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The Bernina train, the little train that could

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bernina train is a voyage through nature, history and culture. It unites two nations, two different worlds that compliment each other perfectly.

The Bernina train is not a simple train journey. It is a voyage.

A voyage through nature: from the palm trees and apple orchards of Tirano, passing chestnut trees and forests of fir and larch on the way to high-up glaciers. Then there are the beautiful crystal-clear lakes of vibrant colours, waterfalls and streams. It’s not unusual to spot deer, foxes, squirrels and, at altitude, ibex and eagles.

It’s a journey through different cultures, languages and religions (The more expansive Italians and the more reserved Swiss) but also through history. The railway, built over 120 years ago, is impressively modern, with engineering features that are still groundbreaking today.

When is the best time to go?

Any time! In the summer the contrast between the vibrant green of the fields and forests and the blinding white of the glacier will leave you spellbound. In winter the frozen landscape and walls of snow have a fairytale quality. In the spring you will see nature reawaken from its slumber and in the autumn you can enjoy the spectacular colours of the forest.

In other words, a journey in a journey in a journey. It is so unique that in 2008 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Bernina railway, inaugurated in 1910 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, is the highest railway line in the Alps and connects Southern and Northern Europe, becoming over the years an integral part of the mountain landscape.

Although it belongs to the Rhaetian Railway of the Grisons Canton in Switzerland, the line begins in Valtellina on the Italian side of the border, at Tirano (429m above sea level), from where the train climbs up through forests and mountain scenery until it reaches its highest point at 2,253 a.s.l. and begins its descent to St. Moritz (1,856m a.s.l.). All this, on gradients of over 7% in places, without a rack and pinion! Thanks to its special snowplough, the Bernina train runs all year. round.

 

Faq

Where can I buy tickets?

Tickets can be bought on the site of the Rhaetian Railway (www.rhb.ch). You can also contact the ticket office in Tirano (+41 812885441)

On the regular train, the ticket is for the route, not for a single journey, so you can get off at any stop and hop on the next train. This is not the case on the Bernina Express where there is a supplement to pay and advanced seat booking is mandatory.

What document(s) do I need to carry?

You will need your Identity Card or Passoport, for both adults and/or children.

Can dogs travel aboard?

Yes, dogs can travel provided they have a (paid) ticket. To cross the border the dog needs to be chipped, have a passport and proof that it has been vaccinated against rabies (at least 21 days before travelling abroad).

Is there just one type of carriage?

No, there are three: regular, panoramic (Bernina Express only) and open-top (summer only).

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