THE BERNINA EXPRESS
I love train travel and the opportunity to catch the Bernina Express Switzerland which is described as one of the most scenic train routes in the world (as well as passing through a UNESCO World Heritage designated landscape) was one I couldn’t miss. As usual I consulted The Man at Seat 61 for information about the service – always a good place to start when planning any train travel around the world.
The Bernina Express route runs starts/ends in Italy/Switzerland depending on which way around you take the trip. We were catching the train from Italy to Switzerland so this article will help you if this is the route you are planning to take (though do take a look if you are going the other way as it will give you a great insight into what to expect)
THE BERNINA EXPRESS ROUTE – ITALY TO SWITZERLAND
If you are in Milan the first thing to do is to catch a train to Tirano (HOT TIP – do not get mixed up with Turino!!)
Although I had pre-booked our tickets it is quite easy to buy tickets on the day for this regional Trenard service. The trip from Milan to Tirano takes 2 1/2 hours and is a beautiful train ride too along Lake Como!
ARRIVING IN TIRANO TO CATCH THE BERNINA EXPRESS
The Bernina train leaves from a different station (the Rhatische Bahn) than the one you arrive at from Tirano but no panic it is just next door and easy to locate. Walk out and look left and you will see the station for the Bernina service.
If you arrive in Tirano for a few hours to spare there are restaurants and shops to look around. We had a lovely lunch at the Margy Bar which we recommend!
THE BERNINA EXPRESS ROUTE
What is the Bernina Express route and how long does it take?
The trip takes a little over 4 hours from Tirano to Chur (or vice versa) and takes you over 122kms of track, through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges and viaducts. It is a feat of engineering brilliance and was built between 1896 and 1904!!
If you are considering a trip around Switzerland by train definitely include this trip – for other ideas check out Janet’s post – A Grand TrainTour of Switzerland.
We had booked window seats on the train. Reservations are compulsory and I would recommend window seats so you can thoroughly enjoy the views. As you can see the windows are made for viewing!
HOT TIP – get on and sit at your seat! We had a rather unpleasant gentleman actually assault my niece in an attempt to take her pre-booked window seat.
Refreshments are served and souvenirs on sale by the train staff who will move through the train periodically. A glass of prosecco while enjoying the magnificent scenery? Why not!
As I mentioned the journey takes 4 hours and after leaving Tirano travels through beautiful towns and areas of amazing beauty before arriving in Chur. On the train you will find the Bernina Express route travel guide. This includes a map of the journey and details of highlights of the trip.
The scenery is spectacular. Unfortunately as I was using my phone a lot of the pictures have reflections back of the inside of the train. Hopefully it will still give you a flavour of this beautiful journey.
ARRIVING IN CHUR
On arrival at Chur you are met by the train to Zurich on the opposite platform (I knew this as the man at seat 61 had said it would!)
ACCOMMODATION FOR YOUR TRIP
If you are planning to take this beautiful train journey you may wish to book accommodation along the way. Take a look at my recommendations for great hotels in Milan, Tirano and Zurich.
I would recommend staying near to the main train station. I always do as it makes me more relaxed the night before knowing it is a short stroll to catch my train!
In Milan we stayed at the GLAM MILANO a lovely 4* hotel directly opposite the station. The rooms are elegantly decorated and the breakfast very good. We would stay at this hotel again if we are travelling by train as its location is unbeatable!
Although we caught the train from Tirano the same afternoon it is possible to stay in Tirano and enjoy Italian hospitality for one more evening!
I am lucky to have family in the Zurich area but there are lots of beautiful hotels to choose from in this Swiss city,
Do you enjoy train travel? Is this a journey you would like to experience? I can highly recommend it!
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I will end with a little video (only 9 seconds worth) of part of the journey!