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Bernina Express (Switzerland) Tour from Milan

The Bernina Express is one of the most iconic trains in the world, journeying through the snow-capped peaks and glistening lakes of the Swiss Alps.

Considered by many to be a bucket list experience, this train offers panoramic views that must be seen to be believed.

A Bernina Express day trip from Milan is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity and provides you with a tranquil escape from the hustle, and bustle of the city.

Here's all you need to know about Bernina Express, one of the most exciting day trips from Milan.

How to get to the Bernina Express from Milan?

The Bernina Express runs through the Swiss Alps, connecting Chur and Poschiavo in Switzerland with Tirano in Italy. The train journeys for over 140 kilometers and its station in Tirano is approximately 160 kilometers from Milan.

From Milan to the Bernina Express by car

An easy way to make the journey to the Bernina Express from Milan is by car. The drive takes just over 2 hours and travels north out of Milan, following the SS36.

Traveling alongside Como Lake, you’ll merge onto the SS38 and continue all the way to Tirano rail station.

From Milan to the Bernina Express by bus/public transport

Another way to make the jaunt to the Bernina Express is to take the train to Tirano rail station.

The route takes approximately 2.5 hours and travels directly to Tirano, where the Bernina Express departs from. Trains run every hour are tickets are affordable.

Guided Bernina Express tour from Milan

Alternatively, book a guided excursion on the Bernina Express and allow your operator to take care of the details for you. These day trips typically last between 12 and 13 hours, and meet in the center of Milan between 7 AM and 7:30 AM.

How much does the entrance ticket to the Bernina Express cost?

Prices for the Bernina Express vary depending on the season, destination and seat you choose.

A return ticket from Tirano to Chur costs between CHF126 (US$136) and CHF222 (US$239) depending on whether you choose to sit in first or second class. Children aged 6-16 pay 50% of the adult fare, while those under 6 travel free.

What is the typical itinerary?

Bernina Express day tours tend to follow the same itinerary. You’ll typically meet your friendly guide at an easy-to-reach spot in the center of Milan in the early morning.

This starting point is always pre-determined, which you can see on the booking page before selecting a tour. This gives you plenty of opportunity to arrange any necessary transportation ahead of time.

From there, you’ll hop on your coach and relax as you drive past the stunning Como Lake to the town of Tirano.

Here, you’ll have some time to shop for souvenirs, grab a coffee or participate in a walking tour of Tirano before boarding the Bernina Express around lunchtime. You’ll spend 4 hours aboard the train and travel as far as St. Mortiz, a ski town located in Switzerland’s Engadine Valley.

While on the train, you’ll enjoy panoramic views from your seat in second class and have access to a minibar service in case you get hungry.

Reaching St. Moritz, you’ll have a little free time to admire the Swiss Alps before boarding your coach and returning to Milan where your Bernina Express day trip ends.

What kinds of Bernina Express tours are available?

Bernina Express day tours are an exciting way to spend part of your vacation in Milan. Easily reached from the city, these excursions show you another side of both Italy and Switzerland.

Guided Bernina Express tours to the Swiss Alps from Milan

Departing Milan, Bernina Express day trips begin with a lengthy yet scenic drive to the 12th-century town of Tirano. Upon arrival, you’ll either have free time to stroll the streets at your leisure or participate in a guided tour of the main attractions.

From there, you’ll board the Bernina Express and enjoy 4 hours of natural beauty as you gaze awestruck out the window.

Arriving at St. Moritz, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy rich and decadent Swiss chocolates or admire the mountains that surround the town’s dazzling blue lake.

How much does a Bernina Express day trip from Milan cost?

Bernina Express day trips cost between €130 and €140 per person. This typically includes a ride on the Bernina Express in second class, as well as a professional tour guide and round-trip transportation from Milan.

What will you see and do?

The Bernina Express runs along the Rhaetian Railway, which is one of the few UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites in the world that can only be seen by train.

The World Heritage site is formed of the Albula and Bernina lines, which merged together to form the UNESCO-listed phenomenon in 2008.

The Bernina Express is not known for its speed in carrying passengers between Italy in Switzerland. Instead, it is famed for its panoramic journey across the Alps, showcasing the best of both countries’ mountain landscapes.

While on a Bernina Express day trip, you’ll notice a multitude of bridges and tunnels. In fact, there are 196 scenic bridges and 55 tunnels that make up the route, and its most renowned section is the Bernina Pass, which has been used since the Middle Ages.

These two railway lines were formed between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, and jointly travel through 25 destinations, departing from Chur in Switzerland and ending in Tirano.

These destinations include Pontresina, located on the Bernina Pass.

What are the opening times?

The Bernina Express operates year-round and leaves once daily from Chur during the winter months, and twice daily during the summer.

The train arrives in Tirano just before 1 PM, departing 20 minutes later. In the summer months, an additional service runs, stopping at Tirano at 6 PM, and departing 10 minutes later.

When is the best time to ride the Bernina Express?

The views from the Bernina Express are spectacular at any time of the year, so the choice is down to you. During the spring and summer months, you’ll see rolling verdant hills, and vibrant flowers.

The fall months bring with them a color frenzy of rich reds and oranges, while the winter months turn the route into a snow-covered wonderland.

If you plan your Bernina Express day tour during July and August, you may have the opportunity to sit in an open-top carriage, depending on the weather.

Travel tips

  • In order to gain the best views, sit on the right-hand side of the train when traveling north, and the left-hand side when traveling south on the Bernina Express.
  • Pick up lunch in the town of Tirano before boarding the train on your Bernina Express day tour. This will save you money on the minibar service and will provide you with a wider choice of food.
  • Make sure you pack appropriately for the season. As a mountain town, St. Moritz is several degrees colder than Milan throughout the year so ensure you’re carrying a spare layer with you.
  • You will spend several hours of your Bernina Express day trip aboard a coach, traveling between destinations. Bring a magazine or book with you to keep yourself occupied.

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