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Bernina Express train, route and tickets explained

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Bernina Express near Pontresina

The Bernina Express approaching Pontresina.

The Bernina Express

The Bernina Express takes you across the entire canton of Graubünden, all the way from the old town of Chur to Italy. Then there's a bus section to Lugano in Switzerland. Wonderful scenery all the way!


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The Bernina Express route in detail.



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A journey with the Bernina Express

The Bernina Express is a direct train from Chur to Tirano in Italy. In just 4 hours, you'll see stunning variations in the landscape: from high-alpine scenery on the Bernina Pass to a Mediterranean atmosphere in the Poschiavo valley just before Tirano. You can enjoy palm trees and snow within a couple of hours.

There's a connecting bus service from Tirano to Lugano (not in winter).

The route

You can travel from Chur to Tirano or the other way round. The train route consists of two sections. The leg from Tirano to Lugano by bus is a third section.

The train

Traveling on board the Bernina Express is comfortable. Both 1st and 2nd class coaches have large panoramic sealed windows all the way to the roof. The train is air conditioned. 1st class seats are more spacious.

There is a trolley serving snacks and drinks at your place.

While on board, you can get route information by connecting your phone or tablet to the "InfoT(r)ainment" system at www.infotrainment.ch. This will also get you free Wifi. Bring a headset, so you can listen to the commentary.

What's the best season?

Any season can be great if the sky is clear enough to enjoy the views.

Winter (from mid-December to March) is beautiful as most of the landscape is usually covered by a thick layer of snow. In summer (July to September), it's the flowers and the Mediterranean atmosphere in the Poschiavo valley that make this journey attractive. Our favorite season is spring (May to June), as that offers the perfect combination of green valleys and snowy mountains.

The winter timetable of the Bernina Express train is limited and the Bernina Express bus from Tirano to Lugano does not operate. The regular trains operate normally.

Open-air cars without windows operate during good weather in July and August between St. Moritz and Poschiavo, and sometimes on other routes in the area too. They're ideal for photography. Be sure to wear adress warmly!

Regular trains versus Bernina Express

You are not required to travel with the Bernina Express if you want to enjoy the scenery of the Bernina railway. There are regular train services on the same line as well.

Regular trains do not offer the panoramic windows and the same level of comfort, but other than that you can see the landscape just as well.

The regular trains are local trains, so you'll have to switch trains at least once to cover the whole route. The Bernina Express is the only direct train between Chur and Tirano.

Day trip options from other towns

For the best experience, we recommend to stay in a town along the route. Examples are Chur and St. Moritz. If you are staying in a town far from the route, a day trip with the Bernina Express can take a lot of time. There are options though:

  • From Lucerne: take a train to Chur and board the Bernina Express train there. Take the bus from Tirano to Lugano. Then take a train back to Lucerne. This day trip takes about 14 hours.
  • From Lugano: take the bus to Tirano and board the Bernina Express train there. Get off the train in Thusis. Take a bus to Bellinzona and finally a train back to Lugano. This day trip takes about 11 hours. If you stay in Milan you can follow this route as well, by taking a train to/from Lugano.
  • From Milan: take a train to Tirano, and board the Bernina Express to St. Moritz. Then take a bus to Chiavenna, and finally take trains back to Milan. This route takes about 9,5 hours. A longer alternative is to take a train to Lugano, and take the Bernina Express bus to Tirano from there. Then continue as described.
  • From Zurich: take a train to Chur and board the Bernina Express train there. Take the bus from Tirano to Lugano. Then take a train back to Zurich. This day trip takes about 13,55 hours.
  • From many other cities, a day trip with the Bernina Express is not possible.

Detailed schedules can be found in the timetable.

Combinations with other panoramic trains

The Bernina Express starts or ends in Lugano. That's where the Gotthard Panorama Express starts or ends too.

You can also connect to the Glacier Express. The Glacier Express route partly overlaps with the Bernina Express route. You can switch in Chur or St. Moritz for example.

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Insider tips about the Bernina Express

  • Travel in Spring if you want to see the perfect combination of green valleys and lots of snow in the mountains.
  • In winter, the section from St. Moritz to Tirano is especially worth it.
  • Although the Bernina Express is very special, you can travel on the same route by regular trains too. Rail passes are valid for any train type.

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