"50 Duty Free Shops - and no airport!" Top 5 Page for this destination Samnaun by lotharlerch

Samnaun Travel Guide: 46 reviews and 118 photos


The Samnaun valley is the last side-valley of the Swiss Engadin before the river Inn (En in Romantsch) leaves Switzerland to enter Tirol. The river of this valley - Schergenbach - defines in its lower part the border between Switzerland and Austria, the upper part of the valley is completely in Switzerland.
Before 1912, when the Swiss built their most adventurous road of this time, the Samnaun valley could only be reached from Switzerland either via about 2500 m high passes or a road coming from Tirol. This was the reason that also the Swiss part of this valley was in ancient time more influenced from Tirol than from the Swiss Engadin, therefore the about 800 locals are not speaking Romantsch like the Lower Engadin but a Tyrolean dialect (and not the Swiss German!)and therefore they could even be considered being the smallest language group in Switzerland. And they are - other than the Reformed people in Lower Engadin - Roman Catholics. The difficult connections to Switzerland were also a heavy economic disadvantage and so they claimed 1892 to be excluded from the Swiss Customs area which was the beginning of the "duty free" status of Samnaun and first slowly and later rapidly improving their economy and wealth. Needless to say that until to about 1970 or so smuggling was also an important activity driving the valley's economy. I know personally people who were regularly carrying rucksacks full of cigarettes on skis over the mountains to Austria which they sold - being non-smokers themselves - among other students thus to add a considerable money to their stipendium...
Today all has other dimensions. All the year round thousands of cars are driving up the valley to benefit from the duty free fuel and the passengers buy all the duty free stuff in the allowed quantities (or more).
The most money is earned now by winter tourism, especially since the Samnaun skiing area is connected by skilifts with the famous skiing area of Ischgl in Tirol, all accessible with a lticket valid in both areas.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Interesting driving and shopping
  • Cons:crowded
  • In a nutshell:worth the sidetrip when you are passing the area
  • Last visit to Samnaun: Sep 2004
  • Intro Updated Apr 27, 2005
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Reviews (8)

Comments (4)

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Jul 19, 2007 at 9:25 AM

    die sollen die zollfreie Tankstelle in Telfs machen, ganz im Zeichen des Umweltschutzes und C02 reduzierung !

  • keeweechic's Profile Photo
    May 3, 2005 at 7:14 AM

    More sunshine in the A ustrian part? interesting. Definately a winter resort town. Good tips on duty free.. Pretty model you have in your photos:-)

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    Oct 8, 2004 at 3:32 PM

    Ischgl does offer great skiing. Nice of you to show us what the area looks like in the Summer ;-]

  • PeteNL's Profile Photo
    Oct 1, 2004 at 1:19 PM

    Great pages and tips on this still fairly unknown resort, Lothar! We also visit it often enough from Fendels for some tax free shopping (and skiing)



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