My birthday is just around the corner. Last year I treated myself with a very special day: a trip on the Bernina Express with my boyfriend and a couple of friends. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the Bernina Express is only one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world and the highest railway across the Alps. So we were pretty excited about this. And we were not disappointed!
The Bernina Express classic route connects Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland, to Tirano, in northern Italy, in about 4 hours. You can also start from Davos (15 minutes less) or St. Moritz (2 hours shorter) but we chose to do the first one. We bought a Tageskarte (a day ticket that allows you to travel all over Switzerland for a very reasonable price) and booked our seats by the window for the first train departing early in the morning. And we were set to go.
Despite its name, the Bernina Express is actually a slow train, with large panoramic windows all the way to the roof. It links the alpine canton of Graubünden to Lombardy, through 55 tunnels and 196 bridges. Its highest point is the small station of Ospizio Bernina, 2,253 meters above sea level.
The section Thusis – Valposchiavo – Tirano has UNESCO World Heritage status. Prepare to be dazzled by the succession of picturesque towns, frozen lakes, glaciers and impressive works of engineering, including the famous Brusio Circular Viaduct.
Four hours of breathtaking views and pure wonder later, we arrived at the small town of Tirano, in the Valtelina valley, just in time for lunch: Pizzoccheri, a traditional dish from Graubünden and Valtellina, prepared with a type of short tagliatelle cooked with greens and cubed potatoes, layered with cheese and dressed with garlic and sage fried in butter. A delicious way to finish our Bernina experience.
After a walk around the historic center of Tirano we took the train back to Zurich. If you have more time though, I would definitely recommend an overnight in the charming village of Poschiavo, or taking the Bernina Express Bus through the scenic landscape of Valtellina, past Lake Como, to Lugano.