Many tourists pay a fortune to see the sights along the Bernina Express. But if you happen to be staying in the area, you can see the best of this train route on foot, and possibly for free.
Arguably the best section of the Bernina Express is the Lago Bianco area between Ospizio Bernina and Alp Grüm. What many people don't know is that you can hike this section in just a few hours. Some hiking guides call this hike "easy"; while I wouldn't quite go that far, it isn't all that strenuous. Be aware there are some steep climbs and there could be snow on the trail early in the season. Interestingly enough, when we took this hike, a section of the trail was closed due to heavy snow. We followed an intrepid Swiss couple, who took us off trail and over the railway snow shelter to rejoin the trail on the other side.
We took an early bus from Punt Muragl to Pontresina, changing there for the train to Alp Grüm. It was cloudy on our hike, but the views were nonetheless magnificent. The walk along Lago Bianco was especially enjoyable. We then worked our way along the tracks until we arrived at Ospizio Bernina, where we waited for our train back to Pontresina.
To get to the Alp Grüm, it's easiest to take the train from St. Moritz or Pontresina. Return from the Ospizio Bernina station. If you have an Engadine Card (provided for guests at many hotels in the area), the entire rail trip is covered in both directions.
NOTE: The hotel and restaurant at Muottas Muragl are undergoing renovations in 2010. The hotel is closed, the restaurant only offers a limited menu, and the funicular is running less frequently.
A spectacular place to enjoy the Engadine region is the panoramic view from Muottas Muragl. Reachable by funicular from Punt Muragl, itself reachable by train or bus, there are a number of short and long trails to get a complete Alp-aholic fix on a clear day. At the top station, there is a restaurant (operations limited in 2010) and mountain hotel (closed for renovations in 2010). Check the website for hiking ideas, but the best idea is to take a trail up the mountain as high as you dare, find a bench, and enjoy.
Fare is CHF 21 per adult one-way, CHF 30 round-trip. Youths 13-17 years old pay CHF 20/14, while children 6 and older pay CHF 10/7. If you wish to hike to Alp Languard and take the chairlift down, fares are identical. Transportation is free with the Engadine Card.
Through October 17, 2010, the funicular runs every half-hour in both directions from 8:10 to 17:40
In my opinion, the sesselbahn (chairlift) is a rare and disappearing thrill in the Alps: you get strapped into a chair suspended high above the valley floor, and you're slowly lifted (or dropped) to your destination, with nothing between you and the scenery. Of course, this is a double-edged sword should you be caught in a cloudburst, but the rewards generally outweigh the risks. Easily accessible to Pontresina is the chairlift to Alp Languard. At the top, you can stroll, enjoy a meal or drink at the restaurant, or hike your way to Muottas Muragl (and possibly take the funicular from there back down to the valley).
The chairlift is open daily and continuously (except in severe weather) from 08:30 through 17:30 in summer 2010. Fare is CHF 15 per adult one-way, CHF 22 round trip. Youths from 13-17 years old ride for CHF 10/15, children 6-12 years old ride for CHF 5/9. Round-trip fare to include the hike from Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard (one ride on the Punt Muragl - Muottas Muragl funicular, one ride on the Pontresina - Alp Languard chairlift) costs CHF 30 for adults, CHF 20 for youths, and CHF 10 for children. Passage is covered by the Engadine Card.
Brigels ski area have large slopes not too step and it is a real pleasure to practice a carving session there.
Average difficulty is easy - medium. 3 chairlifts and 4 T-bar lifts head you to more than 75km of well prepared slopes...
The relax areas (apline restaurants and bars) for lunch or après ski are warm and well organized. So no worries to have a good skiing/snowbording day in Brigels.
If you like mountain hiking and want to be sure to see wildlife, and maybe even get some additional information - don't miss the Schweizerischer Nationalpark.
It is situated in the Engadin near Zernez, where there is also the information center.
Animals to be seen are the ibex (capricorn), eagles, alpine marmots, red deer and a lot more.
The first wolf has been sighted, and the brown bear is being introced from the nearby Ademmello/Brenta reserve in Italy. Lynxes are already more frequently sighted.
A spectacular destination in the area is the top station of the Diavolezza cable car, just outside of Pontresina. The cable car is easily accessible by road or by train. As you make your way to the top, you will be treated with some fantastic scenery. The top is likely to be covered with snow, even during the summer, so be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and warm clothing. You will be rewarded with views that are among the most breathtaking in the Alps. When you get tired, cold, or snowblind, you can retreat indoors and enjoy a decent but pricey restaurant. A less expensive snack bar is also there, but keeps sporadic hours, so don't count on it being open when you go up.
As of 2010, fare is CHF 33 round-trip, CHF 22 for children 13-17 years old, CHF 11 for children 6-12 years old. One way fare is CHF 24/16/8. Passage is free with an Engadine Card.
Cable cars operate every 20-30 minutes between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM, shorter hours off-season. Beware the lunch break (noon - 1PM), which can leave you briefly stranded during shoulder season.
One of the best walks in the area is the hike from Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard. Do be aware you will need good hiking boots, even in summer, as parts of the trail are snow-covered much of the year. While it is not a difficult hike, the trail is narrow in places, and could provide problems for those with a fear of heights. That said, this 2-hour light to moderate hike offers tremendous views of the mountains across the valley, as well as the lakes and towns below. It is one of the best hikes I've ever enjoyed in the Alps.
First, make your way to Punt Muragl by bus or train, then take the funicular to the top station of Muottas Muragl. Then work your way along the ridge, following the signs to Alp Languard. At Alp Languard, there is a chair-lift to get you back down to Pontresina. If the weather is good, you won't be sorry you took this hike.
Higher is better... From Arosa 1800m go up to the Weisshorn at 2653m and enjoy the incredible 360degrees panorama on the Alps. Do not forget to get a drink and relax in a chairlift under some palm trees to enjoy the way dowm on your surf or skis.
If snow coverage is sufficient you could ski/surf anywhere on the ski area without problem.
I was here during the FIS Snowboard World Championships 2007. I could appreciate the Half-Pipe final and enjoy the victory of our Swiss champion Manuela Pesko as World Champion. She come from the next station Lenzerheide. By the way, a project is planning to link the both ski area soon... to follow.
A great snowy arena, which offer more than 220km of well grommed slopes. The Vorab Glacier let you discover perpetual snow from 2670 to 3018meters absl.
Laax is the Mecca for snowboarders, all cable cars (9) and chairlifts (8) are modern and efficient. Most of the ski area (70%) is above 2000m so no snow coverage problem as the snow making system is also quite extensive. It is no problem to go back to the valley station at 1100m by ski.
Do not forget to discover the nice and warm local Snowbar to relax or have a drink/meal during your discovery.
The Chaste is a half peninsula island at the "Silsersee". It has a beautiful track around and you may hop from bench to bench and enjoy the view into Val Fex, Isola and Piz Margna. Go quite, for you might spot some dears. In the summer you can dip in the Silsersee. The Silsersee, for me the nicest of all Engadin lakes!
When the train leave the pass, it start to go down from the mountains and to arrive to Saint Moritz. During the descent you can see on your left the fantastic Morteratch Glacier, the biggest glacier of Retic Switzerland. Here there is the station of Morteratch and from there you can start some nice walking into the forest and to see the glacier. From the station you can see Piz Bernina !!
In the middle way from Ponrtesina to Saint Moritz, there is the station of Celerina. This is the last station before Saint Moritz.
The Church of S.Gian is the Symbol of the town and of all the Engedina. It has got a Romanic architecture with two tower bell: one bilt in 16th century and one without roof because a lightnining fall down in 1861. It is a fantastic place lose in the green!!!
FInally, after about three hours of journey you arrive to the nice town of Saint Moritz. Here you can do fantasctic walking around the lake or to climb the mountains.
More informations about it on my Saint Moritz page
In this nice town you can start fantasting walking into the forest and in the many paths all around the town. In Pontresina you can see many things.
The pentagonal 13th-century Spaniola tower, a dwelling tower and home of the de Pont Zarasino rulers.
Old Engadine houses from the 17th century with sgraffiti murals
the Punt Ota and Roseg bridges (18th and 19th centuries respectively)
After a long climb, finally the train reach the fantastic Bernina Pass where there are glaciers and eternal snow. During the summer season you can find always the snow. From the station of Ospizio Bernina you can walking in this fantastic place.
Very elegant hotel, relaxing stay, staff very nice! Pool, sauna, iacuzzi, ice skating different...more
Bahnhofstrasse, Chur, Grisons, CH-7000, Switzerland
Good for: Business
Thank you, Ingo for suggesting this wonderful place. We had such a good stay with Maria-Louise and...more