Post a Comment Print Share on Facebook
Featured Apple Podcast Musik Politik Amazon Music Hamburg

From glaciers to palm trees - on the train through Switzerland

The Bernina Express slowly works its way up the mountain massif of the same name.

- 18 reads.

From glaciers to palm trees - on the train through Switzerland

The Bernina Express slowly works its way up the mountain massif of the same name. Even the start in Pontresina is at an altitude where tourists from the lowlands find it much harder to breathe. The small town in the Engadin is 1774 meters above sea level. Clouds hang over the mountains, only occasionally does the sun break through. Travelers cannot yet guess whether there is a unique panorama to be seen at the top or whether the clouds are obscuring the view.

People are already talking shop about it on the train. From the ones who regularly travel the most beautiful train routes in Switzerland. Like that of the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. Or the Bernina Express from Samedan, St. Moritz or Pontresina to Tirano in Italy. And the others, who in turn are sitting on the train for the first time and only know the Bernina massif from skiing or hiking.

The travelers are lucky. Because the weather gets better the higher the Rhaetian Railway climbs. 70 per thousand incline is the biggest he has to overcome - on normal tracks, without cogs. That's why the locomotive pulls its wagons up in numerous serpentines.

The route of the Bernina Express is one of the steepest cogless railway lines in the world. This is not reported by a train attendant while the train pushes further and further towards Ospizio Bernina at an altitude of 2253 meters. The Swiss operating company has had an app developed specifically for its panoramic routes, which tells of the special features along the routes.

The Ospizio Bernina train station is the highest point on the route, from there it's all downhill - with a steady gradient of seven percent in the direction of Italy, past Poschiavo to Tirano. Then it's time to say goodbye to the glaciers, off to the palm trees that line the lakes of the Mediterranean towns of Lugano, Locarno or Ascona.

But the most beautiful point follows shortly after the highest, at only 2091 meters above sea level: It is Alp Grüm. The train stops there for a few minutes and gives the passengers the opportunity to get off - panoramic enjoyment without windows and air conditioning, the Piz Palü directly in view. "There is no road to this place," says the conductor. "You can only get here by hiking."

It's all downhill. Poschiavo train station is at 1014 meters. From there the train travels up to 429 meters to the destination station in Tirano. Between the last two stations, Swiss railway engineers have placed a unique structure: the circular viaduct in Brusio. Here the track turns around its own axis in a very small space and loses a lot of height in the process.

From Tirano, in Italian Lombardy, the Bernina Express Bus continues to the southernmost canton of Switzerland, Ticino. A coach drives across the Veltlin in the direction of Lake Como to Lugano.

Arriving in Lugano, the sun is shining from the sky. Locals and visitors enjoy the nice weather, especially at the lake and in the parks that surround it. There are numerous possibilities for excursions. The two local mountains, Monte Brè and Monte San Salvatore, are easy to hike - with a unique view over Lake Lugano and the city, which has long belonged to Italy.

Those who prefer to stay in town can explore historic churches, immerse themselves in the changing exhibitions in the ultra-modern Lugano Arte e Cultura (LAC), go shopping or simply enjoy the dolce vita on the lakeshore.

It is only a few minutes by train from Lugano to Bellinzona, the capital of the canton and considered the most Italian of all Swiss cities. Three well-preserved medieval castles form a mighty fortress there.

The Castelgrande, which seems almost inaccessible from the city on a steep cliff, can now be easily reached with a lift. "You have to hike to the other two castles," says city guide Claudia Maspoli. Patrician houses and pretty churches, winding streets and a large piazza with numerous cafés and restaurants make the Mediterranean atmosphere perfect.

The journey back from Ticino into the mountains leads through Urschweiz to Lucerne. And through another spectacular structure: the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened in 2016. The train takes around 20 minutes for the 57-kilometer route between Bellinzona and Arth-Goldau.

The alternative: a ride on the Gotthard Panorama Express, which runs from Lugano to Flüelen on the south side of Lake Lucerne. This is where the unique rhythm of the Swiss railways becomes apparent - because as soon as you get off the train, the electric boat pulls up. After all, not only trains belong to the service of the Swiss Transport Service (STS), under which the numerous train companies have joined forces, but also buses and transport ships.

Arrival: An overview of the places from which the panoramic trains start can be found at The starting points can be reached from Germany by car or Deutsche Bahn.

Entry: The Federal Foreign Office offers up-to-date information on entry on its website.

Train tickets: Visitors from abroad can buy the Swiss Travel Pass, which is valid for 3, 4, 6, 8 or 15 days. It is valid on all trains of the selected class, as well as on post buses and public transport. Journeys on the panorama trains are included, but seats must be reserved for the Glacier, Bernina and Gotthard Panorama Express. They can also be bought at the departure stations before the start of the journey. Tickets are available online at

Accommodation: The panoramic trains stop in well-known tourist locations where there is accommodation in every price range. If the train station is not in town, many hotels provide shuttles. Alternatively, a public bus often drives into the towns.


Winter dominates the Alpine region. In the Chiemgau and Berchtesgaden Alps there is a high to very high risk of avalanches. The skiers are happy, the clearing service is in constant use on the streets.

Source: WORLD

This article was first published in February 2022.

Your Name
Post a Comment
Characters Left:
Your comment has been forwarded to the administrator for approval.×
Warning! Will constitute a criminal offense, illegal, threatening, offensive, insulting and swearing, derogatory, defamatory, vulgar, pornographic, indecent, personality rights, damaging or similar nature in the nature of all kinds of financial content, legal, criminal and administrative responsibility for the content of the sender member / members are belong.