For an unforgettable day trip from Lake Como, the Bernina Express from Tirano is the perfect choice. We would like to share with you our eventful train journey as a family through the autumnal Alps, past impressive panoramas.
Preparing for the Bernina Express with children
Before you start your trip, it is important that you inform yourself. Visit http://www.berninaexpress.ch for useful information in advance. We wanted to see the famous viaducts and therefore chose the Tirano-Chur route. This train departs Tirano daily at 2:24 p.m. and additionally at 8:06 a.m. from May to October. We drove about 3:30 hours by train to Tiefencastel. With both of the mentioned connections you have the opportunity to experience the excursion in one day without overnight stay. If you prefer a shorter tour, you can only go to St. Moritz, for which there are additional departure times. Please note that there is also a bus connection from Lugano to Tirano, which is also operated by the Bernina Express.
However, you can use any regular train on the route without hesitation – even then you can see all the wonderful panoramas. The important sights are also announced in regular trains on that route via the audio system on the train. It is not absolutely necessary to book the panoramic car on the Bernina Express, as it comes with a hefty surcharge. Here you get a chocolate greeting and slightly larger windows, but these cannot be opened – something that is particularly relevant for photography lovers. We therefore preferred to move to a standard compartment.
Tickets can be purchased both online and directly at the counter on site. It’s best to get advice at the counter to save money by getting the best deal for your party. For our family (5 people), the Graubünden Pass was the ideal solution.
Important to know: there is no catering on the Bernina Express. Since the train only stops very briefly at the stations, there is no way to stock up your lunch bag along the way. So you should definitely pack a large packed lunch and drinks to avoid stomach growl.
We left Villa al Castello after breakfast. After almost 1.5 hours we arrived at the train station and had enough time to enjoy a delicious pizza in the hip Pizzeria Merizzi right at the train station before departure.
Best travel time for the Bernina Express panoramic railway
The Bernina Express runs all year round. During which season you travel depends on your preferences.
In spring you will experience a blooming landscape and mild weather. Nature is awakening to new life and temperatures are starting to rise. The trains are often less crowded at this time.
Summer offers warm weather and longer days. This is the most popular travel time for the Bernina Express, so the trains can be fully booked. The coveted window seats could be in short supply. The landscape is lush green and the peaks are often still covered in snow. What is certainly great are the open observation cars that are used between Davos and Tirano in the summer – passengers can let the mountain air waft around their noses.
Autumn is a wonderful time to take a ride on the Bernina Express, especially if you want to enjoy the colorful autumn colors in the Alps. The trains are less crowded than in summer and the temperatures are still pleasant.
For us, the trip in autumn was the ideal choice, even though the view was occasionally blocked by a few rain clouds.
If you want to experience a wintry landscape and snowy mountains, winter is the best choice. When the landscape is enchanted by snow and ice, magical impressions are sure to emerge. However, the route can be affected in bad weather, so it is advisable to check the conditions in advance.
The trip with the Bernina Express
Sights in Tirano
The train journey through the Alps begins
Tirano is a wonderful city at the foot of the Alps. It is not only the starting point of your train journey, but also a charming city with a rich history. Visit the Basilica of Madonna di Tirano, an impressive example of Baroque architecture, and stroll through the picturesque streets of the old town. Be sure to spoil your taste buds with local specialties in one of the cozy restaurants.
As soon as you take your seat on the Bernina Express, the adventure begins. The train winds through impressive valleys and crosses spectacular bridges – including the famous Brusio circular viaduct. In autumn, nature shines in the most beautiful colors and the clear air offers a perfect view of the surrounding peaks.
Ospizio Bernina - the highest altitude of the Bernina Express
The journey continues to Alp Grüm, a picturesque viewpoint from which you can enjoy unparalleled views of the Palü Glacier and Lake Palü. The highlight of the trip is undoubtedly the stop at Ospizio Bernina, the peak on the route at 2253m. From here you have a breathtaking view of the Alpine pinnacles.
The impressive Landwasser Viaduct of the Bernina Express
As you continue your journey you will pass two of the most impressive railway viaducts in Switzerland. The Albula Viaduct and the impressive Landwasser Viaduct are true masterpieces of engineering and offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
Return to Tirano
We continued our journey to Tiefencastel and then returned back from there. Maybe an overnight stay would have been nice. We’ll plan for that next time. The landscape experience at sunset when the last rays of the day bathe the mountain peaks in a golden light is certainly a highlight that we don’t want to miss next time.
Summary - An unforgettable day trip from Lake Como
A day trip with the Bernina Express from Tirano in autumn is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience. The autumnal landscape, breathtaking views and the charming town of Tirano make this trip a highlight of your stay on Lake Como.