On another occasion, when I didn't have a rail pass for canton Graubünden (the hotel stay included free use of mountain railways and public transportation in the Engadine valley), I drove to Chur and back from Sils in the Engadine. It was again grey weather, the drive over Julier pass was not very pleasant due to heavy traffic (trucks!). At least I could stop along the way and see two churches ... Anyway, driving time was at least as long as the train ride would have been, and it was more strenuous. Parking was another hassle - the old town is car free, so I ended up at Arcas garage, and underground parking at the edge of the old town. It was central enough, but of course not cheap. For driving back to Sils I chose the same route which was the shortest and fastes, no detours as I did by train.
In general I don't recommend driving in the mountains. Public transportation is more convenient. If you have a rail pass it is even more economical, considering fuel and parking. And when driving you must concentrate on the road all the time, while you can enjoy the scenery during the train/bus ride.
Coming from other regions of Switzerland or passing through on your way between Germany and Italy, for example, it might make sense to drive. Chur is right on the motorway from Lake Constance (Lindau, Germany) resp. Zürich via San Bernardino (tunnel) to the Italian lakes region and Milan.
- Road Trip
"The smart people travel by train." This Swiss slogan is still valid, only in German it does sound nicer: "Der Kluge reist im Zuge." And indeed, getting to Chur by train is very convenient. There are trains of the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) to Chur, no changes from Zürich, that run very frequently and fast. From other regions of the canton Graubünden/Grisons you get to Chur by Rhaetian Railway (RhB), a narrow-gauge railway that runs ca. hourly. All these railway routes are scenic, the Glacier Express stops in Chur and the Bernina Express originates/ends in Chur - but these Express trains require reservations in advance and cost a surcharge.
I traveled by RhB from St. Moritz on the Albula route via Thusis to Chur. The journey was very pleasant despite the grey weather and took about 2.30 hrs. For the trip back I decided to take the RhB via Landquart - Klosters - Vereina tunnel, changed in Selfranga and Samedan - no sweat, a little longer but different, also beautiful scenery. These train rides were covered by my Graubünden pass, which is highly recommended to purchase - definitely a bargain. Train rides without any rail passes are expensive in Switzerland.
Switzerland offers a very good system of buses going more or less everywhere. The staterun yellow Postbuses are the means of transport if you don't want or can use the train. But don't let yourself be cheated of the name, they are fully longdistance buses, not an extra space in a bus transporting the post.
The Postbus station, adjacent to the railway station, has a little unusual design with a kind of glass dome open in two ends above tha parking space. It is lit up in the evening and night.
When approaching the station from Bahnhofstrasse you will have to take to the left of the entrance of the railway station and up the stairs/escalator to the second floor where the buses stand.
Public transportation in and around Chur
One of the best ways to get around in Chur (other than going by foot), is by taking the local, red and black buses (called Stadtbus).
For a fee of CHF 2.60 (children CHF 1.40/Half-fare Card CHF 2.20), you can take any of these buses and take a ride for up to 30 mins. If you want to travel very often on the bus, you should see the information desk in Chur Railway Station, to get a chip card (a ride costs CHF 1.70/0.90, no half-fare Cards). You may also buy a daily ticket, if you want to take the bus more than 3 times per calendar day.
All Stadtbuses depart from "Bahnhofplatz", which is just next to the stop of the Arosa-Train.
Destinations of the local buses departing next to the Arosa-Train:
- Bus No. 1 (green no.): towards Lacuna/Lachen/Wiesental (towards Athleticum store)
- Bus No. 2 (yellow no.): towards Obere Au (towards public swimming pool)
- Bus No. 3 (red no.): towards Austrasse
- Bus No. 4 (blue no.): towards Austrasse
- Bus No. 6 (turquoise no.) towards City West (towards large Shopping centre)
Departing from the opposite are:
- Bus No. 1 (green no.): towards nightlife area, Brambrüesch cable car, military casern, and nearby towns of Felsberg, Domat-Ems, Rhäzüns, Bonaduz and Tamins
- Bus No. 2 (yellow no.): towards the hospitals and the Fürstenwald-forest (great for hiking)
- Bus No. 3 (red no.): towards Northern Chur and nearby towns of Haldenstein, Trimmis and Untervaz
- Bus No. 4 (blue no.): towards the hospitals and elderly homes
- Bus No. 9 (brown no.): towards the Old Town, an old but very nice public pool ("Turnhalle Sand" bus stop) and Meiersboden backpackers (get of at the terminal Station "Meiersboden").
There are also the yellow postbuses, departing from the "Postautostation", above the train station. These buses head for:
- Lenzerheide-Davos or Lenzerheide-Bivio (some continue to St Moritz)
- Maladers-St Peter-Peist
Green buses, operated by meinfernbus.de, also depart from the Postautostation, towards:
- Bellinzona-Lugano-Milan (Italy)
- Dornbirn-Bregenz-Lindau (all Austria)-Munich/München-Nuremberg/Nürnberg-Leipzig
And Rhaetian Railways routes are:
- Disentis/Muster-Chur-Scuol/Tarasp (through the Rhine Gorge)
- Chur-St Moritz (Albula Express; through the Landwasser Gorge), with possible continuation to Tirano (Italy) (Bernina Express)
- St Moritz-Chur-Disentis/Muster-Andermatt-Brig-Zermatt (Glacier Express; through Landwasser and Rhine Gorges towards the famous "Matterhorn")
Other train routes (Swiss Federal Railways SBB)
- Landquart-Sargans-Zurich (some continue to Basel and/or Mannheim-Cologne/Köln-Düsseldorf-Dormund-Hamburg (Germany))
- Landquart-Sargans-St Gallen
ATTENTION: there are different types of trains, some stop at every station, some only at the bigger ones! Please check the timetables!!
The Raethian Railway will offer a unique local network around an alpine landscape. During your railway experience you will discover numerous bridges and tunnels and incredible scenery along the way.
So choose your route among Bernina Express, Glacier Express, Arosa Express, Aqualino Scuol, Engadin Star and let's rail!
Save on unlimited rides around Graubünden
If you are planning to explore the Graubünden (Andermatt, Chur, Bad Ragaz, Davos, St Moritz, Klosters, Bernina Pass, Tirano,...), the REGIONAL PASS GRAUBUEDEN is a real good value for your excursions by postautobus, trains, cogwheel trains or cable cars...
***GRAUBÜNDEN SUMMER HOLIDAY PASS, 01 MAY - 31 OCTOBER
Pass validity 7 days (CHF 120/EUR 79)or 14 days (CHF 150/EUR 99) offer:
- 2 or 4 days unlimited travel by Rhaetian Railways and PostAuto Graubünden
- the remaining validity period 50% reduction
- mountain transport system during the validity period 50% reduction
***GRAUBÜNDEN WINTER HOLIDAYS PASS, 01 NOVEMBER - 30 APRIL
Rhaetian Railway inclusive: Valid within 7 days (CHF 90/EUR 59) for unlimited travel on two days of your choice and for travel to half price on 5 further days
Determined Mountain Railway inclusive: One free up and downhill trip (limited opening hours in November)
Post bus and Engadine bus inclusive: travel to half price on all days
Reduction available with Swiss Pass, Swiss Card, 1/2-Abo, GA, STT
Do not forget free travel for children:
With the Swiss Railways Junior Card children under the age of 16 travel free of charge if accompanied by one or both parents.
Examples of savings with REGIOPASS on excursion from Chur (return):
- CHF 0 Train/Bus to Lugano (instead of CHF 148)
- CHF 0 Bernina Express Train to Tirano (instead of CHF 110)
- CHF 0 Train/Bus to Bellinzona (instead of CHF 94)
- CHF 0 Train to Scuol (instead of CHF 80.40)
- CHF 0 Train to St Moritz (instead of CHF 76)
- CHF 0 Train to Disentis (instead of CHF 52)
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
get there by car
Getting by car to Chur is very easy because it is situated directely on the highway with direct connections to all major cities in Switzerland. For all of the highways in Switzerland you need to have a sticker on your windscreen, it will cost you 40 sfr (=ca. 25 euros) for the whole year and even when you go there only one time you have to buy such a sticker / vignette for the whole year !
The old town of Chur is off-limits for car-trafic except for some local trafic, but you will find good parking-areas at many places there and can walk from there to see the interesting buildings of Chur.
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
the Glacier Express
Take the Rhätische Bahn
its a UNESCO World heritage for the unique way to build a trainline through the mountains including a giant system of viaducts and tunnels that go in large loops through tunnels in order to gain hight.
The Bernina Express starts in Chur and takes you through a wonderful mountain-scenery to St.Moritz and finally to Tirano in the italian alps.
They offer panorama-wagons with extra windows on the ceiling and if you plan to take such a train, its always best to reserve in advance ! AND there are ordinary trains as well and you wont need to reserve, but might choose the perfect time weather-wise, while a reservation is fixed in advance and maybe you have the expensive panorama-wagon then and just a fog-panorama...
Take a look at my last photo: this is a special panorama-wagon that is even totally open on top. It is used for the distance from St. Moritz to Tirano and might be great fun in summer !
- Budget Travel
We travelled to Chur by train, from Zurich. Train travel in Switzerland is easy. Trains are clean and run on time. Stations are well signposted and fellow travellers are considerate. The trains we travelled on all had luggage areas and toilets. It is a stress-free way to get around the country.
Being on the train is also a great way to do some sight seeing on route. Some of the rail lines travel through the most gorgeous mountain scenery. One day we travelled on the Glacier Express, on a 6 hour journey from Chur to Zermatt. The train travels through valleys, up mountains, past lakes and glaciers.
The only confusing thing connected to train travel in Switzerland is deciding what type of ticket or rail pass to buy. Sure you can buy tickets from place to place as you go, but there are various passes that may work our more economical depending on your itinerary and rail usage.
I spent some time before our trip calculating out the cost of buying various tickets versus rail passes, and in our case determined that a Swiss Pass offered the best value. The Swiss Pass is valid on almost all trains (supplement was required to use the Glacier Express), on buses, ferries, and we got 50% off the cost of cable cars and mountain transport in Zermatt.
You can investigate Rail Passes here
Train timetables and routing here
- Family Travel
The Beautiful Alps
The Glacier Express is one of Switzerland's most famous train excursions. It has been operating since 1930 and is a 7½-hour trip between Zermatt and St. Moritz. The 169 miles of narrow-gauge track are punctuated by 291 bridges and 91 tunnels. Trains reach a peak elevation of 6,670 feet and traverse the 9.5-mile Furka Tunnel, which takes a shortcut beneath the Alps between Andermatt and Brig. The scenery is incredible - mountanis of course, farms and wildflowers of every color. The cost is about $150 1st class and $100 2nd. For an additional fee you can have lunch in a car with panorama windows beside and overhead. The food was excellent.
Get to Chur by rail from...
Get to Chur by rail from Zurich airport and making a few transits...the view on the journey is great, especially around Bad Ragaz. If you take the Arosa Express onward from Chur to Arosa, the scenery is even better as you edge further into the countryside.
Swiss Railway Company.
Chur is easily accesed by train from all over the country. But most visitors come here for ONE reason - to travel on Bernina Express, or after having done the trip from south to north.