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Bad Ragaz is an ancient spa town destination: visitors have been coming for almost 800 years, ever since Benedictine monks first discovered the healing properties of the warm spring water. The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is home to one of the leading medical spas in the world, with impressive pricing to match (it is quite grand, worth walking the grounds). Just next door, the Tamina Therme (closed until Fall 2024 for renovations) is a contemporary public bathhouse built on a grand scale, with indoor and outdoor pools, steam baths and saunas. It’s one of the nicer facilities in Switzerland available to the public. Three hours runs about $60.

Spa aside, Bad Ragaz is a great destination. It has a sleepy vibe, is very manageable in size, and has a number of good dining and hiking destinations. We’ve come three times and will visit again (though perhaps next time we’ll stay in Maienfeld across the motorway, to get a better feel for that town).

**Hotel Bellevue was an excellent hotel choice – it’s affordable (by Swiss standards), very centrally located, and has just enough style to feel boutique. Rooms are quite large and the dining area is nicely renovated. Next door, the Hotel Krone has a cute exterior and very tired interior. The *Krone Cafe is okay in a pinch, but I wouldn’t strongly recommend it.

On the south side of town, *Hotel Schloss Ragaz is unfortunately a major disappointment. It’s quite tired, with a rather institutional feel. If you do stay, make sure to choose the historic castle rooms, not the more modern exterior rooms. On the plus side – the view from the restaurant is gorgeous, and it’s an easy walk to Tamina Therme. Food wasn’t great (or cheap), and they have a buffet on Saturday nights.

For food, ignore the casual name: **Restaurant Pizzeria Paradies is wonderful. It’s a hidden gem in a suburban neighborhood with a huge menu, good service, formalish setting. We loved it.

The road/path to the ***Taminaschlucht, a major gorge, is accessible from the town itself (2.5 miles each way). There is a bus that runs hourly, no car access, 6 CHF each way. It’s worth making the effort – a pleasant walk lined with waterfalls, with the historic spa (a few facilities of different kinds, dating back 100s of years) present at the end.

Sankt Martin

Up the gorge from Bad Ragaz (about a 25 minute drive) is Sankt Martin – a very tiny collection of houses at the tail end of a lake/dam. It’s a summer only place, accessible by car or foot from roughly May-October. We enjoyed our stay at the historic **Sankt Martin – Berghotel & Alpwirtschaft – a collection of houses and huts, with a small church dating back to the 1300s. The food is surprisingly good, far better than it needs to be, and the rooms are comfortable. Most have shared bathrooms. For a fee, they have wood fired hot tubs and saunas. It’s a very rustic adventure without much effort required.

From Sankt Martin, there’s a series of hiking huts up to higher lakes. The nearest, Schräawislihütte, serves very basic food and drinks (cheese & meat plates, beer). It’s a gorgeous moderate hike, with the potential to walk both sides of the valley, all in about 3.5 hours. I’d give it an early start and lunch at Sankt Martin for a better dining experience.

Maienfeld

Mostly known as “Heidi’s town.” It’s very cute – grand houses, narrow streets, pretty farms. 

The main attraction, **Heididorf, was more enjoyable than we anticipated – it caters to kids, but there’s plenty for adults too. After a short walk from the parking lot, there’s a petting zoo, and very nice recreations of Heidi’s town house, Alp house, and school – clearly in a more economically thriving setting than typical for the time. It’s an educational and pleasant hour, worth a stop, just arrive early before the crowds arrive. Heididorf is closed November-March.

We had a wonderful lunch at ***Schloss Brandis  (permanently closed, unfortunately), in a historic hall. Very classic and elegant, specializing in foods of the region. The most notable: Maienfelder Riesling Soup and Capuns.

There’s a fairly new, high end, modern place in an elegant barn just on the edges of the center: **Stall 247. They have outdoor seating on nice days, and indoors white table cloths and fancy, regional cuisine. Wine focus on the local area, quite good.

**Landgasthof zur Bündte Jenins on the outskirts of town is an out of the way, low-key, not fancy, and rather charming find. The owners are lovely. They said it’s a big year round destination for hikers and bikers from Zurich, with lovely mountain and vineyard views and a good restaurant with local ingredients (traditional Swiss and some Asian food).