If you have ever watched Instagram Reels or YouTube videos about traveling through the Swiss Alps, you’ve probably seen this little red train chugging around tight corners, through high passes, and past stunning backgrounds. This little train popped up in so many videos that we watched before our most recent trip into the Swiss Alps, and I was inspired to do a little digging.
I found out that this train (or at least one of the most popular ones) is called the Bernina Express, and it claims to be one of the most iconic and epic train rides in all of Europe. We decided to try it out ourselves and see if it deserves the lofty reputation that it has.
In this post, we will take a look at everything you need to know about traveling on the Bernina Express, including the most pressing question of them all: Is the Bernina Express worth it?
What Is the Bernina Express?
The Bernina Express is a train that runs through the Bernina Pass section of the Swiss Alps. This train runs from Southern Switzerland into Northern Italy, connecting Chur, Switzerland to several other Swiss towns, and ultimately ending in Tirano, Italy. The train offers panoramic windows that provide 180 degree views as it winds through this stunning section of the Swiss Alps.
The Bernina Pass is absolutely stunning, and the train ride itself has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ride passes through countless tunnels, crosses even more bridges, and rises at the steepest incline of any train in the world. Needless to say, this ride is unique.
The Bernina Express is just one route operated by the Rhaetian Railway. This network operates all throughout Switzerland. The Bernina Express is simply the most popular segment of the Rhaetian Railway, as it offers the striking views and dramatic landscapes in the shortest amount of time. What other routes offer in 12 hours, the Bernina Express can accomplish in just a few.
How Long Is the Bernina Express?
Riding on the Bernina Express from Chur to Tirano, which is the full route, only takes four hours. These four hours are absolutely packed with stunning backdrops and landscapes, and this is what makes the Bernina Express such a popular segment of the Rhaetian Railway. Riders who want a shorter trip often board or disembark in St. Moritz, which is an iconic winter sports resort town that sits conveniently along the Bernina Express.
We took the train from St. Moritz to its terminal stop in Tirano, Italy, which took about 2.5 hours including the stops along the way. This leg passes through the Bernina Pass, which is one of the most stunning views in all of Switzerland. If you are coming from Milan, be sure to read my post on riding the Bernina Express as a day trip from Milan.
Is the Bernina Express Expensive?
When people see an iconic adventure like this, they often jump right to the price. So, how much does the Bernina Express cost? Honestly, not too much at all. While it isn’t cheap, the Bernina Express isn’t exorbitantly expensive. It does cost a bit more than regular train travel in Europe. To get the iconic views and panorama windows of the Bernina Express, you need to sit in first class. Second class is offered, but those cars only offer regular windows.
At the time of this post, a first-class ticket from Chur to Tirano costs about €110, and from St. Moritz to Tirano costs €60. Second class on those same routes costs about €65 and €35. For current pricing and availability, be sure to check out their website.
Is the Bernina Express Worth It?
Now you know all about the train itself, including how much the Bernina Express costs and how long the Bernina Express takes. Now, the real question…is the Bernina Express worth it?
With that being said, I would say yes, the Bernina Express is worth the money and time it takes to ride. While it is a bit out of the way, that is what makes it so beautiful! The Bernina Express winds through absolutely stunning backdrops, and it’s rare that you’ll find such raw and beautiful scenery directly outside of a city. While the train can be expensive, it is a very nice experience. You are not just paying for the views. The Bernina Express offers tasty snacks, comfortable seating, good air conditioning, and great service.
In my opinion, The Bernina Express is worth every penny. I even included it on my list of the best day trips from Milan. If the price from Chur to Tirano is beyond your budget, I highly recommend taking the train from St. Moritz to Tirano instead. The best views are in this portion anyway! Just be sure to stick with first class if possible, as the nicer service and the panoramic windows are truly worth the extra cost in this case.
Hopefully this post about Switzerland’s Bernina Express inspires you to try it out. I received no compensation from the Rhaetian Railway for writing this post, and am just sharing information voluntarily from my own experience. If you have any questions about the Bernina Express, let us know by dropping a comment below! Otherwise, thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.
If you want to do the Bernina Express and have questions (especially if you are traveling with babies/kids) please contact us! We would love to help any way we can. This was such an awesoem experience, that we want other families to experience as well.