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Bernina Express Train from Pontresina to Tirano - Then the Express Bus on to Lugano

I have read in Rick's Switzerland Guidebook 8th edition page 331-332, about doing the trip in reverse. And that is exactly what my travel plans are. I see the times for the departure from Pontresina and and arrival to Tirano , BUT The bus mentions is from Tirano and ends in Lugano - I do not find ?? Only a train. Our plans are to stay in Menaggio (where it states that Bus #361 stops - But where in Menaggio?? Is it in the town of Menaggio and a stop (such as near the boat/ferry crossing on Lake Como) or somewhere else? I realize there is a train option from Tirano to Varenna and then ferry to Menaggio. But the guidebook gives times, not finding the bus schedule and where it stops IF IT STOPS IN MENAGGIO??

Posted by
8889 posts

Bus runs from 25th March to 23rd October, one bus per day. I looked it up the times on the Swiss railways site: http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html
That shows it running non-stop:

Tirano, Stazione 14:20 BUS 5951
Lugano, Stazione 17:30

I know it used to stop in Menaggio, as I have got off it there in the past. But maybe it doesn't any longer There is also a daily bus from St Moritz to Lugano, and that does stop in Menaggio. Timetable here: http://www.fahrplanfelder.ch/fileadmin/fap_pdf_fields/2016/90.631.pdf
But that is the wrong end of the Bernina Express.

There is also a local bus from Lugano to Menaggio, takes one hour, timetable here: http://www.menaggio.com/ita/e-lakes/Orari_bus.pdf
But, if you arrive in Lugano at 17:30, you won't want to double back.

Posted by
20290 posts

You could also take the train from Tirano to Varenna and then cross the lake on the frequent ferry to Menaggio.

Edit - From Pontresina, take the 9:41 Bernina Express arriving Tirano at noon. You could rush across the piazza to the Trenord station to get the 12:08 to Varenna, but I'd relax and grab lunch at one of the pizzerias to the left walking out of the RHB station. Then get the 13:08 train to Varenna, arriving there at 14:36. Then walk down the hill to the ferry dock and get the 15:05 boat for the 15 minute ride across Lake Como to Menaggio.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks Chris F and Sam.. I will look again at the websites you mentioned. You are right I did not want to go to Lugano and then backtrack. The other option is train and ferry, just was hoping the guidebook omitted the Menaggio bus stop in the recommendation for a stopover for lake Como. Thought I missed something in my itinerary search.

Posted by
5 posts

Chris F or Sam, I have 2 questions.
1) I see that the Bus 631 Takes a different Route than the BEX Train, which would be most scenic? I had wanted to take the BEX Train Route (either Regional or BEX) and spend an hour in Tirano, but if the Bus 631 St Moritz - seems to stop in Menaggio then it's less changes.??
2) I looked up the fare on SBB CFF FFS - They offer a special offer with Half Fare Card (which I plan to purchase - for 30 days) it states - Half-Fare Travelcard 1/2/3-year Senior (60+) is this for Swiss Residents only? Or can I use my Half-Fare Card and show passport to receive this offer. It just says print and show ticket agent???
Thanks in Advance.
M

Posted by
8889 posts

mjordan,
1) The bus 631 runs once per day (timetable: http://www.fahrplanfelder.ch/fileadmin/fap_pdf_fields/2016/90.631.pdf ) and starts from St Moritz. You can see the route on the map here: https://www.swisspasses.com/railpass/overviewmap_en.pdf
St Moritz is where the Bernina Pass line starts, it then runs south-east over the Bernina Pass to Tirano. If you are coming from somewhere else in Switzerland, you reach St Moritz first, so if you take this bus you are missing the Bernina Pass route. It is a pretty bus ride, but I would say the the Bernina Pass route, is better.

2) The one month ½ fare card is specifically for tourists. Locals, like me get an annual one and renew it every year, which is not much more expensive than the monthly one.
Monthly ½ fare card, CHF 120, details here: http://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/holidays--short-breaks-in-switzerland/swisstravelsystem/swiss-halffare-card.html
One year card, CHF 185, details here: http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/railpasses/half-fare-travelcard.html

For the annual card you need a Swiss address and you get a card posted to you, with a photo. The monthly one you can print at home, and you have to show your passport with it for ID.
If you are travelling on a half fare ticket and you are over 16, the ticket inspector on the train will want to see your ½ fare card, either the annual one, or the one month tourist one + passport for ID.

Posted by
20290 posts

Short answer, the Tourist 30 day Half Fare Card gets the same discount as the annual 1/2/3 yr Half fare Cards.

Posted by
16471 posts

I believe the Tirao to Lugano BEX bus is a Swiss connection, covered by the Swiss Pass, Nd considered part of the Bernina Express route, so it is understandable if it does not stop in Italy ( Menaggio),

If you wish to get to Menaggio, why not change to a train from Tirano to Varenna and take the ferry across? That way you get the very scenic Bernina Express, a fairly scenic train ( and very inexpensive) train to Varenna, and a ferry ride.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks Lola for your response Tirano to Lugano is the Route for the Bernina Express Bus, it is mentioned in more than one place in Rick Steve's Guidebook for Switzerland. It travels in Itay and final destination is Lugano, it is mention that it stops in Menaggio, on page 331 8th edition, just wondered where OR if that Bus Route has changed. I have stayed in Varenna (taking the train from Milan to Varenna - Esnio) then a walk downhill to the Ferry(ferry cost about 7Euro); to crossover then a walk to my Hotel accommodations which are near the Bus Stop for C12 to Lugano, If you have traveled that route recently would like to know if there were changes to the bus schedule or I will go with plan B- train and ferry. Would prefer the Bus it is less connections for me.
Thanks
M

Posted by
20290 posts

The daily 631 bus from St Moritz to Menaggio is shown on the SBB site. but it shows that there is construction work on the Maloja Pass road until Nov 11, so there is a warning that there may be delays.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks Sam,
That means the train may have delays ... hmm. won't be the first time I have sit on the train waiting for the tracks to clear to allow us through. I think I might need to pack a lunch (instead of lunch in Tirano) Hmmm the construction - delays are just after Tirano...right so I may need to just continue on to Varenna-Esnio; the ferry runs about every 30 minutes... I buy the ticket just before I board (there is a ticket Kiosk (if I remember correctly) ...
Thanks again
M

Posted by
20290 posts

That is a bus, not a train. You will have to take a short train ride from Pontresina to St Moritz to get it. It does not go through Tirano, but over the Maloja Pass to Chiavenna, Italy then down to upper Lake Como and along the west shore, stopping in Menaggio on the way to Lugano.
Look it up on www.sbb.ch/en.