What to expect from the Bernina Express?

The Bernina Express is a famous train ride in Switzerland. Maybe even more people have heard once about the Glacier Express, but that’s unfortunate. The Bernina Express is a fantastic train ride through Switzerland.

The Bernina Express is famous for several reasons. In this blog, we will inform you about the Bernina Express, what to expect, the route, the ticket prices and more!

Bernina Express
The beautiful scenery on the Bernina Express

The Bernina Express is known as one of the most wonderful train rides in the world. But why? The journey on the Bernina Express is unique. Travelling by train is such a spectacular way to experience the Swiss Alps.

The train journey starts in Chur and heads to Tirano. During this journey, you can expect to see the beauty Switzerland has to offer through a train window. The Bernina Express is a full-day activity, a whole day full of magnificent views.

During this approximately 4-hour journey in the Bernina Express, you will cross 196 bridges and go through 55 tunnels! The Bernina Express is known as one of the most spectacular trains in the world, for a reason, the train has to go through narrow valleys and has to go through tight curves.

The Bernina Express will take you through the whole canton of Graubunden. As mentioned above, you will travel from Switzerland to Italy. This journey is an unforgettable experience.

Bernina Express ticket price

The ticket price of the Bernina Express depends on the route you want to follow. In this case, we show the prices for the full route. The full route contains the journey from Chur to Tirano.

The prices for the Bernina Express are:

2nd class1st class
Single trip63101
Return trip116222
Seat reservation+10 CHF+ 10 CHF

Important, there is as shown in the table an additional 10 CHF charged for seat reservation. These seat reservations can be booked in advance, we recommend doing so. The reservation fees do vary depending on the season you travel in.

If you want to travel with the Bernina Express during the cheapest time of the year, we recommend travelling from November till January/February. These are the cheapest months.

You can easily buy a ticket online, here you get the option of which station to leave, and to which station to travel. This website will show you the exact ticket price depending on your needs and preferences.

Bernina Express

Bernina Express vs Glacier Express

We often get this question. What is the difference between the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express? Which of these two train journeys is more beautiful or more valuable? Let’s find out which one is better, the Bernina Express or the Glacier Express.

Both the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express are beautiful scenic train trips. In general, most people would prefer the Bernina Express, because of its shorter duration, the Bernina Express takes 4 hours while the Glacier Express takes 8 hours. But does this really matter? Let’s find out.

The difference between the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express

But..maybe this is a bit too short-sighted. Because these two train journeys have really different purposes. First of all, there is a difference that the Glacier Express acts more as a transport function, so the Glacier Express takes you from St Moritz to Zermatt or vice versa.

The Bernina Express is more of a sightseeing trip/activity. As the full journey is only 4 hours you could do this easily in one day. As a return trip with the Bernina Express would take about 8 hours, you can manage to do this in one day if you leave early.

But in the case of the Glacier Express, it wouldn’t be possible to follow the whole route, which takes 8 hours, and to return another 8 hours.

This is not optimal and not feasible. You would rather go with the Glacier Express for a section of the route, or you could stay a night in St Moritz and go back to Zermatt the following day. This decision depends on the duration of your stay and what you want to see and experience.

Bernina Express

Important to notice

A little side note, it is possible to hop on the Bernina Express with the purpose as a journey, so what we mean by journey, in this case, is that you could go from Graubunden to Ticino and then hop on the bus from Tirano(end station Bernina Express) to Lugano.

An interesting fact to keep in mind is that the part of the route from Chur to St Moritz is used by both expresses. So both the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express cover this part of the route.

Combine the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express

If you stay in Switzerland for a longer time, so for example for a week. Then you can hop on the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express, in this way, you experience and taste a bit of both scenic routes, and you can plan your itinerary around them.

We highly recommend getting off the train and exploring the town and its surroundings, this will be such a delightful bonus to your stay in Switzerland. Enjoying the outdoors and getting to know the region better is important, interesting and rewarding.

So..which one is better?

In conclusion, both trains offer an amazing experience. You shouldn’t decide because of the duration of the full route. As you can divide the route into pieces. So you do not have to take the full Glacier Express route or the Bernina Express route. You could for example take the Bernina Express, but take a shorter trip.

You could for example start in St Moritz. This can even be a daily activity, you can get off the train at the first stop and explore the city, take a hike and in the afternoon you can go back with the Bernina Express to St Moritz this could make your stay in St Moritz even more enjoyable.

Bernina Express

The Bernina Express Route

As we told you above, the Bernina Express is a journey from Chur to Tirona, which is in Italy. The journey crosses, the wonderful canton of Graubunden. The trains pass the Bernina Pass and they start or end in Tirano. The full route takes around 4 hours. If you travel from St Moritz it takes around 2.5 hours.

The route crosses 55 tunnels and 196 bridges and reaches an altitude of 2254 metres. This is higher than the maximum altitude of the Glacier Express. The Bernina Express route is known for its great variety. You will see so many different landscapes. Imagine you travel from Switzerland, the alpine landscape to the more Mediterranean landscape in Italy.

To even extend your journey, there is a connection with a bus from the Bernina Express end stop in Tirano. This bus takes you to Lugano. Keep in mind, this will add approximately 3 hours to your trip.

Where to sit on the Bernina Express? Left or Right?

This is a very good question, if you would travel from the north to the south then consider sitting on the right side of the Bernina Express. If you travel from the south to the north, then consider sitting on the left side of the Bernina Express.

So from Tirano to Chur: sit on the left side of the Bernina Express.

If you travel from Chur to Tirano, consider sitting on the right side of the Bernina Express.

Bernina Express
This is the famous Landwasser Viaduct


All in all, we can conclude that whether you should travel with the Glacier Express or the Bernina Express shouldn’t be a decision made because of the duration of the route. As you can easily choose a section of the route. It is important to buy your tickets in advance, and remember there is an additional fee charged for seat reservations.

If you travel with the Bernina Express and want the best views? If you travel from Chur to Tirano sit on the right side, if you travel from Tirano to Chur sit on the left side of the Bernina Express. We hope you are enthusiastic about the Bernina Express and we hope the difference between the two expresses is clearer now.


Maurits love affair with Switzerland started on his first visit to Switzerland and still continues today. He visits Switzerland often and enjoys writing about his discoveries and sharing his tips with fellow travellers.

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