winter in Basel. Maloja Pass is in a forest, trees all around, so in winter it really looks magical.
What to do in Maloja Pass
Right next to Maloja Pass is a nice Maloja village which you are going to cross if you are coming to the pass from Swiss side. In the village there are restaurants, hotels and you may even here someone speaking Romansh language up there – it is the fourth official language of Switzerland which is spoken just by few percents of Swiss population.
In the village you can find some nice holiday houses, apartments, restaurants, hotels.
I highly recommend going to Maloja tourism center right here: Strada Cantonale 367, 7516 Maloja, so you can get all the latest information and some good deals what you can do up there in the village and its surroundings.
You must visit the Maloja Palace which is right next to the Silsersee. It is a beautiful palace built in late 19th century and was designed in Neo Renaissance style. Now it is a big and beautiful hotel (renovated last time in 2009) where anyone can rent a room or suite, but the whole place is a breathing memory of long gone times. The famous Engadin Skimarathon which attracts more than 10 000 skiers every year starts right by the entrance of this majestic palace.
In the image above, you can see the palace (the biggest building) in winter time. It is really a winter wonderland up there. And that lake (Silsersee) next to Maloja Palace is breathtaking. You must check it out.
You can visit as well Torre Belvedere nature center which is a bit higher than Maloja village, you can hike up there. You can find all the information about it right here: Torre Belvedere. The place, the tower was built in late 19th century by Belgian count and dedicated now to the research and protection of nature.
Salecina Bildungs und Ferienzentrum
This is a pretty special place right next to the mountain pass, just 10 minutes walk from the Maloja Pass viewing point.
It is a 300 years old farm which was later in 1970s rebuilt by socialists as a place for people from all around Europe to have discussions, to learn something, to improve yourself and simply enjoy the beautiful location where the farm is situated.
At the moment place offers huge variety of different activities from hiking to cooking courses. The do yoga classes, snow shoe tours and much more, it is a really nice and welcoming community. As well, for a very decent price you can get a place to sleep there.
You can find all the information about this center right here: Salecina. It is a really great place if you want to spend more time with locals up in the Swiss Alps.
Hiking in Maloja Pass
As Maloja pass is at 1815 meters altitude, it offers great opportunities to hike around. Let us discover a great hiking trail which I think is the beset for you to try.
Hike to Piz Lunghin
Hike to Piz Lunghin leads to one of the peaks right next to Maloja village and is a great hike for summer time. Let us have a look at the map of this hike.
Some fast facts for you about this hike:
Distance: both ways around 11 kilometers.
Time: 5-6 hours.
Elevation gain: over 950 meters.
Difficulty level: the hike is not technical, but steep. I would call it moderately exhausting 🙂
Top altitude: Piz Lunghin is sleeping at 2780 meters.
As you can see, the starting point is in the village right next to the pass, so you better leave your car right there and start hiking from the village.
Keep attention to those exclamation points on the hiking trail: it means that there is a pasture and cows are having their good time up there, BUT be aware of small calfs – mother cows are extremely protective of them, they can even attack you. In my many hikes in Switzerland I had to run from a cow just once, but I would not wish anyone to experience that. That is a big animal and as friendly as it is, nature calls them to protect the young ones.
I don’t want to discourage you doing this hike, but just be aware and if you see that cows are nervous (normally they don’t even pay attention to fellow hiker), get out from their way. You don’t want such accident to ruin your hiking day.
Ok, let’s get back to the hike.
The hike is pretty steep, because just in over 5 kilometers you are going to gain almost 1 kilometer in elevation, so keep the pace low: 2-3 km/h.
Once you reach the altitude of 2485 meters, you are going to reach the beautiful Lägh dal Lunghi (Lake of Lunghi) which is as well right next to Lunghin Pass where the road lead you to another side of the mountain.
Once you are very close to the top, a very special spectacle is awaiting for you. It is a an ON mountain hut. This hut was made by the running shoe brand ON and is a really really exceptional mountain hut. It is all covered in shiny metal and is completely powered by renewable energy.
After visiting this hut, you are very close to your final destination where you can enjoy beautiful views to Maloja Pass itself and to the Silsersee. All views are open for you to adore.
Once you are on the top and finished your snacks, you can hike down the same way, it will be faster, but don’t rush as it is rocky (can get slippery even when they are completely dry) and joints always hate the fast walk down, but you should get back to Maloja in around 2 hours.
What to prepare for Piz Lunghin hike
- The hike is pretty long (even 5 hours back and forth) so have at least 2-3 liters of water for each as there will be no places to buy new one.
- As the hike is long, have some snacks, you don’t want to get cranky up in the mountains, especially when you finish it all and going hungry back is never fun. Better have some chocolate bars, bananas, sandwiches (very dry food makes you drink more, so fruit is always a good solution).
- As it can be pretty hot in Maloja, up at 2700 meters and higher can get very chilly. Have at least extra jacket (waterproof is the best) and extra pants (running tights is the best and lightest solution).
- Do not stuff your backpack with unnecessary stuff, but to have a place where to put your water, jacket, snacks is always good. Take 10-20 liters backpack.
- Good hiking shoes. You will have to hike a lot on the rocky ground, so good hiking shoes with a good sole is a must if you want to enjoy this hike.
Be clever, not rush, take it easy and you are going to get the most from this beautiful hike with breathtaking views.
Cross country skiing in Maloja Pass
If you are a fan of cross country skiing, Maloja Pass is a place to be in winter. There is a very nice prepared routes for skiers and not so crowded (I was there in January), so it is a very nice place to ski at such altitude and improve your skills or just to enjoy the mountains and fresh air.
As you see in the picture above, this is the prepared skiing route for everyone. It is in perfect condition.
There is quite many people, but not overcrowded at all.
I think this is heaven for skiers, perfect weather, fresh snow, not cold, not windy – cross country skier paradise 🙂
The lake right next to Maloja Pass is magnificient – it is completely clear, big, beautiful, right next to the mountains, it even reminds me of Norwegian landscape. You can have nice hikes, take a boat, canoeing, stand up paddling and even kiting. This lake has it all. If you are a fan of water activities, Silsersee has a lot to offer.
Not a fan of water, you can hike around it. It is beautiful. You will not regret taking a hike around it. Just take a loot at pictures below of Silsersee. It is breathtaking. I was there in winter when the ice was just just forming. Great views.
By the end if it, is Maloja Palace. A magnificient hotel I have mentioned before.
Have you been to Norway? Doesn’t it remind of it, does it :)? I really love it.
If you happen to be by Silsersee in winter, when the ice is just forming or is very thin, you must throw some rocks on the ice (do not go on the ice!). Such ice makes incredible sounds. Too bad I could not record it, but the sound is straight from the sci-fi movie. We were looking around for more little rocks all the time. It was a nice attraction. But I think, such kind of ice happens just for few days per year, so we were lucky.
Even though Maloja Pass is far away from the big cities, it is really worth your time.
You are not just going to enjoy the pass itself, but all the road leading to it as well.
It is as well one of the few mountain passes which you can visit in winter, most of the mountain passes at such altitude are closed all winter and open just in late Spring.
Swiss Alps mountain passes is all about nature, so it is a great place to do some hiking and this destination offers great views, pristine nature, well maintained hiking pats. It is a perfect place for nature lover and passionate hiker.
Do not forget about great history of this place and spend a night either in majestic Maloja palace or friendly Salecina.
If you have any questions about Maloja Pass, please let me know, I will do my best to help you.
If you want to explore more the surrounding areas, why not to do the Pizol 5 lakes hike?
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