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Switzerland Train Travel through Bernina Pass

Dacula, Georgia
3 posts
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Switzerland Train Travel through Bernina Pass

My father and I are doing a father/daughter trip next month for his 70th birthday from Venice to Zurich, just the two of us. Our itinerary is:

Fly into Venice on the morning of March 16th

Venice - 2 nights

Milan - 1 night

Poschiavo - 1 night

Lucerne - 2 nights

Zurich - 1 night

Fly home on March 23rd

We want to travel by train through the Bernina Pass, and we had thought about doing the Bernina Express until I read on here that it was better to use the local trains. From what I understand, this will allow us to do the same route but give us the flexibility to get off/on whenever we'd like to explore.

I have three questions I'm still struggling with.

1. What kind of pass should I buy? Given the fact that we'll be in Italy and Switzerland, I didn't know what to do. Should I buy the Italian portion separate and get the Swiss Pass, or is there a better/cheaper option?

2. Are there any "tricks" I should know about figuring out the train travel/scehdule? I've been on sbb.ch, but I'm new to all of this. Do I need reservations, and are the panoramic trains worth the reservations? Also, what trains do the same route as the Bernina Express? I'm scared of getting on the wrong one and missing the whole thing we came to see.

3. I read that you can send your luggage ahead if you're traveling by train and wish to make some stops. How does this work, and how safe is it? How big of an issue is it dealing with lost luggage (I imagine airport nightmares as an example)?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer me.

Garmisch-Partenkirch...
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for Montreux, Oberammergau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
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1. Re: Switzerland Train Travel through Bernina Pass

Hi BerryFun19,

Congratulations on making this trip with your Dad -- what an excellent daughter you are! I hope you and your Dad have a splendid time!!

I'll try to help with some of your questions --

1 & 2. Someone has to do the math to see which pass or discount card will work best for your itinerary. I suggest that you become familiar with the SBB site.

One thing is to make sure you change the time on the webpage for your inquiry -- if you are accessing it from Georgia at 15.00, it will be 21.00 in Switzerland and will default to a night schedule. So, when I was in the US, I always changed the date to the next day and input "09.00" as the time in order to get the daytime schedules.

Next thing is to realize the scheduler will default to the main, the largest station. Though there may be other stations and bus stops under the default station name, you can safely ignore them. Just select the station name that is on the top of the list.

Once you become familiar with the train site, use it to get all the fares for your trip. Add them up and compare the sum to the various passes & discount cards. I will say that I've always found the Half Fare Card to be the very best deal for travel -- it costs 110 chf and gives you half off every fare in Switzerland.

It's actually pretty difficult to get on the wrong train. You only need to know what time your train leaves and what track number it leaves from. You walk to the track. Above the track is an electric readout board with information about that train -- what time it leaves and what its end destination is. If that information is for the train you want, you simply board the train.

3. I (and most of the regular posters on this board) have been using the luggage service of SBB for years. It is reliable and very, very safe. You just take your suitcase to the counter and look for the icon of the suitcase. Check in your case, then hop onto your train. It costs 23 chf for same-day service (check it before 09.00, and you can pick it up after 18.00) or 13 chf for two-day service.

I wish you great success as you plan your trip -- I hope you write and let us know how it all turned out!!

s

Edited: 23 February 2012, 06:32
Guildford, United...
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2. Re: Switzerland Train Travel through Bernina Pass

Buy point to point tickets in Italy, using the trenitalia web site if you want to book in advance, but you can probably buy tickets once you are there.

For Switzerland just do the maths using the prices on the sbb website.

For the Bernina pass you need to look up a train journey from Tirano to Lucerne - all the trains go over the pass as there are no other rail routes. You will probably need to change trains 2 or 3 times.

St. Moritz...
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3. Re: Switzerland Train Travel through Bernina Pass

If you travel in March, there is a special worth considering. This is an offer of the Rhaetian railway, operator among others of the Bernina Express, together with the hotel association of the canton of Grison. Until May 1, the hotels will sign a coupon for you when you stay with them - even if just for one night - and this will entitle you to two tickets at the prize of one for any travel on the train-network of the Rhaetian railway (RhB) except the GlacierExpress.

Dacula, Georgia
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4. Re: Switzerland Train Travel through Bernina Pass

Thank you all for your responses. While I'm usually very good at figuring out the information I need, for some reason the train travel portion has stumped me.

Two more questions, if you don't mind:

I believe it is going to be cheaper to buy individual passes for each portion instead of a railpass. Is this something I can do when I get to the train station, or should I do it ahead of time? I know you have to make reservations for the panoramic trains if you want to sit in one of those, but if not, can we just show up and do it?

Also, what stops along the way from Poschiavo to Lucerne would you recommend in order to get off and either eat or quickly explore a town? We won't be doing any hiking, and given the fact it'll be such a long day, we shouldn't be stopping for long, but I would like to break the trip up a little.

Thanks again for any advice you can offer. It will definitely be a memorable father/daughter trip.

Garmisch-Partenkirch...
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for Montreux, Oberammergau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
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5. Re: Switzerland Train Travel through Bernina Pass

Hi again,

I would suggest you get off at Pontresina or St. Moritz to see a beautiful Alpine town.

Yes, you just show up and buy your tickets. At this time of year, the trains won't be very crowded, so you can easily buy the reservations you need just the day before.

Have fun on your trip!

s

6. Re: Switzerland Train Travel through Bernina Pass

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