Bernina Express scenic train route

Bernina Express scenic train route in summer

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 this route and how you can experience it yourself.

The route in numbers
Where does it start and end?
Map and directions
Which trains run along this route?
When is the best time to go?
Regional train insider tips
Can I go on this route with a Eurail Pass?
Reservation costs and how to make them

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.

Map and directions

 
Map with Bernina Express route


How to get to the Bernina Express route


You can take the direct Intercity to Chur as well as direct regional trains. At 1 hour and 15 minutes, the Intercity trains are marginally quicker.


There are direct regional trains between Milan and Tirano. Operated by Trenord, these trains are covered by a Eurail pass.


If you're traveling from Vienna or Salzburg in Austria, change in Sargans (Switzerland) and it's less than 30 minutes by train to Chur.


If you're traveling from the likes of Paris, Munich, or Cologne, change trains in Karlsruhe (Germany) or Zurich (Switzerland). From here you can take a direct train to Chur.
 

Get train times using our timetable

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!
 

How do the trains compare?

  Regional train Bernina Express train
Does the train pass through the UNESCO site and mountains? Yes Yes
Can I take it with a Eurail Pass? Yes Yes
Do I need a reservation to board? No Yes (10 Swiss Francs in Winter, 14 Swiss Francs in Summer)
How frequently do the trains run? Every hour There are limited services, depending on where you board the train.
Is the train direct? You'll have to change trains in one of the scenic villages along the route. Yes
Are there panoramic windows? No Yes

Can I purchase refreshments on the train?

No Yes
Is there on-board commentary? No Yes

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 direct. With regional trains on this route, you'll have to change trains and transfer your luggage at least once.

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 and you'll 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 along the way. Simply go on 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.

Included in the Eurail Pass

 

The regular regional trains that run on this route are entirely included in any Eurail train pass valid in Switzerland.

The Bernina Express train is also covered by a Eurail Pass valid in Switzerland as long as you reserve a seat (for a small fee).
 

How to reserve your seat

What is a Eurail Pass?

 

The Eurail Pass is a train pass that lets you access almost all trains in European countries of your choice, including Switzerland. 

You can take as many trains as you want on each day your Eurail Pass is valid. It's also valid for some ferries and other benefits.
 

Get more info about Eurail

Reservation costs

 

Bernina Express observation car

Winter (Oct 10, 2015 to May 4, 2016):
10 Swiss Francs (10 CHF)

Summer (May 5, 2016 - Oct 23, 2016):
14 Swiss Francs (14 CHF)


Additional bus route in Summer

In Summer you can also take the Bernina Express bus between Tirano and Lugano. The bus rides through beautiful landscapes and past Lake Como.

Summer only (March 25, 2016 - Oct 23, 2016):
14 Swiss Francs (14 CHF)

You can find more information about the Bernina Express on the official website.

How to make reservations

 

Online

Go to the Bernina Express website. For a seat on the observation car, choose a route with the Bernina Express symbol.

Bernina Express symbol

When filling in your passenger details, you'll see a drop-down box called "Tickets / Reductions". Simply select "Eurail" 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.

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