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WALKING THE TRAIL OF THE BERNINA EXPRESS

Following Switzerland’s most scenic train journey

As the train leaves the mountain station the only sound remaining is that of cow bells. Stepping out from the village past neat gardens and window boxes, the meadows are suddenly filled with the smell of freshly scythed grass and wild flowers, spread and rigged to dry in the sun. Snowy peaks shine against the blue sky, or maybe mist rises mysteriously from the valley. This is summer in the high Alps, on a journey made possible by the wonder that is the Swiss railway system.

The Bernina Express passes through the alpine wonderland of eastern Switzerland. Our holiday follows its route, partly by train and partly on foot. Sometimes our walks follow the track, whilst at other times we head off into more remote landscapes. We base ourselves in five small towns or villages, and our daily walks are short enough to allow time to soak up the atmosphere in these mountain enclaves. Should you want to take a day off and cover the distance between hotels entirely by train, that is possible too.

We begin our journey amongst towering glaciers and dramatic mountain scenery at Thusis, and encounter waterfalls, gorges, lakes, towering rock walls, alpine farmland, bridges and viaducts, before arriving in the swaying palms of the Swiss-Italian border at Tirano. From here we board the Bernina Express itself to relive the journey from the comfort of the train as we head back north to Chur.

Our July and August departures will experience some wonderful high alpine flora within the mountain meadows, whilst in September the cooler days and changing colours on the mountainsides give superb early autumnal panoramas. But whenever you go, you can be guaranteed some of the best mountain walking on the planet.



WALKING GRADES


Full day walks with moderate amounts of ascent and descent. The paths are mostly good, but there may be some steep and rough ground. Walks will last up to 6 hours and could involve as much as 750m of ascent and descent. Some walks will be less demanding but equally rewarding.




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  • Dates, Prices & Holiday Information Sheet (PDF)
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    Date
    Nights
    Grades
    Depart From
    More Info
    Status
    Price From
    Walking the Trail of the Bernina Express (Grade 5)
    Date
    03 Jul 2017
    Nights
    8
    Grades
    GRADE 5
    Depart From
    Manchester, Birmingham, London (Heathrow)
    More Info
    Status
    Sold Out
    Price From
    Walking the Trail of the Bernina Express (Grade 5)
    Date
    07 Aug 2017
    Nights
    8
    Grades
    GRADE 5
    Depart From
    Manchester, Birmingham, London (Heathrow)
    More Info
    Status
    Available
    Price From
    £1,599
    Walking the Trail of the Bernina Express (Grade 5)
    Date
    04 Sep 2017
    Nights
    8
    Grades
    GRADE 5
    Depart From
    Manchester, Birmingham, London (Heathrow)
    More Info
    Status
    Available
    Price From
    £1,599
  • Itinerary
    03 Jul 2017 - 11 Jul 2017

    Day 1 - Thusis
    We fly to Zurich from London Heathrow and transfer to our hotel in Thusis (2 hours) by rail.

    Day 2 - Bergn
    This morning we experience an engineering masterpiece and UNESCO World Heritage site. We travel on the Albula line with countless bridges loop and spiral tunnels taking us only 30 minutes from Thusis to Filisur. We then walk to Bergun which take us approximately 3.5 hours. 6 miles (9.5km)ascent 500m / descent 200m maximum altitude 1366m.

    Day 3 - Pontresina
    We start our day with a throw-back into our childhood. The first Heidi movie was filmed in the nearby village of Latsch. From here our path leads to the nature reserve of Parc Ela before we reach Preda. The walk will take us about 3 hours. 4.5 miles (7km)ascent 550m / descent 250m maximum altitude 1788m. After lunch we will board a train to Pontresina where we will spend the next two nights.

    Day 4 - Pontresina
    Today you have the opportunity to do an optional glacier hike near Diavolezza arranged by a local mountain guide. We have intentionally not included this in our programme as it is above the grade (see further information on this hike in our walks section). Alternatively join the tour leader on a pleasant walk from Pontresina to the Muottas Muragl mountain hut (part aided by cable car). 3.5 hours 6 miles (9.5km)minimal ascent / descent 525m. Alternatively you can take a day out to explore Pontresina itself.

    Day 5 - Tirano
    Today we travel part of the route of the Bernina Express over the Bernina Pass from St Moritz to the Puschlav and into Italy in Tirano. On this route we will be rewarded with wonderful mountain scenery of the Morteratsch Glacier Diavolezza and Lagalb. Our walk is fairly leisurely but leads us into high Alpine terrain. We pass Lago Bianco and marvel at the magnificent views of the town of Poschiavo. This walk takes a little over two hours with time for a picnic before arriving. At Alp Grum we can enjoy a view of the imposing Palu Glacier, and the Lago di Poschiavo deep down in the valley. 4 miles (7km)ascent 200m / descent 600m maximum altitude 2359m.

    Day 6 - Tirano
    The section of the trail we follow is called the "smugglers" path, and leads us from Viano to Tirano crossing the border into Italy as we do so. On the way we can enjoy panoramic views of Brusio and its round viaduct, before descending through terraced vineyards. The walk will take around 3 hours 4.5 miles (7km)ascent 100m / descent 900m. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.

    Day 7 - Chur
    Today we will go aboard the Bernina Express which seamlessly connects the warm balmy south with the cool airy north, and effortlessly overcomes the steepest gradients travelling from Tirano to Chur.

    Day 8 - Chur
    A day to discover Chur. We can visit the Gothic old town with St. Martin's Church and Martinsplatz and all those quaint narrow streets and pretty squares. Alternatively you can take the train an hour up into the mountains to Arosa from where there is a wealth of walks.

    Day 9 -
    Transfer by train from Chur to Zurich airport for our return flight back to the UK.


  • Accommodation
    ABC Swiss Quality Hotel, Chur

    Our last stay is in charming Chur, the oldest town in Switzerland. In contrast the four star ABC Hotel offers the best in modernity with its four star services and chic and clean decor. Located in the centre of Chur and near the train station, the hotel makes for a perect base to reach the trails and connections by rail.

    By the way of facilities the hotel has a bar by the lobby with a unique design, a sauna, fitness room and dining area where the excellent and varied breakfasts are served.

    Recently renovated rooms with a minimalist feel include free Wi-Fi, TV, mini bars, Nespresso machines, en-suite facilities and air conditioning.

     
    We also stay at:

    The Hotel Weiss Kreuz in Thusis, a newly renovated family run hotel in the heart of town. The rooms are equipped with a TV, telephone, a safe and all rooms have free wifi. The hotel has a traditional lounge, a sunbathing area, sauna and a steam bath, and you can additionally book massage treatments.

    The Hotel Weisses Kreuz in Bergun, a former Engadine farmhouse from the 16th century, but was turned into a hotel in 1889. The rooms are equipped with a bath tub or shower, hairdryer, telephone, radio, TV and wifi. The hotel has a library, a lounge and if you’re into the habit of drinking tea, you will be pleased to know that the hotel has an extraordinary list of different tea varieties.

    The Hotel Bernina in Pontresina, a traditional hotel in the centre of town. The rooms are equipped with a bath tub or shower, WC, radio, TV, telephone and a minibar. Many of the rooms have a scenic view over the mountains.

    The Hotel Bernina in Tirano, the hotel is centrally located and enjoys views of both the city square and the snow capped ridges of the Bergamo and Bernina ranges. The rooms are equipped with a TV, a safe, a private balcony and free wifi.

    All hotels we stay in are within a short walking distance of the train station.

     

  • What's Included
    • Return flights and airport transfers.
    • Half board en-suite accommodation.
    • A Swiss rail pass.
    • Travel on the Bernina Express.

  • Holiday Highlights
    • Enjoy Switzerland’s scenery at its finest both by walking and on the train.
    • The section between Thusis and Tirano has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
    • Our walk from Bergün allows us to visit the village of Latsch where the first Heidi film was filmed.

  • Travel Information & Regional Departures
    • Arrival transfer by rail (c2hrs 15mins).
    • Flights Heathrow-Zurich (c1hr 45mins), British Airways.
    • Direct Manchester and Birmingham flights Swiss, supplement from £40.
    • Please note: A wait at Zurich airport may be necessary to enable passengers travelling from London and regional airports to transfer together to and from the hotel.
    • UK add-on flights from £95 return, British Airways.
    • Upgrades Business Class available, please ask for a competitive quote.

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  • Private Group Enquiry

    Planning a holiday for a group? For a quote or to simply enquire about the possibility of booking this holiday for your Walking Group please fill out the enquiry form below and our dedicated Private Group Department will get in touch with you shortly to discuss your options.

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