Take the Train to Graubunden – an Overlooked Swiss Gem

Copyright by: Schweiz Tourismus By-Line: swiss-image.ch/Franziska Pfenniger
Muestair (1247 m) in Muestair valley, Canton Graubuenden. The Benedictine monastery of St. John the Baptist, founded around 780-90. Piz Lad (2882 m) in the background. Copyright by: Schweiz Tourismus By-Line: swiss-image.ch/Franziska Pfenniger

Graubunden is not the easiest place in Switzerland to reach. Then again, a lot of places in Switzerland take a bit of effort (seems like a mountain is always in the way), but that hasn’t stopped anyone from trying to get there. So why is the region of Graubunden more often ignored than any other region? We honestly have no idea. It seems like the perfect Swiss escape to us, being located right next to the Alps and everything. Read on for tips about reaching this overlooked little corner of paradise, and maybe you can make it there before the rest of the tourists find out about it.

About Graubunden

The people of Graubunden are proud of their canton, and rightly so. It is one of the only regions of the world to retain the unique language Romansch, but German and Italian are also spoken here. One of the reasons this little region might seem more difficult to reach is that none of the wide-gauge trains of the Central Plateau continue on from Chur, the cantonal capital. Instead, the red narrow-gauge trains of the Rheatian depart from here, since they are better suited to the rugged landscape of the mountains. Though they are smaller, they are no less comfortable than any other train, and a warm and cozy mood prevails onboard. Once the train arrives at the station, passengers will find yellow PostBusses waiting to take travelers who wish to venture even higher up the mountain.

How to Reach Graubunden

Since there are no airports here, the easiest option is to take a train from either Zurich or Milan. Both of these cities service international flights and train arrivals.

Most routes from Zurich are covered by the Swiss Pass, and trains in Switzerland do not require seat reservation supplements, so you can simply board with your rail pass and take any open seat. The train from Zurich to Chur is probably your best bet.

Travel Within Graubunden

The Rhatische Bahn (RhB) is the train system in Graubunden. The trains are always on time and can get you to most places. PostBusses will take you from the train stations in the city up into the villages in the mountains.

Insider Rail Tip: The PostBusses that travel through the Central Alps are covered with the Swiss Pass.

The Bernina Express in Graubunden

The Bernina Express train is probably more recognizable to tourists than Graubunden itself, but this region is actually the setting for this scenic train’s route. The train travels between St. Moritz and Tirano, offering beautiful views of the surrounding Alps.

If traveling with a Swiss Pass, the ticket price for this route is covered, and you’ll just need to purchase the seat reservation supplement to make sure you have a specific spot on the train for the date you’d like to travel.

If purchasing a point to point ticket instead of a rail pass, the seat reservation supplement fee will be included in the price of the ticket. However, if you plan to travel around the Graubunden region before or after taking the Bernina Express, you will probably want to look into the Swiss Pass, since it not only covers the ticket price of the train but also the price of the postbusses that operate in this region. And having the pass is a good excuse to continue on to another region of Switzerland once you’ve gotten a taste of the Alps – all regional trains in Switzerland are completely covered by the pass, since no seat reservations are required for those trains.

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