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Chur, Pontresina, Soglio, Chiavenna Help with Trains, Itin

Tulsa, OK
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Chur, Pontresina, Soglio, Chiavenna Help with Trains, Itin

In mid September my husband and I will be flying into Zurich after making a connection at JFK. The following is a rough itinerary:

Day 1: Zurich to Chur

We arrive at around 8:00 am in Zurich and plan to take a train to Chur, where we will spend the day and night, relaxing and getting acclimated to the elevation.

Day 2: Pontresina

From Chur, in the morning we will go by rail to Pontresina taking the Bernina Express route on the local trains, where we spend three days. Our hotel in Pontresina will give us the free pass for the local busses and cable cars/gondolas. When we arrive in Pontresina, we will probably spend the first day enjoying the area maybe going on the cable car to Muottas Muragl.

Day 3: Pontresina

From Pontresina following the Bernina Express route to Poschievo on the local trains, with stops in Diavolezza, Alp Grum, and Poschiavo and back.

Day 4: Pontresina

From Pontresina going to the Guarda, Tarasp area.

Day 5: Sils, Soglio, Chiavenna

Leave Pontrasina in the morning and stop in Sils and then go on to Soglio. After spending the afternoon in Soglio, go to Chiavenna to spend the night.

Day 6: Chiavenna to either Varenna, Lake Como or Cannero Riviera, Lake Maggiore. Take bus or train. We've been to Como several times before, like it a lot, and may spend time at both lakes on rent near Varenna/Bellagio and visit Maggiore.

We like to spend time in quaint local towns, eat at casual restaurants that have local menus, pretty scenery, hikes of 1-4 hours of mild to moderate difficulty.

Where I need help is in understanding the transportation and refining or tweaking our itinerary especially in the Switzerland portion. We take carry-on luggage only, but it is filled to the maximum.


From what I understand, at the Zurich airport we can take a train to Chur with perhaps a stop in the city of Zurich to change trains? I have looked at the http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html schedules and I don’t think that it is worth buying a half-pass fare for the time that we are in Switzerland because our three days in Pontresina come with the free area transportation passes. I believe that we can try for Supersaver tickets from the airport to Chur on the website two weeks before the date, but the times may not work out and they are not changeable. So the only choice may be just to buy the regular train tickets at the airport to Chur. I don’t see an option of buying tickets to St Moritz or Pontresina from the Zurich airport on the website.

We would like to travel the same route as the BE from Chur to Pontresina on the regular or local train. Is there a special route or destination that we ask for in the Chur Station to go on the BE route?


Next, in the Pontresina area, my hotel includes the transportation passes with two icons, the gondola and bus. It does not include the star. In answer to a previous post, a very helpful poster told me that we could go as far as Alp Grum with the pass. Does this mean that we need to buy at ticket from AG to Poschievo and back?

Also with the transportation pass from Pontresina, how far can we get toward Guarda or Tarasp?

From Pontresina how far will the transportation pass take us toward Soglio?


The distance between Soglio and Chiavenna is not much, but in looking at the Swiss train site, it says that it is 73ch per ticket. That seems extreme. Am I missing something? Is there alternate transportation? Is it reasonable to spend the afternoon in Soglio and the night in Chiavenna? Is there a place to store our luggage in Sils and Soglio if we stop there?

Sorry that this is so long, but I would appreciate any help that you could give me.

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1. Re: Chur, Pontresina, Soglio, Chiavenna Help with Trains, Itin

The train from Zurich Airport to Pontresina requires 3 changes in Zurich HB, Chur and Samedan. The trains that take the Bernina Express route through the Albula Pass do not go in to St Moritz. There is no 'special route', they all go the same way. There is also no point in buying tickets on the website, just buy on the day.

This link will give you more information on the 'bergbahnen-inclusive' offer. Click on 'Valid for Engadin St.Moritz mountain railways and cable cars' to see where it is valid.


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2. Re: Chur, Pontresina, Soglio, Chiavenna Help with Trains, Itin

I will try to answer all your questions, but will certainly need more time for some of them to find out.

Day 1: you will not be able to acclimate in Chur, as you gain altitude AFTER Chur and unless you have something important to do there, you have seen Chur in an hour or two. The train from Zurich Airport takes 1.5 hours to Chur, so I personally would just interrupt the journey there if you absolutely want to visit (put your luggage in a lockier at the train station and visit the old town, within walking distance from the station). Then travel on the remaining two hours on the Albula line (this is what you are looking for if you want the line the Glacier Express as well as the Bernina Express use). This is the usual choice and if you buy a ticket and the only one from Chur, if you dont mention that you would like the VEREINA line (you however would not have the possibility to visit Chur then), you will get the most direct line, thus the ALBUA.

If however you would stay somewhere in a lower altitude for your first night, I would choose the Heidiland area around Maienfeld, Malans for a stay. This is a lovely area with wineyards where you could do an easy hike to relax.

Day 2, if you have traveled directly to Pontresina, you could profit from going up to Muottas Muragl to do the hike to Alp Languard. This is very scenic (see the photos you commented on today) panorama trail, very easy and well worth doing. If you have time, you could still go to Morteratsch. Or else you could opt for a brunch at the show cheese-making in Morteratsch and do the Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard hike later. I however would do it in the morning if the day and night before have been clear, as it might get cloudier in the afternoon. Optherwise, with a rainy day on your arrival day, it may clear up in the afternoon for your panorama hike.

Day 3: Your complimentary pass brings you to Alp Grüm on the Bernina line (you would have to book the express if you want it, but there are hourly departures, so it does not really make sense). You could get off in Bernina Diavolezza to go up to the top. You would have to buy your return ticket Alp Grüm to Poschiavo for CHF 18.40, as this is not in the radius of the complimentary pass.

Day 4: Your pass covers the train in second class until Chinuos-chel/Brail, a tiny hamlet making the border between the upper and the lower Engadin area. Thus you buy a return ticket from there to where you want to go.

Day 5: your complimentary ticket does not cover the departure travel (you will have to give the pass back when checking out).

As you are spending time at the lake Como area, it does not make much sense to plan an overnight in Chiavenna. It's a nice small italian market town, but you will see better ones along the lake. So if it would be me, I would plan an overnight in the romantic small farmers hamlet Soglio. This is truly a jewel, especially in September with the usually bright blue skies and the flowers all around. It is already lower than the Engadin and thus has a much milder climate. There are several hotels, one in a traditional old castle, perhaps not all the modern amenities, but much more ambience. You could do some easy hikes in the area in the afternoon (the aformentioned photo gallery shows pictures from the via panoramica, you could do just part of it above the village).

If you would do so, I would suggest you buy a ticket from Pontresina to Soglio (you may interrupt your journey in Sils - as far as I know there are lockers at the Sils bus stop but I would have to confirm that), the prize would be CHF 26.00 (13.00 if you have a half-fare card of course). Then the ticket the next day from Soglio to Chiavenna would be CHF 10.40 full fare. Those are all bus transfers, no train between St. Moritz and Chiavenna. You probably could also buy this until your final destination.

I doubt that in Soglio there are lockers, but in this case, you would not even need them.

I am not very much informed about the several passes for visitors, as we are not able to buy them as residents, so you would have to make the math yourself. There is also a Swiss transfer ticket (www.swisstravelsystem.com/produkttexte.php…), which could be an option, but this would mean you travel to Castasegna directly from Pontresina, as it does not allow sidetracking like Soglio.

For the ticket, in the mask on www.sbb.ch, just put in Zürich Flughafen as your starting point and Pontresina as your ending point and you get the timetable, chose a connection and check "prize". You may interrupt your journey (e.g. Chur) as many times as you want.

I hope I could answer all your questions, I will try to find out about the lockers in Sils.

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3. Re: Chur, Pontresina, Soglio, Chiavenna Help with Trains, Itin

I second Engadiner's recommendations.

There is no point in staying in Chur. Head straight to Pontresina. Same applies to Chiavenna - I didn't like the town very much, in quite bad shape in large parts. Definitely stay in Soglio.

With all your train/bus travelling I do think that a Swiss Half Fare Card for one month would make sense. It costs 110 CHF and gives you 50% discount on the tickets for train/bus/mountain railways/cable cars (if not included in your hotel pass). Discounts apply not only to Castasegna but also to Chiavenna / Italy, btw, as this is included in the Swiss Transportation System.

Zürich Airport to Pontresina is 74 CHF.

Alp Grüm to Poschiavo round trip is 18.40 CHF.

Cinuos-chel-Brail to Guarda, cumün round trip is 30.40 CHF.

(Cumün means the village, the train station is way below the village and called staziun)

Guarda, staziun to Tarasp Fontana, posta round trip is 22.80 CHF.

Pontresina to Soglio is 26 CHF.

Soglio to Chiavenna is about 6 CHF (bug in the SBB website)

So all these add up to 177.60 CHF. Hm, quite much but the Half Fare Card wouldn't help here, sorry.

Tulsa, OK
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4. Re: Chur, Pontresina, Soglio, Chiavenna Help with Trains, Itin

Swissaholic, Engadiner, and Eagle 2002 ,

Your help has been invaluable. I have taken all of your advice in planning this trip. I can't thank you enough for the detailed answers. As it is very late and we are leaving early tomorrow morning, I'll save details for later.

A quick question-we are taking the train from Zurich to Pontresina Monday morning. I have bought the Graubunden pass which covers the whole area and starts in Bad Ragaz. Should I buy a train ticket from the airport to Bad Ragaz and then use my Graubunden pass from there to Pontresina, or get a ticket to Chur and then use my pass? How do I get my pass started or stamped? Thanks

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5. Re: Chur, Pontresina, Soglio, Chiavenna Help with Trains, Itin

Buy a ticket to Bad Ragaz only.

Fill in the date of travel on you Graubünden Pass - depending on how many free days of travel it offers you can fill in 3 or 5 different dates. Are you sure you bought one for all zones of Graubünden?

6. Re: Chur, Pontresina, Soglio, Chiavenna Help with Trains, Itin

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