The Glacier and Bernina Express Routes without Reservations.

  • 7 June 2021
  • 3 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +14

For many Railpassusers the Glacier and Berninaexpress are a must do when traveling arround Switzerland. Many use the fully air-conditioned “panorama trains”, some of which have very high reservation fees. The advantage of these trains is that they run directly and with a dinning service (pre booking recommened).

The BerninaExpress in the spiral viaduct of Brusio

But @runner.on.rails (he provided the pictures for this post)  and I prefer the normaltrains on these routes as you can open on many of them the windows (Better pictures as in the “Panoramic Trains” as these have no openable windows). Another advantage these trains goes every hour this means i can stop on the route when i just wanna enjoy the view. A good stop on the Route of the Glacier Express is Andermatt or the Oberalpass 🙂 for the Bernina Route i would suggest a stop in “Ospizio Bernina” or “Alp Grüm”. Don´t worry to miss a connecting train. In Switzerland  trains are mosttimes ontime and wait even few minutes for eatch other in case of small delays.

@runner.on.rails and myself  in summer of 2020 on Bernina Vintage train
Andermatt in Winter of 2020
The Rhinegorge with the “Rhine Gorge Experience Train”

Bernina Route with Standardtrains Tirano - Pontresina - Samedan - Chur
Glacier Route with Standardtrains St.Moritz - Rheichenau/Thamis or Chur - Disentis/Muster - Andermatt - Brig or Visp - Zermatt

In summer the Rhaetian Railway use on some Routes Cabrio Cars without any roof or window 🙂 the perfect car to get nice pictures. As these cars are very popular and can´t be reserved i recommend to get on them already on the starting station of the train 🙂.Here the Timetable of the Cabrio Trains

The open panoramic cars


Here on the Bernina route

Ontop of this nice coaches they even offer historical rides without any extra cost´s than your Railpass on some Routes in Season

for example with the historical electric engine the "The Rhaetian Crocodile" between Davos and Filisur.
or the Bernina Vintage Train between Poschiavo and St.Moritz.

The Bernina Vintage train 🙂 not much seats as you can see.

Thats how we (@runner.on.rails and I)  enjoy the Routes of the Bernina & Glacier Express and we hope to see some of you in the future on your and our trips on these or any other Routes. I break often the journey in Chur as hotels / hostels are here cheaper as in St.Moritz

3 replies

Userlevel 5
Badge +4

How much is the extra cost of booking a seat? is it obligatory?

As it says in the excellent write-up above, the only seats that need reserving are the ones in the tourist-oriented panorama cars shown in the first picture. The regular local trains throughout the route, as well as the open-air carriages and the occasional vintage trains, require no reservation.

The panorama cars make up the Bernina Express, which is the only service that travels the entire route from Chur to Tirano. It runs a few times daily and doesn’t stop at all the stations - unlike most of the local trains on the route throughout the day, which either travel from Chur to St. Moritz or St. Moritz to Tirano, and stop more frequently.

It’s easy to spot the Bernina Express in the timetables, as it’s marked EXP at Interrail and PE (for Panoramic Express) at SBB. Seats in the panoramic carriages cost 16 fr. in summer, but a bit less at other times of year. However, these carriages are pulled by another train, which also has seats (non-panoramic), but which do not need to be reserved. The windows aren’t quite as big, but they do open. So you actually can go directly between Chur and Tirano without paying a reservation fee.

At Tirano you can change to an RE train which doesn’t require reservation and goes directly to Milan, or change at Lecco to go to Bergamo.

Userlevel 5
Badge +1

Yes! This route is even better with local trains indeed. It also makes it much easier to get off along the way. It was my preferred route when I did this on my last trip as well. :D

How much is the extra cost of booking a seat? is it obligatory?