One of the highlights of our trip was the train ride through the Swiss Alps into Italy on the Bernina Express, which is considered one of the most beautiful train rides in the world!
Reaching a height of 2,253 metres (7,392 ft) above sea level, it is the highest railway crossing in Europe and the third highest railway in Switzerland.
We had booked our tickets about 6 months ahead of time, because the closer to your date the more expensive train tickets are. I used the Man in Seat 61’s excellent workaround tips https://www.seat61.com/BerninaExpress.htm and it does make a heck of a price difference! You will have to go to the Swiss rail site to pay to reserve your seats. If you’re traveling in a group/pair I would suggest doing this. But when we travelled in early October, we found the first 2 cars were full, but the ones at the end were empty. We had reserved ahead so we had window seats, as Shawn and I like sitting across from each other, both at the window.
Fair warning, the seat plan posted on the train walls was incredibly confusing for pretty much everyone but myself. We heard many arguments about who was supposed to sit where, and got into an amazing fight with the stodgiest British couple after they passive aggressively accused us of stealing their seats. Spoiler alert, I won 🙂
The train leaves Chur just after 8:30am, so it was another early morning for us. Jetlag does help with that. We had arrived to Chur at sunset, so this was a nice surprise from the bathroom window!
We lucked out with the weather, what was supposed to be a cloudy rainy day gave way to a beautiful sunny morning and afternoon. Our views from the train were completely unobstructed.
We had paid extra to sit in the glass domed car for better views. Honestly, in the dome car, it really doesn’t matter where you’re sitting, your eyes are in for a treat from any of the seats. However, you can’t take glare free photos, so if you are interested in taking the best photos, the regular train cars are the place for you, as you can open the windows.
Now, here’s those killer photos you came for:
The train stops at Alp Grum, which has an elevation of 2,091 m, for a chance to stretch your legs and get some more killer photos.
Once we got back on the train we decided to explore the cars at the end of the train. They ended up being empty, so we left our terrible seat mates (honestly our entire train car was filed with horrible Brits and American retirees) and headed to the empty train car for a very quiet and much more enjoyable ride down the mountains.
Quite possibly the most spectacular part of the entire trip on the Bernina Express comes near the end, the Brusio Railway Viaduct – of which I have ZERO photos! I was using Shawn’s phone to take a video of us going around it, sorry! It really was spectacular.
The train pulls into Tirano around 12:49 pm and you can rush across the tiny town square to the Italian train station and buy a regional ticket to Milan for the 13:08 train. Or you can stick around Tirano for another 2 hours, have a nice lunch and explore this quaint town before moving on. Which is exactly what we did.