Bernina Express on Brusio Viaduct
Transport

Bernina Express | Fares, Timetables and Info [2024]

November 23, 2023 Last Updated on May 14, 2024

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If you want to get a picture-perfect view of the Alps, why not climb aboard the Bernina Express, one of the most panoramic trains in Switzerland? 

Travelling in both directions and traversing the highest railway in the Alps, the Bernina Express route links northern and southern Europe, connecting Switzerland and Italy.

The scenic journey travels along both the Albula Line and the Bernina Pass and covers 122 kilometres. 

Passengers can sit back and take in the stunning backdrop, as well as sample a variety of cultures and languages.

When you ride on the Bernina Express, Switzerland’s many highlights – both natural and man made – will leave you breathless.

And best of all – travel on the Bernina Express is FREE* if you hold a Swiss Travel Pass or a Eurail Global Pass (*seat reservation fees apply). Read on to find out more.

As the Bernina Express journey is one of the most picturesque train rides in the country, it is included in the original Grand Train Tour of Switzerland itinerary.

In this guide, we cover all the information you need to know about planning and booking your ride on the Bernina Express.

Quick summary of Bernina Express Tickets and Fares

Individual tickets
(Chur to Tirano)
Price from CHF 66BUY HERE
With Swiss Travel PassFreeBUY PASS HERE
With Swiss Half Fare CardPrice from CHF 33BUY PASS HERE
With Eurail Global Pass*FreeBUY PASS HERE
Seat reservations^From CHF 32SEE BELOW
*Eurail Pass must cover Switzerland / ^Seat reservations are additional and compulsory – see below for further details.

Bernina Express Route Map

Map of Bernina Express route
Map © Rhaetian Railways

The Bernina Express crosses the picturesque canton of Graubünden, following the classic route of Chur to Tirano in Italy via the resort town of St. Moritz.  

Travelling between Chur and Tirano takes just under four and a half hours whilst the shorter Bernina Express Tirano to St. Moritz journey (or vice versa), takes around 2.5 hours.

The Bernina Express will take you through the Bernina Pass and the Albula Pass, a railway journey that has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site

Alpine landscapes line the journey as the train passes under 55 tunnels and over a staggering 196 bridges along the way. 

There are steep gradients to negotiate, too. The Bernina train climbs as high as 2,253 metres to reach Ospizio Bernina Station, located on the banks of Lago Bianco.

As you would expect, the views from here are spectacular. 

Lake Bianco and the Bernina Express
Lake Bianco provides a stunning backdrop. © Travel Switzerland AG

Joining the Bernina Express from other European destinations

You can connect with the Bernina Express from Milan and other cities such as Zurich. Bernina Express passengers will need to travel from their city of departure to Chur or Tirano and board the Bernina Express there.

A few options: 

  • Zurich to Chur: Direct Intercity (1hr 15min) to Chur or a direct regional train
  • Milan to Tirano: Bernina Express passengers can take a direct regional train to Tirano (around 3 hours)
  • Vienna or Salzburg to Chur: Train to Sargans (Switzerland) then change trains and board one to Chur
  • Paris, Munich or Cologne to Chur: Train to Karlsruhe (Germany) or Zurich (Switzerland), then change trains and board one to Chur

You can also choose from the day trips below. Click each image for more information.

The Bernina Express Bus 

The original Bernina Express Bus began operating back in 2010, transporting thousands of passengers annually and travelling in both directions between Tirano and Lugano. 

The bus, which takes passengers on a scenic journey through vineyards and along the shores of Lake Como, is easily recognisable as it is the same colour as the unmissable red train, Bernina Express. 

Journey time aboard the Bernina Express Bus between Tirano and Lugano is three hours, and the service operates all year round (limited services in winter – full details below).

🇨🇭 TIP: If you are travelling from Switzerland to Italy or vice versa, remember to carry your passport.


Bernina Express Route Highlights 

The Bernina Express train crossing the Landwasser Viaduct.
Crossing the Landwasser Viaduct is one of the many highlights of a trip on the Bernina Express. © Travel Switzerland AG

The Bernina Express takes you on a memorable journey, and you will see some wonderful sights along the way, including:

Landwasser Viaduct

Sandwiched between Thusis and St. Moritz, on the Albula stretch of railway, the Landwasser Viaduct is a majestic sight.

An impressive feat of engineering and construction, the viaduct was built in 1902 and features pillars that stand at a towering 65 metres.

Nowadays, the 136 metre-long Landwasser Viaduct is admired by railway enthusiasts and tourists alike and is considered one of the most famous railway overpasses in the world.  

Alp Grüm

Located on the southern side of the Bernina Pass above Valposchiavo (where you’ll find one of Switzerland’s most beautiful villages), Alp Grüm can only be accessed by train or on foot.

The station, which was built in 1923, provides impressive panoramic views, sweeping across the Poschiavo Valley and drawing your eye to the Bergamasker Alps beyond.

Glacial waters tumble down the rocks, forming glistening icy pools of turquoise. Take a moment to enjoy nature in all its glory! 

Bernina Express train passes the alps
Spectacular scenery awaits you at every turn on the Bernina Express.

Ospizio Bernina

As mentioned above, the Ospizio Bernina railway station, which sits between Poschiavo Valley and Engadin, is located at 2,253 metres above sea level and is the highest point on the journey.

This is also the linguistic divide of Graubünden: German and Romansch are spoken to the north and Italian is spoken to the south.

Valposchiavo

Located in the southern canton of Graubünden, the valley of Poschiavo (Val di Poschiavo) offers dramatic panoramas of mountain peaks.

Highlights of the main town, Poschiavo, include its Mediterranean climate and Italian-influenced architecture. 

Brusio Circular Viaduct

Opened back in 1908, the Brusio Circular Viaduct – or the Viadotto elicoidale di Brusio, as they refer to it in Italy – is a well-known feature on the world-heritage listed Bernina railway.

The stone, nine-arched spiral railway viaduct features a single track and was erected to curb the railway’s incline and ensure it stayed within the specified 7% gradient. 

Bernina Express Timetable 

Bernina Express near Morteratsch
From glaciers to palms – the Bernina Express route is a scenic link between northern and southern Europe. © Travel Switzerland AG

Bernina Express summer timetable 2024

During summer, there are two daily Bernina Express services between Chur and Tirano (and vice versa), one of which operates year round.  There are three summer services daily between St. Moritz and Tirano (and vice versa).

For bus connections between Tirano and Lugano, one daily service operates in each direction from early May until 31 October.

> Click here to see the timetable.

Bernina Express winter timetable 2024

The Bernina Express winter timetable is more limited with just one daily service between Chur and Tirano and one service between St. Moritz and Tirano.  The same applies in the reverse direction.

The Bernina Express Bus between Tirano and Lugano (and vice versa) operates Thursday to Sunday from 15 February to 24 March, 2024 and 31 October to 24 November, 2024. It operates daily from 28 March to 27 October, 2024.

There will be no Bernina Express Bus service from 25 to 27 March, 2024 (inclusive) and 28 to 30 October, 2024 (inclusive).

> Click here to see the timetable.

The Bernina Express passes Lago Bianco
As the Bernina Express travels between Alp Grüm and Ospizio Bernina it passes the picturesque Lago Bianco.

Bernina Express Tickets – First Class or Second Class? 

You can choose to travel first or second class on the Bernina Express. Here’s what each class has to offer: 

Bernina Express Second Class 

  • Large panoramic windows offering spectacular views 
  • Sights described in a variety of languages via loud speaker, including English 
  • Reserved seat in a bay of 4 seats (2 x 2 seats adjacent to the corridor) 
  • Tables provided for each seat 
  • Info(t)rainment: personal digital tour guide available to download to your smartphone or tablet

Bernina Express First Class 

  • Large panoramic windows offering spectacular views
  • Sights described in a variety of languages via loud speaker, including English 
  • Quiet ambience
  • Spacious seating 
  • Reserved seat in bay of 4 seats (2 seats opposite each other and, 2+1 seats adjacent to the corridor)
  • Tables provided for each seat 
  • Info(t)rainment: personal digital tour guide available to download to your smartphone or tablet

*Headphones available from the mini bar for CHF 2.00.

View from window of Bernina Express
Large panoramic windows allow you to really appreciate the scenery – even on rainy days.

Facilities onboard the Bernina Express 

The Bernina Express offers a number of facilities to its passengers. The modern panoramic carriages provide unspoiled views of the Bernina Railway’s Alpine surroundings. 

If you can tear yourself away from the vistas, enjoy a drink or sandwich from the refreshment trolley. The helpful staff also have souvenirs for you to browse, so you can pick up a memento to remind you of the journey. 

During summer, all passengers receive complimentary souvenir gifts of organic herbal tea from Valposchiavo and Swiss chocolates in a Bernina Express tin.

A relatively new addition to the Bernina Express is free onboard WiFi, but with the stunning scenery outside your window, you’re not likely to spend much time looking at your mobile device! 

Bernina Express souvenir gifts
Organic tea and Swiss chocolates are free gifts given to passengers on summer services of the Bernina Express.

Bernina Express ticket price for 2024

Regular ticket prices* for the Bernina Express are as follows:

Single
2nd cl.
Single
1st cl.
Round Trip
2nd cl.
Round Trip
1st cl.
Chur – TiranoCHF 66CHF 113CHF 132CHF 226
Chur – PoschiavoCHF 59CHF 101CHF 118CHF 202
St. Moritz – TiranoCHF 33CHF 57CHF 66CHF 114
St. Moritz – PoschiavoCHF 25CHF 42.60CHF 50CHF 85.20

*Prices are per adult and do not include seat reservation fee (see below for seat reservation info.)

Bernina Express at Tirano station

Bernina Express discounts

Discounts apply to the regular Bernina Express price for holders of the following travel passes:

>> Swiss Travel Pass – Travel on the Bernina Express is included with the Swiss Travel Pass however a seat reservation is required (see section below) at an additional cost. > Click here to buy your Swiss Travel Pass

>> Swiss Half Fare Card – Holders of a Swiss Half Fare Card receive a 50% discount on the regular ticket price.  Seat reservation fee is additional.   > Click here to buy your Swiss Half Fare Card

>> Eurail Global Pass – If you hold a Eurail Pass that covers Switzerland, travel on the Bernina Express is included, however seat reservation fees apply. > Click here to buy your Eurail Global Pass

🇨🇭 The Bernina Express can be included in a Switzerland rail package with all train tickets, seat reservations and accommodation included. PLUS our readers get 5% off just by quoting our exclusive discount code.
Click here for full details.

Where to buy Bernina Express tickets 

Ready to make your Bernina Express booking? You can buy your Bernina Express tickets online or at the station prior to boarding. You only need to purchase a ticket to cover the fare if you will not be using one of the travel passes mentioned above.

Tickets can be purchased any time before travel – what is more important is booking a seat reservation (see section below) as you cannot travel on the Bernina Express without a seat reservation.

The Bernina Express in winter
The Bernina Express runs year round. © Travel Switzerland AG

Bernina Express seat reservation prices

Due to its popularity, seat reservations are compulsory for all travellers (including children) on the Bernina Express and the Bernina Express Bus, and differ slightly in price depending on when you travel.  

Regardless of whether you hold a travel pass or are purchasing a point-to-point ticket for your trip on Bernina Express, you must purchase a seat reservation.

Current seat reservation prices for the Bernina Express train (Chur to Tirano or vice versa) are:

  • Low season: 10 December, 2023 to 30 April, 2024; 1 November to 14 December, 2024 – CHF 32 each way
  • High season: 1 May to 31 October, 2024 – CHF 36 each way

Seat reservation fees on the train include an exclusive gift for every passenger: an ice tea with herbs from the Valposchiavo and Lindt chocolate hearts in a beautiful Bernina Express souvenir box.

Reduced seat reservation fees apply for ‘short haul’ trips (ie. St. Moritz to Tirano and vice versa).

Current seat reservation prices for the Bernina Express bus are:

  • Low season: 10 December, 2023 to 30 April, 2024; 1 November to 14 December, 2024 – CHF 14 each way
  • High season: 1 May to 31 October, 2024 – CHF 16 each way

Prices listed above are per sector.  For example, if you are travelling on both the Bernina Express train and bus during high season you need to pay CHF 36 per person for the train sector and CHF 16 per person for the bus sector, totalling CHF 52 per person.

No reductions apply to seat reservation fees.

How to make a Bernina Express seat reservation 

Bernina Express reservations open on the Rhaetian Railways website 12* months before the travel date and it is recommended that you reserve your seat as early as possible. > Click here to make your Bernina Express seat reservation.

*In most cases, you can book seat reservations 12 months prior to travel. The exception is if the timetable for your travel date has not yet been released. Note that the Rhaetian Railways website states the booking period for seat reservations as ‘at the earliest three months before the date of travel’ however in many cases booking will be available up to 12 months in advance.

Follow our step-by-step instructions for making your Bernina Express seat reservations below:

Step 1

Visit the Bernina Express and click the Book Now button under the heading READY FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP ON THE BERNINA EXPRESS? The page shown in the image below will appear.

Bernina Express seat reservation booking instructions

Enter your departure and arrival stations using the dropdown arrows, the date of travel, your preferred class of travel and whether your trip is one way or round trip. Then click Next.

Bernina Express seat reservation booking instructions

Step 2

Enter the number of passengers that will be travelling and select the service (time) you wish to travel on. At this point, you can disregard the prices that are displayed in the blue box on the top right. Then click Next.

Bernina Express seat reservation booking instructions

Step 3

Select the seat/s you wish to reserve. (Available seats are light green and will become dark green when selected.) Then click Next.

Bernina Express seat reservation booking instructions

Step 4

Add the name and date of birth of all travellers. Note that the total price at the top right of the screen includes both the ticket and the seat reservation cost, as shown in the image below. 

Bernina Express seat reservation booking instructions

If you already have, or plan to buy, a rail pass that offers a discount on the ticket price, you should select the correct option from the Reduction box using the dropdown arrow. Options in the Reduction section include Swiss Travel Pass, Swiss Half Fare Card, Eurail Pass, etc.

The applicable seat reservation fee and/or fare will now display in the blue box in the top right (as shown in the image below).

Bernina Express seat reservation booking instructions

Then select Add to Cart 

Step 5

Select Checkout as Guest to to continue to the next page to complete your payment details.

Bernina Express seat reservation booking instructions

You will receive a confirmation email from Rhätische Bahn AG / Bernina Express with the details of your seat reservations. You should print out the seat reservations and/or tickets to show the ticket inspector onboard.

Note: seat reservations are non-refundable and cannot be exchanged.


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Taking luggage on the Bernina Express

The Bernina Express has no luggage restrictions as the train has luggage racks near the doors that are suitable for big suitcases.

You will also find useful wardrobes next to the doors where you can hang jackets and coats.

Valuables and smaller bags can be taken with you to your allocated seat where you will find a space for storage.

Bernina Express or Glacier Express?

The Glacier Express is another very well-known Swiss panoramic train and takes passengers from St. Moritz to Zermatt.

The Glacier Express route is certainly scenic, but many would argue that the Bernina Express offers a more breathtaking route.

With the many highlights along the way, the Bernina Railway will provide you with a four-hour journey you won’t forget in a hurry. 

And, if you are a little short on time, the shorter duration of the Bernina Express ride compared to the Glacier Express’ 8-hour journey time, can also be a deciding factor.

What’s the difference between the Bernina Express and a regional train?

The Bernina Express is one of Switzerland’s premium panoramic trains and therefore is different to regional trains that operate on the same line.

Whilst regional trains operated by Rhaetian Railways travel on the same line as the Bernina Express, a change of train may be required en route.

For example, when travelling from Chur to Tirano, passengers may be required to change trains at Samedan and Pontresina.

Seat reservations are not required on regional trains.

The regional trains do not have the same panoramic windows as the Bernina Express.  On some services there is a coach at the rear of the train which has lowerable windows. 

This is called a Photo Coach and is marked by the symbol FW on the SBB timetable. There are no seats in the Photo Coach. 

Some regional trains operating on the same route as the Bernina Express also have a Family Coach with a play area for children.

Carolyn from Holidays to Switzerland stands in front of the Bernina Express

Bernina Express FAQs

Is the Bernina Express worth it?

A ride on the Bernina Express is definitely worth it, in our opinion. The huge panoramic windows allow you to soak in the passing scenery from the comfort of your seat.

With the route passing through a varied landscape which includes glaciers and palm trees, and crossing magnificent viaducts, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular.

How long does it take to ride the Bernina Express?

The full Bernina Express route between Chur and Tirano (or vice versa) takes 4 hours and 21 minutes.  From St. Moritz to Tirano the journey time is 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Where does the Bernina Express begin and end?

The Bernina Express operates between Chur and Tirano.  Passengers can travel in either direction.

Does the Bernina Express have WiFi?

Yes, there is free WiFi onboard the Bernina Express.

What is the cost of a Bernina Express seat reservation with Swiss Pass?

There is no reduction in the price of seat reservations for holders of a Swiss Travel Pass, a Swiss Half Fare Card or a Eurail Global Pass.

Final Thoughts

Bernina Express beside Lake Poschiavo
Lake Poschiavo is just one of the lakes that the Bernina Express route passes. © Travel Switzerland AG

If you are looking for a magical journey through awe-inspiring Alpine scenery, you won’t be disappointed with your trip on the Bernina Express. 

The varied landscapes along the route make this a trip to remember.

Ready to book your journey on the Bernina Express? You can buy your rail pass here, book your Swiss rail package (and get our exclusive discount) here, or see our instructions above for purchasing point-to-point tickets on the Bernina Express.


Bernina Express Podcast

Learn more about the Bernina Express in our podcast. Click the green arrow below to listen.


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Bernina Express guide

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