Are you ready to embark on an adventure to discover one of the most beautiful railways in Europe? Situated on the borders between Switzerland and Italy, the Bernina Railway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. Covering a distance of 60 kilometers, when visiting you will blown away by the beauty of the landscapes and the prowess of the engineering infrastructure. But do you know everything you need to prepare the perfect trip to the area? Let’s see!
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Table of Content
- How to get to the Bernina Railway from Milan
- The different trains crossing the Bernina Railway
- The Stations on the Bernina Railway
- Useful tips
- Guided Tours from Milan to the Bernina Railway
- One last word about Exploring the Bernina Railway and Region
How to get to the Bernina Railway from Milan
There aren’t many solutions for getting to Saint Moritz or Tirano from Milan: the road is the fastest and most economic solution. In about 3 hours you will cross the 150+ panoramic kilometers that separates Milan from your chosen destination. Note: Tirano is the closest station from Milan, about 2 and a half hours.
Looking to rent a car? Check out on Discovercars for the best prices and offers. They have a large choice for all types of travelers.
The different trains crossing the Bernina Railway
Before booking any activity or ticket remember this: there are two different types of trains passing by the Bernina Railway.
The Bernina Red Train (regional trains)
For the regular (regional trains) you can book your ticket online. Or buy the ticket directly at the station when arriving. The ticket office normally closes at 7 PM at Tirano. You can choose between a daily ticket or a 2 days ticket if you are planning to come back the day after. During the summer some open wagons are added to let the passengers enjoy even more the landscapes.
There are two main vantages to book the regional trains: you can get off the train at the intermediate stops (although some stops are only “on call” and you will need to press the stop button). And secondly, unlike the Berlina Express you can open the windows and take better photos without the glass reflection (I know this may be relatively important, but photographers will appreciate the info).
There is a regional train every hour so you can stop whenever you want and take the next train. You can find the schedule for the Bernina Red Train in the same website where you can buy the tickets.
Another pro: the regional trains have special train cars dedicated to the transport of bicycles.
The Bernina Express
The Bernina Express connects Tirano to St Moritz without any intermediate stop. The train cars are more elegant, with panoramic windows and roof. On the official website you will find the schedules and you’ll be able to book your tickets online.
Don’t know which one to choose? Try both! You can always book a full day ticket on the Bernina regional train and come back on the same day or the day after on the Bernina Express.
The Stations on the Bernina Railway
There are two main stations Tirano and St Moritz with many intermediate stops on the way. Remember to get down from the train book the Regional Train, on the Bernina Express you would lose your reservation.
Tirano – Starting station
Tirano is a the starting point of the Bernina railway and a small town with many restaurants and hotels where you can spend the night. The first Bernina Red Train start at 7.41 AM, for the early birds that’s a great solution to catch the first train.
When visiting Tirano don’t miss the opportunity of visiting the Catholic shrine of the Madonna of Tirano. Its construction was connected to the appearance of the Madonna at the same time when a pestilence ended. Nowadays the place still has a n important religious significance and is pilgrimage destination.
Brusio (stop on request)
Between Tirano and Brusio there is Campocologno where the border between Italy and Switzerland is situated.
In Brusio the railway, to overcome the high elevation gain, has an extremely suggestive helical viaduct. You can stop to take pictures of the trains passing by, from under the viaduct.
Miralago (stop on request)
Miralago is the first stop at the beginning of Lake Poschiavo. This lake is famous for its reflections and the color of its waters.
If you are up for a walk I highly recommend to take the lakeside walk, next to the railway, it will lead you to the station of Le Prese. The walk lasts about an hour and there aren’t ascents, it’s really easy even if you aren’t trained.
As mentioned above Le Prese is the stop at the other side of the beautiful lake Poschiavo.
Poschiavo is a characteristic alpine village. Its historic center is interesting for the elegant typical houses. Every Wednesday during summer, from July to August, the village hosts a market where you can buy traditional products of the area.
In Poschiavo there is also one of the most excellent restaurant on the railway, Hostaria del Borgo, a must for those who want a taste of the excellent local food.
Cavaglia is one of the most popular stops of the railway. That’s because less than a kilometer from the station there is the famous Garden of glaciers, a suggestive path among rocks shaped by the waters. Along the walk you may also admire the suggestive Marmitte dei Giganti, large potholes in the ground that were created by water erosion.
From Cavaglia there is also an easy trek to walk down to Poschiavo.
Alp Grum has one of the best views in the Alps: the terrace overlooking the glacier and Piz Palù. Both the regional train and the Bernina Express stop there (remember if you get down from the Bernina Express you will need a new reservation to get onboard again).
The village has a an hotel restaurant just in front of the station called Albergo Ristorant Alp Grum. Many trekkers choose Alp Grum as a base to enjoy the different trails that start from there.
If you love trekking and are thinking of staying in Alp Grum too, I’ll tempt you with this cozy cabin, ideal to fully immerse in the Alpine spirit.
Bernina Hospice is the highest stop on the railway line (2253 meters). We are in the magical valley of the White Lake and the Black Lake, in front of the Cambrena glacier.
The Bernina Hospice is a hotel that is a 10-minute walk from the station. There are many treks that start from there and you can also make the tour of the lake, it takes about three hours.
Or during the Summer you can descent to Alp Grum or Diavolezza. My personal favorite? Walking south (direction to Alp Grum), and relax on the rocks. If you are brave enough, you can also test the ice cold waters of the lake.
Bernina Lagalb (stop on request)
Bernina Lagalb take the name from the Lagalb Mountain. You can take the cable car that leads up to the peak at 2959 meters.
Bernina Diavolezza (stop on request)
Diavolezza is the stop to the cable car that brings you closest to Bernina’s peak, the highest mountain in the Eastern Alps. You can check the schedules on the local website.
Morteratsch (stop on request)
The busiest station during Summer is Morteratsch. The reason behind that is the homonymous Morteratsch glacier. You can reach it in less than a hour thanks to a large and easy dirt path. Remember to wear comfortable shoes.
Along the way, you will see panels that shows the regression of the ice from the 19th century to today, an unfortunate and unstoppable regression that never cease to impress visitors.
Surovas (stop on request)
Situated in the idyllic Val Roseg, you can stop at Surovas and descent to Pontresina.
Pontresina is one of the larger villages and one of the most hyped locations on the railway. There are many resorts and luxurious hotels you can choose from to spend the night there.
Pontresina is ideal to make excursions in the beautiful Val Roseg. One of the best activities to do is a carriage ride, available both during Summer and Winter. There are different providers which offer similar services: Engadin Kutschen, Horse-drawn carriage rides into the Val Roseg, Horse Carriages, and more if your search on google. If you are interested in this activity just remember to reserve in advance as the carriages get fully booked fast.
St. Moritz is a luxury Alpine resort on the shores of the lake of the same name. Between luxurious hotels and shops (Gucci, Hermes, and Luis Vuitton, to name a few) St. Moritz is definitely a great destination to treat yourself.
Art lovers will find their joy in one of the art galleries in town, or at the museum dedicated to the painter Giovanni Segantini.
Remember your ID
You will cross the border between Italy and Switzerland. Remember to bring an ID document with you, your passport ideally.
Most of the railway runs along the road that cross the Alps. When getting off the train you can also take the bus from one stop to the other.
How should you dress?
Dress in layers! If you are lucky during Summer the temperatures are ideal, but a few clouds can drop the temperature of a few degrees in the blink of an eye. Remember a sweater or hoodie.
And don’t forget a raincoat as it rains frequently in the mountains!
Parking your car in Tirano
There are many free parkings in Tirano. I especially recommend you the one close to the bus station, which is connected by an underpass to the FS train station, a few meters from the Rhaetian railway station.
Guided Tours from Milan to the Bernina Railway
I already mentioned coming with your own car but there are many guided tours for those who wants to enjoy the Bernina Railway landscapes without worrying about renting a car.
This can also be an economical solution if you are traveling solo or with a small group. Although of course you won’t have the same autonomy as if you were traveling with your car. There are many different solutions on getyourguide but I especially recommend these two:
- With this guided tour (about 12 hours) you will start from Milan and get to Tirano by bus. Once there, after a short guided tour of Tirano you will embark onboard of the Bernina Red Train (not the Bernina Express!) and enjoy a non-stop ride to St. Moritz. In St Moritz you will have two hours to explore the town. Since the schedule is pretty strict, I highly recommend bringing sandwiches that you can eat on the go, so that you can enjoy your free time exploring St. Moritz.
- This tour includes a short boat cruise onboard of Lake Como before getting to St. Moritz. You will have a short free time before getting onboard of the Bernina Red Train (again not the Bernina Express!).
One last word about Exploring the Bernina Railway and Region
The Bernina region is one of those places on Earth that showcases a stunning of natural scenery. If you love Mountain landscapes and idyllic places this is for you! Just remember you passport when preparing your bag for the Italian-Swiss border. Are you looking for more amazing locations to visit in Europe? Check out our guides and travel tips.
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