Bernina Express, Switzerland to Italy
The Bernina Express is one of Switzerland’s most famous and scenic rail routes, giving railway travellers a breathtaking journey through the Swiss Engadin Alps on the centuries-old Rhaetian Railway. The train connects Switzerland’s postcard Alpine city Chur with Italy’s Tirano on a narrow-gauge train with panoramic carriages. Ride it in winter for snowy peaks and snow-globe feels or in summer for grassy meadows and lush flora. Sharing some of its route with the famous Glacier Express, passengers can enjoy the view as they relax in plush leather seats and order sparkling wine from the minibar.
Prices from: CHf62
Departing from: Chur station , Switzerland
Journey length: 4 hours
The Bernina Express route
A ride on the Bernina Express takes just over four hours, crossing 90 miles of land through 55 tunnels, 196 bridges and steep Alpine passes. Travelling on the highest railway across the Alps, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the train departs from Chur heading south towards St Moritz (a route it shares with the Glacier Express), before crossing the Landwasser Viaduct near Pontresina.
The train then ascends up the famous Bernina Pass, reaching a staggering 2,253 metres and passing the stunning Morteratsch Glacier. Stops at the village of Poschiavo and Le Prese (past the Brusio Spiral Viaduct) complete the Swiss leg before crossing into Italy and arriving in Tirano. From Tirano it’s possible to catch a train to Milan.
The Bernina Express train
The train is comfortable, clean and modern, offering passengers a choice of 1st or 2nd class seating (though there is little difference bar more comfortable leather seating in 1st). Carriages are panoramic with large sweeping windows and there’s a roving minibar serving souvenirs, snacks and refreshments throughout the journey. We recommend the charcuterie platter with a nice bottle of local sparkling wine.
Why we love it
One word: scenery. It can be hard to believe that a world of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, fir forests and centuries-old Alpine railways exists, but it does and you can see it all on the Bernina Express. It’s non-stop panoramic views the entire journey and the route passes through many famous sights. You also end up in sunny Italy – so win, win.