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Bernina Express scenic train

The Bernina Express is a breathtaking train ride through the snow-capped mountain scenery of Switzerland. Take in views of dynamic glaciers, alpine lakes and rolling countryside.

The route in numbers

  • Journey time: 4 hours from start to finish

  • Distance: 76 miles (122 km) of track

  • Top elevation: 7392 feet above sea level

  • Highlights: 55 tunnels; 196 bridges & viaducts

Where does it start and end?

Trains run in both directions, from Chur, Davos, or St. Moritz in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy. There are 25 stops along the route.

To enjoy all the thrilling twists, turns, and views, we recommend riding from start to finish.

Bernina Express map and directions

bernina-express

How to get to the Bernina Express route

From Train information
Zurich  You can take the direct Intercity to Chur (1hr 15min), as well as direct regional trains.
Milan You can take a direct regional train to Tirano, which are operated by Trenord and covered by the Eurail Pass.
Austria From Vienna or Salzburg, you can take a train to Sargans (Switzerland). Switch trains here and you'll arrive in Chur in only 30 minutes.
France/Germany From Paris, Munich or Cologne, take a train to Karlsruhe (Germany) or Zurich (Switzerland). There you can switch to a direct train to Chur.

Which trains run along this route?

Two types of train

It's good to know that the Bernina Express is the name of the unique panoramic train that runs on this particular route. Standard regional trains also operate on the same route, through the same beautiful scenery!

See how the trains compare

Train type
Regional train
  • Passes through the UNESCO site and mountains

  • Included in the Interrail Pass.

  • Reservation not required.

  • Runs every hour.

  • You'll have to change trains along the way.

  • No panoramic windows.

  • No refreshments on board.

  • No on-board commentary.

Bernina Express

  • Passes through the UNESCO site and mountains.

  • Included in the Interrail Pass.

  • Reservation required (10 Swiss Francs in winter and 14 to 16 Swiss Francs in Summer)

  • Limited daily services, depending on where you board the train.

  • This is a direct train.

  • Panoramic windows.

  • Refreshments on board.

  • On-board commentary.

 

Should I take a normal train or the Bernina Express train?

If you're only travelling this route once in your lifetime, you should make the most of it! The reservation for the Bernina Express train is worth the extra fee.

The Bernina Express train has panoramic cars, more personal space, and an overall better atmosphere. It's also a direct trip, wheras on a regional train you'll have to change trains and transfer your luggage.

However, the regional train journey is still an amazing trip. You'll see the same incredible views for free! You'll also be able to stop in one of the small towns along the way for a closer look. The choice is yours.

Reservations

Bernina Express observation car

Winter (November - December):

€ 9 (10 CHF)

 

Spring/Fall (January - May and October):

€ 12.5 (14 CHF)

 

Summer:(June - September):
€ 14 (16 CHF)


Additional bus route

You can also take an additional Bernina Express bus between Tirano and Lugano. The bus rides through beautiful landscapes and past Lake Como. The same reservations costs apply for this bus.

You can find more information about the Bernina Express on the official website.

Online

Go to the Bernina Express website. For a seat on the observation car, choose a route with the Bernina Express symbol.
 

When filling in your passenger details, you'll see a drop-down box called "Tickets / Reductions". Simply select "Interrail Pass" from the options.

You only have to pay for your seat reservation(s). You'll receive the reservations by email.
 

At the train station

Keep in mind that trains can become full during busy times.

Conditions for Interrail pass holders

Interrail passes are valid on the entire Bernina Express journey. Seat reservations are compulsory only for the special panorama train and bus from Tirano to Lugano (these are 2 separate reservations). The price for a train reservation depends on the season. The regional train that operates on this route is included in your pass. Interrail Pass holders must have a pass valid for Switzerland. Although the Bernina Express partly runs through Italy, a pass for Italy is not required.

 

You can find more information about summer and winter schedules and fares at the Bernina Express website.

 

Special features

The Bernina Express offers breathtaking views from the beautiful 1st and 2nd class panorama cars. The train climbs up to the 2253 m high Bernina pass without the help of a rack-and-pinion mechanism. The entire trip is narrated. An optional bus connects Tirano (Italy) to Lugano.

When is the best time to go?

  • The Bernina Express route runs all year round. Visit in spring to see green fields and farming villages in all their colorful beauty.

  • Visit during winter, and frozen lakes, snow-covered mountains, and local skiers are the main sights. In short, any time is a good time to take this ride!

Regional train insider tips

  • Stop along the route to enjoy the small villages you encounter. Simply take another regional train later to continue your journey.

  • In winter, it gets dark quickly. If you want to experience the wonderful scenery on the Bernina Express route by regional train, be sure to board a train earlier in the day.

Facilities and services

  • Audio system
  • Shops
  • Shower/WC
  • Snack trolley

 

 

Facilities may differ per train and route.

 

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