Touted as one of the most scenic train rides in Europe – if not the world – the Bernina Express train ride is UNESCO site.
Since we only had a day and based in Milan, we took the express option. By joining a tour. It was brainless. And filled with retiree tourists. Aka my dream future. Awesome. We booked this tour from viator.com.
From Milan, we were on a coach that went past Lake Como, and all the way to St Moritz. From St Moritz, we took the Bernina Express to the Italian town of Tirano.
Funny story: the English-only tour was full, so we purchased the Spanish/English tour option. It turns out there were only four of us English, non-Spanish speakers on that bus. It was cool though, we got very special treatment by the tour guide. All in all, a well-organised tour, and very informative. Very popular too it seems – there were three large tour coaches and they were all fully booked.
The coach ride was… long. I get restless easily, so being on a bus for 2-3 hours straight… not my favourite thing. But it was a comfortable ride, and they tell you informative tidbits while cruising. I’m not a day-napper at all, but my eyes struggled to open on this ride.
The landscape slowly changes as you ride towards Switzerland. You’ll pass vineyards, valleys, and you know you’re close when alpine views start peeking. Before arriving at St Moritz, the coach stopped right at the Bernina Pass mountain range. We had five short minutes to take photos, before we were politely herded back onto the coach.
Once we arrived at St Moritz, we had less than an hour to explore AND have lunch. A shame, because it was beautiful here and I’d love to be able to hang around the glittery St Moritz lake just a bit more. There was only one restaurant here by the lake, and upon placing our takeaway lunch orders, we quickly ran back out to take lots of photos.
The Bernina Express train departed from St Moritz on time. Before letting us off on our free time in St Moritz, the tour guides stressed upon us that they will leave you stranded if you miss the train. Yikes.
Anyway, we made it on time, of course. We noticed that a lot of our coach friends had arrived MUCH earlier to grab seats that were on the left side of the train. Apparently, the St Moritz to Tirano route had better views on the left side…
Honestly? Same. I think the train engineers knew exactly what they were doing and gave both sides the fair amount of gorgeous vistas to look at.
The train ride surprisingly went on longer than expected, and it was indeed one of the prettiest train ride I’ve ever been on. We passed by alpine forestry, idyllic Swiss villages, got up close and personal with the Bernina Alps, whilst breathing in fresh mountainous air.
Engineering nerds might appreciate the spiral tunnel railroads.
We were there in end-September, and although we could use with a bit more snow-capped mountains, I thought it was still a breathtaking ride. I get the inkling feeling the train ride would be amazing any time of the year.
Cons – of course, like any tour, you have to stick to a tight schedule. It was a pity that we only had 5 minutes at the actual Swiss Bernina, and only about an hour at St Moritz to explore. However, the highlight of the tour was the Bernina Express train ride, so pick your battles. The Bernina Express train ride was spectacular.
OH, this daytrip also marked the first time I visit Switzerland. Outside of flight stopovers. Check this one off the bucket list.