Soaring over the Bernina Pass and climbing to a dizzying 7,392 feet (2,253 meters) above sea level, the famous Bernina Express is one of Europe’s most beautiful railway routes. Running for 75 miles (122 kilometers) from Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy, it’s the only railway that connects the North and South Alps, and offers dramatic mountain views.
You can ride the panoramic Bernina Express (otherwise known as the Rhaetian Railway) between Tirano and Chur (a 4-hour journey), St. Moritz (a 2-hour journey), or Davos (a 3.75-hour journey). With just one day to spare, it’s also possible to join a Bernina Express rail tour from Chur or St. Moritz and ride the train both ways, or enjoy a day trip from Milan to St. Moritz, including a ride on the Bernina Express and a return by bus. Multi-day tours also run from Zurich, including a night in St. Moritz, a train ride and bus journey to Lugano, and a night in Lugano.
Bernina Express trains offer first- and second-class seating. Both require tickets to be purchased in advance.
Things to Know Before You Go
Free Wi-Fi and audio commentary are available to first-class passengers.
Drinks and snacks can be purchased on-board.
Travelers crossing the Swiss-Italian border are required to carry their passport and/or ID card.
Trains are accessible to wheelchair users; assistance is available.
How to Get There
Trains leave from Chur (Switzerland) railway station, in the town center, and arrive at the central train station in Tirano (Italy), where from February to November a bus service connects passengers with Lugano. During the summer season you can also board the Bernina Express in St. Moritz or Davos.
When to Get There
The Bernina Express runs year-round, and the alpine landscapes look just as mesmerizing covered with snow in the winter months as they do bursting with wildflowers throughout the summer. For a variety of scenery, traveling in spring is a good option, when the high mountain passes are still covered in snow, but the lowland valleys are lush and green. If visiting in winter, be aware that there is only one train departure a day.
Spectacular Scenery along the Bernina Express
Passing through wild gorges, icy glaciers, and verdant mountain valleys, the Bernina Express serves up one postcard-worthy view after another. The scenic train passes an impressive 196 bridges and 55 tunnels, and the section between Thusis, Valposchiavo, and Tirano is even protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Route highlights include Bernina Pass, Albula Pass, Engadine valley, and the highest point at Ospizio Bernina, as well as engineering marvels such as the Landwasser Viaduct and the Brusio Circular Viaduct.