Bernina Express Tickets

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Opening hours

The train operates once a day in each direction. Leaving Chur at 8.32am and making the 144km journey to Tirano in just over 4 hours, arriving at 12.49pm. The train back to Chur departs Tirano at 2.25pm and arrives back into Chur at 6.19pm.

The train operates all year round with scenic panoramic cars during the summer months.

How to get there

Train- by far the easiest way to get to Chur is by train. From London to Paris by Eurostar, then a direct train to Zurich on a TGV followed by a local train to Chur. The train from London to Zurich takes under 7 hours. Trains from Zurich to Chur take 75 minutes.

Plane- you could fly into Zurich and then take a train to Chur station.

Car- it is possible to drive to Chur, although this option means you must then take another train back to this point or return on the Bernina Express.

FAQ

How much does it cost?
A ticket from Chur to Tirano on the Bernina Express will cost CHF 58 for a second class seat and CHF 96 in first class. You also have to pay a reservation fee of CHF 9 during the winter and CHF 12 in the summer. Reservation is required in advance and not available to just turn up and go. I could not find a price in Euros for the journey from Tirano to Chur.
What is the best time of year to travel?
The train runs all year and the snowy scenes of winter are very different from the lush summer meadows. During the winter anytime between mid-January and the end of April is good for the snow. During the summer the best times are from June to October.
Which is best a northbound or southbound route?
In the summer both are good as they are both completed in daylight. During the winter the last half of the journey northbound towards Chur will be in darkness, so at that time of year southbound is the best option.
Should you travel first or second class?
The scenery on view is exactly the same with the only difference being the seating plan in the carriages. Second class seats are 2+2 across the carriage meaning there are 4 seats grouped together around a table. The first class is 2+1, so there is more space and for couples they can sit at a 1+1 and not have to share with others. The service on board is just the same. Second class is still comfortable.
Which is the best side of the train to sit on?
Going south towards Italy the best views are on the right-hand side of the train and the left-hand side when travelling north. The problem when booking your seat is you do not know which way round the carriages are so it is luck which side of the carriage you are booking. An option, if there are four of you is to book the window seats on both sides of the carriage.

Must Know

Luggage
You can, within reason take whatever you like on board with you as you are limited by how much you can physically carry. You put your bags in the luggage space at either end of the carriage close to the carriage door. There is usually plenty of luggage space in both first and second class carriages.
Food on board the train
There is not a catering car on the Bernina Express although a refreshment trolley does frequently come along the carriages selling items such as tea, coffee, snacks and even souvenirs. Your best option is to bring your own food on board with you.
Do the windows open
The windows on the panoramic trains do not open and many people wanting to take pictures over this route prefer to use the hourly local service. These Allegra electric trains have windows that open. During the summer there are also a few trains over the route that has open-air carriages depending upon the weather. The actual Bernina Express does not use this type of carriage though.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The line that the Bernina Express operates on has been in existence for more than 100 years and in 2008 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
History of the line
The Berninabahn was built from 1906 and 1910 and originally connected St. Moritz with Tirano. It was an independent line until 1943 when it was bought by the Rhaetian Railway. The route is famous for its bridges and spiral tunnels. The spiral tunnels are necessary to gain the required height to cross the mountains. Along the 144km route there are 196 bridges and 55 tunnels. The single track railway climbs to a height of 2253m above sea level at its highest point at Bernina Hospiz. The track then descends into the Poschiavo Valley with gradients of up to 7%. It is the highest adhesion railway in the Alps and one of the world’s steepest.
Bernina Express Brochure
When you get on board the train you will find a brochure at your seat explaining the route. There is also a commentary in several languages to keep you informed along the route.

Places Nearby

Audio Guided Tour of the Historic City of Chur
With an audio guide it is so easy to explore the small city of Chur. Described as the jewel in the crown of the Grisonian Rhine Valley you can pick up your audio guide and map of the city at the Regional Information Centre at the Railway Station. Wander through the pretty areas of the Old Town that date back to medieval times and learn about the local history and culture. The top local attractions include St Luzius Cathedral, the Bishops Palace and the Rhaetian Museum telling the story of the famous local railway.
Ratisches Museum
This museum has exhibits over four floors including one on herbalism. The displays are interesting but with very little information in English it could provide a language barrier. There is an entry fee of 6 CHF.
Canton of Graubunden
The Canton of Graubunden is full of quaint alpine villages that during the winter attract skiers in their droves. It is a sparsely populated area of eastern Switzerland containing the source of the rivers Rhine and Inn. There are also 140 square miles of glaciers and some dense pine forests. It also boasts the Alps highest inhabited village of Juf. Hiking is a popular summer pastime through the Engadine Valley. Other attractions here worth visiting are the popular year round resorts of Davos, Arosa and St. Moritz.