From Zürich to Milano along the Albula and Bernina Railway A spectacular and beautiful route

From Zürich to Milano along the Albula and Bernina Railway

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There are many ways to get from Switzerland to Italy by train, probably the most spectacular and beautiful route however is along the Albula and Bernina railway lines through Graubünden. Since I often suggest this route in the forum I thought to write a short article on this route with a few pictures from along the way, explaining where to change trains and where to include possible stopovers to enjoy the fantastic nature. The pictures have been taken on several visits to the area during the last years.

If you want to travel the whole route from Zürich to Milan in one go it will take you about nine hours which is considerably longer than via the direct route along the Gotthard line that will only take you about 3h30 on one of the direct EuroCity (EC) trains or about 4h if you are an Interrail or Eurail traveller wanting to avoid reservations (which are compulsory when taking an EC train to Italy). Even though the detour through Graubünden takes more than double the time it is really worth it and you are rewarded with great landscape views and a ride along spectacular railway lines.

 

Leg 1: Zürich – Chur

Your best choice on this leg are the hourly fast InterCity (IC) trains operated by SBB. They provide a direct connection to the RegioExpress trains from Chur to St Moritz. These IC trains also stop in Sargans which is practical if you are coming from Germany or Austria as you have good connections here. Especially the overnight trains to Beograd, Zagreb, Graz, Wien and Budapest are a good option in case you want to save on accomodation costs in expensive Switzerland. If possible, take a seat on the left hand side of the train to enjoy the views of Zürichsee and Walensee before you reach Chur, the capital of Graubünden, oldest city of Switzerland and itself worth a visit. The connection to the RegioExpress from Chur to St Moritz usually is a convenient cross-platform interchange: The IC arrives on platform 9 and you just have to hop on the RegioExpress already waiting opposite on platform 10. Although the connection time is just six minutes this is easily enough.

At Zürich HB (central station).
At Zürich HB (central station).
On the way to Chur: The Walensee and Churfirsten in the background.
On the way to Chur: The Walensee and Churfirsten in the background.

 

Leg 2: Chur – Samedan

You have to entered the realm of Rhätische Bahn (RhB), the narrow gauge railway that operates the railway network of Graubünden. InterRail and Eurail passes are fully valid and no reservations are required except for travel on the touristic Glacier Express (GEX) and Bernina Express (BEX) trains. To prevent any confusion: On the complete routes of both GEX and BEX there are also regular Regio and RegioExpress trains operating for which you do not need a reservation. In my opinion the regular trains are totally fine so no need to spend that extra money for travelling on GEX and BEX. It is hard to tell whether the right or left hand side seats are better in terms of views during the trip but I would tend to sit on the right hand side. Prepare yourself for some dizzying stretches of line as the train makes its way from Chur at 953 metres a. s. l. to Albula Tunnel at 1820 metres. The most stunning parts are from Thusis to Tiefencastel and then from Filisur up to Preda. Also, just before Filisur you cross Landwasser Viaduct, probably the most iconic landmark of the whole RhB network. After the stop in Preda the train then rattles through the darkness of Albula Tunnel before emerging in the Engadin and shortly afterwards arrives in Samedan. From here you could continue the short remaining bit of line to St Moritz, however if you want to head directly to Milan you have to change in Samedan for a train to Pontresina.

Changing trains in Chur. The InterCity from Zurich usually arrives on platform 9 and provides a cross-platform interchange with the RegioExpress to St Moritz on platform 10. The train on the left is the Regio to Disentis/Mustér.
Changing trains in Chur. The InterCity from Zurich usually arrives on platform 9 and provides a cross-platform interchange with the RegioExpress to St Moritz on platform 10. The train on the left is the Regio to Disentis/Mustér.
A few minutes before the train to St Moritz reaches Filisur it crosses the famous Landwasser Viaduct.
A few minutes before the train to St Moritz reaches Filisur it crosses the famous Landwasser Viaduct.
Landwasser Viaduct seen from above the tunnel mouth.
Landwasser Viaduct seen from above the tunnel mouth.
View from Filisur station towards the Albula Valley. Who can spot the train?
View from Filisur station towards the Albula Valley. Who can spot the train?
The train crosses one of the many viaducts on its way to Albula Tunnel and the Engadin.
The train crosses one of the many viaducts on its way to Albula Tunnel and the Engadin.

 

Leg 3: Samedan – Pontresina

This connection is again provided as cross-platform interchange, usually from platform 2 to platform 3. Even though the connection time is really short (three minutes) you do not have to worry as the train usually waits in case of a delay. The trip itself is not that spectacular and quite short but saves you an hour of time compared to going to St Moritz and taking the train to Tirano there. So unless you really want to travel the complete Bernina Railway I recommend taking this shortcut.

A Regio from Pontresina has arrived in Samedan and will provide the connection to the RegioExpress to Chur on the opposite platform.
A Regio from Pontresina has arrived in Samedan and will provide the connection to the RegioExpress to Chur on the opposite platform.

 

Leg 4: Pontresina – Tirano

The Regio from Samedan arrives at platform 1, to get to platform 4 and your Regio to Tirano you have to use the subway. It is just a short distance and in case of a delay the train would also wait a bit – again, no need to worry. After leaving Pontresina the train soon passes through Morteratsch, where you can find a really nice campsite as well start hiking to Morteratsch Glacier which would take about one hour. Then, the steep climb towards the Bernina pass and the summit station of Ospizio Bernina at about 2250 metres starts. There is no preferred side of the train to sit as the tracks constantly keep on twisting and turning. There’s plenty to see definitely! Finally the train reaches the summit and runs along the shores of Lej Nair (the black lake) and Lago Bianco (the white lake), stopping at Ospizio Bernina. Afterwards, the much longer descent down to the Valposchiavo and Tirano, the terminal station in Italy begins. Catch a glimpse of Piz Palü and the Valposchiavo while passing through Alp Grüm station. After the longest and most spectacular part of the descent lies behind you reach Poschiavo, the small capital of this part of Graubünden. Then you cross the famous circular viaduct of Brusio before the trip finally ends in Tirano where you usually have enough time for a short lunch until the last train will take you to Milano.

Regio to Tirano ready for departure at Pontresina, platform 4.
Regio to Tirano ready for departure at Pontresina, platform 4.
A Regio train bound for St Moritz has just left Morteratsch station. The picture was taken from our spot at Camping Morteratsch.
A Regio train bound for St Moritz has just left Morteratsch station. The picture was taken from our spot at Camping Morteratsch.
Bernina Express in Montebello Curve, in the background Morteratsch Glacier.
Bernina Express in Montebello Curve, in the background Morteratsch Glacier.
On board a train on the descent from Ospizio Bernina towards Morteratsch and St Moritz.
On board a train on the descent from Ospizio Bernina towards Morteratsch and St Moritz.
Bernina Express climbs towards Ospizio Bernina.
Bernina Express climbs towards Ospizio Bernina.
On top of Bernina pass in the winter. Lago Bianco is fully covered by ice and snow.
On top of Bernina pass in the winter. Lago Bianco is fully covered by ice and snow.
Beautiful scenery: At Lago Bianco.
Beautiful scenery: At Lago Bianco.
On board a Regio at exactly the same spot as above.
On board a Regio at exactly the same spot as above.
Just a few metres away, this Regio heads in the opposite direction to Tirano. Ospizio Bernina is just around the next bend.
Just a few metres away, this Regio heads in the opposite direction to Tirano. Ospizio Bernina is just around the next bend.
The area around Ospizio Bernina is perfect for a short hike.
The area around Ospizio Bernina is perfect for a short hike.
This Regio bound for Tirano has just left Ospizio Bernina station, which is still visible in the background, and starts the descend to Alp Grüm.
This Regio bound for Tirano has just left Ospizio Bernina station, which is still visible in the background, and starts the descend to Alp Grüm.
A Regio from Tirano has just reached Lago Bianco almost on top of the line.
A Regio from Tirano has just reached Lago Bianco almost on top of the line.
Almost on top: The train has just left Alp Grüm station and is now heading to the summit at Ospizio Bernina.
Almost on top: The train has just left Alp Grüm station and is now heading to the summit at Ospizio Bernina.
Just having left Alp Grüm, the train continues its descent to Tirano.
Just having left Alp Grüm, the train continues its descent to Tirano.
Palü Glacier seen from Alp Grüm.
Palü Glacier seen from Alp Grüm.
After Alp Grüm station the long and steep descent of the line towards Valposchiavo and the terminus in Italy at Tirano continues. On the bottom right you can see a bit of line a few hundret metres below.
After Alp Grüm station the long and steep descent of the line towards Valposchiavo and the terminus in Italy at Tirano continues. On the bottom right you can see a bit of line a few hundret metres below.
Regio train on the way to Tirano, somewhere between Alp Grüm and Poschiavo.
Regio train on the way to Tirano, somewhere between Alp Grüm and Poschiavo.
While it has already snowed on the mountains it is still green in the Valposchiavo.
While it has already snowed on the mountains it is still green in the Valposchiavo.
On some parts, Bernina railway runs along the streets of the villages of Valposchiavo as can be seen here in Le Prese.
On some parts, Bernina railway runs along the streets of the villages of Valposchiavo as can be seen here in Le Prese.
At the lakeshore of Lago di Poschiavo.
At the lakeshore of Lago di Poschiavo.
The circular viaduct of Brusio is the landmark of Bernina Railway.
The circular viaduct of Brusio is the landmark of Bernina Railway.
This Regio train to St Moritz has just left Tirano and passes Madonna di Tirano church.
This Regio train to St Moritz has just left Tirano and passes Madonna di Tirano church.
Bernina Railway map at Tirano.
Bernina Railway map at Tirano.

 

Leg 5: Tirano – Milano

All local and regional trains in Lombardia region around Milano are now operated by Trenord, InterRail and Eurail tickets are now finally officially accepted – there have been some issues when operation of services was handed over from Trenitalia. The Trenord station in Tirano is across the RhB station but as connection times are usually quite long you won’t be in a hurry anyway. If you have a bit of time left the small city of Tirano is definitely worth a visit. Trains to Milano run every two hours, just take a seat and enjoy the last part of your trip.

Trenord train to Milano Centrale at Tirano station.
Trenord train to Milano Centrale at Tirano station.
You have reached your destination: Milano Centrale, bustling as always.
You have reached your destination: Milano Centrale, bustling as always.

 

Schedules

Zürich – Chur train schedule 2018

Chur – St Moritz train schedule (including Glacier and Bernina Express services) 2018

St Moritz – Tirano train schedule (including Bernina Express services) 2018

Tirano – Milano train schedule 2018

Of course it is possible to travel in the opposite direction as well, the different changes of trains work similarly smooth. You can find these schedules among many others here.

Example schedule:

Zürich HB 07:37 – 08:52 Chur

Chur 08:58 – 10:45 Samedan

Samedan 10:48 – 10:55 Pontresina

Pontresina 11:04 – 13:00 Tirano

Tirano 13:08 – 15:40 Milano Centrale

 

Stopovers

There is a youth hostel directly at the station in Pontresina and another one in St Moritz. However, for a unique experience, stay overnight either at Ospizio Bernina or Alp Grüm. If you are travelling with a tent, Camping Morteratsch is highly recommended. Another campsite is located in Filisur. If you are into hiking, the trail from Filisur to Davos through Zügen gorge is really nice but of course there are lots of other possibilites available in Graubünden. If you just want to relax for one or two hours while travelling from Zürich to Milano I would suggest to leave the train at Ospizio Bernina and then hike down to the next station at Alp Grüm or Bernina Diavolezza respectively. If you are travelling with big luggage just stay around Ospizio Bernina station which is equally beautiful.

Hopefully you enjoyed the trip along Albula and Bernina Railway from Zurich to Milano and maybe are convinced to include this route into your own rail trip. For any questions, please use our friendly railcc forum.

Be fair and purchase your tickets through our partner links as we need your help to keep on helping you. Thank you. 🙂

Update: April 2018

Flo Weber
I like to travel by train. https://www.instagram.com/raildudeflow/
Flo Weber
- 4 months ago
Flo Weber
Flo Weber
f _at_ rail.cc

43 Comments

  1. Hi Flo,
    Loved your blog! The details are helpful, and the pictures are spectacular! Yet, I’m finding myself getting overwhelmed to book a similar trip taking eastbound Glacier Express from Zermatt to Samedan (2 stations before St. Moritz), and taking Bernina Express Panoramic coach the next day to Tirano, continuing on regional train to Milan. I’m guessing the scenic Albula line route on BEX is the same that GEX covers/overlaps from Chur to Samedan. We want to travel on GEX from Zermatt to Samedan on Jan 17th. Stay a night in Samedan or near Punt Muragl Staz, then continue our trip on BEX panoramic coach the next day (Jan 18th) on scenic Bernina line to Tirano. We’ll have Swiss Travel Pass but can’t seem to figure out how to do Bernina line in winter from Punt Muragl Staz on probably regional train connection to Pontresina, or… but we prefer to do most of this scenic route with seat reservation on BEX Panoramic car. I apologize for being repetitive. Thanks, I’ll greatly appreciate any help in route options with train #s and site/link for seat-reservations.

    • Hi Rachna!
      You are right, BEX and GEX take the same line (Albula Railway) from Chur to Samedan.
      In the Samedan area, the RhB network forms a triangle, Samedan, Pontresina and St Moritz being the corners. All GEX trains run between Samedan and St Moritz (coming from Zermatt – Chur), while BEX trains run either from St Moritz to Pontresina (and onwards to Tirano) or from Samedan to Pontresina (coming from Chur and going to Tirano, bypassing St Moritz).
      Complete schedule of the Bernina Line (St Moritz to Tirano is here): https://www.fahrplanentwurf.ch/fileadmin/sta_pdf_fields/2019/950.pdf
      On Jan 18 the following trains convey panoramic cars from St Moritz to Tirano: 1617, 1625, 4637, 1641, 4645. These are regular regional trains to which some BEX panoamic cars are attached (reservation compulsory). These trains do all stop in St Moritz, Celerina Staz, Punt Muragl Staz and Pontresina.
      Additionally there is the BEX from Chur via Samedan and Pontresina to Tirano (train 922) however this train stops in Pontresina only (dep 1022). You can take this train from Samedan or Punt Muragl by catching a regional train to Pontresina first.
      For reservations have a look at https://rail.shop/rhb/ or buy it locally at a station.
      Flo

      • Hi Flo,
        I can’t thank you enough for your timely, clear and detailed response to my personal request. Thanks for the trains #s and link for reservation, we can now confidently take the morning regional train with reservation on BEX panoramic-car from St. Moritz to Tirano.
        Many Thanks! Very grateful indeed for your help!
        Rachna

  2. Hello, great blog… I want to travel from Geneva to Rome and happy to do a stop over night somewhere if recommended. I like the slow trains too and over the alps instead of the long tunnel sounds amazing as you describe it here. can you outline how I get from Geneva to this train you describe. Thank you Annette

    • Hi Annette!
      Thank you. 🙂
      From Geneva you have basically two options: Taking the main line to Zurich (IC/Intercity trains every 30 minutes), then going via Chur – St Moritz – Tirano as described in the blog. This is the fastest option; Geneve to Chur is about 4h15.
      The more scenic option is via Brig – Andermatt – Disentis/Muster to Reichenau-Tamins (or onwards to Chur), following the route of Glacier Express. This takes about 7h30. In Reichenau-Tamins you have connections to St Moritz (on the same trains that run from Chur to St Moritz.
      Of course there are many other options possible; another scenic route would be to go via Montreux – Zweisimmen – Spiez – Interlaken – Meiringen – Luzern – Arth-Goldau to Pfäffikon, following the routes of Golden Pass Express and Voralpenexpress. From Arth-Goldau you could also travel to Göschenen – Andermatt.
      Have a look at the map here: http://www.bueker.net/trainspotting/map.php?file=maps/switzerland/switzerland.gif
      Flo

  3. Hi Flo…what an amazing blog…wow!!! I’m looking to buy tickets from Zurich to Tirano via the SBB ticket shop and its coming up with 2 options – via Vereina Oder Albula or, Veriena Oder Albula – Pontresina – Bus SBC – Bernina Lagelb…..which one do I choose please? Also, do the trains run as normal at Easter in Switzerland please? Many thanks!

    • Hi Jackie,

      no bus needed; so take the option “Vereina oder Albula”; this allows you to travel from Zurich either via Landquart – Chur – Reichenau-Tamins – Filisur – Albula Tunnel – Samedan; or via Landquart – Klosters – Filisur – Albula Tunnel – Samedan or via Landquart – Klosters – Vereina Tunnel – Samedan.

      Trains run as normal during Easter in Switzerland. Preview of 2019 timetable is available here: https://www.fahrplanentwurf.ch/de/fahrplansuche.html

      Flo

      Flo

  4. Hi,

    thank you for the great Post. I really like to try this till Trento. But my problem, I don’t find a route between Tirano to Trento without passing by Milano.
    Do you have any advice?
    Thank you!

    Dahou.

  5. Hi Flo, thanks for the post!

    I would like to take a scenic route from Florence to Zurich. I understand that I can basically reverse the route you detailed above, but I’m curious how to book it. Would I need to book 5 separate tickets?

    Thanks for your help,

    Cassie

  6. Hi Flo
    Thanks for your great blog. You have inspired us to adjust our travel plans and explore more via the train network. Our original plan was to go from Biel (our original base) to Milan via the Bernina Express like you suggested above. But then my husband mentioned he wanted to go to Zermatt, so our first trip will be from Biel to Zermatt maybe via Bern. From there we want to travel on either the Glacier or the Bernina Express to Milan. Which routes are the best for us to take? From the train maps I see the GEX and the BEX overlap, should we get off at Chur and catch the BEX or stay on GEX?
    Is it worth buying multi-day rail passes or tickets as we go?
    Any help or advice would be much appreciated
    Thank you
    Abbii

    • Hi Abbii,

      sorry for the late reply. Dont know if it is still relevant but a rail pass (either Interrail/Eurail One Country Switzerland or Swiss Travel Pass) offer really good value for money and would all be valid on the routes you want to travel. Swiss Travel Pass has the benefit of being valid on most public transport (buses, trams,…) too and also gives discounts on most cableways etc…
      The standard route of BEX (Bernina Express) is St Moritz to Tirano, while GEX (Glacier Express) runs from Zermatt via Brig – Andermatt – Chur to St Moritz. It doesnt really matter which train you choose between Chur and St Moritz, however GEX will offer a proper restaurant service.
      If you want to avoid the extra reservation costs you can also travel the entire route without BEX and GEX and instead travel on regular regional trains.

      Best route would be from Biel either along Yverdon – Lausanne to Visp, then to Zermatt or from Biel via Bern – Spiez – Kandersteg to Brig, then Visp – Zermatt; then along the route of GEX and BEX from Zermatt via Brig – Andermatt – Chur – St Moritz to Tirano and on to Milan.

      Flo

  7. Hi Flo,
    my partner and I are looking at traveling by train from Brussels to Venice in October 2018 and would like the most direct route. We dont want to go back to Paris but also would like to travel bernina express for the scenery. What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Marg!
      If you want to include the Bernina Express I would recommend travelling like this: Brussels – Cologne – Karlsruhe – Basel – Zurich – Bernina Railway – Tirano – Milan – Venice.
      You can buy tickets from Brussels to Tirano (including the Bernina line) online at https://rail.shop/bahn or https://rail.shop/trainline/
      Buy the ticket from Tirano to Milan locally at the station in Tirano.
      The ticket from Milan to Venice is available at https://rail.shop/trainline/
      I would recommend to make at least one overnight stop along the way; for instance somewhere along the Bernina Railway (Bergün, Pontresina, Ospizio Bernina, Alp Grüm).
      Flo

  8. Hi Flo…..Really appreciate all that you’ve posted. Seems you may have made many trips through the Alps. Working on a possible trip with my wife and 2 grand-daughters for September 2019. Need to find the least expensive way to get from either Zurich or Milan. I would like to start at Thusis and work my way back to Italy. Trip must include Landwasser Viaduct (Wifes must see). We have already done the Bernina Express so its not important to be on it….Regular train traveling the same route is fine with me. Prefer to stay overnight in Thusis and make it a one day journey the next day. Overnight in either Milan or Venice…..Venice might be a stretch.
    Thank you for any specific info you can share
    Joe D

    • Hi Joe!
      Thank you!
      Are you planning on doing other trips by rail too? Maybe a rail pass would be an option then. Please give me some more information; if you want to do simply the Bernina Railway you should look out for special offers from SBB (Swiss Railways) at http://rail.shop/sbb or RhB (Rhaetian Railways) at http://rail.shop/rhb
      Flo

      • Flo….Thank you for the reply. Yes, we travel Italy almost extensively by rail. Next year we wanted to add the Swiss Alps. Any regular train that passes over the Landwasser Viaduct would be fine. I really can’t afford being on the Glacier Express and we have already been on the Bernina Express. That being said, We would still like to travel the route that both travel on without all the expense. I’m able to fly into Zurich or Milan and maybe overnight 1 night in Thusis. Would really like to do the Alps in 1 Day. In Italy we plan to visit several cities to include Milan, Venice, Pesaro, Florence, Rome, Ercolano, Sorrento and Capri. Total travel time will be the first 2 weeks of September 2019 with stop overs in Venice, Pesaro, Capri, and Rome. Prefer using the fast trains when possible. There will be 2 seniors and 2 under the age 25 limit. Looking forward to hearing from you and thanks again, Joe D

  9. Hello Flo! This blog has helped so much but like others have said.. I find that planning can be so overwhelming?. My husband and I are doing a 22 day?vacation in May/June this year. Starting in Prague. We’ll then visit Budapest & from there Vienna. We are looking at taking the night train from Vienna to Sargan/Chur and doing the Bernina Scenic Route. We’ve purchased a 15 day Eurail pass and I read about Bernina on Eurail.com with the “observation car” etc. But then I came across your blog and LOVED IT… My question is; how do I know what trains I’m suppuse to be on? We really want to stop in St Moritz to tour a bit/eat/shop and then catch another train and continue to Milan our destination for a few nights before our tour continues down through Italy. But the RhB website timetable for train 951 (that looks to be what we would be on) doesn’t stop in St Moritz. I know I’m missing something and I just need the dots connected. Also, do you feel we’re missing much by not doing the Zurich – Chur leg & opting for Vienna? Thank you for all of your knowledge. It really does put this traveller at ease to read your words! Ps..any suggestions on accommodations is welcomed? Our last few days will be in Rome once we decide Sicili can’t be our permanent home & vacation has to end. ??

  10. Hi Flo,
    I know this is quiet a ways off but planning travel in the year 2020 for a special birthday! Would love to fly into Venice from the US and then travel to Switzerland. Would love to see Lake Garda on the way. This is my first trip to northern Italy and Switzerland period. The entire country looks intriguingly beautiful but have no idea where to start once we head towards Switzerland. Would love some suggestions! Thank you.

    • Hi Sherri!

      2020 indeed is quite some time ahead; in principle you have quite a few options to get from Italy to Switzerland. From Lake Garda you could go via Bergamo and/or Milano to Tirano and as travel along the Bernina Railway as described in the blog.
      Maybe make a stop at Lake Como halfway between Milan and Tirano – you will find small ferries getting you across the lake, for instance to Bellagio.
      Another less known area would be the Lago d’Iseo; you could then travel to the terminus of the railway line at Edolo and go to Tirano by bus.

      If you skip the Bernina Railway you could head to Como at the other end of Lago di Como, then go to Lugano and continue via the old “Gotthard Line” (make sure to travel the old line and not in the new ~50km tunnel) to the beautiful Lake Lucerne. Maybe the “Gotthard Panorama Express” would be interesting for you.

      Best,
      Flo

  11. Hello Flo! congrats for the excellent job/information for that trip!
    i m thinking of doing that trip (From Zurich to Florence) in 25/12/17 (Christmas Day). Do you think that i ll have problem to find tickets last minute? There are stuff in the train stations? Is it possible to buy tickets in the trains? There is also an option to buy all these tickets from Zurich?
    Furthermore i want to ask you, if it is a good idea and if it is possible (due to time limits), to go for a quick visit (maybe 2 hours) to St Moritz (from Chur) and then continue from there to Florence by the same route: Samedam to Pontresina…
    Thank you in advance

  12. Hi Flo, Love the blog lots of info. We are planning to travel Dec 2017 and will be mainly travelling by car through Italy, Switzerland. However we are wanting to also travel along the Bernina express rail line. Either way, whether we board the train for Chur or from Tirano, and travel to St Moritz we would have to arrange for the trip to start and return from the same point. I presume this is possible, however we would like to get some idea as to where and how we purchase tickets. Additionally some idea of price for a return ticket. Given the timing of the rail journey is in winter, can you suggest the best route; is it better from Chur to St Moritz & back or Tirano to St Moritz and back?

    • Hi Kay!

      Thank you!

      You have to consider that there are two different railway lines:
      – Albula Railway from Chur via Albula Tunnel to St Moritz
      – Bernina Raiwlay from St Moritz via Bernina Pass to Tirano

      The original route of the Bernina Express is the Bernina Railway, however some services also run via the Albula Railway all the way from Chur to Tirano.
      Both railways are exceptionally beautiful, however if you can only travel with one the Bernina Railway probably is the better, even more beautiful option. While the Albula Railway mostly runs in valleys (or along the hillslopes) and then runs _below_ Albula Pass in a tunnel, Bernina Railway climbs all the way to 2253m asl _over_ the Bernina Pass.

      Regular one way and return tickets are available from RhB (Rhaetian Railways) at rail.shop/rhb

      Have a nice trip,
      Flo

  13. Hi Flo. Really liked your blog. Wonder if you could help with our planning. We are going to take a train from Zurich then boarding the Bernina Express (if we get the offer with a ticket bought on German website) on 20 March 2018. we plan on staying 2 nights in Tirano then taking local trains back to Zurich with an overnight stay somewhere en-route on 22 March (BIG birthday that date) Just looked at Ospizio Bernina but hotel is fully booked. We are considering Poschiavo or Pontresina but would appreciate your suggestions please. Thank you. Yvonne

    • Hi Yvonne!
      Thank you! From where do you want to start your trip? Zurich? Germany? UK?
      You can buy tickets from German Railways DB via our partner link: https://rail.shop/bahn
      In Ospizio Bernina there is also the Albergo Cambrena just opposite the Albergo Ospizio Bernina. Book here: http://www.cambrena.ch/en/
      Poschiavo certainly would be a good idea too; you may also look at a village along the Albula Railway (for instance in Bergün).
      Flo

      • Hi Flo
        We are buying tickets for the Bernina Express to join it in Zurich and travel to Tirano. We are only stopping for one night in either Poschiavo or now you have shown Albergo Cambrena. Which would you recommend for a special night please? Also do the local trains from Tirano stop at both these places and will we be able to get a connection from there to Zurich on 23 March? Sorry, lots of questions, really appreciate your help. Thank you Yvonne

        • Hi Yvonne,

          well, spending the night on top of Bernina Pass certainly would be quite special – I’ve enjoyed that a few times already now, and it is quite unique. After the last train has left, it is really really quiet (except from the occasional car on the street) but you’ll have a really beautiful view of the lake and surrounding mountains. Of course, weather conditions can be tough – and there will be still lots of snow in March, so be prepared for that.
          Alternatively, Poschiavo has a nice, small old town as well so you cant do much wrong here. Oh…have you already been looking for accomodation at Alp Grüm as well? That would be nice too. 🙂
          All local trains call at all stations – some stops are “on demand” only, so either push the button in the train or wave to the driver outside of the train. You will find the complete schedule (albeit for 2017) here: http://www.fahrplanfelder.ch/fileadmin/fap_pdf_fields/2017/950.pdf
          Onward travel to Chur (and from there to Zurich) is here: http://www.fahrplanfelder.ch/fileadmin/fap_pdf_fields/2017/940.pdf
          Or simply use the schedule planner: http://plan.rail.cc/ or http://fahrplan.oebb.at/bin/query.exe/dn
          Please be aware that the annual timetable change is on December 10; so you may not find all schedules for the next year yet. Still, in Switzerland there wont be any substantial changes so you can easily plan with the current timings.
          Flo

  14. Hi Flo

    Really finding these comments helpful, but truthfully and still a little overwhelmed.
    Any help and advice you can offer is really appreciated.
    We have purchased Eurail tickets. We will be traveling from Zurich to CHur early on Saturday 1 July. Then we plan to travel through from Chur to Florence where we have hotel for the night. We decided NOT to take Bernina express but DO want to use the local trains on the same line to enjoy the views. It looks like good route is Chur – Tirana – Milan – Florence do you know how long this take and if its feasible

    • Hi Tracey!
      I’m glad you like the blog! Once you are there and on board the trains I’m sure you will see that everything works fine and smoothly.
      If you want to travel all the way from Zürich to Florence within one day, I recommend this option:
      Zurich HB 0737 – 0852 Chur
      Chur 0858 – 1045 Samedan
      Samedan 1048 – 1055 Pontresina
      Pontresina 1104 – 1300 Tirano
      Tirano 1508 – 1740 Milano Centrale
      Milano Centrale 1820 – 1959 Firenze SMN

      Changing trains in Chur and Samedan is no big deal, trains are on opposite platforms. Similarly in Pontresina, you just have to walk through a short subway, no big deal and you wont be the only travellers making that connection. 😉
      In Tirano you could have lunch; alternatively you could leave the train from Pontresina to Tirano en route, for instance in Ospizio Bernina or Alp Grüm for a short walk and take the next train to Tirano which would cut the stay in Tirano to one hour.
      From Milan to Florence you would use a Frecciarossa high speed train for which a reservation (10€) is required. You can purchase it online at https://rail.shop/trenitalia/ – select your train, then choose “Global Pass” as tariff and enter your Eurail pass number. You can then collect the reservation at a ticket machine or get an online ticket as well I think.

      Have a nice trip,
      Flo

  15. We are planning a trip in September 2017 . Wanting to take the train from Milan to Zurich, Spending the night in Tirano. What trains do you suggest?

    • Hi Carolyn!

      There are direct trains from Milano Centrale station at least every two hours to Tirano. I would suggest leaving Milan at around 15:00 – 16:00 in the afternoon latest so that you still have enough time in Tirano for dinner and a short walk around the city.
      The following day you could head to Madonna di Tirano church with the famous railroad crossing at the roundabout in front of the church. Then take a train towards St Moritz around 09:00 – 10:00, which would leave you with the opportunity to make a stopover at either Alp Grüm or Ospizio Bernina at the top of the railway line. Depending on when you want to arrive in Zurich you could stay for one or maybe two hours, then continue to Zurich by changing trains at Pontresina, Samedan and Chur.

      If you have more questions just ask. Are you gonna travel with a Eurail pass? Find more info here: https://rail.cc/en/eurail
      Have a nice trip!

  16. Hi, We are planning a 3 day/2 night trip travelling from Zurich (arriving 8am flight) down to the Cinque Terre, in Italy. We want to include the Bernina Express route through to Tirano. Then we had planned on taking the bus route across to Lugano/Como and exploring the lakes district. Before we head south to the Italian coast. We are pretty happy with the route from past forums and reviews. We just need to find out what towns have the best atmosphere and would be best to stay in. Places like Chur or St Moritz? Lugano or Como? Any other towns you could suggest instead? We are travelling in mid April. Much appreciated, Mat

    • Hi Mat!
      With what kinds of tickets do you intend to travel with?
      Chur definitely is a good option to stay overnight; however you might consider skipping it and travel further from Zurich (as Chur is just a mere 1h15 from Zurich).
      St Moritz is posh and touristy; personally I would prefer to stay in a small village, maybe have a look at Bergün. Maybe also have a look at Pontresina, from where you could also make a quick trip to St Moritz and back. On the other side of Bernina Pass Poschiavo is certainly worth a visit.
      Lugano or Como are both good options on the way south; you can also think of travelling from Tirano along Lake Como to Varenna or Lecco and then cross the lake by boat to get to Bellagio and Como – however, this might be too time-consuming overall.
      Have a nice trip,
      Flo

  17. I also have booked a same journey from Chur to Tirano(12:45 P.M) and Tirano(1:00 PM) to Milan. But I afraid, if Bernina Express delays I will miss the Train to Milan. Is Bernina Express arrive on time? Also could you please help me how to validate the regional train pass in Italy? I am new to Europe countries.
    Thanks in advance

    • Hi!
      When do you travel and what kind of tickets did you buy and where?
      Normally Bernina Express services are on time, but I cannot predict if your train will be on time.

      Flo

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