Taking a trip on the Bernina Express – the train of the Swiss Rhaetian Railway – is beautiful. You can choose to travel only on the Albula Bahn section, but you can also take the Bernina Bahn section. Or just the entire route from Chur to Tirano, Italy. It is also possible to get on in Davos or Sankt Moritz. You see the landscape in a completely different way than from the car. Fortunately, the train also passes certain places that you can go to by car. There are beautiful sights along the route of the Albula-Bernina Bahn that are worth a visit.
- Albula-Bernina Bahn
- Albula Valley and Albula Pass
- Reichenau railway
- Via Mala Schlucht Thusis
- Solisbrücke between Thusis and Tiefencastel
- The village of Miss
- Tour from Tiefencastel
- Landwasser viaduct at Filisur
- Duty-free paradise Livigno in Italy
The Albula-Bernina Bahn is a train route of the Swiss railway company Rhaetian Bahn . The Bernina Express train runs on this route. The Albula Bahn goes straight through the beautiful Albula Valley and the Bernina Bahn goes via the Bernina Pass to Tirano, Italy. The Albula-Bernina Bahn is better known as the Bernina Express. You can choose to board in Chur, Davos or Sankt Moritz. The train meanders through a beautiful environment, passing over and through architectural bridges, viaducts and tunnels. Since 2008, both the Abula Bahn and the Bernina Bahn have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Some of these beautiful buildings can be reached almost or completely by car.
Albula pass after pass height / Source: ©ottergraafjes
Albula Valley and Albula Pass
The Albula Bahn runs through the beautiful Albula Valley. Along the way the train passes over various bridges and viaducts. This valley is wonderful to explore by car. With a bit of luck you will see the train passing by. The Albula Valley is around 20 kilometers long and starts at the town of Thusis . At the end of the valley – just after Bergün – the Albula Pass begins . This pass connects the Albula Valley and the Upper Engadin Valley. The trains run for a while on the west side of the pass, but do not cross the pass height. They drive through the Albula tunnel. For car traffic, the real mountain stretch starts just after Filisur. The Albula Pass is 2,315 meters high and is closed in winter (end of October – beginning of May) due to heavy snowfall. The Albulabahn is then a good alternative. The Albula river originates at this pass and later flows into the Hinterrhein (Back Rhine).
There are many tourist attractions nearby and even along the route of the Albula-Bernina Bahn (Bernina Express). These sights are beautiful to visit. You will see some of these when you take a train journey with the Bernina Express. In addition, it is also very nice to make a day trip by car. The following things are fun to do/visit:
- the Rheinschlucht near Flims
- the railway across the Rhine at Reichenau
- the Viamala Gorge near Thusis
- the Solisbrücke near Thusis
- the Roflaschlucht near Andeer
- car ride to the village of Juf
- a tour over the Albula Pass
- the impressive Landwasser viaduct
- walk between Preda and Bergün
- shopping in duty-free Italian Livigno
Rheinschlucht from viewpoint / Source: ©ottergraafjes
The Rheinschlucht – also called Ruinaulta in Romansh – is an impressive gorge through which the river Rhine flows. It is a deep gorge and is also called the Grand Canyon of Switzerland. The gorge is 400 meters deep and around 13 kilometers long. It was created by a landslide more than 10,000 years ago. A gigantic rock wall collapsed. This gigantic mass of stone blocked the Vorderrhein, preventing the water from flowing away. A lake of approximately 25 kilometers in length was created at that location. Eventually the water found its way deep into the rock mass and thus the Rheinschlucht was created.
The town of Reichenau is not far from Chur. Just after Reichenau there is an old railway bridge over which both the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express trains pass. The Vorderrhein and Hinterrhein come together at this railway bridge. At Reichenau you take road number 13 towards Thusis and soon afterwards you take the parallel road towards Bonaduz. From a certain spot you have a nice view of the railway bridge. Here you can take a photo. You can park your car at Swiss River Adventures/Kanoschule Versam GmbH. Address: Im Farsch,7402 Tamins, Switzerland. If you walk a short distance, you can take a photo from the bridge. With a bit of luck you will see a train driving over the railway bridge.
It can also be fun to view Sloß Reichenau from the outside. Unfortunately, it cannot be viewed from the inside because it is private property. This castle was built in the 17th century and is inhabited by the Tscharner family. They have a winery in Sloß.
Via Mala Schlucht Thusis
Not far from Thusis is the Viamala Gorge. This is an impressive gorge through which the Rhine flows. In Romansh, the road that goes through this gorge is called veias malas , which means bad or dangerous road . This beautiful gorge can be admired up close and it is therefore busy during the holiday periods. A large parking lot has been created especially for tourists. There is also a visitor center. The gorge is closed from November to December. A visit to this gorge is worthwhile. An entrance fee must be paid. This and more information can be found on the site. It is a lot more difficult for people who have difficulty walking to view the gorge. There are 359 steps that have to be taken. At the narrowest of the gorge you are surrounded by rocks 300 meters high.
Via Mala road
In addition to visiting the gorge, where you are close to the violence of the water of the Rhine, it is also possible to continue by car towards Andeer. You then drive through various galleries and over a number of old bridges on the (asphalted) road. This road was built in the early 1900s. Of course, there is still something to see of the old road. Just before you drive over the stone bridge to cross the gorge, you will see the Wildener Brücke . This bridge was built in 1739. From that moment on it became possible to use this route to go to the San Bernardino and Splügen Pass. The Via Mala road has existed since 1219.
Also worth it
It is also fun to take a walk where you cross two suspension bridges. The first suspension bridge is the wooden suspension bridge Traversiner Steg . This one is about a deep abyss. This is now the second suspension bridge. The first – built in 1996 – was destroyed in 1999 by a rock avalanche caused by melting snow. The current bridge – in existence since 2005 – has a span of 56 meters. You walk from one side of the gorge to the other at a height of 70 meters. The second suspension bridge you cross during this walk is the Punt da Suransuns .
Via Mala Schlucht
7432 Hinterrhein, SwitzerlandTelephone number +41 81 650 90 30Website: www.viamala-schlucht.chEmail: [email protected]
Solisbrücke / Source: ©ottergraafjes
Solisbrücke between Thusis and Tiefencastel
Both the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express trains pass over this bridge, but you can of course also come here by car. If you drive on the road from Thusis towards Tiefencastel (towards the Albula Pass) you can turn right immediately after the Solisbrücke. If you then turn right again, you drive over – Punt da Solas – the old stone bridge. This bridge was built in 1896 and is now the access road to the restaurant and the viewpoint a little further away. Here you have a beautiful view of both other bridges. And then just hope that a train comes.
7451 Alvaschein, SwitzerlandTelephone number/fax: +41 81 681 12 58Website: http://www.solisbruecke.ch/Email: info(at)solisbruecke.ch
The village of Miss
This village is located at an altitude of 2126 meters, so above the tree line. Despite its high location, the village is inhabited all year round. About 30 residents from six different families live there , although the population is slowly declining. As a tourist you can also spend the night here. There are a number of tourist facilities. Due to the high location it is not really warm here.
The road leading there is about 11 kilometers long and eventually comes to a dead end. So you have to take the same route there and back every time. There is even a post bus to this remote village. This bus comes eight times a day. The route there is very beautiful. Miss is very popular with walkers and cyclists. There are various options for this.
From Andeer you follow a small road. Before you arrive in Juf, you drive through the towns of Ausserferrara, Innerferrara and Cresta.
Tour from Tiefencastel
From Tiefencastel you can go by car towards the Julier Pass on the one hand and towards the Albula Pass on the other . Unlike the Albula Pass, the Julier Pass is open to traffic all winter long. For those who want to take a nice tour, it is nice to drive back over the
Flüela Pass further away . Landwasser viaduct from viewpoint / Source: ©ottergraafjes
Landwasser viaduct at Filisur
the train over the Landwasser Viaduct is impressive, but it is also very nice to see a train driving over the Landwasser Viaduct without being on the train yourself. There are a number of options for this. Before you reach the village of Filisur, there is a small road to the left at some point (before you know it you will drive past it). You can park your car here and then walk further until you reach the impressive viaduct. You can also continue by car to Filisur station and then walk along a footpath to a special viewpoint.
The actual Albula Pass begins after the village of Bergün. The Bernina Express also stops in this village. A railway museum opened in 2012. In addition, Bergün is the starting or ending place for a beautiful walk. You can go from here to Preda – or vice versa – via a footpath through beautiful surroundings from one station to the other. Along the way you can learn a lot about the Albulabahn and with a bit of luck you will see the red train of the Rhaetian Railway winding along the track. There are various signs along the way with a lot of information about the construction of the Albulabahn.
from viewpoint during walk at Bergün turning tunnel / Source: ©ottergraafjes Preda -Bergün Walk
If you travel by train and want to do this walk, get off at Preda station. Of course, this walk is also possible if you drive to Preda by car. You can then choose to take the train back to Preda in Bergün. This walk takes an average of 2 1/2 hours. This is of course an average time, because some people run faster than others. There are some tough parts in this walking route, so a little experience with hiking in the mountains is useful. During this tour you climb about 80 meters and descend around 500 meters.
Duty-free paradise Livigno in Italy
For those who have driven over the Bernina Pass, a visit to Livigno, Italy, may be worthwhile. Livigno is a tax-free paradise. This is also the case with the Swiss Samnaun. Livigno is located on the Swiss-Italian border at an altitude of 1800 meters. It falls under the province of Sondrio. Livigno is also known as a ski resort. Temperatures plummet dramatically in the winter months. It can then become -30 degrees Celsius. Livigno is therefore also called Little Tibet. Livigno is not very easy to reach. There are only three access roads. These are the routes via:
- the Bernina Pass
- the Italian Bormio
- the road from Zernez in Switzerland to Glorenza in Italy. The first part of the exit to Livigno is a toll road.
Livigno is the right place for those who want to buy top brands for a low price. Because there is no VAT on many products, you can purchase various products a lot cheaper. This applies, among other things, to perfumes and petrol.