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Bernina Express or other scenic train travel advice

We are just beginning planning, so we have flexibility. I realize this is all subjective, so opinions are welcome. This will be for travel in June. We can fly into either Milan or Zurich and want to experience train travel and see the Swiss Alps.

Is it possible (and practical) to start in Milan or Zurich take the Bermina express and then spend the night back in either Milan or Zurich. Or is it better to spend the night at some other city and continue the next day.

I realize there are tours, but we prefer DIY. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.


Posted by
8889 posts

The Bernina line is a railway line from Tirano to St Moritz and onward to Chur. Like all Swiss lines, it has one train per hour, PLUS a tourist special called the "Bernina Express", with larger panoramic windows. Whichever train you take you will see the same mountains out of the windows.

It is a line designed to get from A to B (in this case over the Bernina pass), it is not a circular tour. threfore it is best if you can incorporate it as part of a journey, otherwise you are just doubling back on yourself. For example, you could do the following (all by train):
Milan - Tirano - Bernina pass - St Moritz - Chur - Zürich.
Or vice-versa. You could also split it across two or more days and stay overnight somewhere en route, trains do many stops in many nice places.

Posted by
16893 posts

The whole route takes 8-9 hours. To catch the named panorama train in Chur would require departing Zurich at 7:30 a.m. Later departures would have either 1 or 2 more connections. The Bernina Express runs northbound in the afternoon, so a similar plan would mean leaving Milan at 12:20 and reaching Zurich at 20:20.

If this is your only day to see the Alps, I'd hope to stay overnight at St. Moritz or Pontresina. In Italy, between Tirano and Milan, regional trains run along the east side of Lake Como and Varenna is Rick's favorite town there, one hour from Milan.