From Italy to Switzerland and back on the Bernina Line

The Bernina line connects the Swiss canton Grisons with the Italian Valtellina. The ride past mountains, glaciers and green valleys is one to keep your mouth and eyes wide open in admiration.

We started our journey in Tirano, a small Italian town near the border to Switzerland, surrounded by vineyards and the endpoint of the Bernina train line. Tirano has an old city centre and a number of other romantic old buildings. Our hotel was one of them, several hundreds of years old and lovingly renovated with a lot of wood.


After an Italian-style breakfast, we took the 9am local train to St. Moritz. The train crossed the Swiss border shortly after leaving Tirano and continued along the valley of Poschiavo, all the time climbing up steadily.


The views of the Palü glacier at Alp Grüm made us regret that we did not have time to get off the train at this stop.


There were many other fabulous views and we never got bored during the two and a half hours to St. Moritz. In fact, we rode on the same line again the next day, taking the panoramic Bernina Express from Pontresina back to Tirano, and were still excited about the views.

Practical information – Trains

Windows in the Bernina Express cars.

Windows in the Bernina Express cars.

There are three different types of cars: The panoramic cars of the Bernina Express have wide windows all the way up to the roof and offer perfect views of the mountains. A reservation at an extra cost of 14 CHF is needed for these trains. While this may sound expensive, it really does make a difference. The reservation can be bought on-line or at the train station.

The views are great but the reflections make it difficult to get good pictures (from the inside).

The views are great but the reflections make it difficult to get good pictures (from the inside).

In addition to the Bernina Express trains, there are also standard local trains on the same route. These stop more often and have smaller windows. However, it is possible to open these windows, which can be advantage for those (like me) who want to take pictures on the way.

One of the standard trains on the way to St. Moritz.

One of the standard trains on the way to St. Moritz.

In summer, open panoramic cars are sometimes added to the standard trains. For example, the 15:04 train from Pontresina to Tirano has such cars in July and August if the weather allows.

One of the open panoramic cars.

One of the open panoramic cars.

Practical information – The best seat

On our journey to Switzerland and back, we sat on both sides of the train and both have great views. Going from Tirano to St. Moritz, the left side in the direction of the journey offers the better views of the viaduct at Brusio and the glacier at Alp Grüm. And of course, the best seats to take pictures with the train in it are at the end of the train.

More information

Website of the Bernina Express
Schedule query Rhätische Bahn
Our hotel in Tirano
Tirano can be reached by train from Milano Centrale, the schedule can be queried here
Another account of the journey on the Bernina Express

This article was published on All photos taken with my Olympus OMD E-M10 and edited in darktable.

Time of visit: July 2015

11 thoughts on “From Italy to Switzerland and back on the Bernina Line

  1. Suze

    I absolutely love Switzerland. Picture number three is my favorite. Such a lovely view over the valley. I wish I lived closer to Switzerland 🙂
    On a side note: I love the new blog! Happy blogging and thanks for featuring my article on this wonderful blog!


    1. perelincolors

      This was only my second time in Switzerland but I agree, it would be great if those mountains were closer to where I live. Your post was one of the resources that convinced me to take this trip, so I thought it was only fair to give some credit .


  2. lizbert1

    Wow! Travelling by train is such a fabulous way to see a country as it flies by the window. And this trip looks so picturesque! I have added it to my wish list, thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

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