Bernina Express Scenic Train Route
The Bernina Express train route takes you through incredible alpine landscapes and a UNESCO World Heritage Site - it's that amazing. Think of all the clichés about the beauty of scenic train travel and multiply them by 1000. You'll end up on this journey through Switzerland.
Find out about the Bernina Express route and how you can experience it yourself.
Bernina Express journey highlights
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
How to get to the Bernina Express route
|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
|Regional tra in||
Should I take a normal train or the Bernina Express train?
If you're only traveling 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.
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.
Bernina Express observation car
Winter (November - December):
9 Euros (10 CHF)
Spring/Fall (January - May and October):
12.5 Euros (14 CHF)
Summer:(June - September):
14 Euros (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 reservation costs apply for this bus.
You can find more information about the Bernina Express on the official website.
How to make reservations
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 "Eurail 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
Eurail 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. Eurail 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.
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.
Facilities and services
- Audio system
- Snack trolley
Facilities may differ per train and route.